YB, also called Yoonband or Yoon Do Hyun Band, is one of the most famous rock bands in South Korea.
The band consists of Yoon Do Hyun (vocals and guitar), Huh Joon (guitar), Kim Jin Won (drums), and Park Tae Hee (bass guitar). Scott Hellowell (guitar) became a member of YB since 2011.
The band is named after the main vocalist and main producer, Yoon Do Hyun, who had originally performed solo and then later formed the band.
We were invited to interview the singer Yoon Do Hyun fresh from a very successful round of shows at the 2014 SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, here's how it went….
You have been acknowledged as the most popular rock musicians in Korea, how does that make you feel? Of course it makes us feel good and lucky at the same time. Maybe some people might think we feel pressure, but for us it gives us motivation to try hard and keep things fresh. Sometimes it allows us to try things we might not otherwise be able to do as well, like collaborating with other musicians etc.
You have toured around Europe with Steranko, mainly performing in underground clubs, how did you find this after playing huge venues in Korea? Yeah, in some ways it was like going back to the start… but because it was our first time in Europe, everything was new and exciting, even the gigs with not many people in the audience. We had a lot of fun on that tour, and discovered a lot of things. It was a huge learning experience.
You have been out at the SXSW 2014 Festival, how was it? Any stories you’d like to share with us? Yeah, we played Buffalo Billiards, and right after us Fuel performed.. and during their set, Robby Krieger came on stage. The Doors are the reason I started to play music, and wanted to play in a rock band. After his performance, I got to meet him and shake hands. Honestly it was like being a teenager again, I was so humbled to meet him. That's a kind of dream come true for me.
You were at SXSW in 2007 and 2008, how has it changed over the years? I think it's definitely gotten bigger. It's still awesome in that you can just walk into any bar randomly and watch a cool band at any time. But this year we really used the SXSW app to get the most out of the lineup and things going on there. It kinda made the whole experience better because we could get the info on who was playing, things that we otherwise would've missed. In 2007 and 2008 we really concentrated on just our gig and didn't get much time to do the whole experience, so this time we decided to really get stuck in and go to all the bars and check other bands and party!
Who did you enjoy seeing at SXSW? We loved a lot of the local Austin bands and players that we randomly saw. I liked Beware of Darkness, Raj and Zack Weber a lot.
Who are your musical influences? The Doors of course, they started it all for me! Lots of old classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, and stuff like The Sex Pistols. Also bands from my generation like Rage Against the machine, I'm pretty influenced by the way their music instigates people to change.
Do you get to see many western bands in Korea? Sometimes! Not too many though! It was great to see Muse and The Smashing Pumpkins when they came. Sometimes we play the same festivals with big western bands, but we can't always watch their shows because of tight scheduling. When we played the same stage as Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Jane’s addiction, we got to watch the whole show, which was a cool memory.
How has your approach to creating music changed since 1994 / Use of technology etc? Actually it hasn't changed that much: we're essentially a guitar band, so things always grow in the same way. I still write songs with my acoustic guitar, or we jam riffs and ideas into arrangements. Technology has given us more options to record faster and do things more 'in-house', which is a huge help.
“Some critics say that since the World Cup, the band has put more weight on songs that might appeal to the public rather than keeping their own musical style” – Do you agree with this statement? The World Cup absolutely gave us huge exposure. It also gave us a lot of pressure when we made the next album, since the critics were trying to say were weren't 'rock' enough. We actually made a heavier, more harder album after that.
When you play huge stages on a regular basis, it's natural that you think more about elements and dynamics in a show. So it's actually pretty natural for us to play a wide range of colours. Some of our own show reach three hours in duration.
I can't agree with the critics' statement, because we've released entire albums of music that we just wanted to do at the time, for example the last Korean album release, which is a pretty high energy rock album for us.
Tell me what you did to receive the WPMA (World Peace Music Award) in 2003? After the World Cup, we ended up being the first band to play in North Korea (as part of a cultural exchange). We also played voluntary shows for human rights campaigns, and have carried some of those messages in our songs too.
I have read that popular social networking sites in Korea include Cyworld and Kakao, do you use FB and Twitter in Korea much or are you mainly on these platforms because of external (non Korean) interest? The best thing in Korea for connecting with friends is Kakaotalk, it's the best right now for messaging. Korea has embraced FB and Twitter totally now. I started Twitter a very long time ago, and during that time I had so many followers... but then suddenly I quit it when we made the new album. It was kind of stupid, because when we came to promote, I had to start all over again getting followers...oops! Haha!
Let’s say you’re having a dinner party and you can invite 3 guests (alive/dead/fictional), who would be at the table eating with you? Tough question, my friends are the people I value most. So, out of curiosity, I think just Jim Morrison: he’s simultaneously alive, dead, and fictional.
What was the last album/record you bought? Arctic Monkeys - AM
What was the last book you read? Check-In - An awesome book about motels/hotels, haha. Korea has so many weird and wonderful themed motels and hotels. I once said on a radio show that I wanna make a book like that based on all the places we've stayed when we tour Korea.
What was the first song that you learned to play as a band? Shape of My Heart by Sting. Hahaha!
Best advice you would give to a new band just starting out on their musical journey? Probably I would say, don't expect things to happen quickly. Gaining experience together and growing, makes a band better in quality. Perseverance can be more powerful than luck sometimes.
The video to ‘Cigarette Girl’ looks quite racy/sexy at times, did you have any trouble getting it released in your country? Actually, Korean music videos are pretty sexy these days. Ours can't be played on mainstream media like TV and Radio not because of the racy parts: but because of the smoking and swearing.
I see you’re planning on releasing an album of English tracks in June, is this a plan to widen your global audience? Yes, that's the idea. We wanna grow more internationally. Considering a lot the music we actually listen to is in English, it's something we're naturally interesting in already.
Tell me about your best ever gig? There is no 'one' best gig. Every year we have new experiences on stage and strive to make better gigs in difference settings. I'd hate to think we've already played our best ever gig.
Yoon Do Hyun was keen to get back to his business so we quickly squeezed in the quick fire questions….
Mac or PC Computer? PC
Holidays/Vacations – Beach or ski-ing? Beach
Wine or Beer? Beer
CD or Vinyl? CD
Car or Motorbike? Car
Cat or Dog? Dog
Bath or Shower? Bath
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino? Robert De Niro
Vanilla Ice or MC Hammer? MC Hammer
Acoustic or Electric? Acoustic
Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston? Angelina Jolie
Cooked Breakfast (bacon/eggs/mushrooms/toast etc) or Breakfast Cereal? Cereal
So there you have it folks, loads of fascinating information about the South Korean megaband 'YB', take a few minutes to check out their social media pages below.
musicmuso.com would like to thank Yoon Do Hyun for sparing the time to complete the interview and we would like to wish the band every success in the future and hope to see them in the UK soon!