Volume 1 / Chapter 39
“Hey, I said we don’t have time. We can’t be wasting our time being angry. Let’s at least try to do something between ourselves.”
“Then what about that asshole?”
“That asshole said himself that he would just go along with whatever we wanted to do. We can give him 2nd guitar or keyboard and he can just pound out the chords.”
The Steel Blade members were fuming. The production team had not provided them with an arranged song because they were paired with Jun Hyuk and their turn was fairly early. They needed to move quickly.
It was not hard to make a rock version of the song. They did not do much to the original song but add parts for the guitar, bass, and drum with a guitar solo in the middle in G major in a pentatonic scale. They of course did not forget to add shouting for the vocal.
The band members only looked for Jun Hyuk after they had practiced several times.
“Hey. You said that you would go along with whatever we wanted, right? Just scratch out the chord with the acoustic guitar. You don’t have any objections, right?”
Jun Hyuk shrugged to reply that he did not care and began to simply scratch out the chords on his guitar. The sound of his acoustic guitar was drowned out by the strong sound of the electric guitar, but Jun Hyuk did not seem to care.
Eventually, the VJ ran to the main producer. He felt like Jun Hyuk’s performance would be too flat.
Producer Kim Ki Sik and the program’s general music director stood by Steel Blade and listened to them practice.
“What do you think?”
“What do you mean? You don’t have ears? The main producer of a music program? How many years have you been doing this?”
Not certain if it was due to the producer or the music, but the music director looked as though he had a bad taste in his mouth. After listening to the band’s music for a while, the producer spoke out of nowhere,
“Then what about that?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The drum instrumental Jun Hyuk mentioned earlier. Making the drum the main.”
“That’s something I really want to hear, but won’t people start changing the channel after 30 seconds of hearing a drum? How many people do you think like – no, know Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin? And the people who like drum solos don’t watch our program.”
It was the place where the top 10 was to be selected. They could not show a whole song where the drum was the main, but it could work if they edited well and saved the zest. It was unique, an advantage, and a specialty.
“If we go out like this, that band is done.”
The music director was speaking quietly, but Producer Kim raised his voice as though he wanted everyone to hear,
“Our program will be done for as well. We’ve raised the expectations for Jun Hyuk, but if the last stage is in that state… Even if they get eliminated, they’ll need to do it so they’re remembered.”
Producer Kim decided to get help from the music director to resolve this problem. The music director and Producer Kim secretly called Steel Blade into the conference room.
“We heard you guys practicing and honestly, we’re disappointed.”
“There are 10 teams right now. Two dance, two R&B, two ballad, two island and folk, one hip hop, and you guys, metal. You guys are the weakest.”
“Weak isn’t even cutting it. If you guys go the way you were just practicing, we can’t even put 10 seconds of that on air. We have to cut it up and piece it together for about 20 seconds and go straight to the judges. It’s that bad.”
“Tell us if you don’t have the confidence to do it. We’ll do the arrangement for you now if necessary.”
The band members could not lift their heads while these heads of such a grand show were criticizing them in a manner that was threatening.
“To tell you the truth, the chances of you guys entering the top 10 is below 10%. What can you do? Metal is a subculture in our country. At this rate, you guys are 100% getting eliminated.”
The music director looked at the band members and spoke,
“During the 80s, heavy metal was so popular that Japanese band Loudness did a world tour. But what about our country? Sinawi, Buhwal, Baekdusan. People said they were the three greatest guitarists, but they only performed in Korea. You guys think the viewers are going to listen to your music?”
“If you guys get eliminated, all you’ll have left are memories. Jun Hyuk on the other hand proved his genius with just two songs in the area preliminaries and Super Week. Even if he doesn’t get into the top 10, there are loads of people who are waiting to scout him as soon as this program is over.”
“He’ll probably be greater once he’s done with the broadcast. We put someone like him with you but what are you guys doing? Honestly, even if I don’t edit your performance, the judges will probably cut the song after about one minute. There’s nothing to hear. I’m sure you guys will hear all types of criticism too. Then you’re really ending on the worst note.”
Vocal Han Ki Su must have been unable to tolerate the comparisons to Jun Hyuk because he spoke after a long silence,
“Producer. That’s not right. Until now, the judges…”
Before Han Ki Su could even finish his words, they heard something that would have been good not to hear at all.
“What about the judges? When they praised you? You think that was sincere? Your music… honestly, it sucks. Sung Chul and Jung Soo started out in bands. You don’t know? The broadcast is a show. The judges are matching that.”
“In my opinion, Jun Hyuk will arrange the song better than I can. I’m saying this earnestly.”
“You guys choose. This is it for what we are thinking. Then do your best.”
The two left the room after saying that they did not have an option, not that they were giving them a choice. The members sat still for a while with dark expressions.
In the spirit of rock, they needed to quit everything and leave. However, they were just youths hungry for success.
“Bro, what do we do? Do we do what they say?”
The bassist acted as if he were asking leader Han Ki Su what they should do, but he meant that they should do as they were told to.
“Fine. Since it’s gotten to this, let’s just stand out in the performance and step all over that kid.”
Han Ki Su grit his teeth and emanated anger.
“Didn’t he say that he would make the drum the main? Do as he says and we’ll make him second instead. A second who’s just scratching out chords will never stand out. I’m saying let’s do that.”
Han Ki Su and the guitarist who planned to drown out Jun Hyuk met eyes and nodded. The band members left the conference room and approached Jun Hyuk.
“Look here. Let’s forget all of our bad feelings and focus on the mission. I’ll be the bigger man since I’m older and apologize.”
Vocal Han Ki Su saw Jun Hyuk take the hand that he put forth and felt relief.
“You do the directing for this mission. We’ll follow you. That’s okay, right?”
“I can really do what I want?”
“Yeah. Do whatever you want.”
Jun Hyuk went to the drummer as if he had been waiting to hear that he could do as he pleased,
“By chance, can you do double bass?”
The drummer winced when the other members looked at him. Until now, he had never performed in double bass and there was only a single bass drum in their practice room.
The drummer glanced at his members and spoke,
“I can’t do it yet. I am practicing.”
“Hm… I guess we’ll have to do it differently.”
Jun Hyuk kept mumbling to himself and pulled a notebook out of his bag. It was printed with staff lines and looked like a notebook that a child in elementary school would use.
“Sir on the bass, do you know how to read music scores?”
The bassist nodded as he spoke,
“I’m the only one who reads scores. Everyone else learned by listening to music.”
Jun Hyuk’s hand drew out the bass line. He ripped the completed score out and passed it to the bassist saying,
“Since the drummer can’t play double bass, you’ll have to cover him. You’ll be able to do it.”
“Huh? Uh… I think it’ll work but… I’ll try it.”
Jun Hyuk had created the line so that the bassist would be able to play it. He could do it, he just had not done it before. Jun Hyuk led the drummer by his hand to the drum set,
“I’ll perform it while you record it on your cellphone. You can get the song listening to that, right?”
“You can play the drums?”
No matter how much the VJ filmed, Jun Hyuk kept showing new sides to himself and even seemed wonderful.
“I’m not very good at it, but I can play a little. Just think of what I play as the skeleton and put some flesh on it.”
Jun Hyuk started drumming lightly to tune the set. He must have liked the sound because he smiled and held the stick properly.
“Okay, start recording. One, two, three, four.”
Jun Hyuk signaled the start with the drumsticks and played a heavy bass. While he performed on the drums for four minutes, none of the contestants in the room even made the sound of their breathing. The drummer who had been carefully watching from next to Jun Hyuk had bloodshot eyes. He would have shed tears if Jun Hyuk had played for 10 more seconds.
He had dreamt of Canadian group RUSH’s drummer Neil Peart and practiced for countless days to the point where his palms ripped just so he could play the drums like this.
The other contestants had been thinking that Jun Hyuk was a songwriter playing the acoustic guitar. No one could close their mouths when he played the drums with the pressure of a large truck like Metallica’s drummer, Lars Ulrich.
The producer ran out to the practice room as soon as he heard that Jun Hyuk was playing the drums himself. He was not able to hear the whole performance, but he felt bliss from what he heard from after the 2-minute mark. The music director who had been watching alongside the producer could not speak properly,
“That… That kid… What is he?”
“What else? He’s destined for viewer ratings. We have to make sure he gets into the top 10. He might as well have reserved the real-time rankings for this second half. Ha ha.”
The producer laughed excitedly, but the members of Steel Blade could not laugh. Especially not the vocal and guitarist because they did not have the confidence to push past this storm-like drum with their voice and guitar sound.
Jun Hyuk paid no mind to the attention he was being given and spoke to the drummer,
“You recorded everything, right? Do you think you’ll be able to get something out of it?”
“I’ll have to. But… honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to copy it 100%.”
Jun Hyuk had instructed him to put some flesh on this skeleton, but he did not even have the confidence to play the skeleton properly.
“Just don’t lose the bass then. That’s the main point here. If you lose the bass drum, the bassist will stand out. The bass guitar and drum are the house. The guitar and vocal are just the interior, so you’ll have to make sure you’re ready.”
The bassist and drummer loved music. The music they would have to play today was miles away from the music they had been playing until now, that they had already forgotten the friction there had been with Jun Hyuk earlier. All they were thinking was that they wanted to quickly master this great music.
“Is it our turn now? I’m a little nervous.”
The vocal and guitarist felt a bit of excitement as they went towards Jun Hyuk. However, Jun Hyuk splashed cold water on their excitement,
“The two of you can just do as you were practicing earlier. The only difference is that you need to pause during the 15 second drum solo in the middle.”
“I told you just now. The drum and bass are the house and the guitar and vocal are the interior. The judges will be overwhelmed by the grandeur of the house anyway. They won’t be able to enter the house, so they won’t care too much about the interior.”
“Then what about you? What are you doing?”
“What you said before. I’m just going to scratch out some chords.”
Jun Hyuk left the two who were left dumbfounded at his absurd answer to help the drummer practice.