Armed with a AAA pass and a photographer, I’m not going to say no to squeezing in with South Korea’s INFINITE in their dressing room before their first ever London show.
The likelihood of you reading this and not being deeply familiar with INFINITE is so minute that it’s worth bypassing the intro jibber and getting straight into it. Wait, you’re like INFINITE who? In a nutshell – 7 piece, male K-Pop group with razor sharp choreography (including a stunning ‘Scorpion Dance’ move that never fails to raise your neck hair) and intensely layered pop masterpieces, from the world-acclaimed ‘The Chaser’ to this year’s lavish, pulsating ‘Destiny’, complete with an MV containing more lens flares than Michael Bay’s entire CV.
Three and half years into their career and they’ve set out on this major tour, taking in America and Europe alongside their extensive Asian dates. One Great Step has played to big audiences, audiences louder than jet engines taking off and even hysterical audiences, as anyone at the New York City show will attest to. But above all that, OGS, with its 120 minute-plus running time, was about INFINITE’s already impressive back catalogue and refined showmanship, and at last delivering it to their ever increasing, heavily devoted international fanbase.
FIASCO was invited to spend time with INFINITE backstage, in a smallish room crammed with bags, bodies weighted with walkie talkies, make up, and hairdryers. The atmosphere is surprisingly relaxed given that even through concrete walls you can hear the fan screams intensifying as stage time comes closer. Woohyun plays a battle game on his phone, Sungyeol carefully watching over his shoulder. Beside them, Dongwoo is napping soundly in a single chair.Sungjong perches – bright-eyed and sweetly cheerful – next to him. Sunggyu is in the make-up chair as Hoyaappears – crackling with energy – to say an exuberant hello, while L sits quietly on a far couch, lost in his own thoughts. Their bodies are tougher looking, even the maknae’s, than they are on-screen, all sinewy muscle and broad shoulders, while their faces – found decorating everything from keychains to posters to Korean Pepsi commercials – are almost preternaturally beautiful.
However, there’s no hiding they’re tired. Not surprising given 2013 has had them working non-stop on group and individual projects but it’s also been a year of ups and downs for various members in the public eye. You, as an Inspirit, know the deal. It’s been and (mostly) gone. Right now they’re focused on closing OGS out in style, on making the most of exploring new turf and making good on their fans’ unfailing support. There might be some fatigued eyes in here but INFINITE are still friendly, welcoming and warm, confidently hailing us across the room in English.
L, naturally, has his eye on the Canon Fiasco’s photographer is using, chatting about the make and his own beloved camera. When Dongwoo finally opens his eyes he’s up, Energizer bunny UP, he and Woohyun noticeably charging the atmosphere. They meet with young fans who are fighting cancer, signing every piece of merch and paper they’re given, chatting with the girls to relax them in this clearly surreal moment, all the while fielding their questions and ribbing each other.
Later Hoya wants to practice his English – he’s patient as I scratch out his mistakes and determined to perfect the corrections – while Sunggyu is last to change and still buckling his belt even as he’s stopping for solo shots. Their vocal exercises begin as they’re miked up; loud and amusingly, given they harmonise like a well oiled machine on stage, a total cacophony. Still, we managed to pin them into a brief interview and these exclusive images, before they headed on to the Eventim Apollo stage to slay a thousand Inspirit hearts.
If you had free moments on tour, what did you do to fill the time?
The US tour was going for about two weeks with four shows, so we had chances to enjoy our free moments. We all went to historic places, beaches and many places in each city. Those short trips helped refresh and inspire each of us a lot and we could learn so much about the cities and countries that we visited.
What has surprised or shocked you the most about Inspirits outside of Asia?
It was much bigger than we expected and we were so happy that they all welcomed us a lot. They encouraged us and made us feel more responsible for our career. We hope there will be more chances to visit again in near future.
After shows how do you wind down and come off the high of performing?
It takes hours to chill out. Talking about the performance and how much fun the show was, this is the best and easiest way to come off the high. We don’t really have big, loud parties. We hope that we can have dinner with all the staffs after the tour.
What’s the most memorable moment from this tour?
All the cities we’ve visited gave us a big welcome. We could say, especially the show in Bangkok, Thailand was incredible. The enthusiasm of Thai Inspirit was unbelievable, we could feel the heat. All of us were so into the show that we could barely walk out to the parking lot after the show.
Rookie group Alphabat recently covered ‘Nothing’s Over’; what were your thoughts on watching it?
Thank you for the performance and we all enjoyed it! The new ‘Nothing’s Over’ was a great transformation to watch and their dance was amazing, too. We can’t wait to see their next performances!
Sunggyu, you recently collaborated with Kanto and seemed to enjoy the opportunity. If you could collaborate with any artist from anywhere in the world, who would it be?
I enjoy listening to a variety of music but I can say rock is my favorite. I was very lucky to have a solo album in collaboration with NELL. I learned a lot from them and enjoyed every moment. I really look forward to working with NELL again in the near future.
Woohyun, your solo stage for OGS was doing your own self-composed song… have you got the confidence to do a solo mini or full album?
I suppose it’s a bit early to think about making a solo album for now. Though if there’s a chance I want to show something unique, my own style, which will be quite different from INFINITE’s. That will be a good chance for me to expand the spectrum and experience something new and inspiring. I’m thinking some ballad songs like ‘Beautiful’ will work.
Sungyeol, you’re been keeping busy doing Laws of the Jungle and Please Remember, Princess. What’s your feeling about being in such demand?
It’s been a meaningful year having various careers and experiencing lots of things. It was a pretty busy schedule because was shooting during tour. Though I was so excited to try something new and meet many people. I find acting very interesting and will look forward to having more opportunities to try new roles.
Myungsoo, fans bought your photo books because they are L fans, but what do you hope they thought when they took the time to study the images?
I appreciate all our fans and readers who have supported and enjoyed my photo books. This was about a part of me, Kim Myung Soo, a boy in his 20s, not as a K-Pop idol. I hope you all enjoyed the moments I captured through the lens and these photos will touch your wounds and give peace back to your life.
OGS is coming to an end; when you all look back on this tour what would you like to think you have achieved?
We can’t believe we have only 3 shows left for us this year. It was all about challenging ourselves and finding possibilities to step out further to the world. Fans all around the world made it there and enjoyed our show with us, that is the biggest achievement we got from OGS.
Words: Taylor Glasby
Photography: Elliott Morgan