Rock music can fall into various different categories, such as pop rock, punk rock, indie rock, hard rock, and so on. Pop rock is, of course, the genre that appeals to the mainstream audience the most. Take F.T. Island, for example. The group first appealed to the mainstream audience with their soft pop-rock songs, but they were only able to express themselves more through their 5th studio album, “I Will”. It is a step outside the band’s typical pop-rock songs as most of the songs featured in the album are heavier and darker than their previous rock ballads.
However, their efforts begged the question, “What makes a perfect rock song?” We threw this question to Royal Pirates, a Korean-American rock band who recently made their way to Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur to promote their latest album, “Love Toxic”, and to perform at their first-ever showcase in Malaysia.
On Sunday (3rd May) morning, the band, who flew to KL from KK, attended the press conference of their showcase before performing at the Bentley Music Auditorium. Held at Dal.Komm Coffee in Damansara Uptown, the press conference was hosted by Denise Chan, who also hosted the band’s showcase in KK. During the press conference, the band greeted members of media and talked about their music as well as their experience in Malaysia.
Royal Pirates consists of guitarist-vocalist Kim Moonchul, drummer Kim Sooyoon, and bassist James Lee. All 3 members are able to speak Korean and English very fluently, which made it easier for us to communicate with them during the press conference. They even joked around with us when members of media were given the chance to ask them questions. When they were asked to share their own interpretations on a perfect rock song, frontman Moonchul elicited a “wow” response from the crowd when he said, “I think, the fact that it’s imperfect makes it perfect.”
James also brought laughter when he responded to Moon’s answer by saying, “That’s really deep.” Moon seemed flattered and he further explained, “Because a lot of rock songs are very honest and there are some songs that you listen to. Even though you don’t know all the lyrics, you know what it talks about. You just get that feeling.”
Sooyoon also shared his own interpretation by answering the question in both Korean and English. He said:
I think it’s a lot about the attitude, as well as the melody of the songs. The emotion is very important to express the message of the song.
And for James, he thinks that a perfect rock song must have the ability to bring a high level of energy to the show. He said, “Personally I think it’s the energy. Rock ‘n’ roll is an attitude, but to keep that attitude, you need the energy and the passion. So you have to make sure that you don’t alter. You don’t sell out.” Moon then added, “The point is that a lot of rock bands, they live that life. They live like the rock stars, which is why the song just comes out naturally.”
When asked whether they’re already living the rock stars life, James replied, “It’s a little different, especially in Korea. It’s a different frontier, there isn’t a lot of room for new rock bands to go because there aren’t enough platforms.”
Of course, it seemed like rock isn’t the only music genre they listen to because each of them had different answers when our friends from Kavenyou asked them about the songs they’ve been listening to lately.
Although English rock band Muse is one of Moon’s biggest inspirations in music, he answered, “I’m kinda into old school music lately, like I’ve been listening to 2Pac and Lil’ Kim. Yeah, I know it’s weird. [laughs] I keep coming back to Daft Punk as well. There’s something about Daft Punk, like they’re the pioneers and I respect them so much for that. And last night, we were listening to The Beatles while we were on our way home back to the hotel.”
James also said that all 3 of them “always listen to Rage Against the Machine” because their songs “always pump them up.” Sooyoon agreed and said “We stay together all the time, so we are always listening to the same thing in the car. Sometimes we listen to electronica, like club music, because it pumps us up too.”
We must say, the members seemed genuinely excited for their show in KL because the press conference ended successfully. It was then followed by a photo opportunity session, as well as various interview sessions with TV, radio station, and international media.
Meanwhile, the Bentley Music Academy was taken over by hordes of fangirls as they already formed long lines outside the auditorium. It really didn’t come as surprise that there was a number of male fans waiting in the line too. They were as excited as the band and some of them can be seen singing along to Royal Pirates’ songs before they got into the auditorium. Enthusiastic fans even distributed some fan banners that read, “Thank you Royal Pirates!” at the showcase venue.
As soon as the organiser opened the gates, the venue was immediately filled with both local and overseas fans. Local celebrity host Bernard Hiew came onstage as the showcase host and he built up the hype by officiating the event with a few giveaways. Though relatively unknown, Zoe, who is the opening act of the showcase, quickly garnered fans’ attention when she impressed the crowd with her powerful vocals.
But of course, as soon as she finished her performance, the most anticipated moment has finally arrived. The crowd collectively let out high-pitched screams when Royal Pirates emerged onstage and opened their set with their hit debut single, “Shout Out”. The frontman charmed the crowd as he belted out his incredible vocals, which also generated a singalong during the performance. The band wasted no time in performing the songs from their new album as the performance was then followed by their epic rendition of “Seoul Hillbilly”, Sooyoon’s favourite track off “Love Toxic”.
After performing “Haru”, the show came to a halt as the band took a break to greet their Malaysian fans. They talked about the things they’ve experienced in Malaysia so far and thanked the fans for their passionate love and support. A few lucky fans were able to ask them some questions too, to which they responded with enthusiasm. They didn’t hesitate when they answered the questions, which is really important for the fans because their honesty meant so much to them. James also mentioned that they are a very peaceful group because there’s Moon as the peacemaker.
Moon’s calmness is perhaps more noticeable when he revealed that “Haru” is his favourite track off the album. The rock ballad has a melodious undertone, which sounds perfectly fitting for Moon’s vocals. It’s hard not to fall in love with the song, especially if you understand its lyrics. It’d be a lie if we say that we didn’t get goosebumps from the performance.
The performance then transitioned to a faster track “On My Mind”, which veers into classic rock territory. Moon may be the frontman of the band, but bassist James and drummer Sooyoon stole the limelight in their own special ways. It was tough to take one’s eyes off Sooyoon as he passionately played the drums. James occasionally teased his fans by stepping in front of his microphone stand to show off his guitar riffs as well.
The music was a mix of pure rock and pop rock, with “Love Toxic” being a personal favourite for myself and many others in the crowd. The venue instantly turned into a dance floor as Moon asked fans to stand up and jump along to the song. However, one of the most exciting moments came when Royal Pirates performed an unreleased song, “Super Natural”. We couldn’t record the song, but we must say it instantly became a crowd favourite.
Though the English version of “Drawing the Line” was the last song of the night, the band went on strong as the audience sang along with every bit. The song also had everyone in the crowd jumping along due to its upbeat tune. It may seemed like the showcase already came to an end, but we had a surprise in store for James. The organiser collaborated with the fans to give James, who was born on 9th June, an early birthday surprise.
James clearly did not expect that, especially since there’s still a month away from his actual birthday. He was genuinely touched by the surprise and appreciated everyone’s efforts for giving the band a great memory in Malaysia. To further thank the fans, the band also decided to take a group pictures with everyone who attended the showcase.
The showcase came to awesome end with an encore session as the band emerged onstage again with a song for fans, “You”. Although it was the last song of the night, the band did what they do best by rocking out onstage. The best embodiment of the showcase was perhaps the band itself, as each of them displayed their affinity for rock music.
Royal Pirates “Love Toxic” first showcase in Malaysia’s full setlist is as follows:
- Shout Out
- Seoul Hillbilly
- On My Mind
- Super Natural
- Love Toxic
- Drawing The Line (English Version)
Having post-concert depression? Curb it with the showcase photos in the gallery below ;)
Special thanks to our friends from Universal Music Malaysia (Chinese) for inviting us to the fan gathering, press conference, and the showcase. Until next time, Royal Pirates ;)