No Brain at the Busan Sea Festival, August 2018
|Origin||Seoul, South Korea|
|Labels||Drug Records, Munhwa Sagidan, Cujo, Sire Records|
No Brain is a Korean punk rock band widely considered one of the godfathers of the Korean punk scene. Originally part of Korea's homegrown underground punk movement, known as Chosun Punk, in recent years the group has enjoyed mainstream success both with their music and their emerging acting and hosting careers. Their name comes from their desire for concert-goers to leave their rational minds at the venue doors.
The group formed in 1996 in a small club in Hongdae (an artistic district of Seoul). They are part of the first generation of indie bands in Korea, along with Crying Nut. Their first album, Our Nation Volume 2, was a split album with the group Weeper. They also contributed a cover of "Lithium" to the Nirvana tribute album Smells Like Nirvana, and several tracks to the Korean punk compilation Here We Stand.
In 2000, bassist Jeong Jaehwan left the group in order to carry out his mandatory military service, but the group pressed on without him. The same year, the band dubbed itself the anti-Seo Taiji band and held a live event to commemorate the occasion.
April 2001 found the group releasing a song-for-song cover of the Sex Pistols album Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols, dubbed Never Mind The Sex Pistols Here's The No Brain. Several months later, the group released the album Viva No Brain. The group then performed at the 2001 Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. The group created something of international incident when Lee Sung Woo, the lead singer of the group, ripped up the Japanese Imperial flag while singing the Korean national anthem.
The band contributed a track to the Red Devils 2002 World Cup album. The band also embarked on a national club tour in Korea and a tour of Japan. That same year, Cha Seung-woo left the group. The group recruited Jeong Minjun, formerly of the bands Real Sshang Noms and Samchung, and recorded the album Goodbye, Mary Poppins which was released in June 2003. This 3rd album was a big change and challenge for No Brain, beginning the band's second era. Overall, this album was a turning point for the band.
In 2007, No Brain sold the rights to their song "? " (You have a crush on me) to be used by the presidential campaign for Lee Myung-bak with the substituted title " " (This time Lee Myung-bak). Although No Brain did not endorse Lee's presidential campaign, they faced much backlash from fans. The reaction was especially exasperated, as in 2005, then-Mayor of Seoul Lee had previously called for a blacklist of independent musicians.
In 2013, No Brain performed at SXSW. They toured North America as part of the Seoulsonic 2K13 tour funded by KOCCA alongside Goonam and Lowdown 30, performing in Rhode Island, New York, and California, as well as Toronto, Canada for Canadian Music Week (CMW). Their performance at CMW was seen by record producer Seymour Stein. Surprised by his interest, the band invited him to their next performance in Brooklyn. The show was delayed for two hours, and the 71-year-old Stein fell asleep, only to be woken up when their performance began. No Brain signed a recording contract with Stein to release an album on Sire Records. Stein visited No Brain in Korea for the Seoul International Music Fair (Mu:Con). The album, produced by Julian Raymond, is set to be their first English album.
The same year, No Brain also headlined the V-Rox Festival in Vladivostok, Russia.