Who says the 80’s are dead? Not South Korean glam metal band Victim Mentality, for sure. Formed in Seoul by vocalist Krocodile and veteran metal guitarist Kyungho Sohn, the band unabashedly show their love for 80’s glam metal in both music and visual elements. So yes, hence the leopard prints, heavy eyeliners, and glossy lips. Sohn and Krocodile first operated as duo, inviting bassist Scorpion to join them in 2013. They released Magic Fingers, an EP that contains not only the power ballad title-track, but also the catchy Don’t Spit On Me.
In July 2013, despite not having a drummer and having to rely on drum machine, the trio made their live debut. Only later in February 2014 did they welcome drummer Tarantula to join their fun troop. Not long after that, in May 2014, Victim Mentality played at Seoul’s Green Plugged festival. Next was the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, one of the country’s most famed summer outings. This year, Victim Mentality will perform in prestigious SXSW in the United States. We talked to Kyungho about the band and their preparations for SXSW.
As a band that came into being in 2009, you deliberately chose ‘80s rock music and aesthetics to express yourselves. What’s the story behind this?
Well for starters, we’re all crazy about ‘80s heavy metal! So the main reason why we made Victim Mentality was because we wanted to play that style of music. When the band first started, we used to play classic heavy metal songs by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. But when we started making our own songs, we wanted to showcase the sound, style, and other fascinating things from ’80s glam metal, so we started to wear makeup and different costumes when playing music.
Band members share similar taste in music, but there must be differences too. How does it influence you in writing songs?
Thankfully, we’re all into classic heavy metal so it makes things easier when making music. Of course, we have some differences in musical tastes, but it hasn’t had any negative influence at all on our songwriting or playing. Instead we use these differences to help each other and make things more interesting musically for us and our fans.
The music video for ‘Don’t Spit On Me’ also seems like it comes out of the 1980s, when people just started using those effects in videos. The music video and the song are addictive! But they are very different from the ballad ‘Magic Finger’ and its own music video. How did you develop the ideas for the videos?
We wanted the video for ‘Magic Finger’ to have an ‘80s feel to it, and its music was also written to sound like an ‘80s power ballad. The music video is a homage to Whitesnake’s video for “Is This Love.” We’re big fans of that band!
With ‘Don’t Spit On Me’ we were trying to make a video that would be surprising to people. ‘Magic Finger’ was more focused on Krocodile’s dramatic acting abilities. But ‘Don’t Spit On Me’ showed his wide range of facial expressions when singing. We think many people like all the facial expressions he uses when performing.
In the band, we have Krocodile, Tarantula, Scorpion … Kyungho, don’t you want to make a similar stage name too?
I also play in a symphonic metal band called Dark Mirror ov Tragedy. In that group, I use the stage name Senyt. When we first started Victim Mentality, I thought about taking a stage name. But because I use a stage name with Dark Mirror ov Tragedy, I decided to use my real name. But when I saw myself in makeup and leopard print pants, I regretted that decision a bit!
What can we expect from the upcoming album, Heavy Metal Is Back (to be released in spring 2015)?
If you miss ‘80s heavy metal, you should definitely give our new album a listen. We guarantee that you’ll be happy you did! It’s been mixed to have an ‘80s style sound. And even if you don’t have any experience with ‘80s metal, it’s still a fun album to listen too. The album has funny lyrics that will make people laugh, but still rocks very hard to help give them energy and blow all their daily stress away. It’s a great heavy metal album!
If you could go back in time to the 1980s, what do you want to do or see?
We’d definitely want to go to LA. We’d want to walk around on the Sunset Strip and hang out with all the cool musicians and people there.
Which concert has been your most memorable performance?
Our most memorable performance was playing at the Incheon Pentaprt Rock Festival in Korea last summer. It’s one of the biggest summer music fests in the country. The audience was wild and crazy during our set and the sound at the festival was great. It was our first time performing at a major festival. Our favourite thing there was all the free beer for musicians!
How are you preparing for SXSW?
We’re practicing lots so that are performances will be exciting and lots of fun from everyone. We’ll be playing new songs from Heavy Metal Is Back at SXSW and are really looking forward to sharing our music with international rock and metal fans. We can’t wait to meet everyone at the festival!
Catch Victim Mentality in SXSW!
March 18 Austin, Texas @ Club Metropolis (Heavy Metal Pool Party)
March 18 Austin, Texas (9 pm) @ Karma Lounge
March 20 Austin, Texas (12 am) @ The Majestic (Korea Night II: Seoulsonic)