Last December, we posted a blurb on what was then a budding project entitled, North Korea. At that time, very little information on the group was made public other than an interesting culmination of efforts for a DIY-style music video for song “Master Plan B,” featuring Ryan Hunter (ex-Envy On The Coast) on vocals, Brian Byrne (ex-Envy On The Coast) on guitar, Michael Sadis (The Rivalry) on bass, and Billy Rymer (The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Rivalry) on drums. Over the last six months we have received a lot of inquiry surrounding this project, so we figured it would be a good time to link up with North Korea for some background info. We are very pleased to bring you an exclusive interview with North Korea guitarist Brian Byrne with the inside scoop on the formation of the band, upcoming tour plans, and the real story behind the band name. Without further ado, let’s hear from Brian.
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions for Blow The Scene readers around the world! Let’s begin by having you introduce yourselves and declare your onstage weapons of choice with the newly formed, four-piece outfit, North Korea.
WHADDAP. My name is Brian, I play guitar. Mike plays bass, Ryan sings, Billy plays drums.
Joshua BTS: When was North Korea first set into motion? Have you known each other for some time?
Brian (North Korea): My old band had broken up a few weeks prior and Ryan and I were on our way down to the beach one day and he mentioned that Mike had approached him about maybe singing over some tracks he and Bill, who I hadn’t met yet, were working on. I’d known Mike through his brother who had toured with The Sleeping, and he also works at MerchDirect which was Envy’s merchandising company. Ryan played me a demos of what ended up being “Don’t Call Us Joneses” and “Master Plan B” and I was all about it. I’ve always had a passion for heavy music and this seemed like a challenge so we jammed em out!
Joshua BTS: Having come from a prolific background with multiple well-established bands, did you set up a pre-game strategy for what you wanted the sound of the North Korea to be? Or did you get together and jam to see what would come about organically?
Brian (North Korea): Honestly, having just gone through a pretty tumultuous year with Envy, Ryan and I weren’t looking to go head first into another serious project so this seemed like something we could get all of our “fuck you” energy out into. Also, being that Billy plays in Dillinger and Mike has an important gig at MerchDirect, theres not really too much room to make this project into something we can all focus on full time.
Joshua BTS: What is story behind the band name North Korea?
Brian (North Korea): Months before Envy even ended I was sitting around one night, stoned, and thought it would be fucking hilarious and awesome if a band named themselves North Korea, because why would anyone do that? I kept it in the “maybe you should keep this to yourself” folder for a while, until we needed a name. Since people ask us this question all the time, I’m gonna lay out my full schpiel so that everyone can reference it.
The political implications of making collective art are boundless. The most obvious choice of government to liken to a band would be democracy. It’s been my observation that the inner dynamic of most bands resembles some form of communism than anything else. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that the more successful bands I’ve been around have adopted the philosophy whole heartedly, for better or for worse. It can turn ugly and corrupt very quickly. Naming this band “North Korea” became more and more of a relevant idea the more I observed the way the band dynamic worked and how it resembled nothing like I’ve seen or experienced before. There really is no one man steering the ship, in fact, everyone takes their turn steering the ship and being “the guy”. The only goal at the end of the day is to do what’s best for the song being written at that time. North Korea is our tongue in cheek way of saying that we aren’t interested in subscribing to any notion of “this is how a band should work”. The point of this project is to have fun and make music WE want to hear, and play it for people that want to listen. Despite the name, it is NOT a political statement. It isn’t a means to make money or gain notoriety for any of us.
Joshua BTS: You currently offer your first E.P. Basement Tapes Vol 1 for free at ProjectRodney. Please take us through a little history of the E.P. When, where, and whom did you record with?
Brian (North Korea): The ep was recorded in our friend Brad Cordaro’s (shout out to Sainthood Reps!) basement in the late fall/ early winter of last year. The sessions were broken up by the fact that we all had jobs/ obligations so we recorded whenever we finished a song and had the time to get in there and rock.
Joshua BTS: What does the writing process look like for North Korea? Does everyone contribute or is there a captain of the ship steering the boat?
Brian (North Korea): Everyone contributes. No captain. This band is the collective effort of the four individuals involved.
Joshua BTS: North Korea sets forth a progressive sound incorporating many different niche sounds. This one is for the gear-heads. Any special pieces of equipment or recording techniques that you find pivotal when capturing North Korea’s overall sound?
Brian (North Korea): Mike and Billy track live together, which in my opinion, makes these songs flow so well. They have been playing together for years so they can predict eachother’s nuances so well. Its really special to watch.
Even if they’re playing something that makes no sense, they’re still playing together.
Joshua BTS: What are some of lyrical focuses one will find within Basement Tapes Vol 1?
Brian (North Korea): No comment on that. Not my bag.
Joshua BTS: North Korea has a mini-tour set up for July with Sainthood Reps. What can fans expect from this mini-tour? Testing the waters with any new material?
Brian (North Korea): I think so. Kids would be bummed if we only did four songs!
Joshua BTS: Any more tour plans or releases in works for 2011?
Brian (North Korea): Nothing set in stone. Probably some more shows toward the latter half of the summer.
Joshua BTS: Where is the best place for fans to keep up with North Korea online?
Brian (North Korea): On one of our many social portals including Facebook, twitter, project Rodney, and we may have a myspace…don’t quote me on that.
Joshua BTS: Thanks again for taking time with Blow The Scene today. Any final thoughts or comments?
Brian (North Korea): Believe everything you read. Take your vitamins. Save your sheckles. Always signal when changing lanes. Please use the side door. Thanks!
For more info check out the official North Korea Facebook.
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