On the road again, a decade later

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On the road again, a decade later


Their music encapsulated the mindsets of younger Koreans in the 1990s. The band focused on composers and songwriters, inviting guest vocalists according to its needs. The project-based band caused a sensation in the Korean music scene.
They were unusual. They created the band’s name out of nothing. And when people kept asking its meaning, they gave a random reason, saying that 015B meant “a flying crow in the sky.”
015B’s lyrics were a refreshing reminder that life can be cruel sometimes. An excerpt from “Love of the New Mankind” reads, “There are plenty of beautiful girls on the streets, but what’s up with the girls I meet whenever I am on a blind date?” In “Very Old Lovers,” they sang, “By the evening, you call her out of duty, and ask about each other’s day, when you couldn’t care less.”
O15B is making a comeback with their 7th album, “Final Fantasy.” From Wednesday until this evening, they are performing “O15B: Electronic Orchestra Recital” at the LG Arts Center. Their latest album is the group’s first release since their 6th album in 1996.
“We thought of leaving the scene with a good image of the band,” says Jang Ho-il, the group’s leader. “But we had an offer for a memorial album from a recording company. So instead, we decided to release the new album.”
Jeong Seok-won, who was recently taken to a hospital emergency room after a kidney problem, had a more honest reason.
“We had some bitter experiences working as outside composers for other musicians, with them telling us what to do,” he says. “Ho-il suggested we should release a new album, and I agreed. We missed the days when we made the music we wanted.”
Ten years is a long period. In the Korean music scene, a generation of music has come and gone. The environment has changed, as has the audience’s taste.
“It would be a lie to say I don’t have any fears,” said Mr. Jang. “But I just think we could start fresh as a project team to produce quality music.”
Their 7th album is a mixture of hip hop, R&B and electronic music.
“We aren’t here to make people nostalgic,” said Mr. Jang. “Times have changed. We’ve changed. We want to pursue music that advocates the sentiment of our time, something that fits our era.”
The group’s change could be perplexing for people who are used to the old music of 015B. The band, though, demands that their audiences change as much as they have.
“I hate to hear people of my generation grousing that ‘music today is no longer music,’” Mr. Jang said. “People tend to embrace diverse genres of music when they are young and sensitive. But as soon as they marry and have children, they close their ears to new music and only listen to nostalgic songs. The 386 generation (people in their 30s, who were born in the ’60s and went to school in the ’80s) is naturally isolated from the music market, because of their falling taste in music.”
Many of the songs on the new album are about love. It’s a drastic leap from their sixth album, which was mostly about the end of an era.
“It simply depicts my life,” says Mr. Jeong, still single. “I like women, and the songs portray how my mind is dominated by that thought.”
While their second and third albums exhibited hostility toward the attitudes of young women, songs from the latest album tend to be about love. “Just because time changes, it doesn’t mean the sentiment goes away,” says Mr. Jeong. “If our 10-year-old song about a man calling his ex-girlfriend on a public telephone was made today, we’d have the same emotion except that now we’d use a mobile phone.”

by Jeong Hyun-mok
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