Boyband FTIsland winning over more male fans

Just when we thought it'd be tough to topple last November's mindblowing K-pop affair that was SMTown Live World Tour III, upcoming outdoor extravaganza MBC Korean Music Wave 2013 might prove us wrong.

Be it its sheer scale (16,000 fans are expected to throng the venue), supersteep ticket prices (the most expensive VIP passes are going for $688) and star-studded A-list line-up (SHINee et al), the four-hour concert is set to be the biggest K-pop concert here this year.

As we bask in the frenzied excitement of catching our favourite idols on stage, one of the night's performing acts, top pop rockers FTIsland, share with M in an e-mail interview about their growing male fan base, ditching their idol image and loving Singapore food.

Not just for girls

Besides setting themselves apart from the usual K-pop electrodance and club banger schtick with their groovy rock sound and proficiency in musical instruments, FTIsland can boast having more male fans than other boy bands on the scene.

"You can find lots of covers of our songs on YouTube by budding male musicians. Some schoolboy bands even send us their covers via Twitter," said frontman Lee Hong Ki, 23.

"We are quite shocked as to how these young fans know our songs so well... The coolest thing is that our fans from Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan choose to sing the original Korean lyrics, even though we have Japanese versions (of most of our songs).

"On the Internet, we often come across posts from guys that read: 'We desperately want to be like you.'" Besides Lee, the charismatic quintet include guitarist-keyboardist Choi Jong Hoon, 23, guitarist Song Seung Hyun, 21, bassist Lee Jae Jin, 21, and drummer Choi Min Hwan, 20.

Not just pretty faces

While their good looks and suave demeanour are irresistible to many, Song stressed that they'd prefer not to be viewed as poster boys.

"Actually, from the beginning, we didn't really like the 'idol band' image people had of us. Being recognised as an 'idol band' was akin to having barriers placed in front of us, to stop us from improving," he said.

Collectively, they worked hard to prove their talent as competent live musicians.

"In time, we scored many opportunities to do live concerts in Japan and since then, we've got really good reviews and response from our fans."

Not here just to play

Referring to Singapore as "one of our favourite destinations", Jae Jin said that he and his band mates are "looking forward to the good food and nice weather" on their impending trip here.

FTIsland have visited four times; twice in 2009 for a showcase at now-defunct club Dragonfly and as part of Sundown Festival; in 2010 for Korean Pop Night; and in January last year for their full-length concert at The Max Pavilion.

Said drummer Choi: "When we arrive at a new destination, we find it interesting and enjoyable tasting new food.

Learning the local language is also one of the exciting things we take pleasure in."

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