Monsters Calling Home: Finally! A Band That I Can Rock Out To That Looks Like Me

For the first time in my life I can rock out to a band… that looks like me. Why does the color of one’s skin matter when it comes to music you ask? Because music is written and performed from a soul. When I’m listening to U2, somehow I’m Irish. If it’s indie rock, somehow my jeans feel tighter and I’m from Brooklyn (or Portland). If its gospel or soul, I’m swaying to my African-American brothers and sisters rhythm and culture. But truth be told, most of the music I listen to is… white. I relate to it, to a certain extent.

But this… Oh my.

This is rockin.

And it’s home-grown. And it’s my people. My skin. My issues, my voice, my song, my heart. Lead singer of Monsters Calling Home Alex Hwang told the Huffington Post that it was his Korean-American immigrant parents that inspired the band name;

his bandmates’ parents emigrated from Korea, a move that inspired the West Coast band’s name. Not quite American, and no longer Korean, their parents are “monsters trying to figure out where they call home.”

This aint no Gangnam style folks.

This is American indie rock. And it is thoroughly Korean-American. Not only that, but it appears they share my ethnic faith heritage as well; as I see them praying at concerts and clearly have a spirituality embedded into their lyrics:

He painted with a dark stroke, dirty on the canvas
Creation was holy but we chose against it
The devil knows he’s evil no need to proclaim
It’s the choices we make that bring glory to his name

and on their website:

We are Monsters Calling Home, a group of young Korean folk living in Los Angeles. Deeply into music and our maker, we hope to put on honest and heartfelt performances wherever we are asked.

But for me, what’s most powerful is that these are a group of Korean kids from L.A. hitting the American mainstream, bringing OUR issues, OUR struggles, OUR heartfelt experiences as immigrants, OUR spirituality, OUR collective soul to the fore of American culture. It’s significant. Because it’s not a group of Asians trying to be white, nor is it the single token Asian dude playing bass or something. It’s honest, it’s ours, and it’s reaching everybody.

Their debut on Jimmy Kimmel live is pretty sweet; check it out – it’s an awesome way to make a national debut:

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

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