Joa Band is just doing what they like : For the indie band’s third album, they went back to their roots and made all of their songs from scratch

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Joa Band is just doing what they like : For the indie band’s third album, they went back to their roots and made all of their songs from scratch


The three members of Joa Band. From left is Son Hyun, Ahn Bok-jin and Jo Jun-ho. [WEST BRIDGE]

Mark Twain once said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” In that sense, Korean indie band Joa Band, whose Korean name translates to “Because I Like it,” has not been working since they first started making music together.

The band was started by Jo Jun-ho (ukulele and percussion), who won the Grand Prize at the 2007 MBC University Song Festival, and his long-time friend Son Hyun (guitar). The two friends together discovered Ahn Bok-jin (accordion) and Baek Ga-young (bass), and the four have performed together for nine years, starting as buskers in the streets of Hongdae in western Seoul.

Baek left the group in 2013 and the band has been a trio ever since. To learn more about the band that was formed “because they like it,” the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of Korea JoongAng Daily, recently sat down with them for an interview.

Their latest album “Our Journey” is the band’s third album, however the members call it their “Album 0,” as it is composed of songs the band performed while busking in Hongdae, prior to releasing their first official album in 2013. According to the band, 11 out of the 13 song on the album are from the past, while the remaining two are new.


The cover of Joa Band’s third album “Our Journey.” [BEATROAD]

Joa Band’s latest album is not a mere collection of songs. The band attempts to tell a story through the songs as if it’s a novel. There are two protagonists, a male character named Kim Chang-soo and a female character Shin Yu-mi, both aged 26.

They were each other’s first love in elementary school, and the story goes on, track after track, detailing their difficult times and more. According to the band, this kind of storytelling concept was developed by Lee Byung-hoon, a music producer who also worked on popular films such as “C’est Si Bon” (2014) and “Love, Lies” (2015).

On the first track of the album titled “News Boy,” the male character Chang-soo is portrayed as a paper boy who lives a difficult life, making a living by delivering newspapers in the morning and going out to the streets at nights to perform as a busker. Meanwhile, Yu-mi is an employee at an advertising firm, who is tired and stressed from working all night long.

The lyrics of most of the songs are quite relatable and use small thought-like observations to tell the story. For example, a part of “Leaving Rooftop” goes, “the Goldstar washing machine that seemed broken actually works well,” while the song “Memorable Date” cleverly features the lyric, “Will I be able to forget you by the time this milk turns sour?”

“The lyrics were written from our experiences, but with new characters, the stories seemed brand new to us as well,” said Jo.

The band says they worked on the album from scratch under the direction of producer Lee. To include the sound of an engine in one of the songs, for example, they rented a motorbike and recorded it themselves.

“[As singer and songwriters], when would we ever walk around carrying this tall boom mike to record sounds?” recalled Jo. “We really worked hard to do things from scratch for this album.”

The band celebrates 10 years together next year, a big deal for an indie band.

“To be honest, in the indie scene, there are so many artists that borrow loans from the bank just to make music and release an album,” Jo added. “We were able to come this far because we worked like ants. We were out on the streets busking in the spring, summer and autumn and worked in the studio making music in the winter It was an endless cycle.”

For the band’s 10th anniversary, the members say they have no plans, except waiting for Ahn to give birth sometime in February. The two “uncles” appeared to be more nervous than the mother-to-be.

After the band’s concert with MeloMance at the Nurim Arthall in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, on Dec. 25 to celebrate Christmas, the members say they’ll finally be taking a break, because they’d like to.


좋아서 하는 밴드라, 여기까지 왔죠

‘덕업일치’라는 말이 있다. 좋아하는 분야에 심취해 파고드는 ‘덕질’이 곧 직업이 되어 생계를 유지할 수 있다는 의미다. 그런 의미에서 본다면 ‘좋아서하는밴드(좋아밴)’는 일찍이 그 꿈을 이룬 케이스다. MBC 대학가요제에서 금상을 받은 조준호(퍼커션·우쿨렐레)가 오랜 벗 손현(기타)과 의기투합해 안복진(아코디언)과 백가영(베이스)을 영입하고 2009년 홍대 거리 버스킹을 시작한 이래 9년째 밴드를 이어오고 있기 때문이다. 2013년 말 백가영이 ‘안녕하신가영’으로 독립해 나가면서 3인조가 됐지만, 이들은 여전히 음악이 좋아서 업으로 삼고 있으니 성공한 덕후가 아닐까.

지난 3월부터 1~2곡씩 발표해 최근 완성된 0집 ‘우리가 되기까지’ 역시 좋아밴이니까 가능한 프로젝트였다. 2013년 1집 발매 전 거리에서 발표했던 17곡 중 11곡을 추리고 거기에 2곡을 더해 총 13곡을 담은 한 편의 뮤지컬 같은 음반을 만든 것이다. 음반 전체가 하나의 스토리로 이어지는 콘셉트는 ‘해어화’ ‘쎄시봉’ 등 음악영화를 만들어온 이병훈 음악감독이 제안했다. 스물여섯 김창수와 신유미라는 남녀주인공이 생겨났고, 초등학교 때 서로 호감이 있던 이들이 우연히 다시 만나 사랑에 대한 온도 차를 실감한다는 이야기가 만들어졌다. 아침엔 신문배달하고 저녁엔 버스킹하는 남자와 광고회사에 취직해 늘상 야근에 시달리는 여자라는 설정은 좋아밴표 생활밀착형 가사에 힘을 불어넣었다. ‘고장 난 듯한 골드스타 세탁기가 아직 얼마나 잘 돌아가는지’(‘옥탑방에서’)라거나 ‘이 우유가 상할 때쯤이면 너를 잊을 수 있을까’(유통기한) 등이다.

조준호는 “분명 저희 경험담이었는데 주인공과 이야기가 더해지니 전혀 다른 노래로 재탄생하게 됐다”고 말했다. 손현이 불렀던 ‘좋아요’는 화자가 여자로 바뀌면서 안복진이 다시 부르기도 했다. “처음엔 제 노래를 빼앗기는 것 같아서 기분이 이상했는데 여자 버전으로 들으니 그것도 그 나름대로 좋더라고요.”(손현)

이병훈 감독의 지휘 아래 이들은 일사불란하게 움직였다. 지인에게 오토바이를 빌려 타고 다니며 신문배달하는 소리를 녹음했다. “저희가 언제 붐 마이크 들고 돌아다니면서 계단에서 내려오는 구두 소리를 녹음하고, 놀이터 아이들 웃음소리를 따 보겠어요. 정말 한땀 한땀 만든 거예요.”(조준호)

1년 버티기도 힘들다는 인디신에서 이들은 10년을 바라보는 장수 밴드가 됐다. 조준호는 “사실 빚을 내서 음반을 내는 팀이 꽤 많다. 하지만 저희는 봄여름가을은 거리에서 노래하고, 겨울엔 작업하는 식으로 농사짓듯 일해서 자금을 모았기에 계속할 수 있었다”고 답했다. 공연 수입은 나누되 음반 수입은 다음 앨범 제작을 위해 저축하면서 여기까지 왔다는 것이다. 그러는 동안 복날에 맞춘 ‘보신 음악회’나 회사 옥상에서 하는 ‘달을 녹이네’ 등 소규모 브랜드 공연이 자리 잡았다.

10주년 계획을 묻자 ‘순산’이라는 답이 가장 먼저 돌아왔다. 내년 2월 출산을 앞둔 안복진보다도 예비 삼촌들이 더 신난 모양새였다. 이들은 25일 경기 화성 누림아트홀에서 멜로망스와 함께 하는 ‘올댓인디Ⅲ’ 콘서트를 끝으로 당분간 휴지기를 갖는다.

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