They’re noisy, they’re fearsomely catchy, and they’re coming to Glastonbury. They are Korean quartet Juck Juck Grunzie, comprising of Ahreum Lee (vocals and synthesizer), Jeehye Ham (guitar), Hyojeong Shim (bass), and the only boy in the house, Kyunghyun Lee (drums). Juck Juck Grunzie’s history began in 2007, in a Nirvana tribute show. They then launched a career in post-punk/noise rock, making their way from Korean underground scene to Jisan Valley Rock Festival, one of South Korea’s largest music festivals, to large-scale City Break Festival in Seoul. They have also appeared in Spring Scream Festival in Taiwan in 2013, bringing their abrasive sound overseas. And now this year, they will storm the UK and Germany!
We talked to Jeehye prior to their visit to the two countries.
Hi, Jeehye. So, what’s the story behind the name Juck Juck Grunzie? It’s a catchy name, but at the same time it makes us think, “What on Earth does it mean?”
Juck Juck Grunzie is actually a variation on the Korean phrase “juckjuckhaeseogrunjee,” which means “because I was lonely.”
How did you first fall in love with music? Was it always loud, noisy music from the start?
We’ve all been playing music for a long time now, and music holds a special meaning for all of us. I started playing guitar in middle school. My older brother had an acoustic guitar, so I started by learning rock songs from acts like The Doors and Chuck Berry.
In one interview, Ahreum once stated that Juck Juck Grunzie started when she and Jeehye were feeling angry after breaking up with your respective boyfriends. You did well in transforming the energy of anger into a positive outcome. But what would you say is the emotion that drives Juck Juck Grunzie the strongest now? Is it still anger?
I think we’ve always drawn from a wide range of influences and emotions when making music. As you mentioned above, anger may have been one of the emotions which inspired us to start the band. But aside from that, anger has never really played a large role in Juck Juck Grunzie or our sound.
South Korean society is known, at least to us outsiders, as ‘conservative’. How do people around you think about your band and the kind of music you’re playing?
I think that there are a lot of people who think our music is experimental or unfamiliar. But usually those aren’t the people who we hang around with or who come to our gigs. Our friends, bands we play shows with, and our fans all like our music and are very supportive of Juck Juck Grunzie.
You shocked people when you first performed in a Nirvana tribute show wearing nothing but underwear. Ever since that you’ve performed in many different outfits. How important do you think visual elements are to a band?
I think that visual elements are very important to bands. Whenever we can, we like to use different things onstage like special curtains, special lights, or even sometimes special costumes that help to set a unique atmosphere for the gig.
Have you ever performed crazily onstage, and the morning after you thought “Why did I do that last night?”
No, that’s never happened to us. The choices that we make both onstage and in our music are very intentional. Sometimes our performances are more enthusiastic or spirited than others. But that’s because we’ve naturally chosen to express ourselves in a certain way.
How does the creative process in Juck Juck Grunzie usually go? How do you come up with songs – from the basic idea to the arrangement and everything?
We usually like to arrange and compose songs together as a group. Sometimes one of us will bring an idea that we have come up with on our own into practice, but usually our songs are the product of our band jam sessions.
Let’s say you can choose two other Korean acts to have a tour to other countries with you. Which two bands/musicians will you take along?
We’d like to take Table People and New Blue Death on tour with us. They are both bands from Seoul and we think they’re great.
You’re touring Europe and playing Glastonbury this year – must be very exciting! To many people who are coming, you must be still very fresh and new to them. Can you give them an overview of what to expect from your performance?
For our shows in Europe, we’re making special costumes to wear and we’ll be previewing two new songs that we’ve written for our next full-length album. We’re hoping to get the album out next spring, so people who see us play in Europe will get a preview of what to expect from it. As well at Glastonbury, we’re going to have flags and flyers to help us promote our concerts at the festival. So if you’re at Glastonbury and see some Asians waving a flag that says Juck Juck Grunzie on it, please come say “hi!” And then after that, come watch us play and have fun with us!
There, Glastonbury people: don’t miss your chance to catch this awesome band and be taken into the borders of dreams and nightmares. And even if you won’t be in Glastonbury, there will still be more chance to have crazy fun with them. Save the dates!
July 1 Berlin, Germany @ Kantine am Berghain
Juck Juck Grunzie’s first full-album which also explored the psychedelic realm, Psycho (2013), can be purchased from iTunes.