Seoul punk band …Whatever That Means is made up of Korean, American, and Polish musicians. This summer, the quartet released a split 7-inch record called Blowing Minds & Melting Faces with Seattle punk act Burn Burn Burn. And to promote their new 7 inch, …Whatever That Means gigged along the West Coast of the US in late July and early August. Whilst there, guitarist and vocalist Jeff Moses recorded the band’s adventures for us with an exclusive tour diary for Hello Asia!
July 23, 2016
I had to wake everyone up this morning and drag them out to the van for the drive to Las Vegas. We eventually arrived and got to stay at our friend Jesse’s house. He’s the guy who introduced me to the Korean punk scene when I first arrived in Seoul and eventually introduced me to my wife, Trash. It was great to see him. The whole band went downtown to see the sites, and then we did a short practice at a studio downtown. After that, it was straight to the show at The Double Down Saloon. There was a great crowd and everything went really well, but we ended up staying out way too late. For this whole tour, we’re borrowing amps and drums from local bands at each stop. This time, another out-of-town band asked if they could borrow our microphones. They were playing last, and I thought we were playing right before them. Saying yes felt like the right thing to do. It ended up that we were playing much, much earlier and then had to wait around until almost 4 am for their set before we could leave. Rookie mistake. Always make sure you know the schedule for the night before making promises. We were all pretty tired, but when we got back to Jesse’s, we discovered that he’d made us a Korean BBQ feast. It was fantastic!
July 24, 2016
We were supposed to play in Fresno, California today. Unfortunately, the venue we were booked at suddenly announced that they were canceling all future shows a few weeks before our tour started, so the guy promoting our show had to find somewhere else for us to go. After two weeks of looking, the best he could do was find an acoustic house show for us. We love house shows, but we’ve never played an acoustic set, so we declined. Thankfully, we were able to get added on to a pre-existing gig at The Gypsy Shack in Sonora, California. Lesson number one of the tour learned today: Don’t trust the GPS. Always check the route. It’s about an eight-hour drive from Vegas to Sonora, and there are several different ways to go. Our GPS chose the worst one. We went all the way north through Nevada and Eastern California, and then it shot us directly west straight over the mountains. We ended up driving through the Sonora Pass. The first signal that this was not going to be fun was when I saw signs forbidding vehicles towing anything. Then I saw the worst street sign ever: 26% upgrade. That basically meant we were going almost as straight up a hill as you can. There were times that I felt like I was killing the engine and slowly watching the heat gauge rise … and we were barely doing 10 miles per hour. On top of that, the road was a narrow two-lane road curving back and forth up the mountain, so it was straight up hill plus 180-degree turn after 180-degree turn. Then, it was back down the other side in the same fashion. I’ve never driven anything that terrifying in my 20 years of driving. When we finally arrived at the show, we found out that not only were all the other bands on the lineup metal bands, but the show was actually a birthday party for a local guy. We were definitely out of place, but everyone was really friendly and we got about as good of a reaction out of a metal crowd as a pop punk band can. The owner actually ended up letting us sleep in the bar so that we didn’t have to shell out money for a motel so that was pretty cool too.
July 25, 2016
This was our only day off during the tour. It wasn’t an actual “day off” for me though because I was doing all the driving for this tour, and we spent nine hours getting from Sonora, California to Grants Pass, Oregon. Thankfully, this was a simple, not-dangerous drive. It was largely uneventful except for one funny moment. Well, funny for three of us. There are long, long stretches of nothing in Northern California. At one point, after stopping at Denny’s and having way-too-much coffee and orange juice, Trash informed me that nature was calling. She waited and waited and waited. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of the woods on the highway and there weren’t any rest stops. Finally, she told me to just pull off so she could “use the woods,” which is something she’d never done before. I obliged. She took care of business, and we were back on the road. Less than two minutes later, we came around a bend in the highway to find a big, luxurious rest stop with what looked like nice, clean bathrooms. Trash was not impressed! Tonight we got to go camping. I love camping and so rarely get to do it. We pulled into a nice, secluded spot in Grants Pass, lit our fire, roasted hotdogs and marshmallows, drank a few beers, and then slept out under the stars. Definitely a great way to end the day.
July 26, 2016
We woke up and went down by the creek we’d been listening to all night to explore around a bit. We found a swimming hole and a waterfall, and they were beautiful. The water was cold, but not cold enough to keep Bialy and me from going for a dip. Man, did that wake us up! Next was a short three-hour drive to Corvallis, Oregon. We played in Corvallis back in 2011. The venue is a small coffee shop called The Interzone Café. There usually aren’t high expectations for midweek shows, but Corvallis is different. They know how to pack out the little venue and have a great time. Today was no exception. The venue was full, and the whole front of the place is lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, so people were lined up outside on the sidewalk watching the show too. Entry was free, but there was a donation box, and people were so generous and excited to help us out on our tour. We love Corvallis.
July 27, 2016
Today was a show that we’d all been waiting for: our official album release in Seattle with Burn Burn Burn at The Kraken, quite possibly the coolest punk bar in the city. Tonight was actually the first time we had ever seen Burn Burn Burn live, and man, they did not disappoint. They killed it! It was so much fun to finally get to see them. Then, it was our turn, and just like in 2011, playing at The Kraken was a great experience. Afterwards, we hung out at the bar and talked with lots of locals for a while and then headed down to Brett’s (Burn’s guitarist) house for the after party. Good times.
July 28, 2016
Finally, a day without a long drive. It was only 30 minutes from Brett’s house to the venue in Tacoma, so we actually got to relax for a while. We all slept in and then walked across town to Brett’s favorite taco truck. It was a life changing meal! Such amazing food for so cheap. Five tacos for $5 plus an incredible salsa bar! Geez, I wish Korea had great taco trucks like the US does. After that, we headed to Tacoma and make some stops along the way. First, we did the most American thing we could think of; we went to the mall. Trash and Daewon really wanted to go to the Disney Store. Beyond that, it was just a matter of wandering around somewhere with air conditioning and killing time. After the mall, we headed over to Guitar Center. No tour is complete without torturing yourself in a Guitar Center by looking at all the amazing instruments you can’t possibly afford to buy during a DIY tour! From there, it was off to a small record store in Tacoma, and then to the show at Real Art. Today was actually the 200th …Whatever That Means show, and it’s one I’ll never forget. We went on before Burn Burn Burn, and almost immediately after we started, those guys ambushed us on stage. They had bought about 30 cans of silly string earlier in the day, and started shooting it in all directions. Then, about halfway through our set, we played a cover of The Descendents’ “Silly Girl,” and the guys from Burn came up on stage again. They were spread around the stage singing along with us, and the moment the song ended, we each got a huge plate of whipped cream smashed into our faces. Drew from Burn had mentioned getting us a birthday cake to celebrate our 200th show, but I guess they decided this was a better idea. We all thought it was pretty funny. The only problem is that when cheap whipped cream spoils, it smells really, really bad …kind of like vomit. And when you’re running around onstage and sweating all over yourself, it spoils almost immediately. It’s going to take some work to get that smell out of our guitar straps. At least we were able to find Burn’s stash of silly string before they went on stage so we got a little bit of payback. I timed one shot just right, and Drew got a mouthful of silly string right as he went into the chorus of one of their songs!
July 29, 2016
Tonight’s show in Portland was actually for the smallest audience we’ve played for so far, but for some reason, it was still really fun. Sometimes, it’s the small shows where you can really just let loose and go nuts. That was tonight. It ended up being a really great time.
July 30, 2016
Well, it wouldn’t be a …Whatever That Means tour without playing a death metal show that we totally don’t belong at, and today was that day. When I confirmed the show, I was told that it would be an all-day event with punk bands for the first half of the day, which we’d be headlining, followed by metal bands for the rest of the night. We arrived during the second band’s set. They were a very metal, horror punk-type band, and then we found out we were playing next. We’d been borrowing amps and drums from local bands all along the tour, and this was the first time that bands were actually hesitant to share with us. We all found it pretty funny that brutal death metal bands were worried the pop punk band was going to hurt their equipment. Unfortunately, the snare drum that we were loaned was already broken and taped up. If you know anything about snare drums, you know that a couple pieces of duct tape are not going to hold together the top skin on a snare drum. Basically, Daewon got about three hits into our set, and then didn’t have a snare for the rest of the show. What that meant was that he had to play the entire show with nothing but toms and cymbals. It was kind of awkward at times, but really cool at others. Overall, the set went pretty well considering the equipment and lineup issues. The coolest thing about the show was the venue itself. It’s a place called PB&J’s and the owner has one of the largest concert poster collections in North America. He was actually featured in the book “The Art of Modern Rock,” which Trash and I have. It was so cool seeing the actual posters we’ve been looking at in that book for years.
July 31, 2016:
We decided to be tourists today. We drove down to the Golden Gate Bridge and took a short drive through downtown San Francisco. Then we headed back to the UC Berkeley area and went to one of the coolest, most-famous record shops around, Amoeba Records. Tonight we played at 924 Gilman Street. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is one of the most famous punk rock clubs in the US. In the late 1980s, when punk rock was kind of dying out, The Gilman opened and influenced a whole new generation of punk rockers that would go on to be part of the punk explosion of the 1990s. This is the club where Operation Ivy, Green Day, and Rancid all got their starts as kids. We had a bunch of friends come out to this show. Friends who we’d met in Korea that had moved back to the US. Friends we’d met on our last tour. I even had an old friend I went to high school with and used to play in a band with come out to the show because he lives in Berkeley now, which actually makes him the only person from my hometown to have ever seen …Whatever That Means. The other nice thing was that there were apparently a good number of local punk kids who had heard we were coming through. I had a great time playing, and a pit actually opened up a few times.
August 1, 2016:
It’s always so hard to believe that after all the months of planning and all the hard work that goes into releasing a new album and booking a tour, that it’s all over so quickly. I was a little disappointed our tour was going to be ending on a Monday. It’s not a great night for shows, but I was pleasantly surprised tonight. We played at The Redwood in LA, a venue we tried to play at back in 2011 but weren’t able to. Again, we had a bunch of old friends we met in Korea years ago come out to the show. Beyond that, there was actually a pretty decent crowd at the bar. This ended up being my absolute favorite show of the tour. Maybe it was because I knew I didn’t have to think about the next day’s show. Maybe it was just because I knew it was my last chance to really let loose and have a great time on stage in the US. Whatever the reason, I had so much fun and was really happy with our performance. We got a great reaction from the crowd, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way for everything to end.
Stream and download …Whatever That Means’ new “Blowing Minds & Melting Faces” split 7-inch record HERE.
Find out more about …Whatever That Means by connecting HERE.