[Band Uprising] Peterpan Complex takes listeners on audio trip to Never Land

By Korea Herald

Veteran indie band brings back funky ’80s

  • Published : Jun 8, 2014 - 20:39
  • Updated : Jun 8, 2014 - 20:39
As the Korean music market begins to receive more international recognition, the local band scene is looking to rise up and represent the next generation of Korean music. This is the 15th installment of a series of interviews with Korean rock, acoustic and alternative bands. ― Ed.

Once a contemporary indie band, Peterpan Complex is shifting gears by putting the electronic guitars on the back burner and bringing back the synthesizer and the sounds of the ’80s with its electro funk twist to underground pop rock.

In a compact recording studio decked out with 12 keyboards scattered throughout the room as well as seven different soundboards, Jeon Ji-han, Kim Kyung-in and Lee Chi-won of the electro punk trio Peterpan Complex talked about their varied experiences as one of Seoul’s long-time veteran indie rockers.

“The concept of our band is simple: evolution,” said the band’s lead vocalist Jeon during an interview with the band in their studio near Hongdae. “We have been performing now for more than 10 years, so we have to continue to strive to experiment with our music.” 
Peterpan Complex (Ruby Records)

“We initially started off with a British pop rock sound, but over the years we have slowly moved more toward a synth-pop and electronic sound,” he added. “When you compare us to other groups, there are a lot of acts nowadays training out electronic music, but most of the stuff out there is like EDM or club style music. ... We rather consider ourselves as in between electronica and rock ’n’ roll.”

Although the band has gone through its fair share of member changes, Peterpan Complex has still managed to keep pumping out music over the past 14 years.

The indie band was first formed in 2000 after the original members answered an ad placed at the Seoul University of Art campus. After experimenting with their sound and finally deciding on a style of music to pursue, the bandmates decided to take their first plunge as a band at the 2001 Soyosan Rock Festival, where they snagged the festival’s grand prize for their performance.

Needless to say, the rockers were immediately convinced that they should pursue music as a career. The band began performing at various clubs in the trendy underground music hub of Hongdae and soon released its debut album “First-person Narrative.”

“The name of our band obviously derives from the mental condition of people who struggle with the idea of growing up and wanting to live young forever,” said Jeon. “Actually, this was originally the name of one of our past tracks; we were just in a situation where we were about to perform and needed to come up with a band name quickly. ... After we performed and were given the award, we decided just to keep the name.”

Unlike many local indie bands that are mostly confined to performing on stages within the peninsula, Peterpan Complex has had a number of opportunities to share its eclectic sounds in front of an international audience. The trio recently returned from a U.K. tour, playing in small clubs in London and Liverpool last month.

“These were very small venues, but it was an incredible experience for us to be there,” said drummer Kim. “I personally felt very different about being in front of a foreign audience compared with just performing at a local place. I could definitely feel their sense of respect for music ... and to see people dancing around, seemingly enjoying our music despite probably not being able to understand what we were singing about, it was eye-opening.”

The bandmates expressed that the reaction they most want to provoke from listeners is to not feel hindered to break out of one’s comfort zone and just move freely to the music.

“What I realized after performing overseas is that our Korean culture seems to be lacking the sense of letting loose and just enjoying a live performance,” Jeon explained. “I want people to let loose and just dance instead of feeling the need to concentrate and focus on the performance itself.”

Peterpan Complex will perform live at the upcoming two-day EXIT Soundholic rock festival in Seoul on June 22 at the Jamsil Sports Complex Stadium.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)