I first met CN Blue one day in early January, a few days after it had become 2010. The four good-looking members of the band still had an air of rookie-like charm; from Jung Shin, who shyly told me that he had braces on when I pointed out that his pronunciation was a little off, to Jong Hyun, who tried not to talk too much because he still spoke in a regional dialect. It was a meeting full of laughs and great expectations for the future.
Two years and three months have now passed since the band made its debut. It’s been at the top, and riding on the Korean wave, it’s become a band loved across Asia. In April of 2012 ,I met with the band yet again. It had come back in a year and a half to Korea after touring other countries with concerts and promotions, with its third mini album Ear Fun.
Like the title, the album gives your ears something to enjoy. The album also points in the direction CN Blue would like to go in the future. Lee Jong Hyun said they “want to play music that people would like to listen to.”
CN Blue is a band that plays out music that is enjoyable to hear because it is both popular and musical.
You’re making your first comeback in a year and a half.
Jung Yong Hwa: We didn’t know a year and a half had passed since we had performed in Korea. So much time went by while we were trying to get through our busy overseas schedules. We plan to pour in all our passion into our promotions this time because we feel so sorry.
It’s only been a little over two years since your debut, but you’ve matured quite a lot. What do you think helped you grow?
Jung Yong Hwa: There are many reasons. The popularity of K-Pop was a help and the way we debuted as an indie band in Japan and continued to promote after our official debut all helped. More than anything, the hard work of our senior and junior singers helped us. Thanks to them, the size of our stages and the number of people in our audiences all became so much bigger compared to the past.
How different is your third mini album compared to the albums you’ve released in the past?
Lee Jong Hyun: We thought a lot about whether we should change our colors a bit for the album, but while we were talking it over we realized that we hadn’t released many albums. We decided to stamp in the minds of our fans what CN Blue’s music is like. That’s why [our new album] has a lot in common with our past albums.
Kang Min Hyuk: More than anything, we tried to include songs that were fun to sing live, songs that will add to the fun at concerts, because we really want to hold more concerts in the future. (Laugh)
You said the albums have a lot in common, but it seems like you thought more than any time about the need for change.
Jung Yong Hwa: Our music up to now was good and our music will be good in the future, but the members and the company all thought that we should start changing it little by little. That’s why I tried to sing the first single Hey You in a different way compared to the past. We’re not turning around 180 degrees at once; we’re changing little by little.
CN Blue is a band; are there any difficulties that arise during your promotions?
Jung Yong Hwa: We could’ve complained in the past, but now, we’re just thankful that we can become known through music shows. Anything we can’t show on television, we can show in our concerts. It feels great that band music is becoming more popular with the appearance of bands like Busker Busker.
Lee Jong Hyun: It’s okay because it’s becoming better and better. In the past we worked in even worse situations. Now, it’s bearable.
Like Jung Yong Hwa said, band music is becoming more popular now. Are there any bands you think of as your rivals?
Lee Jong Hyun: I felt while performing in Japan that we’re helping each other on rather than becoming rivals. I think you can see and learn from other bands what you don’t have yourself.
Jung Yong Hwa: Because everyone has a different style, I’ve never thought of any bands as our rivals. We think about how we can become better musically as a band named CN Blue; we don’t compete with rivals.
Kang Min Hyuk: We still have a lot to learn. We’re learning everything one by one while competing with other bands.
Do you have any new goals for your new album?
Jung Yong Hwa: Rather than care for the results, we thought we want to be a band that releases a lot of albums and performs in a lot of concerts. Come to think of it, we’ve held a lot of concerts overseas, but none in Korea.
Lee Jung Shin: Like Yong Hwa hyung (big brother) said, if we compare what we did in Korea to what we did overseas, we didn’t do much in Korea. First, we plan to hold a fanmeeting in May. We want to perform our music in close contact with our fans.
You’re a band but you’re called an ‘idol band’ perhaps because of your young age.
Jung Yong Hwa: We didn’t debut as an idol band, but we don’t feel bad about being called idols. Actually, the title of idol has a good meaning. I just hope people don’t hold prejudices against us because we’re an idol band. I like CN Blue because we love band music and we play music for our generation. Since it gives off the feeling that our band is popular, I like being an idol band too.
Lee Jong Hyun: Who cares if we’re called an idol band? Because the four of us are going to be in this band for 20, 30 years, what we’re called isn’t important.
The reason why we like CN Blue more and more as time passes is because the members have never changed even after they’ve tasted what it’s like to be at the top. They work hard to become better than how they were then, and show a deeper passion toward music. They also show great teamwork. This is why we look forward to seeing what CN Blue will be like 20, 30 years from now.
Photo credit: Hea Jung Min
Translation credit: Erika Kim