[SPECIAL] Interview with Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio June 2015

This June, Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio will fly to France to tell the crowd to just shut up and dance. This award-winning quarter was formed in 2011 and since then they’ve been playing in many large-scale festivals, local and international. After captivating the crowd through their impressive stage act, Naehyun Kim (guitar/vocals), Jinkyu Kim (guitar), Minwoo Lee (bass), and Minkyu Choi (drums) finally released their full-length debut Shut Up and Dance in 2013.

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Offering raw energy and grand chorus through their songs, Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio has been dubbed the saviour of Korean modern rock. We talked with Naehyun about their feeling after winning ‘Rookie of The Year’ award in 2014 and their willingness to collaborate with female idols. We’re also interested to know what songs they would play if they were real radio DJs!

What do you think makes Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio’s music unique?

I think the way that we maximize our chorus line – we make everyone except our drummer take part in singing, similar to The Beatles or The Beach Boys – makes Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio’s music unique.

You started Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio in your 30s. Do you ever wish you’d formed this band earlier when you were in your 20s?

The four of us first met about 10 years ago when we were all technicians for a popular Korean band called Yoon Do Hyun Band or YB. Our bassist Minwoo and drummer Minkyu had played in a band together since middle school.  And Jinkyu joined them in high school.  The four of us decided to form Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio in March 2011 when we were still in our 20s. We all have experienced hardships from past bands breaking up, so we try to communicate and understand each other as much as possible to keep moving forward as Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio.

How did your experience as technicians for Yoon Do Hyun Band influence Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?

We were all 19 or 20 back when we were technicians for Yoon Do Hyun Band. We were fortunate to get to work with really expensive instruments and equipment at such an early age. Although our music is really different from Yoon Do Hyun Band’s, getting to see them make music and perform as professional musicians taught us a lot.  We learned how to act professionally, and also saw how much effort goes into putting on a successful concert.

Which do you enjoy more: recording songs or playing live?

We prefer playing live.

How did the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award at the 2014 Korean Music Awards change you as a band? Do you feel any pressure to do better because of the award?

We do feel a bit of pressure to meet people’s expectations after winning the award. But on the other hand, we also have more expectations for music fans now too … so come people, buy our CDs and come see us play!  Are we asking too much?

You’ve played at many large-scale music festivals including events like SXSW. Which festival left the biggest impression on you?

SXSW definitely left the biggest impression on us. The entire experience was just incredible. How can so many people from all over the world gather in one city and enjoy music together for several days like that? Willie Nelson was playing at one place, Coldplay was at another, there were all different styles of music being played everywhere, and there was us from Korea – it was such a wonderfully overwhelming experience.

In your opinion, how are international audiences different from Korean audiences?

Korean fans are known for giving their utmost attention and singing along when foreign musicians come over here to play.  People here expect artists to have a strong stage presence and crowds are really focused on watching the show. However, in our experience at least, overseas audiences are more into dancing along to our songs and having fun rather than watching the actual performance. Both styles are good, though. If people want to watch the shows intently, that’s good.  If they want to come, dance, and enjoy themselves that’s good too!

What have you guys prepared for your performances in France in June? Do you have anything special for European audiences?

We haven’t prepared anything special. We’re just going to play our best and enjoy each and every show as much as we can.  We’re practicing how to say some greetings in French right now, but it’s hard! We’re excited to play in France soon and to meet music fans and experience the music scene there. It’s going to be a really cool experience for us!

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It’s interesting that you once said you want to collaborate with female idols. Any special reason why?

It’s because they are dazzling. Nothing motivates us more than beautiful women! I think if we were to collaborate with a group of gorgeous ladies, we would create something awesome.

It’s time to program your own rock ‘n’ roll radio. What songs would each of you play if you were a radio DJ?

Minkyu says he’d play “Do It Again” by The Ting Tings, “By Your Side, Pt. 2” by Breakbot, and “One Night Only” by Get Around To It.  Minwoo’s choices are “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles, “Spotlight” by Mutemath, and “Dogs” by Pink Floyd.  Jinkyu would go with “Time To Get Away” by LCD Soundsystem, “Lady” by Modjo, and “1517” by The Whitest Boy Alive.  And I’d play David Bowie’s “Heroes,” Prince’s “Controversy,” and Oingo Boingo’s “Private Life.”

 Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio’s France tour dates:

June 6 Cannes, France @ Midem Festival
June 11 Saint-Étienne, France @ Thunderbird Lounge
June 15 Paris, France @ Le Buzz


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