When we left Guilt Kick in the last interview, they were discussing their first instruments. Let’s finish off the interview, starting with what they’re playing now…and more!(To make the reading easier, Dave’s text is red, Ben’s is green, Evan’s is blue and Matt’s is black
Korea Guitar: What guitars are you playing now?
Dave: I’m using a much better guitar, the Spear Les Paul Copy. It’s not flawless. It’s got a few surface wounds.
Evan: Self-inflicted surface wounds!
Dave: And there’s lots of blood on it. At our last show, apparently I was bleeding over it. I haven’t washed it because I think it adds to the character.
Ben: I play a Cort CL-100, of which there is no information on the internet. I bought it off a guy on Craigslist in Seoul for a hundred bucks. It’s small, short scale, real light and flimsy. It looks similar to a cheap Paul Reed Smith. It sounds good enough. It’s not a great guitar. What it lacks in sound, it makes up for in greenness. It’s the greenest guitar I’ve ever owned.
Matt: I’m playing an MTD bass, a company I know nothing about. It’s a 6-string bass. It’s a behemoth. A buddy who lived here and played in a metal band moved to France. He asked me to hold on to it until he came back to Korea. He decided he would rather sell it. We negotiated a very reasonable price.
Dave: In a way, it makes up for Ben’s flimsy guitar.
Matt: It’s like Excalibur, like I’m pulling it out of the stone.
Ben: I’ve played it. I have big hands and that thing’s fucking impossible to play.
Matt: I’ve had to get used to it. If I play the 6-string for a few days and then grab the 4-string, it feels tiny.
Evan: For me, I play whatever is there.
KG: You could be a drummer back home and have to buy a van and carry your stuff everywhere.
Evan: I prefer this situation.
KG: Tell us a bit about the songs on the demo. How did they come about?
Ben: Basilisk was written on Dave’s roof. We recorded on his shitty acoustic guitar into a shitty Galaxy S-1 phone. We played that opening riff.
Dave: It was a rooftop party. Everyone was having a good time and we were recording acoustic guitars. We kept most of that. That’s pretty much what I played throughout the whole song.
Ben: Everything except the chorus was written on Dave’s roof.
KG: How do you transfer shitty acoustic guitars into what it sounds like on the demo?
Ben: Hash it out at the practice space until everything comes together. People bring stuff, ideas and then we get together and toss it around for a few hours. We’re lucky we don’t pay by the hour because we spend 3 or 4 hours at a time writing songs. Whenever we don’t have the pressure of a show, we’re songwriting.
Matt: Pretty much all of the guitar and bass riffs came from either Ben, Dave, or myself. Then we present it to the group and we build around it. There’s no one song that was written by just one person. With all the music, everyone has feedback and contributes to the editing process. Everybody brings riffs and everybody contributes ideas about structure. We all write our own parts to a certain extent. For example, I’m free to change up my bass parts.
Ben: There’s nodding and pointing whenever we think something is good.
Dave: For me, that’s a big part of being in a band, writing your own parts. There’s feedback and changing it, but you are controlling your own part and thinking “OK, this is what they’re doing and how can I compliment it and make the song better with my part?” I’ve always hated the idea of playing something someone else has written. Even if it’s the best part in the world, I don’t want to play it on principle because it’s not what I look for in music.
Evan: I sit there most of the time and listen, count to 4. The best thing about being a drummer is you don’t generally get to create the foundation of a song, but no one really tells you what to do otherwise. On the Demo, the drum parts kind of wrote themselves, because they needed to drive and be sort of fast. A lot of the fun I have is taking what the band does and put my own little spin on it, as long as it’s in time. I try to make it a little awkward sometimes.
Matt: I think with this band, we’re kind of aiming for awkward.
Dave: Trying to get something that rocks but it’s a little bit more interesting. We don’t want to play Butt Rock.
KG: Butt Rock?
Dave: Yeah, Butt rock means just straight ahead, obvious chord progressions, obvious rock and roll feel. We try to fuck with it a little bit.
Matt: For the record, we all like butt rock, but in our own songwriting we stay away from it.
Evan: We try to make a lot of left turns.
Dave: Nothing is obvious.
Evan: We actively talk about making things less obvious.
KG: In a country like Korea, that is more into straight forward, dance-y pop, how is your stuff going over?
Dave: We started this band and said, “Let’s do stuff that absolutely no one in this country will enjoy.” We didn’t expect much of a market. Some people have reacted well to it. A handful of people have told us they enjoyed our set, which is nice.
Matt: The shows we‘ve played weren’t large audiences, so it’s hard to say what people would do. It wouldn’t be welcomed at a country fair, but it’s good for a sweaty rock club.
Ben: No one has asked us to stop playing yet.
Evan: We’re not discordant enough to be off-putting. We’re aggressive and fast. There is a structure there.
Dave: When we started, we wanted to be willfully discordant, but songwriting has tempered that. With each song, we’re getting a little more traditional. A new song we’re working on is actually close to Butt Rock.
Ben: When we think a chord should be a G, we think, what can we make it instead. That’s the avoidance of butt rock. We’re not re-inventing anything. I’m not trying to portray us as this insanely original band. But we do try to avoid, as Dave calls it, the “Let It Be” chorus.
Matt: I think also, because this band has a limited life span, we have a short amount of time to do something everyone in the band likes. We have to agree quickly on what we’re doing. We don’t have a lot of time to argue about shit. So, we have to get things done in a quick way. We have to do stuff that we like doing otherwise there’s no point investing all the time, energy and finance that goes into it.
KG: Why is it short lived?
Matt: Same old story. People are leaving.
KG: But people are only leaving for the summer, right?
Evan: I’m leaving for good.
KG: Yeah, but drummers are replaceable! (It’s a joke, drummers)
Dave: Do you know anyone? (Laughs)
Matt: Regardless, after our last show at Santa Claus, somebody or everyone will be gone until September. Even if Ben decided to stay, the earliest something would happen would be September. We basically started everything in early April. So, everything has been full-tilt since then.
Ben: I think that’s why we focused on getting out of town so much with this. To do it in as many different places, do as much with it as we can in a short time.
Matt: Booking has been a nightmare. We got no love in Seoul, despite all the attempts we made to get booked there.
Matt: Yeah. Clubs we messaged never responded or asked us how many people we would bring. We told them that we’re a new band, we don’t have any fans. Put us on a showcase with somebody. We didn’t care about money. We just wanted 30 minutes to play in front of people. We just couldn’t get any shows.
Ben: The type of thing you hope for from a scene where you tell a guy, “Look, I have this recording. Listen to it. We sound like this. Do you have any shows we’d fit in with?” That type of thing you’d expect at home, some scene support. And that’s one thing that Korea lacks.
Dave: That was so frustrating to me. At the time when we were discussing this problem, when I heard, “How many people can you bring to a show you’re playing in a different city,” that’s completely ridiculous. Fuck that guy. How much money can you make for my venue? Those aren’t the people you want running a scene. You want people who are really gonna put themselves out for a potentially cool out of town band.
Matt: To be clear, there were people who helped us out. It’s not just Korea. L.A’s sunset strip is notorious for pay to play. So, it’s not totally unique to Korea. With our other bands, we’ve developed relationships with club owners all over the country who are great. Even though we’re in a new band, they’re still willing to book us based on previous performances.
KG: Tell me about the music scene in Korea?
Ben: With our previous band, Jeen Freek, we played one show in Seoul, at a really cool club that was certainly a for-profit club that accidentally let us play. We played with a bunch of really good Korean bands. It was very cool to see Korean bands not doing K-Pop.
Dave: I wanted to play with some more punk and hardcore bands up in Seoul.
Matt: There are punk and hardcore bands in Daejeon…Burning Hepburn, Mahatma, a great thrash band who are all Korean. The scene is small and foreigners who don’t speak the language don’t always hear about the shows, so it’s easy to not be aware of what’s going on. Busan has a metal scene. There are bands that are doing this stuff, but unless you speak Korean and are actively looking for it, you won’t see it.
KG: Is it hard to be in a band like this, when you know the majority of the Korean population doesn’t like this kind of music?
Ben: I think the fact that this isn’t our job makes it a lot easier. We’re doing this exclusively for fun, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. It’s not like I’m getting discouraged.
Dave: And we did start out knowing that not many people would like it. It’s a bonus when strangers actually tell you they dig it.
KG: What happens after Guilt Kick is finished?
Ben: Probably start another band.
Matt: If Ben stays, Dave, Ben and I will probably start another band, unless they start another band without me and stop returning my calls.
Matt Ross- Bass, Lead vocals
Ben Mays- Guitars, Lead vocals
David Robinson- Guitars
Evan Matthews- Drums
Check out both demos at: http://guiltkick.bandcamp.com/releases