Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Pursuing a (heavy metal) music dream

Pursuing a (metal) music dream
by rick olivares

If you talk to any musician, any band right now, they will tell you that the Philippine music scene is alive and kicking. There are more bands now, even more venues to perform and with many putting out their own releases.

However, that doesn’t mean that the scene is easy. Many will tell you that locally, save for the superstar bands, sales do not come from the physical releases such as vinyl records or compact discs (the punk bands will dispute that though) but from relentless gigging and merchandise as well as compositions and commercial rackets.

Even the gigging is tough. Many aren’t paid (again except for the superstar bands and artists). Yet, these bands continue to plug and play. All in pursuit of a rock and roll dream.

Here are two bands with musical dreams yet with similar stories of struggle.

Diet of Wormz
This five-man outfit hails from Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo; that part of the Visayas which is known for its love for football and former national team great, Chieffy Caligdong.

Diet of Wormz plays industrial metal, a sub-genre that draws from heavy metal guitar riffs, heavy synthesizers or sequencer lines, and distorted vocals. The band is influenced by the music of Korn, Marilyn Manson, Union Underground, Fear Factory, Powerman 5000, and Muse to name a few.

The music scene is Iloilo as a whole is healthy but not as big as Metro Manila.

The band’s decision to relocate to Manila in April of this year was a very tough one considering they had to leave their families. “If we want to gain more exposure, then it is in Manila and not Iloilo,” said guitarist Melvon Posadas over coffee one afternoon in Vista Mall in Taguig; near the band’s apartment. “But it is very competitive here too.”

Aside from Posadas, other members of the band include vocalist Ian Sajo, keyboardist Boom Poblete, bassist Lance Carag, and drummer Joms Balani.

Taking matters into their own hands (along with their hardworking manager Mark Piad), the band released a pair of self-produced videos and an album, “Rise of the Sentinels”. The videos have attracted a following on YouTube and have drawn the interest of Ivory Records that has signed them for digital release.

“It’s an entirely new album,” confirmed Piad. “An entirely new perspective.”

The band is putting the finishing touches on the album then will apply for jobs that will help them provide for their families but to also continue to pursue their musical dream.

“When people hear the name of our band and then they see our album cover or self-produced t-shirt (a skeleton eating pizza), they think we are a joke of a band.”

Ronald Alido, vocalist and guitarist for thrash metal band Pizzacoi (named after a mutual love for pizza and the Koi fish of which they all talked about getting a tattoo of one time), is a little amused. “However, when we get up on stage and play…”

Pizzacoi is known for its fast-paced and heavy sound inspired by bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Carcass that takes no prisoners. Alido alternates between screeching and low growling that provides a different texture to Pizzacoi’s music.

The four-man band’s commitment to a life of music is definitely no joke. Bassist Leo Sia practically bikes all the way from his home in Angono to Pasay where the band’s studio is located. “Being in a band requires sacrifice,” says Sia. “We try to get to a gig early but somehow find ourselves bumped off to the last slot of the night which is usually early in the morning.”

Alido himself is the longest serving member of the band that has been around since 2004. “I wasn’t even the original vocalist,” he related. “When the original singer left, there was no one to take his place so I took it on.”

Since the current line-up’s incarnation – Alido, Sia, and brothers Zeth and Trent Polillo on drums and guitars respectively, the band has been rather solid and gained somewhat of an underground following. They’ve put out their independently produced extended play album, “Suffer or Die” and have a video that they will unveil later this month of July.

“We know that our music isn’t for mainstream play,” added Zeth before a show at Darkside bar in Malate where the Pizzacoi frequently performs. “But we keep plugging away because that’s how you do it – with a lot of hard work that you hope pays off. We have seen the success of bands like Slapshock, Greyhounds, and Queso – so we know it’s possible. We just have to work hard.”

“We oft aren’t paid,” added Alido. “More often than not, we spend more than we earn. But that you have to earn your place. You cannot demand things. We know that all this will eventually pay off.”

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