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”

“Fight for Rainbow”

(YouTube, Image via Fluxus Music)