South By Southwest (SXSW) is bringing a lot of international acts to Austin, Texas, including several South Korean musicians. Several shows are dedicated to Korean bands, and one member of South Korean metal band Victim Mentality spoke to KultScene about the band, its unique style, its upcoming album, and what to expect next from Victim Mentality.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you please introduce yourself to KultScene’s readers?
“Hi, I’m Kyungho! I’m the guitarist in Victim Mentality. We’re a glam metal band from South Korea. Our group also includes Scorpion on bass, Tarantula on drums, and Krocodile handles vocals. We’re going to release our Heavy Metal Is Back full-length debut [album] at the end of March. And we’ll be showcasing music from the album this week in Austin, Texas at the SXSW Music Festival!
How did you four come together to create a band?
Krocodile and I have been into heavy metal since we were kids. We met in 2005 and quickly became friends. In 2009 we decided to start a band together. We wanted to play classic heavy metal like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. But then we decided to change our style and become a glam metal band instead. We recorded a CD single together called Magic Finger, and after it was finished we found Scorpion. We knew him from an online metal community and knew he played bass well, so we suggested he become a part of Victim Mentality. That happened in 2013. The three of us started playing gigs together that year. We didn’t have a drummer yet, so we just used a drum machine for performances. Then we did a show and really liked the drummer that was playing with another band on the bill. So we asked him if he wanted to play with Victim Mentality. That was Tarantula and he officially joined our band in February 2014.
How did you guys decide to go glam? Have people reacted well to it?
We really like ‘80s music. We started off playing classic heavy metal music but we wanted to do something that was fancier and sexier. Glam metal seemed like the most natural fit. So we changed our sound and started wearing costumes similar to those that ‘80s glam metal bands wore.
A lot of people in Korea don’t understand why we’re dressed the way we do when we perform. Only people who are familiar with ‘80s metal understand it. But that’s okay! Because people who don’t know about ‘80s heavy metal get really excited when they do see one of our shows because we’re doing something different from what most modern rock and metal bands are doing.
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What music influences your sound? Who are some of your favorite metal icons?
Motley Crue is a big influence on Victim Mentality. The first song we wrote as Victim Mentality actually came from copying one of Motely Crue’s riffs. We also listen to hair metal bands like Styper and W.A.S.P. But I think musically we’re most influenced by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest still. If you mix their classic metal sound with Poison and Twisted Sister, you get Victim Mentality.
What’s the rock and metal music scene like in South Koreanowadays?
There are a lot of bands in South Korea, but the majority of them play modern rock or acoustic music. Compared to other styles of music, the metal scene is small and there are probably only 50 or so bands playing heavy metal in Korea. And those 50 bands are all playing different kinds of metal. That’s why we want to expose more people to heavy metal. We know glam metal is different from a lot of the more contemporary styles of metal, but our music is really fun and easy for people to get into. So I think Victim Mentality is a good band to introduce more people in South Korea to heavy metal.
How did you feel when you found out you would be performing at SXSW? Are you nervous about the festival?
We were really excited! And we’re still very excited now. It’s a world-renowned event and features lots of different kinds of music from all around the globe so it’s going to be a lot of fun to play in Austin during the festival. We’re looking forward to sharing our music with new audiences and to meeting lots of music fans and musicians from other countries.
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I’ve heard that sometimes you guys use props on stage,such as Krocodile using a bullwhip, combining music with performance art. How did that get started?
Heavy metal has always used props like leather jackets, leather pants, motorcycles, and other things. As for the bullwhip, Rob Halford from Judas Priest used a bull whip on stage. So to us, that’s also a great heavy metal prop which is why Krocodile uses one too!
Three of you have stage names, except your guitarist, Sohn Kyungho. Is there a reason for that?
In addition to Victim Mentality, I also play in another band called Dark Mirror ov Tragedy. With that band, I use the stage name “Senyt.” Since I’ve used stage names since I was 20, when we started Victim Mentality I thought it would be fun to use my real name. But sometimes when I see myself all dressed up in tight leopard print and wearing lots of makeup I question that decision!
What’s your music creating process like? I noticed that you have songs in both Korean and English. Why is that?
I usually make the main riffs and melodies, and Krocodile makes the lyrics. On our Magic Finger CD single, there are Korean and English versions of the songs I’m Not Your Friend and Don’t Spit On Me. Originally we had made the songs only in English, but when we recorded them our producer suggested making Korean versions too. It seemed like a good idea to better connect with Korean audiences.
KultScene has a lot of readers who are fans of Korean idols, but don’t know a lot about other sorts of Korean music. Who are your favorite Korean musicians that you think people should know?
We only know about heavy metal bands, so that’s all we can tell people about. If you like bands that play glam metal like Victim Mentality, give The Hysterics a listen. If people are into thrash metal, Crash and Method are both great bands. And if you’re a fan of metalcore, I recommend Remnants of the Fallen.
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What are your favorite Victim Mentality songs for new fans to listen to?
Every song we have is awesome! So people should definitely listen to all of them. But if I have to pick a few, I’ll say American Junk Boy, Heavy Metal Is Back, and Pubic Lice. All three of the tracks can be found on our new Heavy Metal Is Back album. Give them a chance! I’m sure you’ll love them all.
What are Victim Mentality’s plans for 2015?
We’re going to be playing lots and lots of gigs in support of Heavy Metal Is Back SXSW will be our first time performing overseas. Hopefully we’ll have more chances soon to play abroad again.
Is there anything else you’d like to let fans know about Victim Mentality?
It doesn’t matter where it is in the world, if people want to see us play we’ll go there and will wow everyone with our fantastic music and stage show! Heavy metal is back!
Thanks so much to KultScene for speaking with us, and to everyone reading this for taking the time to learn about Victim Mentality.”
Victim Mentality will be playing three shows at 2015 SXSW. Check them out:
March 18 Austin, Texas (3:20 pm) @ Club Metropolis (Heavy Metal PoolParty)
March 18 Austin, Texas (9 pm) @ Karma Lounge
March 20 Austin, Texas (12 am) @ The Majestic (Korea NightII: Seoulsonic)
Check out Victim Mentality’s latest music video, and the teaser for the soon-to-be-released I Still Love You.