The Primary rises to the surface

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 29, 2012 - 19:15
  • Updated : May 29, 2012 - 19:15
Expat band releases debut EP ‘Beneath the Tide’

Expat rock group The Primary’s first record is an international affair.

The Cheongju-based group from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the United States recorded “Beneath the Tide” in Korea, sent it for mixing to the U.S. and are now distributing it through a website in India.

Guitarist Tony Boyd said that the most popular song was “Head in the Door,” a gently building song that crescendos from a cello bass line and acoustic rhythm.

“It’s definitely a fan favorite,” he said. “We get a lot of feedback ― people like to drive to it.”

In the long run Boyd said that other tracks could grow on people.

“My personal favorite is a track called ‘Faith Healer,’” he said. “I think it’s the deepest song and the one we did most interesting things with in the studio. I think that’s the kind of song that might grow on people.”
The Primary play live at Radio Star in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. They are due to play there again Saturday. (The Primary)

The band has not been around that long. They started practicing in February 2011, and even then it was four months before they played their first show.

“We spent probably four months just in the practice room learning John’s songs, coming up with parts, trying to shape a sound from the band,” said Boyd. “We didn’t want to sound like a generic rock band playing in a bar.”

Since then they have played in cities across Korea, sometimes taking a bus with a group of 30-40 to play in nearby Cheonan.

“It’s good playing in Cheongju when it’s all your mates you’re playing to,” said Boyd. “But I think you really need to test the material and test the band by getting on the road and playing to strangers ― people who have just come looking for a good time and to hear some new music.

“That’s when you really test the band’s mettle.”

Boyd said that making the record was a more thought-out affair.

“It’s definitely different when you play live,” he said. “There’s more intensity. You’re looking for an immediate reaction from the crowd.”

“Maybe playing live is like a pencil sketch. You just want the most important bits, loud and fast. But maybe the record’s more like making a painting, where you have to sit back and really consider the parts, put different parts on there.”

They recorded at a university where one of the band members works. The process took six months in total, as the band agonized over every detail.

“We kept going back and trying to perfect it. We ended up taking five months to record everything and then about a month arranging for the guy to mix it and master it and get the website built.”

They had started to record eight tracks, but after finding that the people who liked their music did not have CD players, they decided to concentrate on perfecting four tracks and releasing them as a download, rather than make an eight-song CD.

“We hadn’t spent any money on the recording process because we’d done that ourselves,” said Boyd.

“So instead of paying money to get a CD pressed, pay for professionals to mix the tracks and make it sound as good as it can, (we decided to) concentrate it down to the four best tracks and release it online.”

Downloaders can decide to pay as much or as little as they want, or even nothing.

“Our problem isn’t making money ― our problem is exposure,” Boyd said. “The main thing is getting people to listen to the music, watch the videos and come to the gigs.”

In the near future the band plans to upload a music video for the song “Alive,” and prepare for shows in Seoul on June 8 and at the SORI arts festival in September.

“We’ve got a show scheduled for Freebird in Seoul and that’s our first Hongdae gig. So that’s the one we’re probably most looking forward to,” said Boyd.

To find out more about the band, see a schedule of shows or download the EP, visit

By Paul Kerry (