The Korean music scene is an increasingly competitive market, but the riotous six-member rock group Xdinary Heroes – Gun-il, Jungsu, Gaon, O.de, Jun Han, and Jooyeon – made quite the impact when they debuted at the end of 2021 with their curiously titled debut, “Happy Death Day,” piquing interest with their punk-rock sounds and gritty aesthetic.
The trend-bucking Korean band is under the wing of “Big 3” agency JYP Entertainment, taking a coveted position as the company’s first band to debut since DAY6 in 2015. Continuing to delight their growing fanbase of “Villains” with a kaleidoscopic catalogue of mini albums, Xdinary Heroes’ fourth mini album, Livelock, is a testament to their evolving musical journey. As with all of their music so far, the band have written and played instruments across all tracks, as a testament to their commitment to rise as credible, accomplished musicians.
Representing a fiercer and sincerer version of the band, Livelock elevates Xdinary Heroes via the vulnerable expression of their inner selves through each track. Conceptually, their latest mini album conveys the idea of breaking one’s limits, emphasizing personal growth and self-discovery – drawing inspiration from their own life experiences to take shape as a step toward finding solutions to dilemmas explored in their previous work.
Rooted in their belief that anyone can become a hero, Xdinary Heroes’ presence in the music scene authentically empowers a new generation by addressing sensitive topics like mental health struggles, self-doubt, paranoia, and anxiety. These themes, combined with their powerful rock sounds, reflect a sense of determination and self-assuredness, establishing Xdinary Heroes as a vital and essential name in Korea’s vibrant music landscape.
As they prepared to grace the stage at London’s OVO Arena for their inaugural European performance at the KOREA ON STAGE IN LONDON event, organized by the prominent K-pop touring agency MyMusicTaste, Xdinary Heroes offered insights into their latest mini album, Livelock, their journey of evolution since their debut, and their aspirations for the future. Keep reading for the full interview!
What can you tell us about the concept and inspiration behind your new fourth mini album, Livelock?
Gun-il: As always, all six of us gather up to write a song together. We exchange many different ideas and experiment with those ideas. This time, we focused on making our sound even more powerful than before.
Jungsu: Our fourth mini album, Livelock, is about a stronger us and the story inside my genuine self. We’ve always wanted to write our inner beings that grow stronger in our stories, and I feel attached to this album a lot because we were able to express those on each of our tracks.
Gaon: To put it simply, “livelock” means to break one’s limits. We all actively participated in this album. Based on the question “isn’t it my choice to choose my limits?,” we got inspired and came up with the solution to break the limits.
O.de: We usually split up into groups or get together when we work on music. I don’t think we can define where we particularly get our inspiration from. It could be from a diary that we wrote when we were a kid or just random thoughts walking down the street.
Jun Han: For this album, I took a lot of inspiration from the lyrics from “Jaurim.” I wanted to write lyrics that were simpler and more understandable.
Jooyeon: Since we were able to work on a lot of different genres through this album, we were able to understand the importance of lyrics and valuable factors for each genre.
O.de previously mentioned that “this album is about trying to find a solution to the dilemma we explored in our previous album” – do you feel the solution has been found with this album, or will you explore it further in upcoming music?
O.de: I feel like this album is taking that one step towards finding the solution to the dilemma.
It has been said that your band name means “anyone can become a hero” – what do you think it takes for someone to become a hero, and what are some heroic traits that you admire?
Gun-il: I believe that everyone who works diligently to make the world around them a better place, even without anyone noticing, is a hero. The heroic trait that I admire is always thinking of others before oneself.
Jungsu: I think it is that one boldness inside the normal life. The reason we can all be heroes is because we each have a boldness in somewhat way, so we wanted to tell that everybody is special.
Gaon: I think “sacrifice” is an important trait of being a hero. I think heroes are beings that are willing to sacrifice themselves for others.
O.de: The definition of a hero for me is someone who can cheer up and send energy to at least one person. Therefore, I want to be with as many people as possible by their side.
Jun Han: A hero is… somebody who helps others or has positive influences. I don’t think they need to have a special superpower or have to save lives.
Jooyeon: I feel like heroes have to have a positive influence on other people with optimistic minds and justice.
Branching off from this, who would you say are your own musical “heroes” who perhaps inspired you to start a band?
Gun-il: There are many artists that I admire, but my one and only musical “hero” is the band Muse. They inspired me since my teenage years to play drums and express my emotions through music. They ignited me to dream about becoming a drummer of a famous band one day.
Jungsu: My musical hero is Justin Bieber. He is an artist that can blend any music with his own colors and is able to express all of the coolness as well, which I hope to be. Therefore, whenever I make music as a band, I tried really hard to get people to look back at my own vocals and listen to the song multiple times.
Gaon: My musical hero is the band Green Day. They were the first band that I got into when I was a kid and created my dream to play the guitar and sing in a band.
O.de: I was originally a dance idol trainee instead of a band trainee. It was a great challenge when that change came into my life. At that time, the songs and performances from DAY6 really made me feel better and gave me the strength to push forward as a band artist. My musical hero is DAY6.
Jun Han: I learn a lot and get musical influences from many artists, so it’s hard to pinpoint one, but recently I’ve been looking up to the Australian guitarist Plini. The strong metal aspects and the beautiful melody from him give out such extraordinary music.
Jooyeon: 5 Seconds of Summer became my musical idols from the moment I entered the music scene, and Xdinary Heroes united to create exceptional music.
How do you think Xdinary Heroes has evolved since your debut in 2021?
Gun-il: We have gained numerous fans around the world, our music has matured and also gone deeper into our unique color.
Jungsu: I think we are slowly becoming a group that has our own genre. Only we can project our own music, and I think we are growing into a group that raises a lot of anticipation.
Gaon: The music quality of Xdinary Heroes is getting better, and becoming a band where each member’s musical personality is getting more vivid.
O.de: I’ve wanted to be a “slowly but surely growing” team ever since my debut. We are continuing to show you better performances and grow as a band with great music.
Jun Han: I think Xdinary Heroes is a band that is continuing to communicate with the audience. We’ll keep showing you fun music!
Jooyeon: We are trying our best to be a cool band, but curious if it looks like it from the objective eyes!
Xdinary Heroes is the first band to be debuted by JYP since DAY6 in 2015. What motivated you to pursue a career as a band instead of following the more traditional path of becoming K-pop idols?
Gun-il: We didn’t want to be seen as a follower of trends. We wanted to be seen as unique with our distinct style of music and image, just like how many world-famous bands are.
Jungsu: We focused more on our own musical colors because we wanted to differentiate ourselves through music! Please look forward to our various and colorful music in the future!
Gaon: Our journey began with our members, and we were all deeply immersed in the world of traditional band music. We collectively delved into the iconic bands of various eras, drawing inspiration from them as we studied and dreamed. These influences organically became the foundation upon which our musical path was forged.
O.de: Like it was fate, six of us gathered together and were fortunate enough to debut at such a great company.
Jun Han: Musicians who had a shared passion for playing instruments came together and formed a band.
Jooyeon: I think I wanted to connect my musical path with international rock artists.
Xdinary Heroes has gained a strong following for your live performances. What do you believe sets your live shows apart from those of idol groups, and how does being a band contribute to that?
Gun-il: I believe that the energy of a full band playing live is extremely powerful. Also, it is relatively easier to make the crowd feel engaged and connected to us by making them jump and sing along to our songs.
Jungsu: I think we try to find our special something when we perform music. Maybe like a band performance, or from the nuance of the song, we consider a lot and apply that to our live performances!
Gaon: I think the strongest weapon for a band is their live performance. Band lives are generally different in terms of sound pressure compared to others. It stimulates more because of the strong beats. We focus on that powerful atmosphere. We make sure that we become one with the audience and enjoy the music together when we are up on stage.
O.de: I think the strongest point for a band is the live performance. The power of live performance that comes from a band is immense. However, whether it is a band or dance group, each has its pros and cons, so I don’t want to lean towards anything in terms of differences.
Jun Han: In my opinion, what sets band music apart from other genres is the spontaneous creativity and the dynamic interaction with the audience that unfolds during live performances.
Jooyeon: The realistic live sound from the instruments and the powerful performance is what makes band lives unique!
Xdinary Heroes will soon make their European live debut at the KOREA ON STAGE IN LONDON event on November 8. How does it feel to be playing in London for the first time?
Gun-il: For me, the dream of gracing the stage in London, particularly at Wembley, has been a long-held aspiration. Consequently, the prospect of performing there is a realization of a lifelong dream. I am filled with immense excitement and anticipation.
Jungsu: I am looking forward to our first performance in London. We are going to make sure that we show our own music along with the heated passion and energy to many people!
Gaon: I’m happy to be able to perform our music in London, a city famous for rock music. I want to show the audience the powerful music of Xdinary Heroes!
O.de: It’s such an honor. It is an honor to be on stage as a team in London.
Jun Han: I am excited to be a part of a meaningful event on a very large stage. I really want to feel the heat that is only from London!
Jooyeon: I am honored for this opportunity to be on such a huge stage. I’m nervous, but my excitement is greater! I want to perform live as soon as possible.
Can you give us a sneak peek into what fans can expect from your London performance at KOREA ON STAGE IN LONDON and your upcoming European tour, Break the Brake?
Gun-il: There will be stages that Xdinary Heroes have never shown before.
Jungsu: There is going to be a special stage that you can only see in London, so please stay tuned! Also, please look forward to our first live performance and start of the Europe tour, and the special stage!
Gaon: There might be some songs that are not ours. Also, we are going to have the time of our lives.
O.de: We prepared a special stage that all of our European Villains would love. We hope you like them!
Jun Han: I won’t be spoiling anything. Please maintain the excitement and come join us at the show.
Jooyeon: We’ve prepared a special performance for our international fans, so please stay tuned!
What can you share about upcoming activities for Xdinary Heroes – any hints as to when fans can expect more new music?
Gun-il: We have been working on our new album and will continue to do so after the tour. Our hiatus won’t be too long.
Jungsu: There is no definite date, but we will definitely see our Villains soon with awesome music, so please take care and wait for us! See you all real soon!
Gaon: Xdinary Heroes is a band with a solid plan. Our goal is to continue showing you new music without any gaps. I believe we will meet more of our Villains all around the world very soon.
O.de: Besides our tour, we’re preparing a lot of fun events for next year. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy them.
Jun Han: We will continue to brainstorm and make music, and show you a lot of fun and touching songs! Please look forward to us!
Jooyeon: We are constantly working on new music; we are not there just yet, but we will have good news soon!
Xdinary Heroes’ new mini album, Livelock, is out now.
Written by Hasan Beyaz.