Monday, December 26, 2016

Acclaimed Chicago band Hemmingbirds will perform farewell show on Dec. 29


Fans of critically acclaimed Chicago band Hemmingbirds will have one last chance to see the band before its three members go their separate ways.

The band will perform Dec. 29 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Mutts, Archie Powell & The Exports and Jesse W. Johnson also are on the bill.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10, available at

I had the chance to talk to Hemmingbirds frontman Yoo Soo Kim about the band's career and the upcoming show.

Q - Great talking to you again. When we last talked in February, the band had just released its new EP, "Half a Second." Was this just the right time for the band to call it quits?

Great talking to you too. I think it more or less was the right time to call it quits.

We’ve been together for six years and just felt burnt out with the band. Creatively, we did a few writing sessions to toy with the idea of doing one more EP, but we just weren’t on the same page with what we liked anymore.

We went on tour for a few weeks to promote “Half a Second” and didn’t quite get the response we’d hoped. It just felt like things weren’t quite clicking the way we wanted with the band.

And as an artist or a band, if your heart’s fully not into it, then it’s just not fair to yourself or your fans to keep doing it.

Q - What should people expect at your farewell show? Will the band be performing songs from throughout its career?

We’re going to play songs off our two LPs and recent EP. Most will be songs that people have heard regularly at our shows.

We’re going to be self-indulgent and play some deep cuts that we like a lot. Bear with us on that.

We’re going to have friends come on stage and play with us. We just want it to be as fun as possible and enjoy the history of the band in a way that gives back to everyone who’s supported us over the years.

Q - Hemmingbirds has received critical acclaim over the years. What do you see as the band's legacy? What kind of impact do you think Hemmingbirds has had on the Chicago music scene?

That’s a great question. It’s hard to identify any sort of legacy because we’re still so close to the end of it.
I guess in a blunt, self-evaluating way, we were a band that I believed put out three very solid records. But we were an example of a band at a local level that didn’t have the production on our songs necessary to take off. 

We had good songs, but we didn’t have that one “hit” song to take us to the next level. Outside of the music, we didn’t have the image and vibe quite there through most of the life of the band to take off.

I think “Half a Second” was as close as we got to being a representable package of a band that could’ve broken nationally, but, even then, it was not enough. So I guess that’s what I believe is our legacy: a good local band that almost had it together, but just wasn’t quite there.

Regarding our impact on the Chicago music scene, I think we were a solid band in the scene that other musicians liked. For whatever it’s worth, I’d like to believe that we were pretty nice dudes who tried to help support the scene by going to shows, buying records, and sharing local music.

I’d also like to believe that, as an Asian-American, I’ve helped inspire other Asian-Americans to believe that it’s okay to create art seriously and have that be your main endeavor.

There’s a lot of societal and familial influence in what you do with your life when you’re Asian, and I want fellow artists to say that they can be an artist too because this Korean guy is fronting a rock band.

Q - Does the band have any unfinished goals?

I think goals for the vast majority of bands and artists is perpetual. It would’ve been cool to tour more nationally, play certain venues, play certain festivals, etc.

You hit certain goals and then you want more. We would’ve liked to release another EP and gone through the whole cycle of that, but the energy for us just wasn’t there, so we left that on the table.

Q - What does the future hold for you and the other members of Hemmingbirds? Will you be forming another band or are you going to make a solo album? Or will you be doing more producing and engineering work?

I think it’ll be pretty difficult for any of us to just stop playing music. In one form or another, we’ll still be doing it.

I know Tim has a collection of songs he’s recorded that he’s figuring out how to release. Zach played drums on Jesse W. Johnson’s upcoming record, and I’m sure will continue to drum for other bands. 

I will take a back seat for a bit to figure out what I want to do. It will definitely be another project…but I don’t know if it will be strictly a solo record or a band.

Maybe it will be in a Broken Social Scene style or something in that there are no limitations on who can creatively participate on songs. I’m producing some artists right now – Mia LeBlon, Hiber, Jesse W. Johnson – and definitely will keep doing that.

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