Startline hopes to tap into Japan’s punk love

by Shawn Despres

Special To The Japan Times

In the 2000s, Gumx was one of South Korea’s top-tier punk acts. With that band on indefinite hiatus, though, Gumx drummer Gun Choi is now looking to achieve similar success with Startline, a punk trio he formed in March of last year.

“With Startline I wanted to restart my band life all over again and tackle the challenges that new bands face,” says Choi.

Influenced by the likes of Blink-182 and Japanese punk icons Hi-Standard, Startline issued its first EP, “Light My Fire,” after only six months together. Feeling confident, the Seoul group flew to Indonesia last November for Yamaha’s Asian Beat competition. Startline won third prize at the event and Choi was awarded “Best Drummer.”

“For us, the experience was more important than winning,” Choi says. “I think having many different experiences will help us grow faster.”

Startline released a second EP in July titled “Across the Night” and recently showcased its catchy, melodic punk cuts in Taiwan and China. In September, the trio will make its Japanese debut. Gumx toured Japan several times and had its music used on TBS’ “Super Soccer” program so Choi is excited to share his new project with local fans.

“Japan has lots of punk rock lovers,” he says. “I want to see them again. I’m hoping we can find a good label to work with in Japan.”

As our interview ends, Choi mentions his frustration with the Korean government. Although Startline’s music isn’t political, he hopes they can help people find comfort through punk rock.

“I think the Korean government is crazy right now,” he says. “The government has turned a blind eye to the suffering of the people. We want to pass on messages that are hopeful and peaceful to everyone.”

Startline plays F.A.D in Yokohama on Sept. 5 (6:45 p.m.; ¥2,000 in advance; 045-663-3842); and Shinjuku ACB Hall in Tokyo on Sept. 6 (6 p.m.; ¥2,000 in advance; 03-3205-0901). For more information, visit www.facebook.com/bandstartline.