Breaking: GRMLN

GRMLN-2014-header-cred-Jillian-Dudley

MEMBERS: Yoodoo Park with support from Tae San Park and Keith Frerichs
FOUNDED: in 2010 when Park started making music for summer car rides
FROM: San Francisco by way of Kyoto, Japan, and Santa Cruz and Orange County, California
YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: his raucous and fuzz-filled live shows, or “Teenage Rhythm”—the first single off of 2013’s Empire
NOW: his more introspective sophomore full-length, Soon Away, due out September 16 via Carpark Records

Yoodoo Park has just woken up from a four-hour nap when he gets on the phone to discuss the ins and outs of his brand-new album Soon Away. While a lengthy midday lie-in sounds par for the course for an up-and-coming artist, Park is quick to explain that his siesta was due to the 4 a.m. start time for his new job at a SF coffee shop. After traveling across the country to support his 2013 debut Empire and subsequently recording his sophomore release, Park needed a change; he moved to the Bay Area to escape his Southern California suburban home, and had to start making a living immediately.

“I only had $120 in cash and nothing in my bank account. I decided I wanted to move to San Francisco when we got back from our last tour; I bought a one-way Greyhound ticket. Orange County, in general, is really dead; there’s no scene other than raising your kids. It’s a hassle, though, because my whole band is still in Orange County. I’m the only one who moved up here.”

“It was a hurricane in my head, and everything was so insanely hectic that the emotions kind of numbed me… When I get anxiety, I just think of not existing at all. That really calms me.”

Even with the roughly four hundred miles between him and his live band, Park’s not worried about the state of GRMLN. For him, the solitude feels just like when he started the project: “I wasn’t hanging out or going out. I tried to find stuff to do without relying on other people. So I closed the doors and started making music.” Since GRMLN’s humble beginnings as a way to write soothing music for long car rides, Park’s private creations have shifted from an unassuming hobby to powerful experiments in emotional catharsis with incredibly catchy guitar riffs. This thoughtful self-reflection and commitment to musical evolution is best seen within GRMLN’s latest release, Soon Away. Heavily inspired by the raw, feedback-filled sound of Bay Area’s DIY punk scene (and the overzealous fans at those house shows), Park tried to work through a tumultuous time with the ten bass-heavy, fuzzed-out tracks on GRMLN’s second full-length.

“There was a period, the last two years, when I had so many people in my life pass away, friends who I used to be really close to. Now I just think that the reality of life completely changed for me.” Park says hesitantly. “It was a hurricane in my head, and everything was so insanely hectic that the emotions kind of numbed me. This sounds depressing, but when I get anxiety, I just think of not existing at all. That really calms me.” Through songs like “Jaded,” “Numb,” “Avoider,” and “Of Nothing,” Park’s playful melodies contrast with the darker themes and lyrics about mortality, purpose, and loneliness present on Soon Away—but the album isn’t meant to be outright miserable.

“The album’s title, Soon Away, is not a grammatically correct phrase. You can’t really use it in a sentence. To me that means there’ll always be life moving forward; generations of new people will come and we’ll pass away and fade, but there’s always something new. It’s not fading away, but the next step towards a new phase of life.”

While Park is just starting to understand his personal relationship with the ebb and flow of mortality, with Soon Away, GRMLN is at the forefront of embodying the musical dialectic—ready to adapt, and willing to move forward. Progress makes perfect. FL

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