While most of you trolling this site are hyped about attending KCON in Los Angeles later this month (I’m pressed IATFB didn’t fly me out to cover the stupid thing, but I digress), a handful of you cool kids might be interested in kicking it with one of Seoul’s raddest punk-rock bands instead.
Ahead of their split 7” release with Seattle band Burn Burn Burn, titled ‘Blowing Minds & Melting Faces‘, as well as a West Coast tour of the same name, punk band …Whatever That Means took some time to talk to Asian Junkie about how they came together, their musical influences, and what this whole punk rock thing is all about.
Asian Junkie: …Whatever That Means is made up of members from Korea, America, and Poland. Describe your first time meeting, and how you came together to form a band.
Trash: Well, Jeff and I are married. We started this band back in 2009. I don’t know when we first met Bialy and Daewon. We’ve known each other for years because we’ve played shows with other bands they were in, like 99Anger, Shellback, and Things We Say. When we were in the middle of some member changes, it just made sense to get them on board.
AJ: Why the ellipsis before ‘Whatever That Means’? It gives your band’s name a sense of uncertainty; is that intentional, or what are you going for with your name?
Jeff: They actually did come from some uncertainty at the time. Trash and I had a punk rock show as the after party for our wedding and reception. At that point, she was playing in her old pop-punk band, BB Lucky Town, and I didn’t have a band yet. I was trying to throw something together for the show but didn’t know exactly what it’d be when we were making the poster for the show, so all the bands were listed, and at the bottom it said “and Jeff…whatever that means”. Once we figured out a lineup for the show, we decided to call ourselves …Whatever That Means kind of as a joke so we could pretend our name was on the poster.
AJ: With your distinct backgrounds, I’m curious about what facilitated each of your passions for music. Talk a little about what your lives were like growing up, and what helped shape your musical interests.
Jeff: We’re all from different places, but I don’t know how distinct our backgrounds are. We all grew up pretty similarly. We all learned piano when we were young. All of us either sang in school choir or at church. We’ve all always just had a great love for music. Trash and I both gravitated towards punk rock at a pretty young age. Daewon started more into garage and indie rock, and Bialy was a huge metal head.
AJ: You’re stationed in South Korea at the moment — why not America, or Poland?
Jeff: Seoul is home. Bialy and I aren’t originally from here, but it’s where we’ve both lived and built our lives for the better part of a decade and where we plan to live permanently.
AJ: While on the topic of Korea, have you considered releasing any music in Korean?
Jeff: We have one song titled “Keep It To Yourself” that Trash sings in Korean. I write all of our songs so they’re always originally written in English. We’ve tried to translate a few songs for Trash to sing in Korean, but in the end, they don’t usually work quite right that way. I’d like to have a few more Korean songs, but we’ll just have to wait and see if that happens.
AJ: You’re heading out on tour soon — what are some of your dream stages to perform on, if ever given the opportunity?
Trash: I would love to play Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas and it’d be great to release something with Asian Man Records so we could play their next big anniversary show.
Jeff: And of course there are the big festivals on this side of the map like Valley Rock Festival, Pentaport, and Fuji Rock.
AJ: Your music is definitively punk. How do you push yourselves as a punk band, musically?
Jeff: We put a lot of time into each song we write. We pay really close attention to all the details. We make sure everyone is hitting the right accents and syncopated beats. In a lot of ways, our music is pretty simple, so to make it have a lot of punch, it’s got to be really accurate.
Bialy: We also put in a lot of work when writing lead guitar and vocal harmonies. We want to make sure that we’re not just repeating stuff we did in other songs.
AJ: Would you say you have a pulse on modern punk rock? What are you bringing to the scene that sets you apart?
Trash: We’ve been really influenced by a lot of classic punk rock bands like Bad Religion, The Descendants, Face To Face, and The Bouncing Souls. But there have been so many great new pop-punk bands in recent years that have been pushing us to try new things. Bands like Banner Pilot, The Copyrights, Teenage Bottlerocket, and Off With Their Heads have been at the top of our playlists the last few years. When you hear something like our new song “I Can’t Take It,” I think it’s pretty obvious that we’ve been listening to The Copyrights a lot.
AJ: For people who aren’t familiar with the genre, what are some of your favorite songs to point to for someone to get an honest sense for the music?
Jeff: Individual songs are hard to choose, but I can name a few of the albums that have had the biggest influence on me. There’s Bad Religion’s “All Ages,” Face to Face’s self-titled album, The Bouncing Souls’ “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” and The Descendants’ “Everything Sux.”
Trash: I’d put MxPx’s “Life In General” on that list too.
…Whatever That Means kick off their West Coast tour in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 23, so be sure to catch them if you’re in the area.
…Whatever That Means Tour Dates
July 23 Las Vegas, NV @ The Double Down Saloon
July 24 Fresno, CA @ TBA
July 26 Corvallis, OR @ The Interzone Café
July 27 Seattle, WA @ The Kraken
July 28 Tacoma, WA @ Real Art
July 29 Portland, OR @ Foggy Notion
July 30 Reno, NV @ PB&J’s
July 31 Berkeley, CA @ 924 Gilman Street
August 1 Los Angeles, CA @ The Redwood Bar