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From UK to South Korea: Rival Bones share their tales of playing Sound City Korea

We caught up power duo Rival Bones following their trip from the North West of England to South Korea to shake up the Asian audiences as part of Sound City Korea, the initiative which sees UK artists transported overseas to perform at MU:CON and Zandari Festival, South Korea’s most important industry events. They tell us how the opportunity came about, followed by an entertaining and whiskey-fuelled diary, kept by James and Chris to document their Korean exploits.


So how did the opportunity to play at Sound City Korea come about?
Our label put us forward to Sound City a few months before the actual festival so it was all pretty last minute! We got accepted and then that was it! We were super lucky to get the opportunity to be put forward so we're really grateful for it.

How did you plan to make the most of your time there?
We told ourselves before we went that we were really going to just go for everything. We said yes to everything offered over there and that included probably the best gig of our time over in Korea in a little bar called Strange Fruit. We also ended up doing a really cool radio interview over there as well. Our whole attitude was to be involved as much as possible, go to all the gigs, meet people and make sure we left our mark.

How did you fund the trip?
Our label Alya Records sorted out all of the funding for the trip. I think it was a combination of Sound City, BPI and some others that contributed. We're extremely grateful for that!

Did you take any merch with you?
We wanted to take t-shirts to sell but we were told we weren't allowed so we ended up bringing over little packs to give out. They included a CD, sticker, badge and a little flyer so we went out and about to give them to people over there.

What did you hope to get out of the trip to Sound City Korea?
We hoped it would be a great experience for us to go and play in another country. It's not every day that you’re offered an opportunity like that. We also wanted to show people what we were about and try to make our mark over in South Korea, both to an Asian audience and to the members of the British music industry that attended Zandari.



DAY 1: I’m writing this sat on the couch of our flat here in Hongdae, a few minutes before we go to the official opening party for Zandari Festa at the MUV Hall.  

This country is mental. Like seriously MENTAL. We arrived after a mammoth 28 hour journey with a +8 hour time difference and got straight out to exploring including eating traditional Korean BBQ out in the centre of Hongdae. 

After that we wandered around Seoul to take in some of the sights. The city really comes alive at night; it was dead between 1pm-9pm but after that it explodes in neon. Street performers, food vendors and a multitude of bars. We ended up in the coolest little Dive Bar called Strangefruit and after copious beers and record swapping we’ve arranged to come back and play here over the weekend! 


DAY 2: Who knew jet lag could be so bad? We spent the majority of the day catching up on sleep before heading out into Hongdae for the official opening party. We were treated to some awesome Singapore rap and a few other of the Asian artists who play the opening night. The owner told us there was 10,000 beers available, enough for us then (just about!). After that we went and got some food. Korean’s like it SPICY. 

That night we were playing a secret set at Strangefruit at 2am so we went back to our flat, grabbed all the equipment and the gig we played was UNREAL. Best we’ve ever played! There was about 50-60 Koreans, Europeans, industry guys cramped into this cool underground bar and we smashed it to bits. People falling over drums, going wild…it was INTENSE! 

We wrapped up the gig and sat drinking whiskey till 6am. All in all, a great night. Korea is the best place on earth.!


DAY 3: Drinking til 6am can take its toll. We both woke up at around 3-4pm and ran to grab some food and take in some of the sights of Seoul!

That night was the ‘British Night’ of Zandari Festa at MUV Hall so we got down super early with all the gear and then sat next door in the Artist Lounge eating tacos. We’ve met some really cool guys while over here and a few were playing on the bill also. Afrikan Boy, Marvin Powell and VITO are really cool and definitely worth checking out!

Our showcase gig went unbelievably well, better than we could have imagined. A few people said we had the largest crowd which was intense. Koreans LOVE rock music! Our friends in 57 (who we played with in Liverpool earlier in the year) came and watched too! We took all the gear back and inevitably ended up back in Strange Fruit for more drinks till the sun came up!


DAY 4: Saturday was a total write off for us. We got up around 4pm (if it wasn’t apparent already we’re now 100% staying on UK time). We chilled out, made some food and had an early night in preparation for our showcase gig at FF on Sunday…after watching Korean films till 3am.


DAY 5: Started the day off in the best way possible…American breakfast! Next stop, Raccoon Café. Probably the most mental thing we did on the trip. We sat in there for at least an hour stroking and playing with raccoons. They are vicious and scrapped with dogs. 

We had some food and drinks then headed back and grabbed our gear back for the showcase gig at FF. The show was mental. We loved it and it was one of the best crowds we’ve played. Everyone got into it; there was passion, tears, mosh pits. What a wonderful experience it’s been to play over in Korea and this gig was a perfect end to it! 

As per, we ended up in Strangefruit afterwards on whiskey and free beer till the early hours with everyone from the festival! We saw the sunrise. 

DAY 6:
Last full day in beautiful South Korea! We filled it with touristy things; going shopping, eating Korean food, but we also did some local press. We had an interview on TBS FM in Seoul with Afrikan Boy. Radio studios over here are kitted out to the max. It was awesome and we got to talk about our experience over here and how it compared to Liverpool. Boy, did we look tired though…

We finished off the evening with a few drinks and one last venture to Strange Fruit to catch a late night band and say goodbye to everyone! 

Travelling and being able to play Korea with Sound City has been an amazing experience. The music scene over there is on another level and it was like living in an alternate reality for a few short days. We’d highly recommend if bands get the chance to travel and play in a different country to grab it and go for it! Now for the 30 hour journey back to Liverpool…

Check out more about Rival Bones here:  Facebook   Bandcamp   Instagram  



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