150714 [INT] [STARAZ Magazine Cover Story] MBLAQ’s Challange, A New Beginning

Source: Staraz via merlinka @mblaqattack.net
Translated: LUVISBLAQ@onlyseungho.com
Reuploaded: Ain @ MBLAQMSIAOFFICIAL
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They are back stronger and more stable. MBLAQ who has returned as a triangular where three members were stably connected to each other, has become stronger like an old tree. With a more successful harmony, more powerful rap and a team work that has gotten closer from enduring hardships together. No more farewells now. In their seventh year since debut, they are starting a new challenge.

Reporter Han Eun-jeong | Photography Kim Il-kwon
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MBLAQ’s REAL STORY
After finishing their schedule, MBLAQ was full of energy when came to our studio. We excepted that they’d be exhausted because of their packed schedule, but brightened up the studio with a cheerful greeting.  We were worried their mood would have changed since they are 3 now, but our fears were groundless. They were spreading positive energy as they were changing their clothes and having their make up done. Of course, they got lost in mobile phone games as waiting got longer. Looking at the tree figure we prepared thinking their song ‘Tree’, Mir said ‘It feels like filming an Innisfree (a cosmetic brand known for its natural concept) CF.’ more than three times, showing his obsession of trees. G.O looked shy while posing  as he kept saying he doesn’t know how to pose, but he came out very handsome in photographs. Meanwhile, Seungho was playfully teasing stylists whenever he got a break from photoshoot. Since Mir skipped his meals before photoshoot because of his animation dubbing schedule, he constantly seemed hungry. Our editor handed a packet of semi-dried sweet potato to Mir, since there wasn’t anything else to give. 

“Oh this is expensive~ Thank you“ He ate dried sweet potato slices up in less than no time. Finally photoshoot ended and interview started, they checked microphones for recording themselves, making some babbling never heard before. At one point, MBLAQ’s energy source, Mir started touching his stomach and said “Would you like to eat pear?“(the same word is used for both ‘stomach’ and ‘pear’ in Korean) which is an old joke. They did not stop joking until the end of interview. Although they kept joking around during interview, they still answered all the questions sincerely. From now on, we will be revealing MBLAQ’s real talk without editing anything. 

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Is your throat fine, G.O?
G.O It is not very good yet.
Mir So let’s communicate through sign language today. (laughs)
G.O Laryngitis won’t let me sing yet. I could sing live only until Mnet MCountdown after our comeback, and I still can not sing. Fortunately, it is nothing serious. I suffered from vocal cord nodules before so I thought it was the same case again because of similar symptoms, but luckily it was not.

You made a comeback in a long time and are in the middle of your activites. How do you feel?
Seungho It’s funny. Last year in November, we ended the first chapter of our career with a concert, and following 3~4 months were hard for each of us as we were trying to get our mental health back. We spent next months putting our heads together for the new album and meeting everyday. Lately it has been very funny starting our activities and meeting our fans again.

Has anything changed about music shows? 
Seungho Shows have changed and also there are too many singers now. When we debuted, we thought seniors with 7~8 or more than 10 years gap as really big seniors and now here we are becoming 6~7 year-old singers without quite realizing it. It’s really exciting that juniors come greet us at backstage. There are not really more than 1~2 teams we go to greet and almost all the teams come to us and it is both exciting and makes me miss old days. Am I really getting old after all. (laughs)

Can you please introduce your new album?
G.O In this 8th mini album, there are 8 songs in total, 4 of them are full length songs and other 4 are intros/ theme songs of full songs. We were told it gives kind of a musical feel when the songs are listened in album’s order. This is how they set the mood in musicals too. These days trend is listening to only title songs to have an idea of what the album is like, but I think it’s better if people listen to our whole album. First of all, we tried to show all members’ unique features with this album. I write songs, Mir writes lyrics and Seungho plays the piano also composes songs, and in order to add these colors to the album, we decided to add theme songs.
Seungho In fact, we composed a song on the piano first then wondered how it would be if we add theme songs for other tracks too, and add one for G.O’s song then for others, that was how number of the songs increased. People will think it is a full album. (laughs)
Mir There are as many songs as full album but it is cheap! I hope it sells many copies.
G.O It is cheap but also includes many pictures, so much work was put into it. A meaningful album with an exaggerated packaging.
Mir A perfect package, only for 14800 won.

How was people’s reactions when you decided to come back as a trio?
Seungho People close to us have always encouraged us saying there won’t be any problems. When I was down, senior singers and close friends also gave me strength and said things will turn out even better. They told me each of our roles will be doubled, so I should pay attention to that. Eventually, it felt like a burden but gave me strength anyways.

How did you imagine MBLAQ as a trio at first?
G.O We discussed a lot about if we should keep old MBLAQ’s color or come up with new color of only us three. We also considered releasing our new album as MBLAQ’s first mini album instead of 8th mini album. These discussions continued for a long time. At the end, it seemed like an advantage being a trio of two vocalists and one rapper since there are not many groups like that.  We decided to set our plans in that direction, with songs we think people can relate and like more.
Seungho My grandmother likes us as a trio. It was hard for her eyes to catch her grandson when all 5 were moving quickly, she says she can see better now that we are three. So it feels worthy. (laughs)

Are you planning to make dance songs again?
Seungho We are preparing (a song). There was a song we really liked and chose unanimously, but later decided to go with ‘Mirror’ as it fits well to our situation that is coming back as a trio for the first time. The song is a secret now, we are going to show you next time.

What are pros and cons of being a trio?
G.O It’s good being able to express ourselves more on stage since we have more parts now, also we can come to an agreement and take action faster when we are to discuss something about our music. As for cons, since were always together as 5, it sometimes feel empty and we have to do things which were used to be done with other members.

Who brings synergy when three of you meet?
G.O (points at Mir) He is our source of energy, even his looks are bright. He always lifts the mood and entertains us. Seungho is more on serious side and I am in the middle, so I think we blend well together.
Mir The union of us three is just right.
Seungho Frankly speaking, I was worried that it would feel empty without two members because we are known as bright and noisy group, but there haven’t been any problems. We got closer to each other and also a bond of sympathy developed between us.

Process of reforming a group of 3 of you must’ve been painful for you. Was there anything helped you recover?  
Seungho At first I thought alcohol could help. But I wouldn’t feel better no matter how much I drank or poured my heart out to close friends. Instead, working out helped me relieve stress and get me back on track.  I did boxing till I was dead tired, that made me felt refreshed and reduced my stress. I think exercise is very good for mental health.
G.O I made many attempts at first. I would eat five meals a day so I gained weight in a short period. I would eat, play games; I wanted to be so focused on something that I wouldn’t think of anything else. But at the end, exercise was what cured me and gave me my mental health back. It was so peaceful to ride bicycle to Han river and watch people. There were many people enjoying their free times and I thought to myself ‘Why did I spent my time stuck at home’. Exercising not only made me healthier, also helped me clear my mind. I stopped playing games completely. However, recently I’ve been playing mobile phone games when I have to wait between schedules, but computer games, you need a heavy butt for them (because they make you sit in front of computer all day).
Mir I sought consolation in seeing members. And I often read comments. It was a really risky situation that two members left, to be honest. So I often got together with members, discussed about album and practiced and this way I naturally healed. When I was down, I didn’t really meet people, because it would make me feel even worse when I did. When I come back from countryside, even if I had nothing to do I would go to our practice room and living like this, time healed me. People from my hometown told me we can only win first place if we often appear on TV so I should come out on some shows. I decided I should start again with the support from people around me.

You also participated in album making process, did you discuss about lyrics together, too? 
Seungho Yes. That is how we chose ‘Mirror’. We had different style of lyrics for our songs before.
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You must have heard people saying they think ‘Mirror’ is targeted to former members.
G.O They said that same thing at showcase. But they made provocative article titles and their content was different from how I expressed my feelings. They simply wrote I meant that (song is targeted to former members). It is not only couples that break up. We loved and treasure them but somehow three of us were left without two members we irresistibly depended on. Older members are continuing their individual activities but that was a farewell as MBLAQ. We can feel more about love and farewell from seperating with members than we can possibly feel when we break up with someone we were in a relationship with. So we wondered how it would be if this was a break up between a couple and that was the kind of meaning we tried to express. People don’t know if we broke up badly or in a good way, they just know the fact that MBLAQ was seperated. That is what we thought. Singers can sing sincerely when their pour their heart into songs, so we thought it would be better singing a song we write and can feel in our hearts than singing a song written by someone else.  It is not like we wanted to target anyone.

Lyrics are so sad and beautiful that they make me feel your feelings.
G.O They really are. The lyrics are ambiguous, we poured our sincere heart in them so that not only seperating couples, but all the people who deal with farewell emotions can relate.
Seungho We actually did not write the lyrics for those friends. This is only a song about our current situation and feelings. We just write about a farewell and it was not about them, but I understand if people misunderstand. It wouldn’t make people feel anything when the lyrics are not from your experience. This is the reason why our song ‘Mona Lisa’ was not realistic. If you examine it really, you don’t understand much of a thing. Now we started to sense the difference in lyrics like that.
G.O It is upsetting that people misunderstand us by looking at only provocative article titles. As Seungho said, we are not trying to gift this song to former members. The same goes for actors, doesn’t it? They don’t go murder people if they are to play a murderer role but they imagine a stage in their life where they felt angry more than ever. But article titles can come out like ‘He wanted to be murderer’. So it’d be better if people don’t get sensitive about that part.

You said you dedicated the song ‘Tree’ to your fans. Who do you think of as a ‘Tree’?
G.O MBLAQ members! I think it is cheesy to say ‘You are my tree’ but since we all depend on each other, we were able to take heart and start again. ‘Tree’ can be for both our fans and old MBLAQ. The lyrics (in this album) seem to be fitting well to several situations.
Mir We have 2,800 apple trees in our garden. If it is a big one, it gives almost 10 boxes of apples. (laughs) I am sorry. I think all the people I know are trees to me.
G.O Part-timers at Burger King above our practice room are also trees since they give us our daily food.
Seungho I think of everyone who stays with me and gives me strength as trees like the song’s lyrics.

Mir, I heard you are so popular in North America that they call you ‘Prince’.
Mir I think it is because of my screams.
Seungho Funny thing is that articles come out when he talked about it.
Mir  I scream loudly because G.O and Seungho have more parts they come into view more often, but since I usually have only one or two parts I think I get excited when it’s my turn and scream. Also I was the first singer to go to several places in South America. I went there to do volunteer work and for ‘Law of Jungle’. Seungho and G.O has many fans in Japan and other countries.
Seungho I have individual fans, but more importantly, fans who like MBLAQ as a whole are lovelier to me. Of course there are fans who like only me and say ‘I don’t need other members’ but the fans who like and support MBLAQ because they like the songs although they have a favourite member, those fans are the best.

G.O, Does if feel good that you shaved your facial hair?
G.O It does not. It grows long in half a day so I have to shave everyday and it is very irritating. (My skin) gets sensitive after I shave. Imagine shaving your armpits everyday. It is like hell. But it (hair) comes and goes. Sometimes I like to keep it long and and sometimes shaved, for this album I cleanly shaved because our fans wanted so.
Mir In rookie days, he would have razor with him wherever he’d go. It (his facial hair) would grow even if he shaved two times.

You have a strong ‘Sincere Idol’ image. Recently on ‘Witch Hunt’ you were asked a bunch of bold questions but you answered all honestly.
G.O We did what what we were supposed to according to the program’s purpose. Before filming, we decided to just joke and talk comfortably like we do with friends. Production crew told us about some idol made recording very hard because they were no fun. MCs also told about another guest who barely talked and gave the crew stress. We have to keep our image too but if we decided to go on a show we need to act according to that program’s purpose and also I think viewers of that show will be tolerant.
Mir Actually they cropped many parts before airing.

Seungho, your piano skills are so outstanding to the point where you are called Yang Chopin, wouldn’t you like to do something to make your piano skills better known?
Seungho No. In fact, I want to do that later when have a I chance to make the kind of music I want. When we were 5, I was going wait anyway to show everything we can show as 5 members. Now that we are 3, I will still wait till we show our everything. It will be the same if we are 2, and it will still not be late when only 1 left. Actually Mir is going to have a solo soon. (laughs) When we enlist, he will naturally become solo. So, be prepared.
Mir I think I’ll be doing farming as a solo.

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G.O, you said you’d lost confidence but fans fans telling you to go on ‘King of Mask Singer’ made you hold yourself together. Will you accept if you are offered to appear on the show? 
G.O Of course.
Seungho No, that is a secret.
G.O They really prepare and film secretly for this show.
Seungho You are tricking us too, aren’t you?
G.O I think that is a show every singer would want to appear on. You can express your feelings using only your voice and receive praise only for that and of course, people are not supposed to praise you every time,  but I think this is a good show that allows singers to estimate their skills for the sake of communicating with public.

What are the things all 3 of you like?
G.O We like meat and riding bicycle.
Seungho Alcohol.
Mir Money, gadgets and seemingly all the things men usually like. Excluding alcohol, I don’t really like that.
Seungho G.O used to not like alcohol and Mir did not drink either but G.O  started to drink a little when he is tired. I really like it when we drink some as we have a chat. As for Mir, we feed him (alcohol).
Mir Seungho carried me to my room when I drank and dozed off at bathroom when we were in Japan for a concert.
Seungho He was knocked out after two glasses. Me and G.O drink about about a bottle and half.

It’s been seven years since your debut, you sure must know what people like about you by now.
Seungho My straightforward side. My behaviors towards our fans have never changed since debut. (laughs) If I am really in a bad mood I tell them honestly, our fans used to be scared but I think they understand now.(laughs) And if am feeling good, I am nicer to them. Sometimes I think that’d be better to fake a smile, but it is hard being insincere and I don’t think I can pretend. I am a fierce character, I can’t restrain myself when I am irritated.
Mir I am trying to find. Maybe that is why I don’t have fans.

You are popular, actually.
Mir Me? (laughs) I don’t know, I am yet to find.

But you are well recognized in public, aren’t you? 
Mir Not really. I won’t be recognized even when I only cut my hair.
Seungho That is because you usually look very serious when you walk around. Even I want to pretend I don’t know you when you walk by. (laughs)
G.O I think they like me the best when I sing.
Seungho Mir is very charismatic when he raps on stage and his cute and sincere image when he is on entertainment shows is attractive. Actually, he knows our fans’ heart the best and I think that is why they love Mir so much. I tend to be indifferent, but Mir is always very interested in our fans so I hear a lot about them from Mir. G.O is more confident about musical part. I think he stands out among other singers. I think more people will acknowledge him with his vocals in this album. I also like G.O’s monolids. I wish i didn’t have double eyelids.
G.O I think it is because we are close to each other more than anyone else, all members feel envy about something another member has.

Do you often tell each other your complaints or dissatisfactions? 
Seungho Actually we used to not tell anything if it’s not a big problem. However since we are less people now, we sometimes open up but there are not many complaints really.
G.O Me and Seungho tell each others if have a complaint but Mir…
Mir There was a case from 6 years ago and it was settled recently.
Seungho I apologized.
Mir There was something that bothered me yesterday too but I’ll talk about it 6 years later.
G.O So you are saying you give us 6 years (to apologize)?
Mir I mean, I hope our relationship lasts very very long.

What is the moment in your life you should never forget? 
G.O The moment I debuted with MBLAQ, I don’t think I can ever forget my feelings at that time even if I want to. Also when we came back once more as a trio, I think that time will always remain in my memory.
Mir Our debut and afterwards remain in my memory. Also when Jihoon (Rain) came to us and said ‘You are going to debut as MBLAQ’, I was shaking. I thought I was about to be kicked out, and he said we’re debuting, I can never forget that moment.
Seungho The day I was born.
Mir He remembers the day he was born.
Seungho I do remember. (laughs) I think (I’ll remember) the day I became a singer and the day I retire. (laughs) The day I debuted has a place in my mind as a memory which has a strong impact on me.  I’d never thought of becoming a singer, but I did somehow so I can never forget the day I debuted.  ‘Why do these people like me’ I couldn’t adjust even a year passed after debut. ‘Do they really like me that much they start screaming or following me when they see me’ Maybe it’s because I became a singer after I became an adult, it was very hard for me to understand that.

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You are very close to your thirties, how do you feel?
Seungho I actually don’t feel like I am getting old since I am in the entertainment world and I work with younger friends all the time. Even if sometimes circumstances make us terrified, we are all baby faced. Singers don’t seem to age.
G.O I like it. I can’t always stay young and the things I have been experiencing as I get older are very precious to me. Growing up as you age, this is what life is. It doesn’t matter if you know how to sing very well, there is a limit to songs you can sing when you’re young.

Mir, you are in the middle of your twenties, how do you feel about your age? 
Mir I think it’s an uncertain age. Not very old or not very young, an age when I start to have clear thoughts about things and those thoughts actually being wrong.  When I tell what I think is right to another person, s/he says I am wrong. Am I clear? My mind is full of thoughts, but they are uncertain. So this is what my friends tells me, ‘What you think is not right. You think you’ve become an adult and tell me ‘This is right, I am sure’ but that is actually not what you think.’ I think this is an when you tend to become stubborn. So I unburdened myself from everything.

Is there anything else you want to do besides singer activities?
Seungho I want to travel abroad. I’ve always traveled because of concerts and now I want to go hang out but conditions don’t allow me. I once went to Japan with my friends when I was 20. I should have traveled before even if I was busy, I could make memories with my friends or play around freely with members, but it has become a regret now.
G.O I want to do musical. I received many offers while I was inactive. Many of them were the musicals you’d recognize when you hear their titles but I couldn’t accept. I still receive offers but since I am mentally very tired, I want to focus on singing. I think it’s right to do musical when you can focus on only that. Fellow actors and staff are considerate, but I don’t want to seem like I am taking it for granted, so I want to do musical only when I can really focus.

Any piece you especially want to work on?
G.O There is not any. I am at the stage where I need to learn many things now. Even though I received Rookie Award, I don’t think it was because I was very good but because it showed my passion for musical. Instead of deciding what kind of a piece I want to work on, I think I need to focus on learning more from those musical pieces.
Mir I want to write a book later. I want to write write essays or a novel, also my autobiograpy when I get older. I am from the countryside and young students from my district tell me they dream of becoming a singer like me. So I want to write a book using my name.

What will MBLAQ’s future direction be?
G.O We want to keep making steps forward and reach people with MBLAQ’s music. I don’t think being recognized by public with winning  first place (in music shows) means everything. It is a more rewarding outcome making the kind of music we like and our fans liking it.

What kind of activities are you planning?
G.O It’s been stressful to people because of Mers. So we are going to keep our music show appearances short. We were planning to attend local concerts, but they are all being cancelled now, so it seems we will be meeting fans through radio or entertainment shows.   

Say something to your fans who have waited for you.
Seungho Thank you.
Mir I’ll be your tree.
G.O I’ll be your mirror.

Lastly, let’s finish with words you want to say to each other.
Seungho Thank you.
G.O Thank you. G.O, Seungho~
Seungho It is really straight to the point.
G.O Even if we said more, a thank you would summarize it~

What are you going to do when you get home?
G.O I will sleep.
Mir I will clean my puppy’s poop.

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