THE SOLUTIONS’ Past and Present
THE SOLUTIONS open up about what has changed and what has stayed the same since their self-titled debut album was released ten years ago.
For those who have never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them? How would you finish the sentence, “THE SOLUTIONS are ___” or “THE SOLUTIONS’ music is ___”?
Sol: Pop-oriented rock band music.
Ohkyung: Challenging music.
Hansol: We are a band that sings of hope.
naru: A band that sings while exploring life.
What is the story behind how you first became a band?
Sol: When making music as a solo artist, I had an opportunity to work on a personal album with naru. After working together, we realized that we have many things in common, so we naturally came up with the idea of creating a team together. That's how, initially, a two-member band was born.
naru: Sol and I started writing songs together because we liked each other's style. Once, I needed session musicians to perform the song that I wrote, so after asking around, I ended up meeting Ohkyung hyung and Hansol. Later, they joined THE SOLUTIONS.
What made you decide to release an acoustic album?
Sol: A few years ago, we held an "unplugged concert" with a string session. After the concert, all of the members agreed that it would be good to release an acoustic album someday. This time, I had the opportunity to work on the album as the main producer, and I thought that acoustic instruments would go best with the story and the mood I wanted to convey through this album.
naru: Since releasing our EP Signature, we've been working on music of different styles and colors. In the case of TIME, it was made with a consistent theme and is based on reminiscing about Sol's younger days.
What words best describe your new album, TIME?
Sol: “Past (Missing),” “Present (Pain),” and “Future (Hope).”
Hansol: “Life,” “Youth,” and “Us.”
naru: “Youth,” “Rest,” and “Comfort.”
Please describe your two new title tracks, “Come Back To Me” and “My Youth.” Are these two songs related?
naru: Both songs are about missing and recalling the roaring moments of your twenties. We tried to arrange them in a way that makes them sound more natural, so we decided to use strings and trombones.
Sol: "Come Back To Me" is a song about the album's main theme: missing the past. I think it can be interpreted in various ways and project a situation [based on] the life of the listener. "My Youth," which is the next track after "Come Back To Me," goes deeper into the topic. You can think of "My Youth" as a part of "Come Back To Me."
Hansol: Adding to what Sol said, both songs are about the same life, but one song is about life seen from afar and the other one is about life seen closely.
Fourteen artists worked on “The Middle”! What was the process of making that song like?
Sol: This song contains the most hopeful and directly comforting message out of all the tracks. Many people have experienced difficult times over the past few years, and artists like us have also lost their place on stage. I thought that if artists who have been through the same hardships could sing together in one voice, the lyrics of "The Middle" would be delivered in a more meaningful way. Thankfully, the artists who sympathized with the story willingly participated, and that's how a truly amazing chorus was completed.
What is your favorite song from THE SOLUTIONS of all time, and why? If you cannot decide, do you at least have a favorite song to perform live?
Sol: I feel really good when I sing "All That You Want" live. It feels like a refreshing wind that pierces my heart.
Ohkyung: I like the songs from the new album, especially, "Come Back To Me." Also, these days, I have fun playing "Dance with Me" live. I make it sound funkier than [it does on] the recording.
naru: It varies from time to time, but I often listen to "Lines" these days. I think the lyrics and melody are among my favorites.
Hansol: I will leave [my answer] blank, because saying that I like one specific song is unfair to the other songs.
Can you share a behind-the-scenes story from making this new album? What would surprise fans about the making of these songs?
Hansol: I think fans were surprised by the fact that it's a very different energy and mood from what THE SOLUTIONS were pursuing in music previously.
naru: The drum sound in the album is actually made with virtual drums. Also, I recorded all of the guitar parts in my room alone.
Sol: It took quite a long time to work on the guitar solo part of "The Middle." We took some time discussing with naru what kind of solo he wanted to make, so the solo part was completed almost three weeks later. As a result, the time invested in it paid off, and the solo turned out perfect for the song.
Your self-titled album came out ten years ago! What does that album mean to you ten years later? How are you and your music different now compared to back then?
Sol: The debut album is bound to be special for both the band and its fans, as it's marking the beginning of the band. Also, all subsequent albums are compared to that debut album. THE SOLUTIONS are always eager to try out new things and not tie ourselves to the past. I think the criticisms arising from such changes are also a process of proving our efforts. If you compare this album and [our] debut album in terms of genre, you can say that they belong in different categories. However, the [message] of THE SOLUTIONS, which is about moving forward, accepting challenges, and trying new things, has not changed since then.
naru: Ten years ago, when we first started, all we wanted was to make a rock sound, but now we are trying to make songs with good messages and sounds, regardless of the genre.
Ohkyung: I think the [debut music] was good. But at this point, I believe it's more meaningful to maintain effort and constantly move forward. In this way, what we do musically becomes deeper and more meaningful [than it was back then].
Hansol: There's big meaning in doing music as a band for ten years, and I think the new album's story is in line with that meaning.
What is your most memorable tour date ever? Can you share some specific stories from touring?
Sol: The first European tour was the most memorable. We had a tight schedule for performances in Moscow, Paris, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany for two weeks. We moved around in a small van, with all of our equipment and amps, played live, and moved on to the next location right away. It was tiring physically, and I felt a lot of pressure performing live. On the last day of our tour, in Germany, I started performing a little drunk. I thought drinking a bit would help me to relax, but I ended up forgetting the lyrics in the middle of the performance. I felt embarrassed, but it was so cool to see how some of the German audience who we saw for the first time memorized the lyrics and sang our songs. It was indeed one of the hardest times, but as time goes by, I miss it a lot.
Hansol: I also remember the European tour, since it was a real challenge. Carrying around all the instruments by ourselves in the cold winter is a memory I can hardly forget.
naru: I remember performing in front of local artists and residents in Brussels, Belgium, in an art exhibition space. The atmosphere of the venue filled with artistic people was idyllic.
Ohkyung: For me, it's the concert [called] “CITY,” because I played the piano for the first time in front of the audience. By the way, I'm much better at playing piano now.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Is there anything new you are working on that you can give a spoiler about?
Sol: Performing live as much as we can is [our] biggest plan for the year. Regardless of whether the venue is large or small, we want to see more fans who we have not been able to meet due to COVID-19.
Ohkyung and Hansol: We are also preparing to release the final EP of the “SLTN” series. (“SLTN” is an abbreviation of THE SOLUTIONS and the names in a mini-album series: Signature, Load, TIME, and a yet-to-be-released project starting with “N.”)
naru: We also look forward to our solo concert, “TIME,” held in Seoul April 16 and 17. If you are in Seoul, you're welcome to come and check out our music live!
What are your longer-term goals for THE SOLUTIONS?
All: We never know what will happen tomorrow or the day after. So rather than thinking about a long-term goal now, we want to do our best in the current moment and continue making good music and living a happy life.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to say about your new music?
All: Everyone has different memories of their younger days, but if THE SOLUTIONS' music gave you hope or comfort even for a short while, there's nothing else we can ask for. This album is made to give strength and comfort to tired hearts in this dizzy world. We hope you can enjoy our new album in your own way, not just now, but for a long time. Thank you.
Answers have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.