20150323_seoulbeats_eastern sidekick2Eastern Sidekick is one of those bands that has such catchy music that you can’t help but get into it. With a garage rock sound in one hand and the influence of plenty of classic rock artists in the other, they are frequently compared to The Strokes, a comparison they definitely merit. While in Austin, Texas, for SXSW, Seoulbeats had the opportunity to sit down with the band just before their performance at K-pop Night Out.

Tell us a little about how you guys got started.

Ko Han-kyul: I am the guitarist and leader of Eastern Sidekick. I started playing music as a university student and was in a rock band at the time. I realized that I wanted to make my own music and not keep covering other people’s music. So I decided to form my own band and searched for members. At the beginning, we didn’t decide to be a garage rock band, but we soon moved into this genre.

So how old is everyone?

20150323_seoulbeats_eastern sidekick5Ko Han-kyul: 33.
Bae Sang-hwan: 33.
Park Geun-chang: 28.
Ryu In-hyuk: 29.
Oh Ju-hwan: 31.

Have you always been interested in music?

Ryu In-hyuk: I started music back when I was in elementary school, and I just naturally felt like being in the band fit for me.
Park Geun-chang: I didn’t get a regular education [in music], but even from a young age I’ve always liked music.
Bae Sang-hwan: I started music when I was 20, and I soon had a goal to attend music school.
Oh Ju-hwan: I’ve been into music since I was in middle school.

How did you develop your musical style?

Ko Han-kyul: At the beginning, I started with the simple thought to play my favorite genres, but later it changed a little bit. It was complicated and varied among different genres, and I realized that I needed to decide to something straightforward, simple. So we became a garage rock band.

What are some of your musical influences — your favorite artists?

Ko Han-kyul: Led Zeppelin, Metallica — especially “Enter Sandman.”
Bae Sang-hwan: I was crazy about Nirvana. I listened to a lot of rock music with a sort of tough sound growing up.
Ryu In-hyuk: I really like Incubus, Damien Rice, you know, soft rock type of mood. I also like Pink Floyd.
Oh Ju-hwan: Since I sing for the band, I’ve taken a lot of influence from Jim Morrison of The Doors and Chris Cornell [of Soundgarden].
Park Geun-chang: Black Sabbath.

20150323_seoulbeats_eastern sidekick3A lot of people compare you guys to The Strokes. Was that intentional or did that just happen?

Ko Han-kyul: It wasn’t really intentionally, but we were definitely influenced by them since we really like their music.

What is your songwriting process?

Ko Han-kyul: I make a catchy song and focus on building the sound, adding melodies, riffs, something that appeals to people. The music usually comes first, and the lyrics after. At the beginning, I compose by myself, and then I get input from the other members.
Bae Sang-hwan: I’m pretty critical [during the process] and help pick which songs are good and which ones are better.
Park Geun-chang: I’ll complain about some of the work, but I’m also a jokester. I recently joined the group, but I manage the atmosphere, the moodmaker of sorts.

Has adding a new member affected the band’s sound?

Ko Han-kyul: I met Park Geun-chang at a festival. The previous drummer had a softer sound and suited the older style of Eastern Sidekick. Recently, with Park Geun-chang joining, our sound has gotten rougher and harder, which I think suits the direction we’re going.

How has joining Fluxus Music affected the band? Creatively or in any other sense? Has it helped?

Ryu In-hyuk: We get to join large festivals and play bigger stages. We can concentrate more on our music and on people’s tastes.
Ko Han-kyul: Since Fluxus lets us make our own music, we’re rarely affected by the company creatively.

Thanks to the Hallyu wave, there is a lot of interest in all types of Korean entertainment besides K-pop and dramas, such as the indie music scene. Do you guys have any international plans?

20150323_seoulbeats_eastern sidekickBae Sang-hwan: Before we promote ourselves internationally, we want indie music to be more popular at home.
Ryu In-hyuk: Yeah, once that happens we might make plans to be an international band.

How do you guys feel to be here at SXSW?

[collective laughter] Bae Sang-hwan: Wow. We’re just so excited.
Ko Han-kyul: This is a great chance to let people know Eastern Sidekick.

Are you looking forward to tonight? Are you nervous?

Park Geun-chang: We’re not focused on doing our best. We just want to have fun.

Do you have any message for your international fans?

Ryu In-hyuk: Our second full-length album will be released soon so, to anyone interested in Eastern Sidekick, please anticipate its upcoming release.

Eastern Sidekick doesn’t have a set release date on their upcoming album, but check out some of their other music off their first EP Hammer Lane and their first album The First.

“Teeth and Sweat”
[youtube https://youtu.be/esj8xRQwluE]

“Fight for Rainbow”
[youtube https://youtu.be/qmTGmFuUmBI]

(YouTube, Image via Fluxus Music)