Six years into their career, B.A.P is in a state of flux. The Korean boy band got its start in 2012 and has spent its entirety swept up in highs and lows with immense popularity in their early days followed by a series of issues, including a lawsuit against their company TS Entertainment, before finding their way again with their impactful approach to K-pop.
The past few months have vacillated in tone for B.A.P, with 2018 seeing the band further evolve artistically through a variety of self-written solo tracks and their Forever tour. But it also saw some of the band’s bleakest moments: leader Bang Yongguk opted not to renew his contract with TS and member Kim Himchan faced sexual assault allegations. The group addressed the former when they sat down with Billboard to discuss the state of the act in 2018 while in Philadelphia for their U.S. tour.
Billboard: How has B.A.P changed since you toured in the U.S. last year?
Zelo: We had our own solo songs and our skills have increased. We’ve been able to communicate with fans really well.
Youngjae: We’ve been touring every year, and always enjoy seeing the fans. Each year, the feelings are different. We, B.A.P and [our fandom] BABY, have known each other for a really long time. We’ve been loving each other, and we think about our relationship a lot.
How is this year different from different tours?
Youngjae: Firstly, because [former member Bang] Yongguk couldn’t come with us it is different. Secondly, because many fans are thinking that this could be our last concert the emotions are different. Fans have been asking us, “Is this the last concert tour?” We’re not sure, but we’d like to keep doing it every year. The fans have made this a really emotional tour for us.
Himchan: We all have to enlist and serve in South Korea’s military soon because of the national draft, so that’s why people are concerned.
Youngjae: We’re going to miss our fans but will serve well.
How does it feel that you may not see your fans for a while?
Daehyun: Enlistment isn’t an immediate occurrence for most of us. [22-year-old youngest member] Zelo especially, because he’s so young, has a couple of years to see the fans [before he must enlist.] We promised during the show that we’ll be back next year so…
You recently had a lineup change. How has it been performing without Bang Yongguk?
Youngjae: We have a lot of pressure on us but we are trying to fill in Yongguk’s space on stage, and we have talked a lot and rethought the set list. We’ve been trying our best to cover up Yongguk’s lack.
Daehyun: It made for better opportunities since we have to fill in Yongguk’s space by fleshing out our own roles and places.
Himchan and Zelo performed many of Yongguk’s lines during the concert. What was that experience like for the pair?
Himchan: I’m having a hard time, but especially with the songs from the earliest days of our career the raps are really hard. I’m trying to change the raps so that I can suit them better. I can’t match Yongguk’s style 100% since I’m a different performer. But I’m trying my best to fill that spot.
You guys have spent much of 2018 doing solo tracks. How has it been focusing on that?
Zelo: We always try to make new music our own way. We always aim to release music that fans love, and reply to their feelings for us. We’re trying to show what we can do to the best of our ability, and the solo songs have been able to help us do that. It’s been really refreshing.
What are you trying to show your fans through these solo songs?
Daehyun: We are trying to show our personal abilities, our vocal skills, the genres that we like. We want to show how differently we can express different types of music.
Nowadays, members are playing a major role in songwriting. How do you approach the creative process?
Zelo: I have written a lot of songs since I started in the industry when I was very young. I think that music will become my legacy. I’ll try to find a way to always communicate with fans to the best of my ability. I have a lot of things to say. I’ll try my best.
If you had to write a song right now in this moment, what would it be about?
Zelo: That I’m happy.