MBLAQ has spread its wings, and it soon aims to fly to the heart of Asia.
Starting with its concert in Jakarta, Indonesia on June 30, MBLAQ plans to tour through Bangkok on July 7, Seoul from July 21-22, Osaka on July 26, Tokyo from July 30-31 and Taipei on August 18 with its six-city Asia tour BLAQ%.
The group has continued to grow since it made its debut in 2009, and plans to step up to a bigger stage and meet with more fans across Asia.
When we met the members at their practice room in Gangnam, they were busy practicing for their first ever exclusive overseas tour.
Although they seemed busy, they looked more excited than they had looked for any time in their career.
How do you feel about your upcoming concert?
Seung Ho: “I’m so nervous because it’s our first exclusive overseas concert. It’s happening thanks to the love sent us by so many people.”
Should we be looking forward to the concert? What is there to see?
Seung Ho: “A lot of the songs’ moods will change. There will also be a lot to see in individual performances. A lot of performances no one has ever seen before will be put onstage. It’ll be a special present. We’re preparing magic shows, dance and even piano performances.”
Lee Joon: “We plan to rearrange our original content. There will be dance and song. We plan to interpret [our songs] in a new way.”
What does your agency’s representative singer, Rain, say about the concert?
Seung Ho: “He always tells us that we should practice hard but forget all about it and just enjoy when we’re onstage. He also told us to pour all our efforts into practice, and that when we’re so exhausted we feel like we’re going to die after that we should start laughing."
"He said that’ll help us touch our fans’ hearts more. That’s what he said, but it’s hard. If you’re exhausted, you’re just exhausted; you can’t laugh. That’s why [Rain is] so great.”
These days, idol groups go overseas more often than they go to the regional areas. It’s all thanks to the K-Pop boom.
Seung Ho: “That’s right. We didn’t get to hold any exclusive concerts in the regions, but we’re holding them overseas. We actually go to Tokyo, Japan more often than we go to any regional city in Korea."
"We do get worried, though. I think since we expose too much [to our overseas fans], we won’t be mysterious anymore. Almost all K-Pop singers travel overseas. Since overseas fans have so many chances to see them, they feel less need to catch every concert.”
Has anything interesting happened overseas?
Seung Ho: “Last year, we went to Brazil in the summer to film an MBC show titled K-Pop Cover Dance Festival. Cube Entertainment performed in South America near the end of last year, but we were in Brazil before them. [The locals] told us that we were the first K-Pop idol singers to arrive in South America."
"We didn’t even know people would recognize us in South America, but about 3,000 fans showed up at the airport. We wanted to go out to meet them, but we didn’t get to because of safety reasons. They told us that the fans there had waited for days at the airport. About 5,000 fans were gathered at our hotel, too. We made a sudden appearance on local broadcasting because of that. Fans from Peru and Argentina were there also."
"We felt so happy. We made sure to thank them and apologize for not being able to see them at the airport through Twitter. We had to pay more than 100,000 won for our phone bills because we used data roaming, but it just felt like we had to thank them.”
What songs and performances do overseas fans like?
Seung Ho: “They usually like the choruses that are in English. We have a lot of songs with English in the chorus. I think that’s why they’re so loved. As for the fans themselves, they’re all becoming similar."
"At first, our Japanese fans stayed quiet to listen to our songs, but now, they’re as passionate as our Korean fans. Japanese fans have been learning Korean faster than we can learn Japanese.”
Mir: "They usually like everything our fans in Korea like."
K-Pop singers have been acting as civilian diplomats. You must be feeling some responsibility.
G.O: “We try to especially be careful of our actions overseas. Interest in us leads to interest in Korea. Mir and I once visited Peru for volunteer work, and we even found fans there. We didn’t mean to meet our fans there, but a little child fan played our music on a cell phone and talked about Taekwondo."
"I’m so proud because they love not only us, but Korea in general. I was so happy to go to Japan early in our career, but now, the world is our stage. I feel proud when I think that the world has its eyes on us.”
What does MBLAQ need to stretch further across the world?
G.O.: “There’s no definite answer. I think it’s most important that we enjoy it. We’ll try to sing music that our fans like.”
Seung Ho: “We just ran [mindlessly] up to now, but now I feel that I want to work on music with an easygoing attitude like a musician. I want us to become a group that’s musically trustworthy. We are an idol group, but every member has his own musical ideas. I used to like Crying Nut when I was little.”
MBLAQ is actually very skilled in vocals. Sometimes your skills are belittled because you’re an idol group.
G.O.: “No. There are actually more positive aspects about being in an idol group. No one really expects much from you, but when you show off your skills they become surprised. They like that an idol singer can sing such music.”
G.O is currently appearing in the drama ‘Ghost’. Does anyone have any desires to go solo?
G.O: I wanted to try acting. Singers have to appear on variety shows and interviews while they try to promote their music, and it’s hard to concentrate on one thing because they have such tight schedules."
"Actors, however, can concentrate on their piece when they start shooting, and I was jealous of that. They said that if you keep concentrating, you can free yourself. I’m also learning of the charms of acting. I want to continue acting in the future.”
Seung Ho: “I want to mature more as a singer first. I appeared in the drama Sharp when I was little as a double for a piano scene. That was my first and my last. I did do theater when I was in high school, but I enjoyed dancing more.”
Thunder: “I want to do anything if I get the chance. I especially want to compose and write lyrics for songs until I die.”
Lee Joon: “I don’t have any special plans.”
Mir: “I want to try acting if I’m given the chance. I want to be better at rap than acting, though.”
You’ve been so busy all this time. What do you want to do if you get time off?
Seung Ho: “I want to go on a trip with the MBLAQ members. We always went overseas to work and never to rest. I wish we could all take a break together. I want to drink, too."
"We don’t have any rules that say we can’t go out or get into relationships, but since there are none, I actually can’t bring myself to do it.”
Mir: “I agree. I want to go overseas with the members. I also want to set up a tent near the river in my hometown (Jangsung, Jeollanam-do) and hang out with my friends there.”
G.O: “I want to lay back with the members. Since we’ve made it a habit of hanging out together, we can’t do anything else even if someone tells us to. I just want to rest comfortably, and write songs.”
Thunder: “I want to go on unplanned trips or learn how to play the guitar.”
Lee Joon: “I just want to rest at home. I have to sleep a lot. I have chronic fatigue.”
Any last words on your determination for the Asia tour?
G.O: “Other than Japan, we’ll be visiting these countries for the first time in a long time. So many people will have been waiting for us, and you can look forward to it.”
Mir: “We’ll perform in a concert that has a full and whole center.”
Photo credit: J Tune Camp
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MBLAQ has spread its wings, and it soon aims to fly to the heart of Asia.