다방 밴드 Flashbacks

I’ve been working on a website in which to store all the stuff related to the band I was in from 2002-2004, Dabang Band (다방 밴드), and in the process, I’ve also been working through images and audio and so on…

For me, the experience was really unusual: all my life, I’d played in jazz groups, so rock was new and different. While ultimately it wasn’t for me, and I ended up leaving the group–with some bitterness at the time on all sides, I think–I still have a lot of fond memories of the years we spent together. And I’ve long thought that, given all the hard work we put in, it’d be a shame to Some fun ones have come up, and since I guess the process has tripped a nostalgia switch for me, I thought I’d share and reminisce:

thanksPaseulgi

At one point I actually got asked to sign someone’s T-shirt: this was a fan whose name–or nickname online, at least–was 파슬기, who was an avid commentator on the Korean-language blog I ran at the time, posting about my progress in studying the language. (The posts are the earliest in this category, but they’re garbled because of a bad file encoding import, so you can’t see her comments now.) She gifted the band with a few homemade presents, of which I still have one:

Camera Roll-3617

Camera Roll-3615

Our band’s logo was a coffee cup, so she did up little ceramic coffee cups for each of us, inscribed with the band’s name and with a spiral shape that we also sometimes used as a secondary logo. It was just the coolest little thing, and it makes me want to inspire that kind of excitement and creativity in other people. The only thing I could do to thank her was to sign her shirt as extravagantly as possible, which is why the whole shirt is covered in the snap above.

We also sometimes went camping and fishing, which was always interesting. Once we camped at a gravesite by a river, near the highway:

Color, less spooky

That night, we started telling ghost stories by the fire until Sunghwan, the bassist in the band, begged us to stop. Apparently campin by a gravesite was creepy enough for him. But it was also kind of beautiful:

fishingtrip2-c

One of the first bits of media coverage we got was a live street concert in Jeonju, which ended up in a provincial newspaper:

Dabang_Saxomaphonist_Closeup

And this was an ad for one of our earlier gigs, only a few months after we got together:

contemplate

Street concerts were always ripe for an incident:

crazy old guy

I also found some “lost” photos of us performing, that I hadn’t known were out there, including a few nice ones where you can actually see me. This was in Club Bootleg, the local indie club and expat dive (yep, both at the same time) in Iksan from about 2002-2004. The proprietor was a nice guy named Mr. Kwon, whom I liked a lot at the time. Pretty much all the interesting foreigners in town spent at least some time there at some point… while the dumbasses were spent their time at a place called The Brass Monkey because it offered cheap pitchers of beer at a lower price than Bootleg, which was silly: the number of times I got undercharged at Bootleg, despite my protestations, more than made up the difference in price…

gsax

dabang_dgbd-latesummer2004

The above shot looks like it was snapped at DGBD, a club in Seoul, and if my memory serves, this would be the evening we played with the Rock Tigers and 3rd Line Butterfly, the night we went across the street to a punk club called Club Drug (yes, that was the name) and saw a hardcore band and I met my first Korean punk, a shockingly polite, if gaunt, young man sporting a giant Mohawk and skin-tight leather pants and jacket who talked to me like I were some respected uncle or something.

22-Nov2003clubbbang-1

That last one is a really good one: you almost never get a shot like that, where everyone in the band is directly in view, and playing, and not blocked by some microphone or something. It’s unfortunate that Sunghwan and Thai (the bassist and drummer) are so obscured, but it still might be the best shot ever of the group performing.  And probably part of the reason is that the stage area was absolutely tiny in the original location of Club Bbang. (빵, yes, in other words, Club Bread, and rumor has it they actually served bread during set breaks in the old days, though that was before we showed up on the scene, let alone before they relocated to their current location. Which, mind, may have changed since I last went in 2008 or 2009.) I still have a copy of this poster somewhere in a tube left in storage with friend in Korea, from the launch party for the second CD:

dabangposter

Here’s another poster, this time for a film featuring our song “Taxi Blues.” I never got to see the film until earlier this year, though I finally did. It’s… gloomy, but pretty believably accurate as far as how bad it sucks to drive a cab in Seoul, and the lyrics of the song match the film very well:

taxiblueslarge

And while I often used to say that playing saxophone in a rock band in Korea is not as good a way to meet women as it might be in a more liberal society–especially when you’re not Korean–that’s not completely true,as this photo by my former coworker John Rupprecht shows:

Pharmacy Majors...

Not that anything actually came of it–though yes, one of them did bring me that bouquet–but that’s another story… Meanwhile, attentive eyes will notice the profusion of Budweisers on the table. At that time, Bud was one of the better beers available in Korea, second perhaps to a brand by (I think it was Hite) called Stout, which wasn’t really a Stout, but which was better than the Korean megabrew lagers. (How things change: now Bud is just one of (and the least interesting of) the many foreign beers commercially available in Korea!)

Anyway, there’s a ton of content left to integrate into it, and work to do, and I’m trying to sort out the template for the page (the first one I tried had some sneakily-included Google AdSense stuff included, without advertising the fact, which was annoying). There are bios to write for the band members–even just brief ones, as I’m not sure they’ll be interested in bothering to add more themselves.

But you can see what I’ve got up there right now.

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