Friday, February 23, 2018

DaPulis are back!

Oplan Pagbabalik: DaPulis are back.
by rick olivares

A cursory post of old cassettes and compact discs of DaPulis’ two albums – their debut Parakenrol and Pulis Heart and their live album Soundcheck with bands like Wolfgang, Razorback, and Greyhoundz – on Facebook and Twitter saw close to 20 replies from various people. Like the band, the responses were humorous and laced with good memories.

Now fortunately for those fans, you cannot keep a good song or band down. DaPulis, with all five of the original members… are back after a 16-year hiatus.

We met up with the DaPulis at the Shinsen Sushi Bar in the Ortigas Commercial Center where the band partook in their time-honored ritual of – not necessarily in this order --- eating, hanging out, and having a good time. And the band was still on a high after their online performance.

“Back in 2002 after our last show, it wasn’t a clear decision that -- this is our last gig,” explained lead singer Gabe Mercado. “Naging busy. Nagkatamaran. I developed a respiratory problem because of the yosi in all these places we played.”

“I was in advertising,” chimed in guitarist Bob Guerrero. “I was hungry so I got a job,” admitted bassist Renzo Villalon who has since sheared off his ponytail.

“And that batch of artists who came out in the mid-1990s started to peter out,” summed up Gabe who got into acting and improvisational comedy. “And well, we just went our separate ways.”

DaPulis is one of those bands who were formed by accident. All the members were at one point or another bandmates or classmates through their years in Ateneo high school and college. They wrote songs and Ignacio and their one and only manager to this day, Patrick Pulumbarit, peddled the other bands they managed, Wolfgang and Triaxis, to record labels. Both bands got signed by Sony Music also liked the songs that Ignacio and Mercado wrote. “But we didn’t have a band,” said a nonplussed Ignacio.

Then form a band he was told. Pulling the other members was easy.

They were called “DaPulis” because three of the five members – Mercado, Ignacio, and Guerrero --- were of the heavier set. “It was an inside joke,” revealed Mercado. “Mukha kaming mga pulis. Overweight. Dapat tawagin niyo sarili ninyo ‘the pulis’”.

“We were the chocolate boys,” added Guerrero who has since made a name for himself as a sportswriter and broadcaster.

The band had a sense of humor to their songs such as in “Paa” where the band infamously wrote, "Nakahanap ka na ng iba pero mukhang paa boyfriend mo”, and “Pogi” which is about the pitfalls of being the apple of the eyes of the female of the species.

They even wrote a tribute to Yoyoy Villame titled, “Lu-Li Island” that was complete with “the accent, highfalutin words, Magellan” according to Guerrero who was inspired to write the song when the band performed in Palawan.

Villame, the proclaimed novelty music king, wasn’t the only Filipino pop icon to be associated with DaPulis. Cartoonist and comic creator Pol Medina Jr. drew the iconic cover to Pulis Heart, the second album.

“How it happened was, in college, we said, magbabanda tayo at sisikat tayo at lalabas tayo sa Pugad Baboy,” shared Ignacio. “Teka muna, si Whilce Portacio ginawa yung cover ng Rivermaya. So naisip namin si Pol Medina. Tinawagan ko si Pol and it turned out that he heard of us so we arranged a meeting. We met up over food at Dencio’s and ate bayawak. That is why in the album’s liner notes, meron siyang quote na, ‘Masarap pala bayawak’”.

Medina also drew the band in a couple of his Pugad Baboy comic strips.

“That was fun as we were all Pugad Baboy fans,” bared drummer Rusty Isip.

At the height of their popularity DaPulis performed everywhere from Chatterbox, Club Dredd, Kampo, Mayrics, Pep’s, and even the San Pablo, Laguna town square where they drew a large audience. They played sets alongside bands like Wolfgang, Razorback, Slapshock, Greyhoundz… essentially the kupaw audience. But not once were they booed off stage much less had missiles hurled at them.

“I guess we were amusing to a lot of people,” postulated Ignacio. “How do you have DaPulis in a show like Soundcheck? The Greyhoundz crowd loved us. The Razorback crowd loved us. I guess we were a pleasant addition to whatever line up they had.”

“We simply wanted to be the best front act ever,” proclaimed Mercado.

“We wanted to be number two,” added Villalon as his bandmates guffawed. “Wala kaming illusions about stardom.”

Aside from the band scene habitués and hard rock and metal fans, the band found an unlikely source of patronage and fans in the Philippine National Police.

Recounted Ignacio, “Then Special Action Force Chief Marcel Navarro wanted us to come up with a song that was sympathetic to the good policemen. They wanted to reclaim their reputation na mabuti kaming tao. They brought us to the Philippine National Police Academy to witness the graduation of new policemen. We were even taken to Camp Crame where there was this simulated rescue mission.”

Yet extraneous circumstances forced the collaboration to be shelved.

“Without elaborating too much, we’d are not excited to do that today,” said Mercado.

Today… the germ of a reunion began two Christmases ago over dinner, the first time the band was in one room together since 2002.

“A lot of people would ask us, ‘Nagkaroon ba kayo ng music video or some such. Saan namin maririnig songs niyo? Meron pa ba CD?’” shared guitarist Jay Ignacio. “The plan was to set up one show that we’d record these songs and upload them as music videos. But in the process of rehearsing for that show that we couldn’t figure out when to hold, we ended up with new stuff. Nanganak lang ng bagong material such as the new song, ‘Tito’”.

Right now, there are no hard core plans for a proper reunion tour or album. “We’re just gonna have fun,” said Mercado. “As it is, being in a studio with these guys again, I am embracing the identity of a singer again. We like this pasulpot sulpot. Right now you go to a venue pila ka with several bands. By the time you hit the stage, your friends have gone home early.”

“We are a conscientious band,” agreed Villalon. “We realize our target market sleeps the same time we do.”

“We are all in various mid-life situations,” explained Guerrero. “The last few months, it has been great and I realized how close I was with these people. You went through wars with these people and you grew up with them. Now you’re in a place that is challenging and you find solace in their company. It is therapeutic.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My Pinoy Rock cassette collection Part 1

More noise from the Philippine underground scene

My haul from Saturday night at Mow's. 

Dirty Edge is a band from Indonesia.

Disciples of Violent Entropy features Malicious Existence, the Abhumans, Against Man, Pathogen, and Omenfilth. Dark stuff to burn your soul.

Drawing Aggression II: Overlords of the Orient is black/thrash/dark metal featuring Mass Hypnosia, Corrupt Insanity, Interment, Paganfire, Karimlan, Legion, Pathogen, Amaranhig, Incarion, and Sacrosanct.

And lastly, Staid is this hardcore crew.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lolita and the Boys' "Usok" is probably the first ever recorded Filipino reggae song.

I was in first year high school in 1981 when I first heard Lolita Carbon over DZRJ. No, it wasn't Asin, but the song, "Usok" was credited to Lolita and the Boys. Now, if I remember it correctly, this is the first ever recorded Filipino reggae song. the only reggae artist I knew was Bob Marley and the Wailers so knowing we had a local reggae song was pretty cool.

Back then (like the case of the album The Best of Punk and New Wave Rock), the jocks announced when the album was out in record bars so people could go buy it. So I waited and when it was finally available, I saved up on my allowance and dashed after school to the old Musikland in Ali Mall, Cubao. The single sold for PhP5.00! That was a lot back then especially for two songs when a LP sold for PhP24.00!

Yet I didn't mind it at all. I was just happy to have this and to still have this to this day -- it's pretty cool. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Saturday Night Pinoy Punk Fever

Saturday Night Pinoy Punk Fever
by rick olivares

Last Saturday night, February 17, at Mow’s in Diliman, Quezon City, was the reunion of 1980s Pinoy punk band, Intoxication of Violence, that also coincided with the re-release of their one and only album, Another Destructive Century, on vinyl. The show, featured also another 80s punk band, GI and the Idiots as well as some of today’s best and brightest young punk bands in Staid, Istukas Over Disneyland, Chokecocoi, Indifference, Badmouth, Repetition, Payfong, and Veils perform with the door proceeds going to the health care of one of the oldest Filipino punks today in Dennis Oi.

Aside from the top underground bands in the country, the evening was also significant for many things.

A retro mood but with an eye to the future.
For the first time since the 1980s, IOV was in the same billing as fellow Pinoy Punk pioneers, GI and the Idiots. Sometime late last year, during the 80s reunion show at the B-Side Collective in Makati, featured Betrayed, Collision, Philippine Violators, Collision, the Urban Bandits, and the Wuds. In some ways, this show somewhat completes the circle.

With only two members left from the original IOV line-up (former lead singer Xeres Anicete lives in the United States while guitarist Gerri Duenas passed away several years ago) in bassist Radzon Medina and drummer Ruben Querubin Jr., the band was just happy to “return’ and perform for a younger audience. “Iba na yung eksena ngayon,” remarked Querubin. “Pero basta kami, nagpapasalamat na meron mga nakakaalala at nailabas yung old album namin. Maganda rin yung eksena dahil marami na rin magagaling na banda.”

The cassette release of Reyerta
A few months ago, we featured Gwen Cañete, a Filipina who lives and works as a nurse in Singapore. When her day job is done, Gwen plays guitars for an all-female metal band called Tormentress (all her band mates are Singaporean).

Cañete’s musical tastes border on the extreme. To fulfill her dream of forming a powerviolence band, she formed Reyerta. “My definition of a powerviolence band is it is a sub-genre of hardcore punk in between thrashcore and grindcore with breaks and tempo changes,” said Cañete.

Like Tormentress, Reyerta is multi-ethnic. The drummer and vocalist, Andres and lead vocalist, Carmen, are Spanish. Ruel, the guitarist is Filipino and hails from Lucena, Quezon.

“I met Andres and Carmen here in Singapore and they both love this genre,” related Cañete. “Ruel used to work in Singapore but he moved to Malaysia. When I heard he returned to Singapore, I invited him to join the band.”

The band released their initial self-titled debut in cassette form and will engage in a mini-tour of Southeast Asia. Cañete and Reyerta perform in Manila, Lucena, and Batangas this coming March 16-18 then hit Kuala Lumpur on the 31st of the same month before returning for a show in Singapore on April 7. “We hope to tour Europe next year,” wished Cañete.

Their cassette can be purchased through the Facebook page of local underground record outfit, Delusion of Terror.

The show drew not only locals but its own share of foreigners.
During the show, we counted about six foreigners – five Caucasians and one Asian – in attendance. The former declined to be interviewed but we learned that all work in Manila. The latter, a Japanese man who only offered his first name, Masa, flew all the way to Manila just for the show before flying back the next day, Sunday.

Said Masa, who also declined to be photographed but who wore a shirt of one of Pinoy Punk pioneers, Third World Chaos that once featured Tommy Tanchangco who now works with ABS-CBN, “On a previous trip to Manila about 10 years ago, I discovered the indie and underground music scene. I love our Japanese punk bands but I also learned to love the Filipino bands. I do not understand the songs in Tagalog, but I enjoy the music.”

The Japanese, who works in a publishing company back in his country, purchased a bunch of underground albums for sale at Mow’s. “I look forward to listening to all my new albums. Just coming over to watch, maybe it’s crazy, but that’s what you do when you’re a fan.”

According to many of the underground labels, their offerings – vinyl, compact disc, or cassette releases from local bands – have found their own audience abroad. “I actually sell more of the local bands abroad than here,” offered Delusion of Terror’s Emmanuel Jasmin.

Bam Sickos, an Indonesian who now calls Manila home, also has his own label, Sickos Records. He distributes not only Asian and Filipino bands but even crews from South America. “People from other countries are constantly looking for new music from different countries and cultures. There is a demand for these bands and because of this, it has become a good trade and sub-culture.”

Still Ill Records boss, Dangie Regala, offered special launch edition records of IOV. “Meron din mga collector. Growing din yung eksena,” he said.

Rica, who also declined to give her last name, also took the opportunity to sell her new underground magazine, Kontaminadong Karne”.

Said Rica, who previously published the hard-hitting zine, Mindrape, “This is a new direction where I talk and write about more diverse topics from tarot cards, tattoos, the hardcore scene in Bacolod, sexual harassment, and music among many others. The underground zine movement is thriving with people looking for alternative forms of writing and journalism. So if you’re into this, then look for Kontaminadong Karne on Facebook.”