These days, debuting in Korea as an idol can be seen similarly to a buried turtle egg on a beach. The newly hatched turtle gains endless freedom once it steps into the ocean, but the short process of getting to the water can cost it its life if it is not careful. Like these baby turtles, idols face hardships while trying to adjust just after debuting. Most idols end up disappearing after not getting enough attention, and those idols who do survive end up on numerous stages and variety shows to keep on surviving. It is only after these obstacles that the idols gain fandoms and begin to become recognized by the masses, and it is also only then that they slowly begin getting what they want. MBLAQ is a victor that has surpassed this harsh survival game. They first gained interest for being an idol group produced by Rain, and since then, they have spent months building up their confidence and sense of presence in the industry. They are now easily seen on any variety show on television, and recently even won number one at Mnet's M! Countdown. They are now just heading towards the open ocean, and we are ready to listen to their story at this moment.
Q. Are you watching the World Cup?
Lee Joon: Yes, but by highlights. (laugh)
Q. Why? Because you're busy?
Lee Joon: Yes. We really are busy. I've always wanted to act, so I always knew what was playing in the movie theaters, but recently I have no idea what kinds of films are out.
Q. If you're so busy that you can't even watch the World Cup, it's almost like you're cut off from the world. (laugh)
Mir: It's the World Cup! (laugh)
G.O: I think that's why we're living so innocently. (laugh) Like boys from the country. Sometimes when I have time and I meet with other singers, I can't help but think, "Ah, I'm a very upright person". (laugh)
Lee Joon: It's really, really, really like that.
Q. But G.O, you said before that you've dated 20 girls before debuting. (laugh)
G.O: Ah, that's all been washed away, and now I feel like I've returned back to a blank slate. (laugh) With anything, if you do it too much then it becomes boring, and you feel like you need something more exciting. We've lived for years cut off from the world, so I think that when we're finally free, we'll be so happy because there will be so many things to do.
Q. Are the magnaes okay with living so righteously (laugh)?
Mir: I will only play after we have become big. (laugh)
SeungHo: This friend (Mir) already has a lot of fun, and his roots have already been lost.
Q. Did Mir really sell a cow to date a girl? (laugh)
Mir: Yes, I'm very open and frank.. haha. I think I've lived doing everything worth doing.
Q. 'Y' got first place on M! Countdown. Did your sense of origin change at all? (laugh) Did you have a party or anything after getting first place?
Mir: After the schedule finished, we practiced.
Q. Your sense of origin hasn't changed. (laugh)
SeungHo: Our mindsets changed a little. Now theres more sense of responsibility, and worries about what kind of music to try next.
Thunder: I just cried and forgot about it. I forgot about getting first place, and I plan to keep on forgetting if we get first place again.
Q. When you guys won first place on M! Countdown, SeungHo was crying. You must have had a special sentiment as a leader?
SeungHo: I thought I wouldn't cry. But just before we got first place, my grandfather passed away. Even now, when I say a few words about this, I feel angry. If he had just lived two more weeks in good health, I could have presented him with a new song.. that's why when I stood in that place and said a few words, I saw all these images from the past in my head like drawings. Thoughts of my grandfather made me really sad.
G.O: And Mir lost his sense of origin while crying.
Mir: (pretending to cry) H-Huek..
Thunder: His sense of origin ran down with his tears.
Lee Joon: He left his sense of origin in SangAmDong (the location of the program studio).
G.O: When they announce first place, they show the points from album sales and analysts beforehand. He began pulling up his emotions and prepared a pose and then..
Thunder: I looked sideways and Mir was preparing his emotions even before then.
Mir: Everyone cried after about 3-5 seconds, but I began crying as soon as they said, "MBLAQ!". It was embarrassing.
Q. Did you anticipate that 'Y' would have this sort of reaction? The song is a lot different from other tracks that are trending right now, because instead of focusing only on the chorus, the entire song gives off a sense of anxiety.
SeungHo: I worried when I heard it at first. All the recent popular songs are mainly about their chorus, but this song put its importance in its mood. But 'Y' was the only song that we could put all our confidence into while expressing it.
Q. How was it while practicing? The song could easily become weird if the rhythms aren't matched correctly because of its unique pattern.
SeungHo: Firstly, it was endless and repetitive practice. During practice, it's important to put in all your strength. It's better to sing like it's a live performance while practicing instead of weakly practicing like it's not live ten times. There aren't any microphones in the practice room, so we lowered the sound and just sang and then checked afterwards.
Q. How is it doing both the singing and the choreography at once? The song doesn't have many opportunities for breathing so it must be hard doing it live.
SeungHo: At first, we thought, "Can we do this?". We got scolded a lot and stressed out because we had never done a song like this before. I fell into a slump thinking, I can't sing, how can I dance so powerfully while singing.. but at the end, it turned out that people can do it. (laugh)
Q. The choreography includes parts where you have to stretch your body out in lines powerfully, but the singing requires almost no breathing. It makes people think, "Who made this up? And who are these people to do this?" (laugh)
SeungHo: You're right. 'Oh Yeah' only required us to give off a strong performance, but 'Y' requires us to keep our breathing in check and keep the mood flowing, so we can't look like we're having a hard time on stage. We also can't do it in a comfortable mood, because then the song would sound boring.
Q. Lee Joon, you start off the song, and it gets its mood from that moment. How did you understand this song to sing it like that?
Lee Joon: It's hard, even now. There's only beats in the background during that part. I have to find the right tone as soon as the choreography begins. That's why before we go on stage, I try to find the right tone by going, "Some-Some-Somebody". Even now, the tones differ slightly in different performances.
Q. How did you practice, knowing that you have to keep your muscles tightened while performing the song because of the breathing and powerful dance?
Lee Joon: (upon hearing that he has to go take his solo photoshoot) Ah, I have to say this before I go! (laugh) I have something I want to say.
Q. Go ahead. (laugh)
Lee Joon: While I dance, I have to keep thrusting my body while doing short movements, and during that time, the singing goes smoothly. Honestly, during 'Oh Yeah', I got a lot of harsh criticism and so this time I practiced thinking, "This time, please let's just not hear harsh words", but it's not as easy as I thought. Honestly, right now I'm still not great, but now that I've done it a few hundred times I feel like my heart and organs are coming out in short movements too. (laugh)
Q. The group dancing is the point of the song, so how was it coming up with the choreography for the highlight? I feel like it would have been a bit different from other teams.
SeungHo: We went through a lot of trials and errors for the choreography. Unlike our debut, each of the members had personal schedules, so when we met at agreed times, we had to really focus and had a weight on our shoulders that we had to master the moves the very next day.
G.O: The song isn't exactly what's trendy now, so we had a hard time deciding whether to dance in a trendy way in which people could imitate us easily, or to come up with a dance that fit the mood and the song.
SeungHo: During practice, one member steps out to watch the other four dance. We alternate five times until each member has seen the others dance. Ever since our debut, we have practiced like this to give each other our suggestions. At the end, we film the five of us dancing and monitor it. This process makes our practices a lot shorter.
Q. Mir, you rap, so your situation must be different from the others.
Mir: It was a lot of pressure. (laugh) During our first album, I was the one to start the song, so I felt a lot of pressure. It's hard to start.
Q. Especially since that was your debut track. (laugh)
Mir: Yeah. And Rain kept telling me that "the first is the most important". And for 'Y', there isn't any vocal adlibs but only my rap. So I have to make sure to give impact even though it's almost the end of the song. Rain guided me through that part personally, but it was really hard. On the stage, I get excited, so the rap comes out weird when my breathing gets even the slightest change.
Q. MBLAQ gets its recording tracks guided by Rain, and was taught by him, but your vocal style is different from Rain. How was MBLAQ trained?
G.O: We had a lot of experience before debuting, so each of us had a long period of time during which we were singing separately. We agreed to keep the mood of each song the way we get them, but the sound we produce is individual and unique to each member's voice.
SeungHo: We actually put in a lot of suggestions for this album, and Rain doesn't force anything on us. He doesn't pick out parts that go well with certain members, and we split the singing parts in the songs ourselves most of the time.
Q. So the members do it.
SeungHo: What Rain always emphasizes is our sense of independence. In the next album, there might even be a few songs that were written by some of our members. (laugh) Thanks to him not pressuring us, I think that MBLAQ is becoming a team that has its own feeling with passing time. The songs are given to us with the stage already in mind, so the mood goes along perfectly.
Q. On MBC's 'Radio Star', Rain said that he told MBLAQ to take care of its image but gave up on you guys after seeing you on television. Is that true?
SeungHo: At first, we only appeared on music programs and had a strong image. Rain didn't really have anything to worry about then, but when he saw us beginning to do variety shows one by one, he must have thought, "What kinds of kids are these?". And then there was nothing that could be done to turn that back. (laugh) He told us to do whatever we wanted, saying that "I didn't know that you guys could be that funny".
Translation: ilovepocky @ AbsoluteMBLAQ