Editor’s note: One Drop East will be playing their final show with singer Angela Crebbin before she leaves Korea. The show is at the Vinyl Underground in Busan on Saturday, March 31 at around 10 p.m. Click here for more details.
By Jesse Coy Nelson
One Drop East was supposed to start at 11. The band was already playing when we arrived. YM had made reservations for the show. We got a wristband, a token for a drink, and a neon thing that you could twist into a bracelet, only I had a neon disaster. Mine broke. Toxic neon fluid was spilling all over me. Is it toxic? Well, I certainly wouldn’t mix it into my drink.
One Drop East sounded like a gumbo of soul, reggae, ska, and blues. I recognized the godfather of soul, James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World,” sung by their female singer, who has an awesome voice. The male’s vocals are quite good as well. They take turns on songs. He sang on Bob Marley’s “Exodus,” which the band jammed on through. They did a couple pure ska numbers, one which was an original of their own. They were very tight, and being a ten-piece band (that’s how many of them I counted at this show), that’s mighty impressive.
As my date told me, they’re Busan regulars, and she’s a big fan. They’re in the process of extending where they play. They were in my city, Changwon, not too long ago. My band mates caught that show and were impressed.
This show seemed to be over too quickly, although granted we arrived a few songs into the performance. The venue then converted into the opposite of soul, in my humble opinion… cold, plastic, repetitive deejay spinning style, not so much my interest. YM and I had our complimentary drink. “We should leave here soon, or I’ll break out into a silly techno dance,” I warned, demonstrating in part. Wisely, she elected upon departure.
1. And your thoughts on the Busan music scene would be what?
Russ: Over the past couple years it has been growing! On any given night you can see whatever takes your fancy from Reggae, Soul, Country, Punk, Rock. We’re blessed that we live in a seaside city because I think that’s what attracts all these great musicians. That’s been showing a lot over the last few years with the amazing amount of growth the Busan Music Scene has had.
Ben the Drums: We’ve gone from pretty much nothing over a decade ago to a thriving scene with lively open mic nights every week and great performances almost every weekend. Some real top-class musicians have come to the city by the sea to make a scene with some serious depth & talent. There is something formidable going on here.
Brian: Busan is just blessed with incredible talent, plain and simple. While Hongdae’s scene showcases a lot of hard rock and punk, on any given weekend in Busan, you can check out great folk, jazz, bluegrass, funk, prog-rock, hip-hop and everything in between. Of course the punk, metal and hard rock scenes are well represented too. There isn’t one genre that seems to dominate… but the bar for quality is set very high.
Angela: It’s at an exciting time at the moment as it’s moved out of its tweens and into its teens.
Sean: As we stand, it’s a vibrant melting pot of talent from all over the world. A whole bunch of different backgrounds make for a lot of different styles, and also a lot of different interpretations of those styles. For example, the way we listen to and appreciate reggae in New Zealand seems to be a lot different from the way it’s perceived in Southern California. Slapping those two together makes for some good music!
2. With a large band size, how do you coordinate everyone’s schedules to make time for jamming?
Russ: It is difficult at best. We have 9 or 10 people on stage with us at any given show. Where we are lucky is that we have 10 people who all believe in the music that we make… 10 people who are enthusiastic about this band. We have people from all walks of life. Some people are married, some are single, some are full-time professional musicians. So we always try and do what’s best for everyone.
Brian: One Drop East is lucky to have members who are dedicated to making good music and sounding tight every show. Traditionally, Saturdays are supposed to be reserved for band stuff (practices and shows). But with so much happening on stage, it is important that each member works on band stuff individually all week so that they come prepared on Saturday and we can get as much done as possible. To be completely frank, one day of practice a week isn’t enough, but we make it work.
Angela: We get together to practice on Saturday and have an institutionalized policy of gossiping and bitching mercilessly about anyone who is late or absent…seems to get most of us their most of the time.
Sean: Saturday’s the day. Keep it free, As for jamming, a lot is done almost theoretically, i.e. over some beers, and this can often make it easier to put together when the (limited) time comes.
3. UFO’s, real or not real, and why?
Ben the Drums: Uncouth, flailing omnivores? I am one!
Gordon: I see UFOs every day, but they are probably birds or bugs in my peripheral vision. If you mean alien spacecraft, I stand with Carl Sagan… “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
Brian: I swear I saw one once. I was camping with my friend in Connecticut and saw these lights in the sky moving around in strange ways. They’d get really bright and then really dim… eventually they faded to nothing. Nobody ever believes me. Also, I once met a guy at a music festival who explained that aliens put mushrooms on earth so that humans can communicate with them. That seems relevant somehow.
Ben the Sax: There are seemingly infinite numbers of galaxies similar to our own, with planets probably like our own. A UFO doesn’t have to be extraterrestrial either. Yes they are real.
Angela: It doesn’t matter… yet.
Sean: Real. Why not?
4. The album that changed my life forever was _______________.
Russell: I’m gonna go out there on a limb and be honest. I don’t care if it sounds cool or not: Boyz II Men’s Cooleyhighharmony. That album initially got me interested in singing… which eventually got me to pursue learning about all the Motown Greats. I didn’t grow up in a musical family so I didn’t really know what kind of music was out there. That album was the gateway to all the music I listen to now.
Ben the Drums: John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme totally changed what I thought about music & playing.
Gordon: Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. There have been a few but that one stands out in my mind. The White Album, Lou Reed’s New York, Laurie Anderson’s Big Science, and Talking Heads Fear of Music were also huge for me.
Brian: Miles Davis – Kind of Blue. When I was first learning, my bass teacher made me buy the album and transcribe every note Paul Chambers played. I can honestly say it has forever affected the way I approach bass playing. Jazz and reggae grooves can be wildly different. So sometimes, if I’m not paying attention, my jazzy ways can screw up the reggae feel.
Ben the Sax: No album changed my life. I listen to every kind of music there is, and I’m not a fan of anyone in particular. I like heavy metal most. I do like playing saxophone, but I think most jazz is pretty lame. I guess the album Giant Steps by John Coltrane showed me what I think a good saxophone should sound like.
Vasana: I’m not so much of an album person. I’m more of a song person. Sometimes I will like a song but then get the album and the other tracks aren’t nearly as good. I like classical music most of all and my favorite classical piece would be Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5. Songs, Albums and other people didn’t really change my musical life or outlook, what changed that was my discovery of new chords, chord progressions, harmony, orchestration, different rhythms etc. No one piece, album or song stands out in my mind.
Angela: Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.
Sean: Hmmmm… tie. As far as instruments go, when I listened to Axis: Bold as Love by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, it made me realize not only how awesome Jimi is, but what a bass guitar is, although Noel Redding hardly ever gets props! All up though, I would have to point to Mystic Man by Peter Tosh. It changed the way I thought about reggae, and music in general.
5. Auto-tuning’s place in the music industry is _______________.
Russell: Autotuning can be used to great effect in some styles of music. A lot of different styles of music use voice altering techniques so you can’t really say it’s ‘wrong.’ I think it’s wrong if you use it to cover up a singer’s lack of ability, though.
Ben the Drums: An unholy experiment gone wrong, kind of like keytars. Paris Hilton has a CD out because of it. That is unforgivable!
Brian: It’s easy to hate on Auto-tune when you hear abominations like that Cher song. But it can have its place in music when used tastefully; that is, when you can’t tell it’s being applied to a track. Especially with bands producing albums independently, we don’t always have the money or time to nail every single note. In those instances, it’s a quick, cheap fix for a flubbed pitch that wasn’t caught during the recording process.
Ben the Sax: Good for techno, pop, and changing regular YouTube videos into songs.
Angela: Exactly where it is being used. It lives where it belongs. Ex: “Friday.”
Sean: Out the back alleyway selling it’s body to pay the rent.
6. Bob Marley versus James Brown in a boxing match… who would win and why?
Russell: I wouldn’t like to see those two guys in a fight. I wouldn’t want to see two men I respect so much in a fight. With that said, I don’t think I can picture ever swinging a proper punch. I can picture him stroking someone’s face and saying, ‘Hey mon… it’s gonna be ok.’ I’m gonna have to go with James Brown.
Ben the Drums: Everyone knows JB was the brawler. It was he who sang “I don’t know karate, but I know crazy.”
Gordon: Everyone watching would be the winners.. it would be hilarious! Think of the flailing dreads, the dudes rushing in to pick up James each time he dropped to his knees. Epic!
Brian: A lot of people don’t realize that Bob Marley was a complete badass. He grew up in a very violent place; spending time in both the projects of Kingston and the back woods of Jamaica. Most Bob songs that people know are about peace and making love and all this other soft stuff. But the vast majority of tunes in Bob’s songbook have to do with revolution, war and urban violence. James Brown is just crazy. Bob would win because he had a killer’s instinct and was a survivor.
Ben the Sax: James Brown. He has way more energy and focus. I think James probably beat his band members when they made misakes
Vasana: The audience would win. I think it would be a draw because JB would be flailing his arms like Mike Tyson and Bob would be ducking and weaving and jabbing like Cassius Clay. They would do this until they were exhausted and then sit down and have a jam in the ring.
Angela: James would win (aggressive spinner) but Bob wouldn’t care.
Sean: Marley. He’s got a good two inches over Brown. And I’m picking a longer reach.
7. Time for a band survey. Who had the strangest job, and what was it?
Russell: I don’t know if this is a strange job… but it was definitely one of the best jobs I’ve ever
had. I have a major in fashion and graphic design. After I finished school, I worked as the Head Dresser at fashion shows. Basically, I’d spend the majority of my time hanging out with beautiful women… who I would dress… and undress. That few years was a good time.
Ben the Drums: I made fresh pasta at a restaurant. For several hours at a time, I would mix the flour & eggs in a machine and then pull the pasta out and prep it for cooking- easiest job I ever had.
Gordon: I washed and painted the exterior of a small sheet metal factory one summer.
Brian: For almost 10 years, I was a tour manager in the USA. Basically, I was a glorified carney. Most of the time, I’d be in charge of setting up marketing ‘experiences’ at sporting events or music festivals. I had to drive a big-ass truck and survive out of my suitcase. I truly lived on the road like a nomad for those years.
Ben the Sax: I was a telemarketer, bus driver, wedding band musician, janitor, and graveyard shift gas station attendant. Take your pick. It’s been a very strange life.
Vasana: My strangest job? I have sung and played piano at over 60 weddings including 12 in Korea. Not so strange but I don’t sing in the band nor have I ever sung in any band for that matter.
Angela: I used to sell model train magazines to middle aged toddlers dressed in shorts, striped t-shirts, long socks with the exact change in their hand since before they entered the shop.
Sean: Not really strange, but I used to drive little cranes around and pick up stuff.
8. Your most memorable performance… you can only pick one (go with the gut). Tell us about it.
Russell: We’ve had some great shows in the past: Busan International Rock Fest, Sunset Live… however, the most memorable for me was when we won the 2009 Busan Battle of the Bands. That was the first time we showcased our original music. It was a hugely important stepping stone in our band’s progression. It was there we changed from a cover band into the band we are now… and hopefully the band we are to become.
Ben the Drums: Busan Rock Festival- largest audience, by far. It was a true rock star experience.
Gordon: In the mid-80s, the rock band I was in infiltrated the FFA (Future Farmers of America) and played a set at their state convention. We weren’t really supposed to be there, but we played “R-O-C-K in the FFA”, paraphrasing John Mellencamp.
Brian: My most memorable performance with One Drop East would have to be the 2010 Daejeon Rock Festival. We didn’t actually get to play the festival, because the police shut it down about 20 minutes before we were supposed to hit the stage. It was such a disappointment! Then Russ and I found a Daejeon local who took us to the main live music venue in town, Yellow Taxi. We convinced the owner to let us play and sent out the word. That weekend, we hired a private coach to bus us and 40+ ODE fans from Busan up to Daejeon. We simply sent out texts to this small army, “show is at Yellow Taxi… Now Go Spread the Gospel.” Within 90 minutes, the club was jam packed. That night we played our asses off, perhaps drawing energy from the spite we felt in not having the opportunity to play the big stage.
Ben the Drums: We won the Busan battle of the bands a couple years ago. I felt so happy when the audience was coming up to our ballot box in huge numbers. One other band had actually bought 50 or so tickets to the contest for THEIR fans, bused them to Busan, only to lose anyway. In fact some of those fans voted for us!
Vasana: My most memorable performance is a little bit of an irony. I was 14 playing the Moonlight Sonata in a school concert. I remember walking out and taking the applause and then I remember the applause at the end. In between, I cannot remember a thing. Some people said it looked like I was in a trance while I was playing the piece. So my most memorable performance is one I can’t remember but that is what music is to me. It is an escape. It is heaven. It is hell. It is ecstasy. It is agony. It is something that takes you from this world into another one where only music matters.
Angela: Supporting Batucada Sound Machine on their last visit to Busan.
Sean: For me, I really liked our Yellow Taxi show in Daejeon. After being denied play time at the Daejeon Rock Festival by the ‘man’ and some other ‘men’ and also some ‘women’, we hustled our troops together, did some asking around, located a venue, and filled it within about one hour. Then we tore the roof off to a great crowd. Bloody marvelous.