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Flush!! Are Waving the Flag for the Straight Edge Hardcore Scene in South Korea

Photo: Blair Kitchener

Youth Crew and straight edge hardcore have certainly enjoyed the riches of international pollination. Having long since broken down the walls and imagined barriers of country and language; the genre’s globetrotting nature has always found a logical second home in South Korea. The hardcore lineage attributed to Seoul is storied and long, though I’ll limit the footnotes lest I wax endlessly on its merits a la the punk version of Infinite Jest. The Geeks are clearly the posi-titans of the Eastern Hemisphere. In their wake, we’ve been gifted a litany of killer acts, including everyone from Thirteen Steps, Things We Say, Slant, and the rad upstarts of today’s lesson in Flush!! (punctuation free of charge). 

Formed in 2015 in the veritable metropolis that is their capital, Flush!! emerged rabble-ready in early 2017. As an opening gambit, their For Our Believe EP found them solidly at the apex of yet another wave of hardcore punk loyalists. Though it leaned a bit closer to melodic hXc, the Youth Crew strains of final track “Keep the Hardcore” was a moody send-off from the young punx. It’s grittiness and pace only tipped their cap at the debut LP to follow.

Fast forward a few years… the crüe have added another guitarist to bolster the attack and clearly doubled down on both ideology and songwriting chops. The melodicisms have been usurped by razor sharp blasts of Youth Crew fury. The vocals are particularly savage, landing them on the more aggressive, frenzied end of first wave revivalists. There are moments of early USHC in the nearly spoken breakdowns, hints of True Love in their unique take on early ‘oughts Boston, and a martial flare to the drumming. Lyrically, I had to slog through Google Translate, but they’re deadly serious about all things X’ed up. 

Enter Change with a Shout. Released in early August, the dudes in Flush!! have dumped a certified banger at our Stateside doorstep. It plays like an adrenaline shot straight from React! Records circa the early 2010s. There are bits of everything from the halcyon days of the late '80s through both revivals, making pit stops at Youth of Today, Insted, and Beyond. Perhaps it was my hometown showing, but I caught a lot of Mindset in their build and break formula. Knowing what to expect can, at times, be a letdown. That is, unless you’re talking Youth Crew. When the expectation is fulfilled with such vigor and verve, the theory falls apart. 

In lieu of one song in particular, I’ll simply recommend you peep the entire album. I’ll do it with an exhausting, cringe-inducing carnival of bad puns. Hello, “Youth of Today.” Want “The First Step” to enjoying Korean straight edge hardcore but not sure you’re in the right “Mindset?” “In My Eyes”, you needn’t look any further. If you’ve already listened, feel free to “Carry On," but this LP is “Better Than a Thousand” demos you’ve likely heard before. If spending too much on “Sportswear” is the “Bane” of your existence, throw a few clams at Flush!!.

Sick of me yet? Thought so. I reached out to the band and their “Mouthpiece” Junki was kind enough to indulge me about the album, the scene in Seoul, sXe, and why Dookie is the definitive album for a reason. 

(Editor’s Note: I kept the editing to a minimum so as not to change content, meaning, or context. Huge shout to international hardcore bands that try far harder than us to learn a second language. Respect.) 

What’s up, Flush!!? Roll-call, y’all. Who’s in the band? 

Guitars: Noopssy Baek and Junyoung Lee 
Bass: Jooyoung Park
Vocals: Junki Baek 
Drums: Hyunjin Hwang 

How’d you all first find and get into hardcore?

Noopssy Baek: I found out it naturally by the band’s leader, who is also my older brother.

Junyoung Lee: When I was a kid, I liked pop punk, metal, and emo music. I kept listening to variety of genre-and then I found hardcore music, and I got into it because of riff and character more than any other genre.

Jooyoung Park: When I was 13, I rode rollerblades at X-game every day. There, punk rock and metal music was back-ground music so I heard it all day long. One day, I finally found an internet club and knew the names of those music’s artists. At that time, I had lots of time at home alone, so I spent time listening to other sub-cultural music like rock, hiphop, metal, etc. When I was a high school student, I started to go clubs to see many bands, and I liked punk and hardcore music the best. Those are the straightest and rawest, and I was attracted by them. That’s why I’m in the hardcore scene.

Junki Baek: I liked Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and Slipknot when I was a university student. I found some of Japanese hardcore bands when I was a senior. After then, I looked for Korean and World hardcore bands and now I am here.

Hyunjin Hwang: When I was in high school, I got a CDP as a gift. Therefore, I snooped around a shop to see what is good for my first CD purchase. I found an album that I thought the prettiest, was Dookie of GreenDay. I didn’t know about Green Day nor punk rock, but while I was listening to it, I thought it was cool. So, I started listening to similar ones and encountered hardcore music.

Photo: ryuhaewon

When did Flush!! form?

Junki: In 2015, as the frontman of Flush!! I suggested Jooyoung to make a hardcore band with experiment of school band in university. Jooyoung accepted without hesitation. After then, Junki’s younger brother Noopssy and Junki’s senior joined and released their 1st EP, For Our Belief. As time passed, Noopssy had to fulfill his military duty, so they scouted Junyoung to fill the guitarist. After several replacement, Hyunjin who was a drummer of Things We Say joined us as our new drummer in 2018 and became present Flush!! (Noopssy has been discharged from military service, so Flush!! became quintet.)

The new LP, Change with a Shout, is a huge step up from the 2017 EP. How’d the album come together?

Junyoung: Actually, our first EP, For Our Belief, in 2017, was melodic Asian-style hardcore album. After releasing it, members were concerned about new song and Junki and I who are straight edge, wanted to reflect our lifestyle. So then, we chose Youth crew and made our songs, and released Change with a Shout.

Junki: This album’s biggest feature is a change of genre with proper vocal style as change. Also, I thought that most Korean things are global, so I wrote most of the lyrics in Korean.

When I think of South Korea, I tend to think of The Geeks. How important are they to your scene? 

Junki: We think certainly The Geeks had an effect on not only Korean also Asia hardcore bands. As well, Flush!! was made by watching and listening to The Geeks. 

Noopssy: Oh, there are many guest vocals in our 11th track "Flush" on Change with a Shout, the last vocal is Ki, the frontman of The Geeks [laughs].

How’s the straight edge scene in Seoul? What bands sent you scrambling down the “straight and narrow” lane of hardcore?

Junyoung: There isn’t much straight edge in Korea. Our alcohol industry is huge and well developed, so it’s very hard to keep drinking away. Except for foreign people, there are maybe less than 10 straight edge.

Junki: We have many favorite bands, of course! [Laughs] As mentioned earlier, Seoul City hardcore band The Geeks, and when we make our album, we are influenced by Mindset from Baltimore and Floorpunch from New Jersey.

Photo courtesy of Flush!!

What’s the future hold for Flush!!? 

Junki: We have European tour planned for September and we are planning to have another tour in Asia next year. We are going to have a tour and as many shows as possible, so members are doing their best. 

Jooyoung: Our 12" vinyl is going to released soon, and we want to sell them in many other countries. Through this interview, we hope to be contacted by some awesome record companies.

How can people keep in touch with you?

Jooyoung: We communicate with people by SNS. If you need more info or request, contact us whenever you want. Our account info is below.

Photo: ryuhaewon

Flush!! tour dates:
Sept. 16th Bydgoszcz Poland 
Sept. 17th Need help, Germany(Hamburg)*
Sept. 19th Gent, Belgium
Sept. 20th Schwerte Germany
Sept. 21th Lille France 
Sept. 22th Bonn Germany 
Sept. 24th Zurich Switzerland
Sept. 26th Lyon France 
Sept. 27th Need help, France* 
Sept. 28th Paris France

***

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