Allschools: This is your second tour to Europe during a few month. The last time you had been here with ALKALINE TRIO. How did you experience Europe and especially Germany during the tour?
Mike: Last tour was very short. Just three days, so I didnt really get to see much and it didnt feel like a proper tour through Europe. So, it was maybe kind of like an appetizer, and this tour is the main dish
Allschools: And have you been in Europe before?
Mike: I came in 2000. That was with an old band I was in, so, it has been a long time. Im just trying to reacquaint myself with everything So, Im also a tourist Im trying to go everywhere during the short time, its quite tiring.
Allschools: But you do have that time?
Mike: Yeah, every day. I try to walk at least maybe two hours and I take a lot of pictures. But its so cold Like today, its such a beautiful day, blue sky and everything, but its freezing
Allschools: So this time you are on tour with GOOD CLEAN FUN and ANTI-FLAG. Thats a quite interesting package with different music styles. How do you guys fit together?
Mike: Well, ANTI-FAG were the once who put the set together, witch I find is good. Because, nowadays, if you go to a hardcore show, you see only hardcore bands, if you go to a metal show.. only metal bands, punk show only punk bands, ska show only ska bands. That gets kind of boring I guess. Only maybe, if you just listen to one music, it might be great, but if you listen to many things, its a more exciting show. At least for me.
Allschools: You ran ASIAN MAN RECORDS since 1996 out of the garage of your parents house in California. Its all DIY. What does DIY mean to you?
Mike: Well, it basically means that I do it myself (laughs)A lot of people say that they do it themselves, but they have people do it for them. But Im doing it really myself. Im not even using commercial real estate, just my one families real estate. And, you know, I still answer all the letters, an d go to the late night copy shops to make the flyers. Im just trying to keep that feeling, when I first started making music, 20 years ago, I wanted do feel the same, you know?
Allschools: And you still have time to concentrate on your own music career?
Mike: We have a lot of bands on our label, but I dont do much promotion for them. But I also tell them ahead of time. I just say: So, you wanna put a record out on me? Thats what Im gonna do, and no more! So they know And that way I have time for the other things.
Allschools: Are you able to live of your music and ASIAN MAN RECORDS?
Mike: Yeah, yeah! No problem! (laughs)
Allschools: You had for example ALKALINE TRIO on your label for some years and they released really influential records like God damn it and . How do you feel seeing a band like this growing?
Mike: Oh, its really good for them. Im glad, especially because I was the first one who heard them, eight years ago..! I feel kind of like a father, I feel pretty proud. Its like: wow, my children (laughs).
Allschools: I just see the button on your jacket, its a PEACE OF PLEA button. Youre really involved in that non-profit organisation. Even a peace of your album sales goes to that foundation. So what exactly means PEACE OF PLEA, what do they do?
Mike: Right know, the massage is like with the music. We promote peace. But mostly we work with young children. High School kids, and we teach how music has helped us, so hopefully it can help them To make it a more positive experience for them. Right now we are building something like a music hall for concerts and stuff for young people. So thats what we are doing.
Allschools. Lets talk about your new record North Hangook falling. Well, its not so new anymore, it was released in August. The material on this album is really personal. What is your motivation behind your music and lyrics?
Mike: I think, sometimes you just have different stages of your life, and in this stage of my life Im reflecting on my cultural background as a Korean-American. So many lyrics are about the history of my people. So, thats were the motivation came from.
Allschools: Youve been born in South Korea. When did you come to America?
Mike: As a baby. So I dont remember.
Allschools: Have you been there since?
Mike: I did some concerts there. Three years ago. Ive been there, but not too often I think three times Ive gone back.
Allschools: And do you feel attached to the country in another way than politically?
Mike: Mmh yeah, I do, you know, the face is the same. When Im in Europe, I dont see any Korean people. I can tell the difference between Chinese people, Japanese people, Korean people. I didnt see any Korean people in all Europe, except in Prague. I dont think there is any Korean restaurant in Germany
Allschools: Oh yeah, there are, a few.
Mike: Oh really..? (smile) Well, never mind.. (laughs)
Allschools: What is your personal opinion between the situation in North Korea and the tension that is between the states?
Mike: Its a difficult situation, the problem is the real thread, because of the ruler of North Korea, that guy is crazy and the states should be more concerned about them as about Iraq But I think theyve gone for Iraq because its easier North Korea would fight back Im kind of scared to be honest... The thread of nuclear war is definitely a possibility in our lifetime And if its gonna happen, the it comes from Asia, not from the Middle East But you just can hope that humanity will find place and that theyll understand that were all just the same..
Allschools: And do young people or people in general know about the situation?
Mike: Very few, most are very unaware of the worlds political situation. Sometimes I get the impression, most people in America just care about watching TV or fashion and stuff they dont know what the hell is going on Its kind of sad..
Allschools: But its also hard to get the information in America
Mike: Yeah, unfortunately
Allschools: Do you feel like you can educate the people trough your music?
Mike: Yeah, at least a little bit. My politics are very settled, my politics are just trying to show people compassion, instead of saying: This is the way or this is not the way to do things. Just be nice and kind and then youll get there
Allschools: OK, thats it. Thank you very much for your time, Do you have any final comment?
Mike: Oh, just, I hope I can come back to Europe again soon, playing my own shows, so I can play a longer set . (smile) Thank you!
Rebecca and Torben