While idol-centered K-pop has been heavily covered by the media, the Korean indie scene has received relatively little attention. This is the sixth installment of a series of interviews shedding light on the scene. ― Ed.
Indie band Nunco Band has been active in the Hongdae scene for almost a decade. To the public, the band is best known as the act where Chang Ki-ha played the drums until early 2009.
The English name, Nunco Band, derives from their Korean name “Nuntteugo Cobein,” roughly translated as “nose cut off with the eyes open.” The band’s name did not come from Kurt Cobain, the late front man of Nirvana, the members said, but they felt like naming it that way.
Nunco Band members, minus drummer Parang, pose for a photograph before an interview in Seoul: (From left) Mokmala on guitar, Slpny on bass, Yonrimog on keyboards and Kkamakgui on vocals. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
The group consists of five members ― Kkamakgui on vocals and songwriting, Mokmala on guitar, Slpny on bass, Yonrimog on keyboards and Parang on drums. Except for Parang, the members have been doing music together since they were students at Seoul National University in early 2000s.
In the office of BGBG Records in Hongdae on a rainy day, the members were most eager to talk about “Murder’s High,” the third studio album released in April.
The first album “Pop to the People” (2005) and the second “Tales” (2008) had comic sounds and lyrics but the third album is more serious and dry.
“The original intention was to depict an image of a human running from the sin that he or she had committed. Whether the sin was intentional or unintentional, people want to run from the guilt,” Kkamakgui told The Korea Herald.
“I think everyone lives a life that way. To live is to run.”
The album starts with “Alibi,” in which a murder suspect explains his alibi to a detective to claim his innocence, telling he was having a drink with his friends at night. The 10-track album wraps up with “Electric Beam” in which a scientist who developed a “metal missle” readies to bomb Seoul.
Kkamakgui said the initial idea was to name the album “Runner’s High” ― which Mokmala didn’t like ― but it sounded like an encouragement for people to go on a diet. So, he changed it into “Murder’s High.”
The title song “You Are Not There” on track No. 2 tells about how a weary worker after a night duty feels empty when seeing his or her partner asleep, not bothering to turn around to look.
Slpny said the third album was more natural in sounds, as opposed to the heavy use of synthetic sounds in the second album.
Kkamakgui and guitarist Mokmala are office workers in the IT industry and they make music by using home PCs in the evening.
Their colleagues and bosses know that they’re musicians and it sometimes bothers them quite a lot, said the vocalist.
“I always try my best to be discrete about being in an indie band. But when my boss finds out, it can be very bothersome,” said Kkamakgui.
Keyboardist Yonrimog, who is the only female member, and drummer Parang are stage and film music producers.
Yonrimog said the band hasn’t changed any member except for the drummer because “no member explodes in anger.” Chang left the band because his solo album, released while still in Nunco Band, became so successful that he couldn’t handle the overlapping schedules.
Because the members have been juggling music and work, it was difficult to hold a solo concert until now.
But the band, formed in 2002 is to hold its first solo concert “Pop to the High” on Aug. 14 at Sangsang Madang’s Live Hall in Seoul.
“It’s our first solo show after releasing three studio albums. The set list will encompass most songs covered in the past three albums,” said Kkamakgui.
“Unlike other concerts we used to do, we will come up with a lot of stage directing and use of audio/visual equipment,” said Yonrimog.
Nunco Band’s “Pop to the High” concert will be held at Sangsang Madang Live Hall on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are 33,000 won on the spot and 27,000 won when reserved in advance. For details, call (070) 8862-7686.
By Kim Yoon-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)