Guckkasten (Korean: 국카스텐) is a South Korean independent rock band. Formed in 2003 under the name The C.O.M. (더 시오엠), the original lineup consisted of vocalist Ha Hyun-woo, guitarist Jeon Kyu-ho, drummer Lee Jung-gil, and bassist Kim Jin-eok. Due to conscription, The C.O.M. disbanded. In 2007, they regrouped with Kim Ki-bum as bassist under the name Guckkasten, which translates from the German language as "Chinese-style kaleidoscope". Inspired by Hague's piece called Art and Fire, the band intends to make music with psychedelic images hidden under analogous art.
In 2000, Ha Hyun-woo and Lee Jung-gil met while attending the same university. The following year, Jeon Kyu-ho, who earned a crane operation license at the time, was found through the internet. The band was founded in the Hongdae area of Seoul with the name The C.O.M., an acronym for Compass of Music, in 2003. Due to their conscription, the band was dismantled.
In 2007, the three members regrouped under the name Guckkasten in the Gangwon-do Province, with the addition of Kim Ki-bum. The name "Guckkasten" is derived from the German language, which translates to "Chinese-style kaleidoscope". The band chose the name because they wanted to "show off a never-ending, fire-work like image of the passion of the young and the mirage of life". Initially, Guckkasten attempted to create an independent record label themselves. After negotiations, they were signed a three-year recording contract with Yedang Entertainment. In 2008, the band earned the Hello Rookie of June award by the Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) Space Sympathy.
Guckkasten released their self-titled debut studio album on February 4, 2009. They held their first solo concert on February 21, 2009, in Seoul, South Korea, at Hongik University's V-Hall. Throughout that year, the band performed at several music festivals, including the Summer Rock Festival in Shanghai, China, the Pentaport Rock Festival, and Jisan Valley Rock Festival in July.
The band was selected by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KCCA) to usher in Korean culture into Japan. The hard disk drive where original album was saved had been lost by the band, which required them to re-record the album. As a result, Guckkasten lost all their money, which left them "speechless for about three seconds when we got the bill". Guckkasten won Rookie of the Year and Best Rock Song for "Mirror" at the seventh annual Korean Music Awards in 2010. In March 2010, Guckkasten performed a "special stage" at Mnet's music chart television program M! Countdown with girl group Kara.
In 2011, Guckkasten performed at their first major music hall concert. The event, which seats 2,000 people, sold out tickets in ten days. They were also a feature on hip hop duo's Leessang's album Asura Balbalta.
Musical style and artistry:
Guckkasten's music has been classified as psychedelic rock, a genre that is underrepresented in South Korea. Due to their experimental nature, Guckkasten has expressed they can not define the sound of their music. The band has stated that their guitar riffs tend to be "on the heavy side".
Inspired by Hague's piece called Art and Fire, the band's intent is to create music with psychedelic images hidden under analogous art. The band members cite different musicians as their favorites: Ha Hyun-woo chose Gotan Project and Arcade Fire; Jeon Kyu-ho chose Steve Vai and Joe Satriani; Lee Jung-kil admires Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich; Kim Ki-bum chose Red Hot Chili Peppers's bassist Flea.
Guckkasten has been described as having developed a unique sound and that the band strives for "musical perfection". Jeong Ho-jae, a writer for News Donga, felt that Guckkasten created "explosive and creative" music. Vocalist Ha Hyun-woo's singing technique has also been described to be "explosive". Their self-titled debut album received critical acclaim and was credited for the development and rapid growth of Korean indie music.
At their 2011 Guckkasten Visual Art Concert, the band employed three-dimensional effects, which displayed different items on the screens behind them for each individual track they performed. They aimed to combine their "intense" rock music with a visual exhibition.
Ha Hyun-woo (하현우) - vocals, guitar,
Jeon Kyu-ho (전규호) - guitar,
Lee Jung-gil (이정길) - drums,
Kim Ki-bum (김기범) - bass guitar,
Kim Jin-eok (김진억) - bass guitar
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