[ENTERTAINMENT]Fame: For Them, a Tough Nut to Crack

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Fame: For Them, a Tough Nut to Crack

The four members of the Korean underground rock band Crying Nut seem to have a lot in common. They are all the same age, 26, are roughly the same height and even share similar mannerisms.

Perhaps that's not too surprising when you consider that they have spent most of their time together from early childhood. Their musical tastes developed together, as they swapped CDs of bands from New Kids on the Block to Metallica. Their friendship and shared love for such rock icons as the Sex Pistols and Nirvana led them to form a rock band. The thing that Park Yun-sik, the vocalist, Lee Sang-myeon, the guitarist, Han Kyeong-rok, the bassist and Lee Sang-hyeok, the drummer, had to decide on was what name to give their new group.

Hanging out one day they splurged on a pack of walnut cakes, only to realize that that was the last of their money. Trudging homeward, miserably munching the cakes, one of them hit on a name: Crying Nut. That was the birth of a rock band that now has a solid, distinctive status on the Korean music scene. Crying Nut has performed over 2,000 shows to date, their first when they were high school 3d graders, in front of an audience of their friends in an abandoned house.

Their first "official" concert took place in 1995, when they were college students, in a club called Drug near Hongik University. But this first show did not bring them instant glory. "Sometimes in the beginning, there would only be a couple of people in the audience," Park said. Crying Nut continued to perform at Drug three or four times a week, and gradually gained fans. Drug came to be known as a live music club dedicated to quality punk rock. Later, Crying Nut and Drug's owner formed an independent label, with the same title, Drug.

In 1996, they literally took their show on the road with "street punk shows." The extra exposure this brought prompted them to release their first album on the Drug label, titled "Our Nation 1st," a collaboration with the hard rock band Yellow Kitchen. Despite some critical interest in the album, it was ignored by distributors unwilling to take a chance on an unknown punk rock band, and they ended up traveling from place to place to promote their music themselves. (This later inspired the name of their third album, "Circus Magic Vagabonds.")

But in 1998, they released their second album, "Crying Nut." The main track, "Maldalija" ("Riding a Horse"), began to get talked about by young music fans refreshed by the new punk rock sound, and the album began to sell. To date it has sold 70,000 copies, a success for an independent rock band. Later, they imprinted their name on the Japanese rock music scene as well, staging concerts in the Fuji Rock Festival, In the City Japan Music Fair and Tokyo Super Expo.

Their energetic performance style is coupled with a more sophisticated sound on their new album, "Hasu Yeon-ga," ("Under Water Love Song"). They are also appearing in a digital film titled "Looking for Bruce Lee" released by Drug.

On Saturday, Crying Nut will celebrate the album release and their debut film with a concert and film preview. For more information, call 02-326-3085 (Korean service only).

by Choe Jae-hee

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