Beyond Regular: NCT 127 is prepared to wake up the world during its tour

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Olivia Munson • College Times

With its first North American tour set to begin this month, the K-pop band NCT 127 is ready to show off its voices to Valley fans.

The 10-member group debuted in 2016, and nearly three years later, its reach only continues to grow. The South Korea-based NCT 127 will make its way to the Valley on Friday, May 3, for a show at the Comerica Theatre.

For performers Johnny Suh, 24, and Mark Lee, 19, the tour is a chance for them to connect with their international fans.

“When I first heard the North American tour was happening, I didn’t realize how much I was wanting this,” says Lee, who was raised in Vancouver and serves as a main rapper.

The Chicago-born singer Suh is looking forward to returning to his hometown.

“I’m excited to perform in a town I was raised in,” Suh says. “I always thought of it when I was growing up, but I never knew it could actually happen. It’s pretty unbelievable.”

Last year was a big one for NCT 127, a name that combines the acronym for its companion group Neo Culture Technology and 127, the longitudinal coordinate of Seoul. The group debuted on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” appeared on the red carpet at the American Music Awards, and became the second-highest-charting K-pop act on the Billboard 200.

At the Comerica Theatre, Suh and Lee say fans can expect a new show with surprises. The easiest way to describe the tour, Suh says, is via “Wake Up,” one of its newer singles, which has the lyric, “Let’s just wake up this world.” That’s exactly what the group intends to do.

“We are going beyond what you think is regular,” Lee says with a chuckle.

Whether it be performing or writing music, Lee always thinks about doing something new.

“Music is a natural thing that happens around us all the time,” he says. “I feel like that nature is very important and it comes out in the music as well.”

Suh adds, “We always ask ourselves, ‘How can we be different this time?’”

NCT 127 expects to be different by the end of its first world tour. After all, the boys will grow as performers and individuals.

“I am looking forward to experiencing everything to the fullest,” Suh says.

That includes sharing North American culture with the other boys in the group.

“Whenever we’ve visited North America before, we always get that positive energy. I feel like as a band we can grow more experienced and knowledgeable,” Lee says.

As for the fans, NCT 127’s singers are hoping to show their appreciation. It’s not easy to reach international fans.

“We are finally getting to meet them in person now, through this tour, so for us and (the fans) I hope they can feel how grateful we are. This is a way to say we appreciate you as well. I hope they feel our love and we feel their love, too,” Lee says.

NCT 127 is continuing to find ways to connect with fans.

“We are always nonstop preparing, whether it be an album or whatever it may be. Anything could happen in the future or the close future. Whether it be music, I just hope that (the fans) always keep their attention,” Lee says.

Most important, NCT 127 is looking forward to surprising those who are unfamiliar with the K-pop genre.

“Having what we do in Korea brought to America, where we used to live, brings a very special feeling,” Lee says. “It is part of our responsibility to expand the K-pop culture worldwide, and that is what our main goal as NCT is.”

NCT 127, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 8 p.m. Friday, May 3, tickets start at $92.50. CT

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