This Is Albatross


Published February 8, 2012

Were you born in the United States or did you come here as a child?

Was born in Seoul, Korea and came to the west coast as a baby.


How did you get the nickname ‘Bruce Lee’?  Was it from “They Call Me Bruce?

I wish it was from They Call Me Bruce, but it was just my infatuation with Bruce Lee.


What were your first introductions into punk rock and/or ska?

My first punk show was SOCIAL DISTORTION in 1985 at the San Jose Convention Center Banquet Hall.  I remember seeing ANARCHY logos, but didn’t know what it meant.  But it was after getting 7 SECONDS "The Crew" that I really started my interest in punk.  In 1986, I saw the movie "Dance Craze" at a local indie theater.  The next day I bought BAD MANNERSKlass” and my love for ska was born.


How did you meet the guys in Skankin’ Pickle?

Most of us went to high school together, the others I met in my first year of college.  And our common love of the band FISHBONE made us want to create a band that was in the same style, but more SKA influenced.


What was your favorite Skankin’ Pickle record / song?

SING ALONG WITH SKANKIN’ PICKLE was my favorite record.  I just thought we had become more cohesive as a band when it was time to do that record.


Are there any bands you played with / toured with that just blew your mind?

The Blue Meanies were an amazing band.  Way ahead of their time.


Do you still talk to any of the guys in the band?

Lynette passed away 4 years ago now, but I still keep in touch with Lars and Gerry (both trombone players).


Are you doing anything (musically) now?

Always.  Released a children’s album last year and getting ready to release a new solo album.


How/why did you guys exactly break up?

It was just time.  It was no longer fun and instead of riding it out for the money, it was better to call it quits.


Tell me about the ‘rise’ and ‘hiatus’ of The Chinkees?

Well, the Chinkees were more of a side project.  We never did a long tour like Pickle did.   I mostly toured overseas as a way to travel and see the world and get paid doing so.  We released 3 studio albums, but it was never a full time thing.  We never had a regular rehearsal schedule and we have had any lofty goals other than making some music and playing some shows.


What caused the transition from Dill Records to Asian Man Records? What exactly happened?

Dill was a collective amongst the members of Pickle.  Asian Man was just me wanting to do my own thing.


What exactly happened with the ‘Misfits of Ska’ album cover that you had to change?  Did The Misfits really try to sue you?

No, but their lawyer told me to change the art.  Easy as that.


Why was the Green Album released on Dr. Strange Records?

Bill the dr. asked us to do a 7” and we agreed and then somehow he convinced us to add some more songs and then suddenly it was a full length.


How much fun was it to record the Green Album?

Geez, we’re talking 17 years ago.  Hard to remember.  It was a very loose feel as we recorded it ourselves in Lynette’s basement in San Francisco.  And that was when home recording gear was still pretty ghetto.


Was there any bad blood when you left the band after The Green Album?

I’m sure there was, but to what degree I’ll never know.


What motivated you to do Asian Man Records?  To try to run a label the correct way?

I just wanted to do something on my own and have complete control over all decisions.


Can you explain Eric Yee?  Who he is?  There’s gotta be a story there!

He was just this old school punk that stayed a fan of Green Day during their major label signing.  Where all the other punks were bashing them, he stayed by their side.


What started the Plea For Peace Foundation (and tour before that?)

It was just an attempt to do something positive with music.  During the time we started, the revival Woodstock tour had just finished and bands like Limp Bizkit were controlling the air waves.  The rapes of Woodstock, the 'fuck shit up' mentality of the bands were depressing.  So that’s the genesis of why we started up plea for peace.


I read in an interview that the most important things in your life were your family, Christ and your music.  Were you always a Christian? 

My great great grandfather was one of the first missionaries in Korea.  I grew up Presbyterian and currently attend a non denominational church.


I know it’s kind of a loaded question, but how does it make you feel to know that you’ve been a pivotal part of the third wave of ska?

Have I?  I doubt my history with ska is more than handful of diehard historians.


What kind of music are you listening to nowadays?

Everything.  But love Reggae/Ska/Rocksteady and enjoying quite a bit of David Bazan.


How have the acoustic records been received?

I think they’ve gone over well with a new audience.  The ska fans aren’t keeping on it, but I’ve developed a new fan base through the acoustic music.


Will you be playing music forever?

I think so.  There’s no reason to stop.


What is one thing you regret about Skankin’ Pickle, The Chinkees, etc.?

Wish pickle just went on a long hiatus.  It would have been fun to have played again, but with Lynette’s death it will never happen.


What's one thing you’re glad you did that you almost didn’t with Skankin’ Pickle, The Chinkees, etc.?

hmmmm… nothing I can think of.  I guess start a record label.


What are the biggest differences of what you see on the road now compared to then?

The big difference is I was a teenager then and now I’m a 42 year old married man with 2 kids, so everything is just a lot different in terms of how I tour and how often.


Who are your biggest influences?

My father was my biggest influence.  He taught me the ideas of equality.


What’s your biggest lesson learned from being involved with music for so many years?

The big business of music is corrupt, but the underground is still thriving and will always be there.