Interview with 49 Morphines

Last year back in June, I went to the Clandestino Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden. What initially caught my attention was the fact that Black String and Jambinai would be performing there. As Black String were getting ready to start performing on the first day, a group of people suddenly sat down next to me. They turned out to be Jambinai, so I started talking to them about how much I love their music. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take a picture with them, but it was really cool to meet them in person nonetheless. They performed the next day, and that was definitely the festival’s highlight for me.

Recently, I got the chance to interview Lee Ilwoo about one of his other bands, 49 Morphines, that I quite admire as well. Here’s what he had to say:


Thank you for letting me do this interview with you. To start off, please introduce yourself and the other members of 49 Morphines.

Hi My name is Ilwoo, guitarist of 49morphines and playing the piri, a Korean flute in Jambinai. 49morphines formed by vocal Sung Siyeong, 2nd guitar Kim Hyeongsub, bass Park Jungjun, drum Ryu Myeonghun.

Could you please tell us about how the band was formed?

Vocalist Siyeong was my classmate since 1995, and guitarist Hyeongsub was one year ahead of me in the school. At that time, we attended a Korean Traditional Music middle school and high school. We used to listen to rock & metal and play together. But we had to concentrate on our main major instrument and the principal hates rock music so d he didn’t allow to play the electric guitar in the school. Someday I listened to Slayer loudly through earphones and I didn’t realize the principal was coming. He put my earphone to his ear and listened to “Angel of Death” together… And he took my CD player away. After school I got back my CD player back with admonition: “Don’t listen to metal music. Listen only to Korean Traditional Music…. ” So we decided to ‘make a rock band when we go on to university. And few years later we entered university, advertised for a drummer, then Ryu joined the band 2001. Bassist park joined in 2009.

Where exactly did the name come from?

It’s hard to explain. I just wanted to pronounce the beginning of the band something that sound like “fuuua”, “fueek”, “fourthu!”, anyway I wanted it to start with F. But I had no idea about the word, and wasn’t good at English either. So I came up with 49 for the band. 49 is just a number and it has no meaning but is easy. And at that time, I thought that music is the painkiller of my life. So I added morphine after 49. S after morphine, since I wanted the band name to look more like an indie band.

How do you and your bandmates work together and what do they all contribute?

Mostly I write all the songs. And have jam together and arrange their own part.

How much has changed within the band over the years?

At the beginning of the band, we were inspired from nu metal and screamo. When we joined the label GMC Records we were inspired by hardcore, and metal from other bands and overseas. Someone got a job and someone got babies. We’ve lived hard and enjoyed hard life so far.

What is the most fun and difficult part about touring with 49 Morphines as opposed to Jambinai or Combative Post?

There is no difficult part because 49morphines and Combative Post have just few concert in a year. I want to feel difficult to playing the three bands.

Seeing as Jambinai is on hold, what plans do you have for upcoming 49 Morphines activities?

I have a few new tracks. I already finished them in 2009. So I want to make a new EP for old but new tracks.

Do you think having a 49 Morphines + Jambinai tour is possible?

I don’t know. As I mentioned earlier, other members have their own job and babies. If they’re able to tour, it’s Ok.

Partial Eclipse is an album I absolutely adore, but it’s already been 6 years since it came out. Have you been working on a new album? If so, when can we expect it to be released?

Um.. I think it would be easier to listen than 1st album. Because I’m over 30 no, older than I made the 1st album. ho ho ho.. When I was in my 20s my life had no space for others. I just concentrated music, hard music, hardcore. But now, I think I’ve changed. Experience more than past and it inspire everything.

If you were to form yet another band, which genre(s) would you prefer focusing on? Would it have a similar style as 49 Morphines or would you try something completely different?

I want to try drone, doom, stoned and noize mixed with grindcore.

How was it to work with Noeazy on their album “Discrepancy”?

Our bassist plays guitar in Noeazy. And we toured together when 49morphines released the 1st album. So we naturally got close. When I recorded their album I asked “Why didn’t you suggest to record guest vocal to 49morphines main vocalist?” and they answered. “It’s a little hard to get close with him, His face is a little scary.” So I did it.

What’s your personal favorite instrument to play on, and why?

Of course guitar. I don’t know. When I saw the playing of the electric guitar, it captured my mind.

What is your opinion on the often misused term “Screamo”? Is it something you embrace or despise?

Sometimes some bands play just heavy metal with melody. But they are categorized as a screamo band. It’s a little weird for me but it’s ok. Genres are not important for me.

How do you feel about the current state of South Korea’s Screamo scene? Are there any new bands worth checking out?

Hollow Jan is a good band. And sadly there is no more screamo band in South Korea. Maybe there is, but um.. I don’t know about other screamo bands.

Do you have any tips for young people wanting to become musicians like you? What should they think about?

Um..Well… Make a band that you like to play in with good friends!!!

Any last words for the readers?

Thank you for reading. We are 49morphines and we are going to release a new album and have shows continuously. Don’t forget the 49morphines and See ya!!

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