Rock band Gate Flowers looks beyond Korea

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Rock band Gate Flowers, who finished in the No. 4 spot in the first season of the survival show "Top Band" on KBS, did not get a winning trophy, but they gained something bigger - fans, the courage to carry on with their music career and their mentor Shin Dae-chul, a prominent figure in the country's rock scene and the son of legendary guitarist Shin Joong-hyun.

It was the four-member band's honest but rough rock 'n' roll sound that instantly wowed the viewers. Led by the group's vocalist Park Keun-hong, who is said to have been influenced by Seattle grunge and progressive metal rock, the band invited the audience to the most destructive but innovative and energetic world of rock music. Show after a show, the band got the audience excited, particularly those in their late 20s and 30s who had to suppress their musical desires in order to make a living and attend university.

"We were lucky to get such attention from all over the country. We never realized that there were so many people who love the classical rock sound," Yeom Seung-shik, the band's guitarist, said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Monday.

Right after the show ended, the band's online community members surged more than 20 times. Hundreds of people began to come to their concerts in Hongdae where they used to get only 20-30. The love from fans encouraged the four men to solely pursue their music career: Vocalist Park, 35, left the publishing company where he had worked for the last seven years; Yeom, 31, stopped teaching English in schools; and drummer Yang Jong-eun quit his part time children's book illustration job.

"Fans say they envy our talent and our courage to pursue music. Well, to do music, you should forget about earning income on a regular basis. It is a hungry job. But we decided to take this path because we wanted to do something that other bands haven't done," Yeom added.

Testing their music in foreign lands - particularly in the U.S. and the U.K., the home of rock - is one of those things, Park said.

"We want to know how people in the U.S. and in the U.K. evaluate our music. Not only do they have a bigger market for rock bands, we want to see their reaction. We also want to go to Japan, Asia's biggest rock market," said drummer Yang.

Even before their journey in the "Top Band," Gate Flowers, meaning munhwa or culture in Korean, won high praise from critics. They were the Hello Rookie winners in 2009 and were named Rookie of the Year at the 2011 Korean Music Awards with their first eponymous EP released in 2010.

Now under the direction of their mentor Shin, Gate Flowers have brought a positive change to their music with their new and first full-length album "TIME."

In the latest album, the band tried to get closer to the audience by polishing their rough, wild sound and adding a sense of humor and hope. Gate Flowers also revealed that the band itself is more of a jazz/funk hybrid that is completely opposite Park's masculine and explosive voice.

"I think our sound is a bit bluesy. I think people find it interesting because we have the two opposing factors. But we respect each other's music style," Yeom said.

Pix: 20120920-003

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