How long have you been in Cheongju, and what do you do here?
I came to Korea in 2007. I spent my first year in a smaller in the same province called Chung-ju. It was a really great experience to have in my first year. But after a year I fancied moving on to a bigger city, so I came to Cheongju in September of 2008. I worked in the pubic school system through the EPIK program for my first three to four years, and I am now currently working at Cheong-ju University.
What did you do pre-Cheongju?
Before I came to Korea, I was living and working in Edinburgh, Scotland. I graduated in Edinburgh so I manage to find a decent enough Job just after my graduation. Although, the appeal of traveling and working was what attracted me to coming to work here in Korea.
What do you do for fun?
These days the band (The Primary) takes up most of my time. So I guess I can say that's what I do for fun. Between writing songs, rehearsing once or twice a week and performing there is just enough time for my wee wife and I. We often go to visit her family or head away somewhere for the weekend. We would also head out for something to eat every now and then so we are always on the look-out for better places to dine in and around the city.
We know you for The Primary. How did that happen?
My story is that I had a few ideas for a few songs and that I knew a few liked minded people that would be interested in starting something up.
The other story is that i had a little too much red wine one night in one of Cheongju's finest establishments in Chungdae. That night, I was crawling around on my hands and knees asking those liked-minded people to join the band beginning that following week. The rest is history.
What were your first impressions of the local live music scene, and has that changed?
We have been very fortunate in Cheongju to always have a good number of live bands. From the likes of G-Jay, Big Norbert's Band (MXP), Robot Fighting, The Radio Grifters to Papa Bear. It seemed away back in early/late 2000s people were spoilt for choice at times. However, there has been a slight shift in the music scene due to new people coming in and older Cheongju rockers moving on to greener pastures.
However, these days it's beginning to thrive again with us The Primary, Aurora, Stone Throwing People, Deadmans Switch, So Long Buffalo and The Kwang-Won Band. There are also a host of DJs that often run nights and weekend dance parties in the Chungdae area. I encourage anyone to get their own thing started and join us. It's great to hear so many different styles of music in such a small community.
What are your hopes and expectations for The Primary in the future?
The people of Cheongju have already met our expectations with the release of the new album "Arctic Roar." People have been very kind in supporting us by attending shows and buying the record or even just taking the time to listening to it. I would like to push on with maybe a new music video that would involve all the whole community. I would also like to do a third album for sure. We will just have to see where we are at the end of this tour.
What's your favorite time and place in Cheongju?
That's a hard one. It would have to be Sangdang Sanseong or just outside of Cheongju at place called Hwayang Valley. Both places are great to visit in spring or summer time. Also, there is a great area filled with various coffee shops/ bars and restaurants nearby my house up Uam Mountain. A great place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon.
What's something in Cheongju that everyone should do at least once?
Go shopping at the Yukgori Market in the downtown area. It's a great wee place to pick up a lot much cheaper fruit and vegetables and of course to help out the extremely hardworking elderly locals. Be careful though if you have a weak stomach. Some of the food is not displayed in the most appetizing way at times especially the meat and the fish. But it's all very good.
Any advice for Cheongju-ers?
My advice would be try to experience as much as you can of this city. I have been here for a while now and I constantly find myself finding out new places to visit or hearing of new things starting up every couple of months. Get involved in the community. Start things up whether it's to do with music, sports, food or just socializing. This city needs a good community and we have that in abundance here. So enjoy it while it lasts.