Apollo 18
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Apollo 18


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"Apollo 18: Rookies Of The Year"

We last wrote about Apollo 18 just prior to the September 2009 bash for their first full-length CD, “[0] Album” (or “The Blue Album”). At the time, things were going really well for the Ilsan trio and their awesome hybrid of post-rock and post-hardcore. They’ve gotten even better since.

Just to recap, between February and September of last year the group issued an EP, “Red,” and the abovementioned long-player. They received an EBS and KOCCA sponsored Rookie Music Award and appeared at both the Jisan Valley Rock Festival and the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival. They traveled to Tokyo for a pair of gigs as well.

In November EBS and KOCCA again recognized Apollo 18's efforts, selecting them as the best new Korean band of 2009 in the Hello Rookie final.

“It was good to be chosen,” says guitarist Choi Hyun Seok. “We were surprised. We still don’t understand why we were picked to be the winner.”

After the victory, the group began working on “Violet” – the final chapter of their three disc colour-themed series. While writing new material in December, they received funding from KOCCA to re-record the entire “Red” EP. Adding a few numbers originally intended for “Violet” to the mix, the nine track “Red+” was issued a few weeks ago in mid-January.

They returned to the studio shortly after to lay down “Violet.” The EP, which is also known as “0.5,” came out at the end of January and the band are playing a CD release party for it this Saturday night (February 20) at Club Spot. Another great offering from the group, the instrumental affair sees them further expanding their sonic boundaries with the well-crafted math-rock cut “Song A.”

“We are always getting better,” Choi offers. “‘Violet’ is the middle of our progress.”

Earlier this month it was announced that Apollo 18 have been nominated for two Korean Music Awards for “Rookie of the Year” and “Best Rock (Album).” While they appreciate people taking notice of them, prizes aren’t something the band is seeking.

“We were a little surprised, but not that much because we won Hello Rookie,” explains Choi. “In all honesty, we don’t give a shit about winning things. We are thankful for the interest, but we are a rock band. That’s the only thing that is important to us.”

Despite it not being a high priority, if they do win what will they do with their Korean Music Award?

“We’ll drink beer out of it with our friends,” laughs Choi. “After, I would give it to my mother. She has our Hello Rookie trophy too.”

“Red+,” “Blue,” and “Violet” should be released in Japan sometime this year. The band and their label, Estella Records, are hoping to arrange licensing agreements for North America and Europe as well and plan on making all three albums available through iTunes this spring. After putting out four CDs in the span of twelve months, Apollo 18 are ready for a break from the studio.

“This year we want to focus on just playing shows,” Choi says. “There has been a little more attention in us since we won Hello Rookie and we’re getting on more well-organized and higher profile concerts. We want to continue to get better.”

Apollo 18’s “Violet” EP release party takes place on Saturday, February 20 at Club Spot in Hongdae. The gig starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are 15,000 won with one free drink. Donawhale and National Pigeon Unity will open the show (Lo are listed on the poster, but are no longer available to perform). Word has it that local belly dancer Eshe, who starred in Apollo 18's music video for “Orbis” from “[0] Album” (“The Blue Album”) will join Apollo 18 onstage for a pair of songs. - Korea Gig Guide

"Apollo 18"

Apollo 18’s “Rookie of the Year” win at the 2010 Korean Music Awards in late March surprised few. One of the most exciting rock bands in South Korea right now, the Ilsan trio accomplished more in the twelve months leading up to the KMAs than some peers do in the span of several years.

In February 2009 the group put out their debut EP, “Red.” In July they released their “[0]” or “The Blue Album” full-length and were invited to play at the country’s two premier summer concerts, the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival and the Jisan Valley Rock Festival. In September they traveled to Tokyo for a pair of sold-out performances at Japanese indie imprint Zankyo Records’ fifth anniversary bash. In November they captured the grand prize at South Korea’s “Hello Rookie” finals. In January 2010 they issued a completely re-recorded version of “Red” with extra tracks and a new instrumental EP, “Violet.”

And while they were happy for the industry recognition, something about the KMAs did bother them a bit – “Rookie of the Year” was actually presented to two groups. Instead of just picking one recipient, which would have been the most logical move, the KMAs chose Apollo 18 and the alt-rock group Guckkasten as co-winners.

“The ceremony itself was alright,” offers guitarist Choi Hyun-seok. “Awards aren’t really our thing, but we realize the Korean Music Awards are important. However, when they announced that it was a shared award we were like, ‘What the fuck?’ We thought that only one band should have won – either us or Guckkasten.”

While Apollo 18 may have been a little disappointed, a split decision didn’t bother Choi’s family one bit. “The trophy is in the living room of my parent’s house,” he shares. “My mother has our ‘Hello Rookie’ trophy too and both are beside each other.”

Although, the act’s awesome hybrid of post-rock and post-hardcore has helped their fan base grow steadily since the initial edition of “Red” surfaced, there has been a definite spike in Apollo 18’s popularity since their “Hello Rookie” win. Taking full advantage of this, they played their largest headlining gig to date in May at Hongdae’s Sangsang Madang. The show was recorded for a live DVD that should be available for purchase in the fall.

“In Korea few indie musicians make live DVDs,” explains Choi. “In Japan so many underground groups make DVDs. We thought that if we did it, maybe other Korean bands will follow. We are always trying to inspire other bands to do new things.”

Continuing with their “lead by example” theme, in June Apollo 18 are embarking on a proper South Korean tour. With too few acts willing to leave Seoul, it’s refreshing to see a jaunt that includes six other cities in addition to the nation’s capital. Dubbed the “Estella Revolution Tour 2010,” Apollo 18 will be joined on all dates by their Estella Records label mates National Pigeon Unity. Choi promises the shows will be full of energy and “really fucking loud.”

“There are two reasons why we wanted to do this tour,” he says. “The first is that we are starting to get a little more famous now and I think we can draw in different cities. The second reason is that we want to experience other music scenes outside of Seoul. We want to communicate more with musicians from other parts of Korea.

“We wanted to do it together with National Pigeon Unity because of the large amount of driving involved. NPU are like our younger brothers so we can make them do all the driving and that way we will be more comfortable.”

After their June concerts Apollo 18 intend to take a much deserved rest. Other than possible festival appearances, they plan to spend most of July and August recharging their batteries. They’ll start writing material for their next disc around September.

“We are really tired,” admits Choi. “Putting out three albums in such a short time was a lot of work. We enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun, but we need some time to relax.”

Here are the dates for the “Estella Revolution Tour 2010” featuring Apollo 18 and National Pigeon Unity:

June 4 Seoul @ Club Spot
June 5 Busan @ TBC
June 6 Daegu @ Club Heavy
June 12 Daejeon @ In Sky
June 13 Cheongju @ MJ
June 19 Gwangju @ Club Nevermind
June 20 Jeonju @ Led Zeppelin
June 26 Seoul @ Live Club Ssam

For information about starting times and ticket prices, visit www.apollo18.co.kr or
www.estellarecords.net - Groove Korea

"Inbox: Apollo 18 - Apollo 18"

After helikoppter's very positive recommendation of Apollo 18 over at Indieful ROK, I decided to give them a shot and picked up their self-titled EP, even without a strong clue of what I was getting myself into. Suffice to say, it rocked my face off. In fact, I have no face as I'm typing this now, since I'm listening to the EP again.

If a comparison must be made, I suppose Apollo 18's EP falls more into the post-rock camp, along the lines of Explosions in the Sky or Sigur Rós. The opening track is a very quiet sonic affair, primarily struck with sound effects rolling around the speaker field, perhaps a quiet before a storm. Then, like mentioned bands, Apollo 18 gets to be ridiculously soul-moving in their enormously epic second track, simply titled "Warm". The guitar, bass and drums trio also sparingly employ vocals, but like Sigur Rós, the lyrics aren't that important and aren't really sung to be comprehended. Unlike the two mentioned groups, Apollo 18 still steps closer to rock conventions, in their screaming grunge-rooted sonic collage, "End". From there, they touch on a more minimal sound, back to epic and bombastic and close out much like they opened.

As an overall listen, especially considering that it's an EP, Apollo 18's debut effort is remarkably satisfying and coherent. The sequencing is great, providing the roller coaster ride with plenty of intense cathartic valleys and meditative solemn hills. A truly stunning debut effort that I don't hesitate to recommend. Just a note though, if you plan on listening to this effort, it truly pays to turn up the volume to loud. The music truly deserves envelopment. Fantastic. 10/10. - Init_Music

"Inbox: Apollo 18 - Apollo 18 [Blue Album]"

I have to admit that I didn't see this coming with Apollo 18's self-titled first album (which is called the Blue album because... it's blue). On Blue, Apollo 18 moves away from the post-rock that predominantly characterized their debut EP ("Red") and into the borders of thrash/death metal/shoegazer/screamo/noise/industrial fusion territory. Like on Red, this is music meant to be played loud, but unlike the majority of tracks on Red, this is truly brutally aggressive music. Granted, this was all foreshadowed on Red by the likewise screaming aggressive "End" and you can see that as the take off point for Blue.

The thing is that the album manages to keep itself from being repetitive by incorporating a number of styles from different kinds of very loud music. You hear guitar porn metal riffs, fuzzy shoegazer guitar collages, screaming and processed vocals, thundering rhythm section, but you also gets moments of respite along the album to help you just digest that feast of sonic destruction that just smashed into your eardrums. And the album also gets its own sequential "Pause" tracks, further connecting it to Red.

I think that, while the type of music focused on in Blue is different than Red, Apollo 18 really sticks to their style by having all of their songs be works of continuing evolution--there is a definite and palpable progression in each song, rather than being an ABABCB pattern. This keeps each song dynamic and, in fact, the whole album dynamic as each song progresses and leads into the next, even if not literally being a medley.

And so, while Blue isn't what I was expecting when I picked it up, it still managed to follow in the footsteps of Red in melting my face off with honest to goodness rock awesomeness. This is definitely recommended for anyone that likes loud music, whether aggressive or progressive. It's got both. Another great release by perhaps one of the most promising acts I've encountered this year. 9/10. - Init_Music

"Apollo 18 – Violet Review"

It’s hard to say in what way, but Apollo 18 is really evolving in their style of music and performance with each release. From The Blue Album to Red/Red Plus, the evolution of the band’s sound continues to become tighter and more focused.

In the case of Violet, the album is much more post rock and borders on the math-rock genre without a line of vocals on the release. With the move into the more technical genres, I feel that Apollo 18 lost a little bit of their bite, but this is mainly because of my enjoyment of the Envy-esque tracks that were on the first two releases.

Violet is still impressive, the tonality of the songs, especially “Lucy,” are aggressive and the complexity of the songs is apparent. The “Pause” tracks again make their appearance and break the flow of the songs nicely like on the other releases.

After listening to Apollo 18's discography, the evolution of the band could have gone a few different ways, but with this post rock/math-rock release, the future is bright for the band. - Wakesidevision.com

"Apollo 18 – Red Plus Review"

When I reviewed Apollo 18's The Blue Album, I thought that it was an amazing listen, though the “Pause” tracks were unnecessary.

With Red Plus, a re-recording with three additional tracks,I realized that the “Pause” tracks are just as important as the actual songs. Another impressive thing about this album is that it is not a remastering or remixing, but a re-recording. Not many bands will go through and record a whole album again.

Red Plus reminds me of post-rock more than anything else. Some influences that I heard are the Japanese post-rock/screamo band, Envy, and almost a prog rock feel.

The 9:04 track “Warm” is one of the best starts to the album because it has so many different changes in the song, but still feels cohesive. Since I never heard the original release of this, I can’t compare any improvements over the first recording, but it is an amazing album.

The three additional tracks “Emit,” “Time,” and “Remit” fit the overall theme of the album making this recording more of the seminal release of Red, even if called Red Plus.

Post rock fans need to listen to this album. They are on the level of Envy and they are much younger as a band than that Japanese group. - Wakesidevision.com

"Apollo 18 – The Blue Album Review"

I love this album. Apollo 18's The Blue Album is in my top 10 of the year. With The Blue Album, when I first heard it, I just thought that it was another Korean rock album that was copying the styles of United States hard rock bands. But on my second listen, I started hearing more indie and emo influences in the songs.

Iridescent Clouds is one of my favorite songs on the album, not only is the instrumentals powerful and multilayered, the vocal delivery is one of the best that I’ve heard on any Korean album.

A combination of screamo and carrying a similar delivery to Dennis Lyxzén of The Refused. The mid-track breakdown only culminates into a great closing third act on the four minute song.

While the “Pause” tracks are a bit throwaway, the rest of the songs on the album are great. While I maintain that Iridescent Clouds is the best song on the album, the other tracks on The Blue Album are still a step up from a lot of the other bands, Korean or otherwise. - Wakesidevision.com


"Red" EP -- February 2009
"[0]" (or "The Blue Album") -- July 2009
"Red" (re-issue) -- January 2010
"Violet" EP -- January 2010



When it comes to music, South Korean rock band Apollo 18 can never be accused of not giving their all.

At a Seoul concert in September 2009, guitarist Hyun-Seok Choi was excitedly bouncing around the edge of the stage and stumbled into the crowd, rupturing ligaments in his knee. Despite being unable to stand, he refused to seek immediate medical attention. Being carried back to the stage, he sat and performed one last song with his band mates – an unforgettable version of the epic, nine-minute long “Warm.” Visibly in pain, he finished the track and fell over clutching his leg while friends arranged his hospital emergency room visit.

This is just one example of the unparalleled dedication and work ethic the trio, which also includes bassist Dae-Inn Kim and drummer Sang-Yun Lee, have displayed since their summer 2008 formation in the Seoul suburb of Ilsan. Inking a deal with local imprint Estella Records soon after coming together, Apollo 18 issued their debut EP, Red, in February 2009. A fantastic mix of post-rock and post-hardcore, the band’s unique hybrid sound quickly garnered acclaim from local and foreign press.

More accolades rightfully came their way when Apollo 18’s brilliant [0] or The Blue Album full-length surfaced in July. They chose [0] as the record’s title because the group felt they still had many different musical directions to explore before releasing their first album proper. Featuring a much harder, more experimental sound than Red, [0]/ The Blue Album’s heavy, distorted anthems riled up crowds during Apollo 18’s high energy appearances at South Korea’s two largest summer rock festivals, the Jisan Valley Rock Festival and Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival.

While Apollo 18’s successes in the first half of 2009 would have been enough for most groups, Hyun-Seok, Dae-Inn, and Sang-Yun were far from done. In September they embarked on their first overseas tour, heading to Tokyo for a pair of sold-out gigs at popular Japanese indie label Zankyo Records fifth anniversary festivities. In November, with several thousand South Korean music fans cheering them on, Apollo 18 were awarded the government-sponsored “Hello Rookie” prize for being the country’s most promising young act of 2009.

In December the band began crafting material for the final installment of their planned three album “colour” series, Violet (unofficially dubbed [0.5]). While working on Violet, they received government funding to re-record all of Red and used the opportunity to flesh out the disc with extra tracks, creating an even more powerful, intense effort. Both the enhanced edition of Red and Violet came out in January 2010. The instrumental Violet EP showcases more of the sonic awesomeness that has become Apollo 18’s calling card and was unsurprisingly met with the same high praise as its predecessors.

The act’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 2010 Korean Music Awards in March. Now two years old, in Apollo 18’s mind they haven’t even scratched the surface of their full potential yet, which bodes extremely well for their quickly growing local and international fan bases.

Already South Korea’s premier new group, it won’t be long before Apollo 18 are the country’s best band period.

“…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

“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

“… the future is bright for the band.” -- Wakedivision

“Mixing atmospheric post-rock with bits of fast-paced, hardcore-infused rock, their fantastic set was one of the best gigs I’ve witnessed in ’09” –- Korea Gig Guide

“Apollo 18's Red album ... I was quite surprised to be met by the most amazing post-rock ever to come out of Korea.” -- London Korean Links