Four top bands are coming to the UK this month as part of the Korea Rocks tour presented by Hyundai Card Music. Here’s a profile of Apollo 18, who have featured in LKL’s Critics’ Choice two years running, 2009–2010, selected by Anna Lindgren and Mark Russell.
Award-winning South Korean post-hardcore/post-rock act Apollo 18 formed in the summer of 2008 in the suburbs of Seoul.
The trio of guitarist/vocalist Hyunseok Choi, bassist/vocalist Daeinn Kim, and drummer Sangyun Lee released their debut EP, “Red,” in February 2009. In July 2009 they issued their “Blue” full-length. Later that month, Apollo 18 performed at South Korea’s two largest summer rock festivals, the Jisan Valley Rock Festival and the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival. In September of 2009 they played at a pair of sold-out Tokyo gigs for Japanese indie label Zankyo Records’ fifth anniversary party.
In November, Apollo 18 were awarded the government-sponsored “Hello Rookie” prize for being South Korea’s most promising young act of 2009. Soon after, they began making their “Violet” EP. While creating “Violet,” Apollo 18 received government funding to re-record all of “Red” and used the opportunity to add extra tracks to the disc. Both “Violet” and the expanded edition of “Red” came out in January 2010.
Apollo 18’s rapid rise to top-tier status in South Korea’s rock ranks was further cemented with their “Rookie of the Year” win at the Korean Music Awards in March 2010. A nationwide tour along with performances at Seoul’s Green Plugged Festival and the Jisan Valley Rock Festival were also amongst the year’s highlights for the act.
In January 2011, “Blue” was ranked #52 on 100Beat.com’s 100 best Korean CDs of the 2000s. In March 2011, Apollo 18 embarked on their first American tour. Playing 16 concerts in only 13 days, the band’s itinerary included well-received appearances at Texas’ South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference and Arkansas’ Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival. In the summer, Apollo 18 played the Jisan Valley Rock Festival for the third time, and made their debut appearances at Japan’s famed Fuji Rock Festival and Taiwan’s Beastie Rock Festival.
In November 2011, Apollo 18 released their “Black” EP through 9 Entertainment. Written after the act’s U.S. tour, the EP’s four tracks were recorded in Tokyo. In February 2012, Apollo 18’s “Sonic Boom” (from the “Black” EP) was nominated for “Best Rock Song” at the 2012 Korean Music Awards. In March 2012, Apollo 18 were selected as MTV Iggy Artist of the Week and in May they opened for acclaimed American indie act Blonde Redhead in Seoul. In September 2012, they did a short Canadian tour playing four concerts in five days including a stop at the Pop Montreal music festival.
Currently working on a new full-length, like “Red,” “Blue,” “Violet,” and “Black” before it, Apollo 18’s next album will see the band experimenting with different styles and structures while continuing to create some of the most dynamic, exciting, and loudest music in South Korea’s burgeoning music scene.
“Apollo 18 are quickly emerging as one of South Korea’s top underground success stories.” — SXSW.com
“Awed bloggers routinely come away from their shows raving breathlessly, as if they’d seen an actual moon mission depart.” — MTV Iggy
“I don’t know how they do it, but in spite of all the awesomeness displayed on record they are even more incredible live. If there’s one Korean indie act that could tour the world today, Apollo 18 is it.” — Indieful ROK
“…their powerful playing literally made my jaw drop and left me repeatedly muttering the phrase ‘holy f*ck!’ well after their deafening set had finished.” — GROOVE Korea
“Melt[ed] my face off with honest to goodness rock awesomeness.” — INIT_Music
“…will make you sweat, roar and jump in their intense live performances.” — The Korea Times
“Their sound weaves between genres, from experimental, to jazzy, to some good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n roll, and they are definitely a name quickly on the rise …” Voilà!
“Rock band Apollo 18 has become one of South Korea’s gems of the past couple of years …” McRoth’s Residence
“… the future is bright for the band.” — Wakesidevision
Hyunseok Choi — guitar/vocals
Daeinn Kim — bass/vocals
Sangyun Lee — drums
2011 — Black (EP)
2010 — Violet (EP)
2010 — Red (expanded version)
2009 — Blue (full-length)
2009 — Red (EP)
Apollo 18 photo credit: Simon Bond