South Korea is a country whose music scene is dominated by dance music, ballads, PSY and Girls Generation. As guitar fans, it’s refreshing to see something emerge that is the polar opposite of the overproduced, keyboard-powered music that has become synonymous with South Korea. In a few short months, GUILT KICK has gone from formation to the release of a four-song demo, entitled simply GUILT KICK.
Formed in Daejeon, the band features ex-members of The Man Wons, Holy Electric, One Shot and Jeen Freek. With Ben Mays and Dave Robinson on guitars with Matt Ross and Evan Matthews laying down a seriously heavy beat, GUILT KICK are here for a good time, not a long time. Set to play their last show on June 20, the boys sat down with Korea Guitar on a local Tous Les Jours patio to discuss Guilt Kick’s origins, noise rock, influences and first instruments.
Korea Guitar: How did this whole Guilt Kick thing start?
Matt Ross: I think it’s kind of a common story, not just among bands in South Korea, but pretty much everywhere, where you’re in a band and one person leaves and for whatever reason, you can’t replace that person. So you just start your next band with people who didn’t leave. That’s kind of how this happened. We are basically four-fifths of The Holy Electric. That was the first band that Mitch Spencer (ex-Holy Electric guitarist/bassist) and Evan and myself put together after our old cover band One Shot ended. And that was the same story. Our guitar player, Brett Caldwell, left. When he left there was no point in doing One Shot anymore and we decided to focus on songwriting and doing originals. We tried as a three piece, but decided we needed another guitar player, and we ended up getting two, Ben and Dave.
KG: Ben, where did you and Dave come from?
Ben Mays: Dave and I worked together, and we were drinking one night and every obscure band we could think of were bands that we shared interest in. We, actually started another band called Jeen Freek with Justin James (ex Jeen Freek Vocalist, who also left Korea), and Mitch who was already in Holy Electric. And that’s how we got involved with Matt and Evan.
Matt: Jeen Freek and Holy Electric existed simultaneously and we shared three members.
KG: So when did the four of you get together and how long did it take get to where you are now?
Matt: The first show we played as a 5-piece was at Yellow Taxi (in Daejeon). It was all covers, we didn’t play any original stuff then. After that we started incorporating original songs into our shows.
KG: On your Bandcamp page (you can check out Guilt Kick’s demo at http://guiltkick.bandcamp.com/releases) it says you are a noise rock band.
Evan: I don’t like that. We’ve talked about that before. I don’t agree with that but…
KG: Define noise rock.
Ben: As a genre, it’s just, for me, a loose definition of post-punk bands. Music that is slightly more technical hardcore, I guess. Also, the arrangements are a little less traditional. Bands like…
Evan: Dillinger Escape Plan was something I recognized…
Matt: Are they technically noise rock though? I would call them math rock.
Evan: We’re not into labels too much.
Matt: I don’t think it’s a good descriptor to call us a punk band. That’s a little too limited. I think there’s definitely a punk influence, but it’s kind of unorthodox. The things noise bands have in common are…it’s noisy, technical…
Matt: Ya, aggressive, but aggression not being the sole mood.
Ben: Not vocally focused aggression.
Matt: Clearly Jesus Lizard is an influence on us, but It’s not an overpowering influence.
Ben: I wouldn’t call anything comparative. Noise rock is just the best label that fits, not necessarily that it’s anything specific.
KG: Who influenced you guys to pick up an instrument when you were young?
Ben: My first album was the Blue Album by Weezer, but then I quickly hated everything they did after that. When I started really getting into music, I started getting into lo-fi, indie pop stuff when I was about 15. The Mountain Goats and were the first bands I got weird about, researching and collecting all their stuff. That’s probably about the same time as I started playing guitar.
Evan: My brother played drums. There was always a drum set in the house and that was a very organic decision. I had to be like bigger brother, so I did that. I was ten, I think, when I started playing in school, and then I played in a jazz band in middle school. That was fun and embarrassing at the same time. Then my brother moved away with the drum set, so I didn’t play for about 4 years. Then on my birthday, April 28 of 2005, the day that I got fired from Schlotzsky’s Deli for smoking weed in the walk-in, I bought myself a drum set for 5 or 600 dollars. I brought it to university, and I have it somewhere still.
Matt: I grew up with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. And then I forgot all about Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath when I got really into punk rock and hard core as an early teenager. By the time I was in my late teens-early twenties, I got really into metal.
KG: Do you remember your first instrument?
Ben: I played recorder in the fourth grade.
Evan: Oh, I did do that as well.
Ben: For Christmas one year, I bothered my parents about getting me a guitar, so I got a Fender DG8 acoustic, which is not a particularly top end acoustic, but that’s what I learned on. It was the only guitar I had for probably 6 or 7 years. I didn’t start playing electric guitar until I was almost in college. That was a Squier Strat. It came in a pack, you know, strings, pick, chord book, polish…
Ben: No but it came with a string winder.
Matt: I played cello briefly in the orchestra in the 6th grade. I’ve always regretted stopping that. My first band was started out of gym class when I was about 15. I guess every high school has the guy who comes to school with his guitar all the time, and we knew one of those guys. There was another guy who played drums. We were disinclined to participate in gym class and one thing led to another. One guy said “I play drums”, another said “I play guitar. What can you do?” I suppose I could play bass. So for my birthday that year, I begged my father to buy me a bass. It was a Fender Mexican Precision bass.
Dave: (We weren’t ignoring him…He arrived late from work in true rock star style) First instrument, last instrument…guitar. Only one instrument. I started on a ¾ acoustic guitar. I wasn’t very good at acoustic guitar so then I got a deliciously awful coloured green strat copy with a Gorilla amp. The amp was more interesting than the guitar. It had a really bold logo and it looked like it was going to be really gnarly. It’s still the only amp I’ve ever seen that was made out to be a practice amp. Absolutely no way of creating distortion. So, I thought distortion was all in the tone of the guitar. I thought if someone can play heavy, it’s just because they were a heavy player, cuz I couldn’t do it. But I was shit so that’s why. My God my mind was blown when I first found an effects pedal.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the Guilt Kick interview…Coming Soon
Matt Ross- Bass, Lead vocals
Ben Mays- Guitars, Lead vocals
David Robinson- Guitars
Evan Matthews- Drums
Check out the demo at: http://guiltkick.bandcamp.com/releases