Pentagon Talk 'Prism,' World Tour & The Trust That Keeps the Group Together

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Pentagon photographed on June 23, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. 

Last month, K-pop boy band Pentagon celebrated their third anniversary together. Formed back in 2016, the nine-member team has spent the past few years as one of the most prolific acts in the industry; they've released nine Korean EPs and accompanying singles, as well as a handful of releases in Japanese.  

In that time, the team has gone through its ups and downs, including one high-profile departure last year and occasional member hiatuses due to injuries and illnesses, but they've always landed on their feet, producing addicting songs -- including last year’s hit “Shine” -- and captivating performances. 

Pentagon’s most recent release, July's Sum(me:R), hit No. 12 on the World Albums chart and preceded their first Prism world tour, which saw them hit up venues across Asia, Europe and North and South Americas over the past few months. While in New York City ahead of their Prism show at the Beacon Theater in September, the members sat down with Billboard to discuss their music and career. Check out what they had to say below. 

You’re in the middle of your Prism tour right now. What inspired the name?

Kino: We wanted to show our different colors. There are so many colors in Pentagon, and we can do everything as we go. We wanted to show our side.

If you each had to be a color, what would you be?

Shinwon: Red.

Yeo One: Blue. 

Jinho: Brown. 

Wooseok: Red. 

Kino: Violet. 

Yuto: Black. [Other members suggest purple.

Hui: Green. [Kino says, “Like American money,” while other members suggest yellow.]

Hongseok: White. 

You most recently released your Sum(Me:R) album. Why did you want to release something that was seasonally themed? 

Jinho: In Korea, usually a lot of artists prepare albums just for the summer and we wanted to give that a try.

Do you want to try releasing any other seasonal albums?  

Wooseok: Winter, because I was born in the winter.

Kino: I like Christmas the most.

Do you have any favorite summer activities? 

Kino: Swimming. 

Shinwon: Sleeping. Camping. 

The album was fronted by “Humph!” What made you want to pick that as the single? 

Hui: Because it is most similar to our goal. In this album, we wanted to show our talent or teamwork or our own color. The song was chosen because it goes along with the summery theme the most, and it showcases our individual color through that theme. “Humph!” is actually a very easygoing song, to listen to in the morning.

You said “In this album.” Does that mean you feel you didn’t show that individual color off in past albums?

Hui: It’s not necessarily like that. Every single album, we show a different trait, depending on that timing and season. For this season, we wanted to show this particular side of Pentagon. 

You worked with Giriboy on it. How did that collaboration come about? 

Hui: I really love Giriboy. I thought his musical color would match well with Pentagon’s. Mixing our style with his changes and elevates our sound, it feels like it’ll help us grow. 

Are there any other songwriters or artists you would like to work with? 

Shinwon: Why Don’t We.

Wooseok: Post Malone. Red Hot Chili Peppers

Those are two very different artistic styles.

Wooseok: I listen to a lot of different styles of music, and just think it would be nice to try a lot of styles out. 

You started off 2019 with the release of your single “Sha La La,” which was released in March through a music video that showed a new side to the group, leaning into traditional Asian creative elements. What inspired that?

Kino: “Sha La La” is the English name for it, but the Korean name “신토불이” (“Shintobori”) is a very traditional phrase that has a meaning to it, and the director saw that and wanted to go in that traditional route. 2018 was a good and bad year. [“Sha La La”] was a way of relieving all that stress from 2018 and letting it go, and starting off in a fresh new way. [“신토불이” is a Korean phrase referring to the connection between the body and the earth, with an emphasis on how humans relate to agriculture.

What is the meaning of “신토볼이" to you?

Hui: I named it for the feel of the sound itself, not necessarily that it was related to the lyrics. It sounded exciting for me. But there’s also a Korean television show called 신토볼이, and it’s a short phrase for a fun Saturday night, so that meaning was also incorporated into it. 

Kino: Many artists name the [song] title first, and give the meaning later. 

You mentioned that 2018 kind of sucked, how do you feel about it now that we’re so far into 2019?

Kino: Nothing big or bad has happened, so I’m feeling good about it. 

Jinho: Since it is our first world tour this year, I feel that things are ending on a good note, in a fun way. 

How do you face hardships, and turn negativity into positivity? 

Kino: We only trust each other in our team, so that makes us keeping going. I have more faith in our members than in everyone else.

So you never disappoint each other?

Hongseok: No, we disappoint each other every day. [All laugh

What’s the worst thing someone’s done that has annoyed another member? Anything recent?

Hui: This morning, I was a bit disappointed because our pickup time was originally 9:20, and I asked Shinwon what’s the pick up time, but he said 9:40. So the two of us went to get food around 9:30 and were going to then take a shower, but we got a phone call saying, “Where are you guys?” I was really disappointed with him.

So you didn’t shower? Seems risky ahead of a concert. 

Hui: I did, just a super fast shower. 

This is your first world tour. How do you feel it reflects your growth as artists? 

Shinwon: It’s like a vacation, because we’re traveling and performing, and for me performing is something that’s really exciting. It’s so fun to be able to get to perform in so many different places around the world. 

What’s your favorite moment while touring?

Shinwon: In the morning, I always eat [a] McMorning. I love it. 

Hui: We’re roommates [on the tour], so because of him every morning I also eat a McMorning. 

I’ve never actually gone to a McDonalds in Korea, but do they not have McMorning?

Hongseok: We do have it in Korea, but he wanted to enjoy the original version. 

Hui: So then I have a stomachache [from too many]. 

What’s inspiring members of Pentagon lately as songwriters?

Hui: For me, I get influences from many different places, but I do have a lot of time in the car so I do a lot of thinking there and get influenced from my thoughts then. There are also times when I have writer's block, and the members help me a lot. They are my inspiration. 

Kino: I got inspirations from words, when I talk with someone. Conversations, my conversations. When I talk with somebody, if there are some catchy words I make a note [of them] and use them in my songs.

Are there any topics you want to sing about or musical styles you want to try incorporating into your music in the future?

Jinho: We’ve talked about EDM. We’ve tried a lot of different genres, so were thinking and that’s one style that we’ve discussed. 

Yeo One: Peace. 

Shinwon: We are the world. 

Hui: I really love soccer, so I want to make an encouraging song. Like a world cup song. 2022 World Cup song! 

Wooseok: I really like the color red, so I want to make a song about everything that’s that color. Flowers, like roses, red carpet, etc. It’s my lucky color.

Kino: I’ve never really heard a Korean idol try straightforward, original jazz music. I would like to try that out one time. 

Hui: It’s not a genre, but I want to make a super sexy song. Because Pentagon has many sexy points, but we often sing cute and bright songs. So many people don’t know about those points. So super sexy.

Wooseok: Pentagon has shown a whole diversity of styles, like “Shine” show us off with a cool and handsome way, not necessarily super cute. When I perform it, I feel really cool.

Who do you think is the sexiest and cutest member when performing? Who do you think fits those artistic concepts the best? 

Hui: The cutest person is Jino, because he just has inborn cuteness. 

Jinho: Because I’m small.

Hui: Not small.

Jinho: I am small. 

Hui: Sexy is Shinwon.

Shinwon: I always want to take off my clothes on stage. I want to show off my sexiness. 

What do you want Pentagon’s legacy to be?

Kino: We want to be remembered as a group that has good music, a group that evolves and changes our musical style with good energy without stopping.

You mentioned that it’s important for people to see how you’re evolving as artists, so are there any songs you’d like to revisit and make anew if you had the opportunity? 

Hui: It’s not that we want to go back and change it, since you can consider them our points of growth so we want to leave it as is.

Are there any song styles you’d like to try again, then?

Kino: “Like This.” I just like the looks of that concept.

What are your goals or plans for the rest of 2019? 

Kino: Not getting hurt on the world tour.

Hui: Since we are doing our world tour, just the influence and experience that comes from this might go hand in hand with our future music, so we want to show something in the future that has progress and growth.

What’s something you’ve learned on this tour?

Hui: This is our first time walking on the streets of New York, buying food on the streets of New York City, everything’s just a learning experience.

Kino: Before this world tour, I never realized we had so many fans around the world. Seeing them in real life, I feel more pride about our career and will work harder moving forward.

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