Text and interview by Sheila Madai & Ivonne Vega · Photography by @mamanze
South Korea, the land of beauty… Is it really all about beauty and pop culture? Just ask the younger ones, where reality is different from what is often shown by media.
Let’s go back in 2016, when Choi Wonbin, Heo Jinhyuk, Chae Jiho and Jung Jihoon decided to express the world their feelings through amazing and captivating songs. With the catchy “Who”, the band’s debut single, they started their own way to get a position in the Korean rock scene. The following “Romance in a Weird World” (2017) and “We’ve Lost, What Now?” (2018) EPs made us trip in a roller coaster of emotions, sounds, and visuals with a touch of brit rock inspo, but what’s behind the creative process? We had a conversation with lead singer Wonbin and bassist Jihoon about their inspiration, composition, and what is it like to speak their minds as a rock band in Seoul.
NOISE: How did you guys meet and what happened that you felt the need of creating music?
WETTER: Wonbin and Stophoon met in high school, Wonbin and Jinhyuk met in college and the other three (Wonbin, Jihoon, Jinhyuk) met Jiho in the label company.
First of all, we liked English culture and bands, and there were many things we wanted to say to the world. It’s kind of a repressed emotion or primitive rebellion against society. I think this is why we play rock music. Rock n’ Roll is the best way to express ourselves.
It’s been two years since the releasing of your first single “Who”. What is the creative process that each one of you took during the composition of “Romance in a Weird World”?
Wonbin: The first song, “Who” was done by myself and the songs that were produced afterward. All of us got involved in the work and the other ‘new things’ were made.
Jihoon: Every process was creative. We recorded in our own studio, we even borrowed a snare and guitar from a friend, worked with an engineer we knew, and fought with Wonbin for our tracks that would be included in the album, etc.
How would you define the rock scene in Seoul?
I sense a vibe between Brit-pop and 1970’s punk. What is the music or sounds you listen that inspires you when composing?
J: The first inspiring thing is my mind and the friends around me. I listen to British rock music of every decade as much as I can like Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Radiohead, and other country rock music like Nirvana, The Doors, The Black Keys.
W: The sound that I’m influenced by is different time to time, but now I enjoy listening to sounds like Primal Scream or Happy Mondays.
The composing of your music is very creative! In some songs, there are some fragments of voices from films and you make great contrasts in music that goes from powerful in “Hello Sunshine” and “I Don’t Wanna Be a Doll” to kind of gloomy in songs like “Dear My Friend” and “Just Stay”. How is it that you create such powerful yet soothing rhythms in your songs?
We think there’s a variety of emotions in people’s hearts. The most important thing is that we always intend to express that point of mind with our own riff. With personal greed, we want to maximize one emotion and make an album with one emotion.
Some people have labeled you as punk, rock, k-indie, etc. How would you personally define Wetter’s sound?
Oriental-Brit Rock? or-bit rock? HAHA, JOKE. I guess British rock n’ roll. Furthermore, we want to make a genre called ‘Wetter’.
Everyone writes about love, fears, heartbreaks, achievements in life, etc. What do you guys share with us in your lyrics?
Feelings about our fucked up society and feelings for one’s relationship like concern or advice. Because of a bad situation in our society and culture, most Korean people seem to be difficult to express their own color and strong individuality. It seems that Korean people’s shape of hearts are square wooden sticks, we hope them to spread our more branches. Let’s all be free.
I want to talk about your style. I believe fashion and music always come in hand, having bands like Sex Pistols defining punk fashion or Nirvana defining grunge fashion. What are your thoughts on this?
J: Exactly! Fashion and music always come in hand.
W: If Kurt Cobain and Sid Vicious were not cool, I don’t think we’d ever find their music, born in 1992.
Do you consider that fashion might be linked to your music?
J: Yeah definitely. I love converse and Chelsea boots. I think that color naturally appears in our music.
W: Hmm, I still don’t know about that. I think we’re looking for it now.
In two years of live performances, what is the most memorable thing you’ve experienced?
The performance of the British band Wooze in Busan and Seoul a few days ago remained a huge memory. We were always interested in England, and then we talked to a British band in person. We became very close friends. It’s so hard to get along with any Korean bands and we were surprised to get along with them so well in two days.
We also performed in Busan for the first time so I think we gave tens of thousands of energy to a very small group of people. It was so fun.
“We’ve Lost, What Now?” was released last year. It is sincerely one of the greatest albums I’ve heard from this decade, giving us great music and videos like “Hello Sunshine”. What are your plans for 2019?
First of all, thank you very much for your listening. We have a plan to go to England for a gig in May and prepare for the ‘1st Original Album’. We all are ready for these.