ATEEZ is ready to make it ‘Bouncy’: Members talk ‘OUTLAW,’ growth since debut and ATINY

ATEEZ is ready to make it ‘Bouncy’: Members talk ‘OUTLAW,’ growth since debut and ATINY

Named “4th Generation Leaders” by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, ATEEZ has become known for its powerful performances and concepts.

The K-pop boy group debuted nearly five years ago. Since then, they have garnered high achievements and captivated millions with their genre-bending releases and passionate stages.

On June 16, ATEEZ further cemented its dynamic talents with the release of its ninth mini album “THE WORLD EP.2: OUTLAW“, featuring title track “BOUNCY (K-HOT CHILLI PEPPERS)“.

USA TODAY spoke with ATEEZ prior to their comeback about their music, fans and growth since debut.

Who is ATEEZ?

ATEEZ is an eight-member K-pop boy group under KQ Entertainment. Composed of members Hongjoong, Seonghwa, Yunho, Yeosang, San, Mingi, Wooyoung and Jongho, the group debuted with the EP “TREASURE EP.1: All to Zero” in 2018.

Throughout the years, ATEEZ has received various awards and accolades.

A year after their debut, ATEEZ was awarded Best Korean Act at the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards. At the 2019 Soribada Awards, they took home the Performance Award.

At the 34th Golden Disc Awards, the group won the Next Generation Award. At the 2020 MAMA Awards, ATEEZ received the special award for Discovery of the Year. At the 10th Gaon Music Awards, they were awarded as the World K-pop Rookie. At the 2021 and 2022 Seoul Music Awards, ATEEZ received the bongsang, or main award.

ATEEZ music is popular around the world

Since debut, the group has released one Korean studio album, nine Korean EPs and many singles.

Their debut EP peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard World Albums chart. ATEEZ’s first entry on the Billboard 200 was EP “ZERO : FEVER Part.3”, which peaked at No. 42. “THE WORLD EP.1 : MOVEMENT” reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200, marking the group’s highest peak on the chart.

ZERO : FEVER Part.1” became the group’s first to be certified platinum by the Korea Music Content Association. “ZERO : FEVER Part.2” and “ZERO: FEVER Part.3” were both certified double platinum.

How many members are in ATEEZ?

There are eight members:

  • Hongjoong (Full name: Kim Hong-joong) Born Nov. 7, 1998. Hometown: Anyang, South Korea.
  • Seonghwa (Full name: Park Seong-hwa) Born April 3, 1998. Hometown: Sacheon, South Korea.
  • Yunho (Full name: Jeong Yun-ho) Born March 23, 1999. Hometown: Gwangju, South Korea.
  • Yeosang (Full name: Kang Yeo-sang) Born June 15, 1999 in Pohang, South Korea.
  • San (Full name: Choi San) Born July 10, 1999. Hometown: Namhae, South Korea.
  • Mingi (Full name: Song Min-gi) Born Aug. 9, 1999 in Seoul, South Korea.
  • Wooyoung (Full name: Jung Woo-young) Born Nov. 26, 1999 in Ilsan, South Korea.
  • Jongho (Full name: Choi Jong-ho) Born Oct. 12, 2000. Hometown: Seoul.

ATEEZ’s ninth mini album ‘THE WORLD EP.2 : OUTLAW’ released June 16

In their performances, ATEEZ seeks to bring high energy with a flair of cool.

“We really prepared this comeback for a long time,” said Hongjoong, the group’s leader. “We’re so excited to see our fans’ reaction and all the audience’s reaction.”

“If for ‘HALAZIA’ we were deep diving into a specific sort of concept, this time for the new mini album what’s happening is that there’s a variety of different genres,” said Jongho.

The six-track mini album encapsulates the varied nature of ATEEZ’s music, underscoring their knack for versatility and adaptability.

“With the title track ‘BOUNCY’, it’s a lot of fun vibes and energetic colors,” said Jongho. “For the other tracks, (we) can take on different concepts. This mini album, itself, is a variety. Musically, it is very diverse.”

On “THE WORLD EP.2 : OUTLAW,” this ranges from the operatic, haunting tones of “This World” to the hypnotic tempo of “Outlaw.”

San shared he is particularly eager to showcase track “DJANGO” for the fans, who ATEEZ loving call “ATINY.” “I love ‘DJANGO’ because it’s really my style,” he said. “So I want to show my ATINY this stage.”

With this mini album, ATEEZ hopes the audience can gain “happy energy,” said Mingi.

ATEEZ brings the heat with ‘BOUNCY (K-HOT CHILLI PEPPERS)’

The album’s lead single packs a spicy punch through its vibrant bass sound and lyrics.

“The song name is ‘BOUNCY (K-HOT CHILLI PEPPERS)’, and there is a Korean pepper called ‘cheongyang gochu,’” explained Yunho. “It’s very spicy and very known in Korea. It’s in par with the name of the song and the lyrics as well.”

ATEEZ took inspiration from its spiciness, incorporating gestures into the choreography, such as flaking the pepper, grinding it and biting it.

The track’s music video showcases ATEEZ’s signature artistry with filmic sets, thrilling action and kinetic choreography.

“This music video relates with our other music videos,” shared Hongjoong, referencing the group’s storyline represented throughout their releases. Aspects of ATEEZ’s music videos allude to one another, creating a larger cinematic plot. This includes the white stage featured in “BOUNCY”.

“It’s a very symbolic part of the enigmatic storyline that (we) have that will help develop the storyline even further,” said Hongjoong.

What do ATEEZ call their fans?

The fandom name for ATEEZ is “ATINY.” This comes from a combination of “ATEEZ” and “destiny,” meaning that the fans and the group are destined to meet.

What does ATEEZ stand for?

ATEEZ is short for “A TEEnager Z.”

ATEEZ has become ‘like a family’ through the years

ATEEZ debuted as teenagers with members ranging from 18 to 20 years at the time. Now, almost five years later, the members have grown and evolved in many ways, as individuals and as a group.

Jongho said his vocals have developed. San pointed to the physical changes he experienced since debuting at 19 to now being 23 (soon 24 in less than a month).

Yunho shared his expressions and stage presence have evolved. And with this growth, there is always a sense of “not forgetting where I came from in the first place,” he said.

This humble mentality resonates throughout ATEEZ as each member deeply values one another and ATINY.

“As time goes by, the ATINYs we had when we started and the ATINYs we have now, we’re getting more fans around us that support us and love us unconditionally,” said Wooyoung. “With this comes a lot of responsibility, and with this responsibility, we are trying to make the best performances.”

“As an artist, it’s really important not just for the artist themself to enjoy the stage but for them to enjoy it together with the audience,” said Mingi. “We’ve learned a lot in terms of working together in order to perform it with them and have fun with them. It’s not just something we’re doing now and that we’ve learned up to this point. We will continue to get better as we learn what we can advance on.”

All of this has culminated in an enduring tie between the members.

“There’s a lot of things that go into this stage progress,” said Yeosang. “With (our) teamwork, now (we’re) able to understand each other without even words. If (we) look into each others’ eyes, (we’re) able to fully understand the situation going on.”

For Seonghwa, ATEEZ has become “more like a family” over the years they’ve spent together.

“I better understand myself; as a person understanding and developing, and as an artist as well,” he said. “That comes with being with ATINY together. This progress hasn’t just been alone.”

During this time, everything had become bigger and deeper, said Hongjoong. Whether it be the cadence of their performances or their love for ATINY, the feelings only get stronger.

“I think it will be continually more bigger and more deeper than before,” he said.  

What’s next for ATEEZ?

With release of “THE WORLD EP. 2: OUTLAW” and “BOUNCY”, ATEEZ is excited to show their stages.

This spirit will continue throughout ATEEZ’s upcoming performance at KCON LA in August and during the Asia and Latin America legs of their third world tour, “The Fellowship: Break The Wall.”

Though there were no spoilers, Hongjoong promised there is more in store from ATEEZ. “We will work really hard the rest of our 2023, so please look forward to it,” he said.

No matter what’s next, one thing remains constant – the immense devotion ATEEZ has for ATINY.

“It’s really hard to express just how grateful I am with just the words ‘Thank You,’” said Seonghwa. “We’re just so happy and excited to be on stage and meet the fans again. And we’ll make it even spicier than ever.”

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