A Look Back : The Shinkan / Urusai Wonderyears

It’s been a long time since I last played a gig with any of the bands I used to play with. My last gig was with Urusai at Sky High’s “Tales from the Unfriendzone” back in February. Since then, I’d been pretty much out of action, thus ending an almost 5 year playing streak with Shinkan, and then Urusai.

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credits to Mr. Carlo De Lacy for this wonderful photo of us

I really miss playing out with my guys and girls, but real life had caught up with us all at this point and I guess it’s time to put down our guitars in order to put down our roots. I got married this year, so did Icel and Marlo and it probably won’t be long before Ivory and Kajo decide to go at it as well.

We’d gone ways down the road from when we first started jamming together. We’d played good shows and while Shinkan never got to play at the event we formed up for (Ongaku) we did get good gigs which as a whole are quite memorable.

 

An exception to my current band-less streak would be the band that our department had put together to play for our company’s Thanksgiving Party. Perhaps I will dedicate a future post to this quirky bunch of guys who came together to answer the call for rock n’ roll – or reggae as I suspect.

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Yes, I came up with the name as joke. I didn’t know people would take it seriously.

 

 


 

 

That being said though, as with any band, there would be high and low points. There would be gigs worth remembering and those we don’t want to even mention. I picked out some of the more noteworthy gigs and songs we’d played for your viewing and listening pleasure. Also, take note that the videos you’ll encounter below may be chronological in terms of order but not of importance.

 

Without further ado…

 

2011 Asian Pop Expo

This is the very first show we’d played in, and was also the first time we met asterysk* in the flesh. It was also the first time they handed us our asses. This was me coming out of my classic rock / prog closet, hence the Michael Schenker-esque leather jacket while the girls wore more J-pop inspired outfits.

 

2012 Revotaku Jam Pack

This show found us playing our first outdoor gig in the cold January air. This was also the first time we came out with the red “Shinkan” band which was Marlo’s wonderful idea because we didn’t have any sort of stuff with us that show us to be a band. The kanji on the band spells the band name, and we have used the same characters ever since. This was also the first show that we experienced major hassles in almost every aspect except when we played our set.

 

2012 Asian Kung Fu Generation Tribute Night

I think this is the first of the many appearances we made at the then already tore-up af Freedom Bar. This also marks the first time that we joined a gig that had a theme going on since all bands had to play one song from Asian Kung Fu Generation, a band that none of us really pays close attention to. It was a lot of fun, and also began the tradition of Marlo, Kajo and myself drinking before a set, often to hilarious results.

 

2012 Otomonogatari

Now this one is really memorable especially for me, for a lot of reasons. This was the first band competition that we joined on and won a respectable 2nd place, and was also the first competition I ever joined that I was picked as Best Guitarist, an award that I still can’t believe I won. It was also around this time that I began my long period of fanboying over the popular anison singer, LiSA. We selected her version of “Brave Song” for one of our pieces, which incidentally was also one of the songs of yet another group, Yui for President.

Beyond that, this was also the day that my wife and I had seen and heard of each other. The memories of this gig is so important to me and my wife that this was where we had our pre-nuptial shoot.

 

2013 One Rock Tribute Night

This show found us back at Freedom Bar, this time playing to the Philippine One Ok Rockers (P.O.O.R) to the music of One Ok Rock, a band which we have absolutely no sense of similarity whatsoever. Although my sister and I listened to the band quite a bit at the time, my bandmates didn’t but we agreed to play the show anyway. This was the first time that I first began my now current practice of bringing two guitars to a show, and possibly changing them out when there is a need for a differently tuned guitar. Marlo took on the bass on this night since we needed his awesome slap and pop techniques, so in order to have Icel play guitar, we decided to teach her our setlist entirely in drop D tuning, which she did quite well considering a six string isn’t her native instrument. I played part of the show on standard (Yuri) then changed out to a drop D guitar (Maya), and this was the first show I started using my Vox wah. Actually, I bought the wah specifically for this gig only, but found that I liked it so much that it remained on my set-up since then.

This was also the night that us guys got so hammered drinking before the show that when the time came for my sister to hand me my other guitar for a swap, I totally forgot about it. LOL

 

2013 Best of Anime 

This was my first BoA appearance with the band – they’d appeared a few times prior to me joining up. The twist on this particular gig was that we needed to play an original song that the band had written and composed. I wanted to come forward with some ideas, but it turned out that Ivory had written one such song (“Rockstar”) years prior and they had already worked on it before I came aboard. That made the job so much easier for us, and all I had to do was provide some fancy guitar parts. At the time, I was learning how to play string skipped arpeggios in the style popularized by Paul Gilbert. Due to my noobness, I was only able to use one pattern in D major that I played up and down all over the intro chords. We had a good showing for our efforts in that while we didn’t win on this one, we did garner a lot of supporters.

 

2013 Ozine Fest 

This was the day we finally won first place in a band competition! Although it wasn’t without due sacrifice – I was supposed to be attending my car club’s Christmas party after we confirmed our set to be at 3pm, but we ended up playing at 6pm much to my dismay. There were a lot of people on that day, and admittedly I played my solo quite half heartedly because my amp suddenly sounded strange after we started playing. All’s well that ends well I suppose.

 

2014 Toycon

This was our first Toycon appearance, and my second time to appear in the said event in about eight years. We were still rocking it out with our usual set list but what made this particular gig stand out was that we played this particular Macross classic, a song that many dub as the song that stopped an interstellar war. I was supposed to be using my then newly acquired Peavey Telecaster (Phoebe), but I ended up switching back to Yuri after I felt uncomfortable with the single coil sounds I was getting.

 

2014 UP AME-X

 

This marked the first time we played at this famed convention series, and also our first time to play at the Word Trade Center Pavillion. Personally, this is one of my favorite gigs because we got to play a good long set with people actually singing along to us. We chose to play this Love Live! classic because at the time, the series and the mobile game was very, very popular. This also marked the first time that I was able to utilize a fully analog effects rig, along with my by then better developed string skipping arpeggios which no longer kept me in one box up and down, that I used on “Yuzurenai Negai”, a song that our community friends seem to tout as our signature song.

 

2015 Otaku Expo 

By this time, we had already become regular guests and performers at a lot of the more popular conventions in Manila. Having won a previous Ozine event, we secured a slot on this one, playing to what I think is the most densely packed audience we’d played to. This also marks the very first time someone outside of our band (Jake) took on vocalist duties along with our girl Ivory. I liked our sound here, and we seem to have become tighter as a band, and a lot of people had responded that Kajo was growing really well as a drummer, and that Icel was doing great on the bass because she was playing “H.T.” quite well – this is mostly due to the fact that the bass and guitar parts all go through the same notes and patterns.

 

2015 Influence @ Biz-Ahr

This is my personal favorite actually for the top Shinkan gig to date. We played a posh and great sounding venue, with ample space to not have everyone knocking into each other due while moving around. We were really in the groove on this particular night, my rig sounded amazing and needless to say, I think we really did well. We were furnished with a new set of “Girls Dead Monster” band shirts courtesy of RV Urban Style, the previous design being the all black Shinkan shirt with the crescent moon logo that we gave out to some audience members before. We also gave away the last of our remaining shirts on this gig, with one ending up in the possession of Sol of Solguilty Project, a famed cosplay and events photographer. This also happened to be Phoebe’s first real gig, and I think she sounded like balls that night.

 

2015 Toycon

This marked our second Toycon appearance as a band, and while we didn’t secure a prime time slot, we still played our hearts out and did well in general. Again, RV Urban Style designed a new shirt for the band and I think Ivory took the time to advertise our generous sponsor. I was still going with my analog gig, and this marked the first time I used my Flying V (Hana) onstage and also the first time I played some slide guitar in a live gig.

 

The Toycon gig is the last time Shinkan played together as a band. Although we’d put down our gear for now, I still look forward to a time that we can all come back together and play out under the lights.

 


 

Now while Shinkan is mostly the band we are best known for, the girls also had a little thing on the side going on. With the addition of Jazz from asterysk*, they called themselves “Dreamsicle”, they sang (occassionally danced) as a group ala Kalafina. The boys of the band then decided to go with an often talked about but never executed plan – form our own sub-unit that played more different styles of music than what Shinkan usually does. After some practice with just the three of us, we decided to see if we’ve got the mettle to do things our way and “Urusai” was born. With just the three of us, we usually played instrumentals but we eventually got around to singing the songs ourselves.

 

2014 Grand Theft Maco

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This was our first gig as Urusai, but before we actually got to play the date, it was supposed to have been a Shinkan gig. People expected the band to be there, only to be taken by surprise that only the three of us boys showed up. Things didn’t quite work out to how we wanted it because I developed a cold then a cough prior to the gig, severely hampering my already limited singing voice (ugh) but I tried as best as I could seeing as how the guys could still belt it out. “Highway Star” is a personal favorite of mine, and I suggested we play this to see if a three piece band can pull it off. The idea for the arrangement we did was an old bootleg recording from a band I used to do roadie duties for, Leaf. Marlo’s suggestion was that we actually play Siam Shade’s “Triptych” for real because up until that point, we only played the last parts of the song as a soundcheck.

The idea was to combine the opening bars of Daita’s “TGE4” version as per Kajo, and spliced it to Siam Shade’s V7 live version – complete with the thrash metal inspired bridge and *gasp* headbanging. Honestly, I didn’t like how I performed the song on this because I was feeling cold and I was struggling to keep my hands going. But did pull it off somehow and we even had the audience going “Oi!” during the bridge. This also marked my return to using my trusty Korg AX1500G and since to get a “beefier” guitar sound, I did a stereo set-up with both amps but to make things interesting, I dialed in the amps different from each other, with one having a more bass / mid setting and the other having more of the harsh treble coming out.

 

2015 Summer Over The Rainbow

This one is my favorite Urusai gig because I think we simply rocked that night. We did all vocal songs, and we wanted to showcase Kajo’s singing. Thing was, he wanted to sing the whole night so what we did was we picked a friend of his as our drummer for that night. So we had Simon on drums, Marlo on bass, me on lead guitar, Kajo on rhythms and we also had Ivory sing one number, and yet another friend, Rainier,  on our last song. Since we were supposed to play a tribute set to Parokya ni Edgar, Kajo took the lead vocals and we sang behind him. This was the first gig that I fully appreciated the sound I was getting with a Marshall compressor pedal, and Phoebe was a screaming mass of wood and steel strings that night. Considering the fact that our drummer isn’t exactly a gigging drummer, our set sounded tight and people sang with us.

I don’t really dig PnE songs per se, so instead of copying the leads note for note, I took the main themes and added my own flourishes to it.

 

2016 Tales from the Unfriendzone

This gig was mostly my idea because I’m a closet Hale fan. My friend Jei was asking around if he can get a band to play a Hale set for his gig which was supposed to be for people without a date on Valentine’s Day. I asked the guys if they wanted in on the action, they agreed and since this was my idea, I have to do lead vocals. This was a pretty amazing set for us and to keep the song order coherent, I tied it up to stories about my then recently ended long term relationship, which elicited laughs from some people and scorn (towards me) from others.

The audience did a lot of the singing that night because as luck would have it, I was coming down with a fever than night and I was losing my voice on some parts. For that particular night, we had Kurt (Riku) from Kamaimasen playing additional guitar parts. The house was packed and we had a really good time playing what people thought was a strange choice for us – people thought we were going to shred that night.

 

 

 

It had been a really long and fruitful journey with the guys and girls of both bands, and I am really grateful that we were able to bind our common love for music, and share it with the people around us. The good thing about it all is that while we’re no longer actively playing together, we started out as a group of friends and we still stick together.

I think that’s a really beautiful thing and maybe, just maybe, we’d be able to get back at it in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Until the next time the lights find us again.

 

~fin~

I’m Fighting…

I’m fighting. 

I’m trying. 

I really am. 

But it is hard to fight the truth when it is absolute and not relative.

 

I’m fighting. 

I’m trying. 

I really am. 

But it is hard to fight something that has taken a life of its own.

 

I’m fighting. 

I’m trying. 

I really am. 

But it is hard to stare into the darkness because it is the same when my eyes are closed.

 

 

I’m fighting. 

I’m trying. 

I really am. 

But how can I fight? 

 

 

Myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

~