Volume 91, Issue 98

Thursday, April 2, 1998

cash grab


Shin-kicking Canuck rock proves it thrives in international setting

By Jamie Lynn
Gazette Staff

For most Canadian bands, when some form of initial success finally arrives, it usually is from a domestic audience.

Without the aid of our extensive Can-con broadcasting regulations, recognition beyond Canada's borders has always proven to be a daunting task. For Montreal's ZeCurley, international acclaim seemed to come without much difficulty at all, but what makes their success particularly staggering is that ZeCurley has sold the majority of their records in Korea.

After graduating from McGill University, lead singer and principle songwriter Sean McCurley was offered a job teaching English in South Korea. While he was a musician first and foremost, he thought Korea would be an interesting place to both "make cash money and find inspiration for [his] songwriting." Travelling there with his current bass player, Mike Jack, McCurley hooked up with a local drummer once he arrived.

When deciding what to name the band, McCurley recalled a story from his days in Canada. "I had been quietly dating this French girl who had always referred to me as 'Ze Curley' and one night when our secret romance was exposed, I went nuts and started kicking one of my friends in the shins. Mike [Jack] thought that relationship suited the band's vibe, so it stuck."

While the Korean music scene is a particularly tough one to break into, ZeCurley seemed to do best through word of mouth. "We started playing in some local bars which are usually restricted for karoke," explains McCurley. "Then we built up this following, which I'm not entirely sure was because of our music. I mean, I'm six-foot-five with bleached blonde hair and Mike [Jack] looks a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger from the Terminator. People seemed genuinely fascinated by us."

Within months, ZeCurley began to work on their debut record with famed Korean producer Jon Kim. The record, entitled Burning Birds, proved to be one of Asia's best-selling rock records, staying in the Top-100 for over seven months. Many had claimed the anti-communism themes which were woven throughout the record would destroy its commercial potential, but singles like "Pull it Trigger" and "Personal Weather System" proved to be Top-10 singles.

"The people here have been great," claims McCurley. "But we're really excited about bringing the music back home. We're releasing the album independently in Canada this summer and we hope to be back for some touring in the fall. I really miss Canada sometimes."

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998