Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[14.09.17] [Zoom In ☆ Interview] Band Royal Pirates” We Want to Become a More Enjoyable Band”

We’re on the edges of an unusually hot 2014 summer. After six months I’ve met with the band Royal Pirates once again.

When I first met the Royal Pirates back in February they hadn’t even started promotions yet, and though they still look like they’re new to the industry they’ve grown to give off a mature and veteran feel. In that span of time many things have happened to them.

“Before, we couldn’t find our senses and were nervous at everything but now we’ve become used to it, and we’ve gained some confidence and are able to enjoy promotions. Music is a given, but we’re also enjoying variety as well. I would like it if people can take comfort in our music and have fun while watching us.” (Moon)

“Sometimes when I’m walking on the street people recognize me. The day after the first episode of “Laws of the Jungle” aired, after about 15 minutes of walking five people had come up to me and the fact that they recognized me was really shocking (?). (laugh)” (James)

A no-name band that no one would have recognized walking down the street before have now brilliantly grown into one much of the public recognizes now. The reason for this is not only because of their ventures into variety. So that the public may easily access their music, they’ve made it a little lighter, a little more lively.

Royal Pirates’ second EP album Love Toxic’s title track is “Fall In Love”, which blends guitar riffs and a refined synth arrangement, a love song that shows off their unique charms. It is a song that drummer Sooyoon wrote himself. Different from your usual band music, there’s also a lot of instrumentals mixed in.

“In Korea there aren’t a lot of stages for a band to stand on, and it’s not a very popular genre- for now it’s marginal. I wrote the song lightly, thinking ths is a good opportunity to raising our awareness and stand on stage. There are some rock elements, but I added a lot of elements that are both suitable for broadcast and easy for the public to digest. Even though the time we spent recording the song was little, I’m more satisfied with it than I had thought. (laugh)” (Sooyoon)

“Before, the band music I liked had a lot of real drum and rock sounds but they slowly started getting replaced with artificial instruments. By now the public has become used to that sound but we slowly want to show our own colors.” (Moon)

The Royal Pirates have also participated in the recent global phenomenon known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” They became a big topic of interest after nominating Korea’s President Park Geunhye, China’s General Secretary Xi Jinping, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“We did it in good interests. We did it thinking about Asia’s cohesion and unity. Hahaha.” (Moon)
“I heard that Italy’s Prime Minister did it as well?” (Sooyoon)
“We did the “Ice Bucket Challenge” after we had performed, so it was refreshing. Thanks to this event Lou Gehrig’s Disease has become more widely known, and I think there will be good developments as a result.” (James)

The truth is this “Ice Bucket Challenge” has a slightly different meaning to member Moon. This is because he also suffers from an incurable disease. With that, it was also his wish to have Lou Gehrig’s Disease become more known through his “Ice Bucket Challenge. ”I suffer from an incurable disease. It has to do with drying of the optic nerves, and my sight in my left eye is practically nonexistent. The disease I have is quite unfamiliar, so it would be great if more people could know about it. With that meaning, I took on the “Ice Bucket Challenge” so many people can become more aware of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” (Moon)

After Royal Pirates ended their promotions for their previous album, they put their name out there with the help of individual activities. Through his appearance on “Laws of the Jungle” Indian Ocean edition, member James captured the audience with his good looks and warm heart. Member Moon also appeared on the other “Law’s” series, SBS “Laws of the City”, and spent three weeks surviving in New York while showing off his charms.

James especially drew attention in “Laws of the Jungle” for the love mode he formed with fellow cast member UEE. At the rather invasive question, James answered and praised UEE by saying, “UEE and I are just friends. Really. (laugh) When she had hurt her head I was really surprised. I thought she was probably in a lot of pain. But she didn’t want to give trouble to the other oppas and bore with it with a smile. Seeing her like that, I thought she was a really amazing person.”

“Personally, while filming “Laws of the Jungle” I was really happy. I could throw off all the worry from this place and without a phone, without even knowing the time, I only had to focus on being there. I lost about 6kg. Originally I had only 3.7% body fat but after coming back it had dropped to 1.9%. The cold was even more biting, but after I came back to Korea I gained 8kg in a week. Hahaha.” (James)

Six months prior he stuttered at Korean but now James had much improved. This is the result of having studied Korean extensively during those months. But still, he finds it hard to speak in Korean, smiling while saying “To be honest I learned (to have) some greed for Korea,” and he showed this cute greed (?) all through the interview. It wasn’t greed but aegyo.

While members Moon and James let their names be known through activities in variety, member Sooyoon kept quiet with his. Seeing his other two members getting their names out there, one can’t help but wonder if Sooyoon felt any jealousy.

“I’ve been asked that question a lot. I really, honestly didn’t feel any jealousy. It’s a good experience, so doing it would have been great, but I know how hard it was. I heard the stories of their hardships from the side, and they said it was really very trying. If it were something I were able to do I would have been jealous but doing things for myself would be burdensome. I just minded my own business writing songs and dedicating myself to music.” (Sooyoon)

In the space between these six long months the Royal Pirates did release two single albums. With the release of James’ self composed song ‘Betting Everything” and Moon’s “Seoul Hillbilly” they each narrowed the gap for fans with the digital singles. The release of these singles together with their simultaneous Seoul buskings widened their fan base considerably.

As the buskings were guerilla and not fully equipped, they had the added charm that the Royal Pirates could interact with the fans with no hesitation. But as it were, there were many variables that one couldn’t even imagine to consider.

“We once performed in front of a clothing store on Serosu-gil next to Garosu-gil, and we received a public complaint. Since it came from the district office, we received a warning but I think we were all the louder for it. (laugh)” (Moon)

“The time and place, as well as weather and sound etc. were things we could not control about the busking performances. There was a time that there was another band performing where we had decided to perform, and due to that our performance was delayed for about thirty minutes. Ah, when we performed at the Han River there was a hurricane warning. It was raining so much we thought we would have to cancel the busking but right as we started the rain stopped, and the sun came out, so it was really pretty. (laugh)” (Sooyoon)

With these small buskings the Royal Pirates were able to polish their stage manner and, in thanks to the fans who support and cheered for them, are able to participate in nationwide events. They’ve let their names be known through these small performances and are expanding their presence. In the beginning of August, right at the start of the summer heat wave, they stood opening stage at “Citybreak” and stood shoulder-to-shoulder alongside some of the world’s great musicians.

In the coming October there are plans to release a Japanese version of their album. The Royal Pirates spoke of their dream of spreading their name by doing various performances.

“In the future we want to show a more joyful side to ourselves. We really anticipate there being many opportunities to communicate with the fans. We hope you come to see and enjoy our live performances, and please give our music lots of love.” (Moon, Sooyoon, James)

Living as a band in our country’s music industry, the reality is that doing band music is still an intimidating feat. They say you can’t become full after one sip. Royal Pirates are going towards the goal they want one step at a time. They’re not settling for what they have now, and we send cheers to the boys who are patiently walking along with the belief they hold in their own music.

NewsWay Reporter Kim Ahreum | Photos: Reporter Kim Dongmin