[Band Uprising] Taste the satisfying bitterness of Sweet Revenge

By Korea Herald

All-girl rock band returns with ‘Bitter Sweet’

  • Published : Jul 6, 2014 - 20:37
  • Updated : Jul 6, 2014 - 20:37
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 19th installment of a series of interviews with Korean rock, acoustic and alternative bands. ― Ed.

More than just innocent faces and dainty voices, members of the all-female band Sweet Revenge are here to prove that an act doesn’t have to scream and shout to create rock and roll.

“The basic concept of our band is to have a sweet voice backed by a heavier, revengeful rock sound,” said Sweet Revenge drummer Jang Hyun-a during an interview with her bandmates at a cafe in Hongdae.

Crass and harsh tones may first spring to mind when thinking about a rock band, but the vocals of Sweet Revenge lead singer Kim Mi-jung are quite the contrary.

Kim possesses a voice that is so naturally soft-spoken and cute-sounding that it almost seems more fitting for K-pop than for rock or punk music.

“I definitely don’t have that sort of harsh tone in my voice, but I don’t think of this as a bad thing. In fact I think of it as sort of an advantage for us,” Kim responded. “It’s what makes our band different from others.”

“When we first started out as a band our music was a bit heavy,” Jang added. “We tried to also have the strong vocals to match that rock sound, but Mi-jung’s voice was naturally sweet and we didn’t want to force it. So one day we decided to just go with it and ended up receiving favorable responses and have stuck with it ever since.” 
Sweet Revenge (Courtesy of Sweet Revenge)

The rockers debuted in 2009 with the album “Blow Out.” Although the music of Sweet Revenge is nowhere near heavy metal and can still by some standards be considered soft rock, the women were looking to break the general public’s perception that a pop voice cannot fit into the realm of rock music.

With the band’s English lead single, also titled “Blow Out,” the bandmates tried to take their passionate electric guitar solos and determined drumming and establish themselves as a female band that knows how to rock and command a stage.

“Yes we are four girls and although we may have our soft side, we wanted to show people that we also have a powerful side too,” said bassist Lee Hwa-yeon.

“I think when people think about girl bands they tend to have this image of the music being very light and cutesy and we always try to stay conscious of that,” Jang added.

In May, Sweet Revenge released the eight-track album “Bitter Sweet,” featuring the lead single “Melo.” The band’s new single definitely shies away from the heavier punk-rock melodies that they debuted with and possesses a much softer sound than what most fans are accustomed to hearing from the band.

“Back when we were young, we were really wild and rowdy and both our music and our lyrics reflected that,” Lee explained. “But now that we are getting older, our music style has certainly gotten a little softer, but that is only because we are trying to add a little more depth and more meaning to our songs.”

The bandmates admit that some of their most unforgettable life moments have been during their time as Sweet Revenge, referring to themselves as close sisters.

Lee shared a laundry list of past experiences in which she considered some of the band’s most memorable moments; but in an unexpected twist, her stories mentioned nothing about their first live performance, sold-out shows or numerous music awards; rather, the list was full of the bandmates’ on-stage injuries and mishaps.

As if it were yesterday, the ladies vividly recall a club concert they headlined several years ago ― a night that ended with drummer Jang being rushed to the hospital.

“I just remember how the club was so dark, (we) could hardly see anything, and when we were heading onto the stage, we couldn’t even see the ground as we were walking,” Lee shared. “I just remember suddenly hearing this scream and looking over and realizing that Hyun-a just disappeared all of a sudden ... it turns out she fell into a stage pit and cut her arm pretty deep.”

Not wanting the injury to stop the show, Lee decided to tough it out and return to the stage, whaling it out on the drum set as she always does.

“I tried to hide it, but honestly I was in so much pain,” Jang said as she lifted her right arm and pointed toward her scar. “My arm was bleeding so much and I tried not to look at it, but every time I hit the drums I could feel the pain everywhere; I just kept telling myself, ‘You can do this, just be tough.’”

“See, we may be a bunch of girls but we can take it,” Kim added with a smirk on her face as she patted Jang on the back.

The members of Sweet Revenge said that they will continue to perform gigs at various local clubs to promote their latest album and are currently working on a new single, which they hope to drop sometime later this year.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)