BUSAN, South Korea -Over the past year, more and more great expat bands have been popping up in Busan. Many have built good followings, and for the first time in a long time, people can catch some great music every weekend. But with the emergence of a strong expat music scene, there are a lot of great "Korean bands" that still remain unknown to expats.
I use the quotation marks here because although these bands are playing genres that have been around for generations in the West, they’re grossly underrated and unsupported by their Korean peers. Thus, they struggle along with small, but very loyal fan bases while making music they believe in. Bands such as The Sunday Losers, Burning Hepburn, Psycho Rockets and The Southbay are perfect examples of bands with immense raw talent and little notoriety –yet.
The Sunday Losers exemplify this to a tee. They have taken the sound of the founder fathers of country/rockabilly and refined it to their own Korean sound.
While honky-tonk flourished in the Southern US in the 1940's and 50's, artists like Hank Williams Sr. and George Jones sang their Jack Daniels-fueled ballads of infidelity and despair. In the 60's and 70's, legendary artists like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson turned the pitiable, lonely cowboy into a rough-and-tumble outlaw icon of grit and greatness.
Now, decades later, The Sunday Losers pick up the mantle. Formed about a year ago, these four guys from Busan picked up a couple of guitars, added an upright bass, drums and a couple of kazoos (yes, kazoos) and set out to duplicate that legendary honky-tonk sound.
Lead singer, Kim Tae-hoon, grew up listening to a diverse collection of music including B.B. King, Ernie Ford and Johnny Cash. As he listened to Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” Kim was moved to research and translate the lyrics. Driven by Cash’s ability to provide social commentary while painting a vivid picture, Kim felt compelled to abandon the punk band he was playing with in order to form The Sunday Losers. Their songs, influenced by Cash, Williams and others, are rife with sarcastic commentary on social and political situations in Korea.
In an unusual, but sure to be wild pairing this weekend, The Sunday Losers will be kicking off the Punk n’ Roll Circus at Vinyl with seven punk bands. On the same ticket are the hardcore punks Psycho Rockets, classic punk Burning Hepburn and Busan’s own surfer/ska punk and The Southbay –who are already well loved in the expat community. (Honestly, if you haven't seen The Southbay, they alone are worth the price of admission).
This is a must see event for those of you who love quality raw music from talented musicians. And where else will you see punk bands playing on the same bill with bands belting out honky tonk?
Here's the line-up:
The show takes place Saturday April 3rd at Vinyl Underground in the Kyungsung University area. Doors open at 8. Tickets are 10,000 won with a free drink.