Before the release of their new split 7” titled “Blowing Minds & Melting Faces” with Seattle punk rock band Burn Burn Burn and their US Tour, …Whatever That Means granted us this interview and told us more about them and their music.
Currently, the band is composed of four members: Jeff Moses (guitarist/vocalist), Trash Yang Moses (bassist/vocalist), Bialy Mlody (guitarist/vocalist) and Daewon Kim (drummer).
Q: Hello and thank you for finding some time for this interview. Could you please introduce yourselves to your European fans and other music lovers around the world?
A: Hi, we are …Whatever That Means from Seoul, Korea. We’re a melodic punk band and have released two full-length albums and several EPs and singles. We’ve toured throughout Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and are about to embark on our second American tour. On the first date of our tour, we’ll be releasing our new “Blowing Minds & Melting Faces” split 7” record with the Seattle band Burn Burn Burn.
Q: …Whatever That Means started off in 2009. What’s the band’s story? How did you become …Whatever That Means?
A: Well, originally, …Whatever That Means was supposed to be a one-off project band. Trash and I had a big punk rock show for our wedding reception after party. She was playing in another band at that time. I threw together the band with a few friends to play that show. Afterwards, the drummer and I decided to keep playing together, and Trash joined after our honeymoon. We’ve just been building on things ever since then.
Q: Just one year after the band formed, precisely on April 3rd 2010, you released your first mini-album “The Newest Hope”. What were the most difficult obstacles you had to face to release this album?
A: We were still trying to find our sound at that point. I’d never been the principle songwriter for a band, so I was still getting used to that. None of us had ever been in a recording studio before either, so we didn’t really know how to make the album sound the way we usually sound on stage. Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the final product of those recording sessions, but we really learned a lot that has helped us since then.
Q: Your first full-length album, “Sounds From The Explosion,” came out a little more than a year later (July 2011) and it was released through your own World Domination, Inc. label and Realize Records in Busan. It includes 13 tracks. Do the band members have a favorite song from this album? If so, which is it and why?
A: That album included a few re-recorded tracks from “The Newest Hope”. The newer, shorter version of “Phase” is a favorite and has closed nearly every show we’ve ever played. “Way Too Busy” is another favorite we play at each show. We wrote that one right around when we were starting to find our sound. It’s got that right balance of melody and aggression, guitar solos, and I always enjoy playing songs where Trash and I sing back and forth.
Q: On your second full-length album, “Sixty-Eight, Twenty-Two” (May 2014), you included once again the track “Peace of Mind” from your first full-length and also an acoustic version of it. What’s the story behind this song?
A: Before we got married, I was teaching kindergarten in Apgujeong, one of Korea’s richest neighborhoods. The school was filled with the kids of rich politicians, athletes, and movie stars – the president’s granddaughter was in the classroom next to mine. Moms would always come pick up their kids, and for no reason other than just to show off, they’d walk into the school with all their bags from shopping all day. It was a constant “look how rich I am” contest. The job paid alright and was a normal nine-to-five kind of thing, but I was so busy with getting married, trying to start a band, and just life in general. I remember thinking: “I don’t need to have as much money as them. I don’t care about everything being completely equal, but can’t this just be a little easier for me? Can’t I have a little more time and money to do the things I want to do?” That’s where “Peace of Mind” came from. It’s the first song I wrote for …Whatever That Means. Actually, I wrote it when …Whatever That Means was still just an idea, and I was looking for members.
Q: At the end of 2014 you also covered “Asian Prodigy” and the music video was filmed at the closing party of the famous Club Spot, one of Seoul’s oldest punk rock clubs. This song and this club seem to hold a very deep meaning to the band. Why?
A: Club Spot definitely had a big place in Trash’s and my hearts. Trash’s old band, BB Lucky Town, was pretty much the house band at Spot and she used to bartend there. For me, I saw my first punk show in Korea at Spot.
I met Trash at Spot. We had our wedding reception after party at Spot. It’s the first place I ever booked a show as a promoter and bartended at. It’s where we had the first …Whatever That Means gig and our first two album release concerts. It’s where I met most of my best friends in Korea. So many important things happened there, so it was terrible to see it close down.
As for “Asian Prodigy”, that was a song I always found very touching, and after working in the Korean education system for years and seeing the huge expectations put on Korean kids by their families, it made even more sense to me. I remember the first time I played the acoustic version of it for Trash, she was just like, “Yes! Exactly! That’s exactly how I felt growing up!” I think that’s how most kids in the Korean punk scene feel growing up, so it just made sense to record the video for our cover of that song at a place that had been so central to our love for the local scene here in Seoul.
Q: Now, you are going to release a new split 7” titled “Blowing Minds & Melting Faces” with Seattle punk rock band Burn Burn Burn. Could you tell us a bit more about this new release and the U.S tour that will follow it?
A: We met Drew, Burn Burn Burn’s singer, when we played a house show he put on for us in Tacoma, Washington on our last tour. We’ve talked about doing a split for a while, and with us going back to the States this summer, the time just seemed right. Burn had two B-sides from their recent record that they wanted to officially release, and we recorded three new tracks for our side of the 7”. We’re all really happy with how it turned out. Both sides of the 7” really work well with each other.
We’ll be selling it during our whole tour from July 23rd though August 1st, but the official release shows will be with Burn Burn Burn in Seattle on July 27th and in Tacoma on July 28th.
Q: Do you have any funny or interesting anecdotes from your past concerts or recording sessions?
A: I think the biggest thing we’ve learned from touring is that it’s often the shows in the smaller places that end up being the best. On our first US tour, we were so focused on getting our shows in places like LA, Las Vegas, and Seattle booked and then just threw together everything else. But the best shows on that tour were in Corvallis, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington. They were the shows we’d originally looked at as filler, but they were great. The same thing happened when we played places like Malacca and Cherating in Malaysia. People outside of the bigger cities always seemed really stoked when a touring band comes through town, so the audiences tend to be fantastic. Because of that we always look forward to those shows now.
Q: If you could perform in Europe one day, which city would you like to kick off your tour in?
A: That’s a tough one. There are so many great places to play, and like I said, it’s usually the smaller towns that end up being the best time. Bialy, our lead guitarist, is from Poland, so I’d love to fly there and play in Poznan, where he went to university.
Q: Thank you again for answering our questions. Could you please leave a message to Japako’s readers?
A: Thanks so much for checking out our band! You can find all of our music on our Bandcamp page, and find us on Facebook. Also, please check out our label’s site, and if anyone reading this happens to be on the West Coast of the US this summer, please come out to a show and say hi.
Note: Jeff Moses, guitarist and vocalist of the band, answered all the questions.
Interview written by Martina Basile & proof read by Stella