Indie rock Asian American band Ee, led by former Korea Girl guitarist/vocalist
Tobin Mori has undergone some member changes following the release of
their first album Ramadan. The band now consists of four incredibly talented
members (Che Chou, Peter Nguyen, Sooyoung Park, and Tobin Mori) who came
together to create a sound that is uniquely Ee. After wrapping up their
first national tour last summer, they released their much anticipated
second LP, For 100 We Try Harder in September. hardboiled caught up with
Mori and got a chance to ask the lead singer a few questions.
How'd you guys come up with the new album title, For 100 We Try Harder?
For 100 We Try Harder is the motto of 99 Ranch Supermarket. We think it
says everything- we want to do better, we want to improve. We're striving.
For Ramadan and For 100 We Try Harder, you parodied the Ranch 99 symbol
for your CD design. How'd you come up with that idea?
Sooyoung and I were shopping at 99 Ranch one day, and I was standing in
line, staring at the logo, and it popped in my head- 'hey! 99 backwards
is ee...that's our logo!' I occasionally have flashes of genius-idiocy.
The second track on your new album is really beautiful. Can you tell us
the meaning behind "Beijing"?
It's just me fantasizing about being in a famous Chinese punk-rock band.
Track 99 was hilarious. Was that a comment on rice rockets and the current
youth API culture?
Yes, I have a fascination with AZN car culture. Actually, it's more like
jealousy. I wish I had a cool lowered CRX with a gold kit. Ahhh. One day.
I have gold kit envy.
What's the creative process for coming up with new tracks?
Usually, we just go to practice, and someone will come up with a lick
or riff. And, we'll jam on it until it becomes something, or dies a quiet
During your first national tour (especially in the Midwest) what type
of audiences did you attract?
I don't think I can categorize the Midwest audience as a type. They seem
like any other crowd; they are a little less Asian than out here in the
left coast, but that's just a reflection of the general population.
I'm sure you get asked this all the time, but I'm really curious. Who's
currently in your cd player?
East River Pipe: Shining Hours In A Can, Carol King: Greatest Hits, Radiohead:
The Bends, Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions.
Who would you love to collaborate with in your next album?
Darryl Hall and John Oates or Neil Halstead.
Which bands have influenced your music?
Since you and your bandmates have day jobs in addition to the band, what
direction do you see Ee headed in the future?
Right now we're just playing and writing music that we like. That's the
end in and of itself. I'm not sure what the future will hold.
With the emergence of Asian American members in mainstream bands, do
you think the doors will open for bands like yourself that' are made up
entirely of Asian American members?
I'm not sure. I think seeing four Asian guys onstage freaks some people
out; it certainly becomes an issue for many people. Asians have been trickling
in to the music scene slowly for years now, but an all Asian band might
be a bit much for the mainstream. It might scare them.
Do you have any bizarre run-ins with crazed fans?
Unfortunately, no. I've never had a groupie.