Rose Motel tells it as it is ... in their own weird way

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Rose Motel tells it as it is ... in their own weird way


Rose Motel, an up-and-coming indie band that grabbed attention on the TV show “Top Band 2,” is known for its frequently wry and erotic lyrics. From left: Im Kyung-sub, Kang Jun-woo, Bae Sang-jae, Yook Joong-wan and Yun Jang-hyun. Provided by Kwon Hyuk-jae

Rose Motel, an up-and-coming band in the Korean indie scene, tells it straight. Their often sexual and ironic lyrics may at first be uncomfortable for Koreans, but the poetry quickly becomes addicting:

“You make me so depressed, so depressed, so depressed ...

“Just seeing your face pisses me off.”

The group’s songs are often narratives of men’s nights out in Korea, expressing through music what goes on in their heads. Their recent hit song, “Bong-sook Ah,” is a perfect example:

“Hey Bong-sook, forget about a taxi, wait until I sober up.

“Wait for me, I will take you home. Just 30 minutes.

“I can’t go like this. We still gotta drink it up. Empty the bottle or pay for this yourself.”

These unrefined, often crass lyrics are a rarity in the Korean music scene, which is no stranger to soft, simpering ballads. What makes the Flight of the Conchord-esque songs even more effective are the smoldering, smooth voices of the singers.

Rose Motel got people’s attention through the KBS survival show “Top Band 2.” When the group first sang “Bong-sook Ah” on the show, the track went viral, spreading like wild fire on Twitter and Internet blogs.

Their open-mindedness was evident in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily last week. The band is comprised of five members: vocalist Kang Jun-woo, 32; guitarist Yook Joong-wan, 32; drummer Im Kyung-sub, 34; bassist Yun Jang-hyun, 38; and lead guitarist Bae Sang-jae, 33.

Yook shared the scoop on how the group came up with the name Rose Motel. The reason was rather simple: They wanted to cancel out the impressions people have of them when they look at their wild and disheveled appearance. Yook said the name seemed a fitting way to make “softer.”

In a society in which bands and K-pop artists are usually judged by their exteriors more than their sound, it was a challenge for the group of five to make a living with their quirky style.

They are often asked what made them participate in “Top Band 2,” a television show that produces artists with a specific K-pop image, and their answer is simple: They had nothing to lose.

For the past 10 years of living under the radar, scrapping together enough money to eat was a common challenge. But Bae said the biggest obstacle was overcoming the criticisms of listeners who laughed at their style and said they were living in a fantasy.

Coming from a similar background, the members said they were a natural fit for each other when they formed the group last October. The first meeting of Kang, Yook and Im was in a live music cafe in Busan, shortly after which their first single was written.

As two more members joined, the team decided to participate in “Top Band 2” with the goal of getting into the top 100. Now they are being highly praised by the public as a blast of fresh air on the stale mainstream music scene. Their fans have also dubbed them with a different name: the best visual band of Hongdae.

Rose Motel does not stick to one genre. They do not copy other singers and rather stick by a philosophy of their own. Kang said “Bong-sook Ah” tells the story that everyone has experienced once in their lives. The philosophy, he said, was to write songs that “anybody can relate to, but nobody writes about.”

And their principle on stage may be defined in simpler terms: Be weird.

“Humor is an important element of the music,” Kang said. “Although what we do on stage might seem weird to some, we think that is the way to show our appreciation to the public.”

Kang said he is the happiest when his music lifts the spirits of others. The band’s desire is to sing together even until their 60s. According to their philosophy, there is nothing more to ask for.

By Im Ju-ri []

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