I met Sooyoung Park way back in 1993. His band Seam had played with Poster Children and The Fluid at Bogart’s in Long Beach and needed a place to stay. I offered my place, and from then on I’d see him on following tours, after various lineup changes, and on odd visits to each other’s city. As a result, he made appearances in Giant Robot magazine more than a few times. But before the crushing indie guitar attack of Chicago-based Seam, Sooyoung was in the much rawer (yet still polished) Oberlin band Bitch Magnet. The trio of Sooyoung, Jon Fine, and Orestes Morfin hasn’t played since 1989 but is rehearsing for All Tomorrow’s Parties “Nightmare Before Christmas” in Minehead, UK (invited by Battles) and a handful of other gigs in support of the deluxe remasters on Temporary Residence Records that drop on November 15. I took advantage of my friendship with the Singapore software developer to ask him some questions about the upcoming reunion shows and reissues. They’re way down the road, but they’re going to be awesome.
MW: You seem to be pretty much out of music these days, so how did you get roped into playing some shows with Bitch Magnet?
SP: We were talking to Temporary Residence about reissuing the Bitch Magnet back catalog, and my bandmates Jon and Orestes called me one night to talk about doing ATP and happened to catch me out drinking at a pub near my office. So I guess I semi-drunkenly agreed to it without fully appreciating how much work it would be to prepare.
MW: When is the last time you actually sat down and listened to the music?
SP: My guess is something like 7-8 years. I rarely listen to music I’ve made.
MW: How do the songs stand up to you? You and your bandmates were really young when you guys wrote them!
SP: Probably because it’s been more than 20 years since the records were released, I feel pretty detached from the music and songwriting. It’s almost like listening to a band that you’re intending to cover. One of the reasons I don’t listen to records I’ve played on is that I tend to focus on the flaws in the performances and recordings but I generally think the Bitch Magnet stuff holds up pretty well.
MW: When I read the band’s Facebook updates regarding rehearsals in Vancouver, it kind of reminded me of when the Police got back together and started announcing events. Any weirdness at all, or was it just fun?
SP: It was weird and fun. To me, practicing is always the best part of being in a band.
MW: What’s it like going back to bass? Did you still have all the gear? the chops?
SP: No gear or chops. I’m starting from scratch.
MW: Does going back to the beginning (or close to it) remind you of why you got into music? Has it make you excited about making music in any way, or is it just a fun detour?
SP: It reminds me of a time in my life when our goals were simple, which made it easy to focus. Of course I enjoy playing again, but it’s harder now to tune out all the distractions in my life. I suspect my bandmates might feel the same way. But it’s awesome to have this chance to do it all again.