Sexy And Hard : Band Life After Shinkan

If you’d read my previous post earlier in April of this year, you’d know that my main band (what used to be) Shinkan is on an indefinite hiatus because “adult and real life caught up”. Right now, my only involvement with the J-rock community is my bass spot for Ikuzo Iwa, and as lead guitarist (still) of a Shinkan off-shoot, Urusai. Looking back at that post from April, you’d know that I have this penchant for J-rock / pop music, and that I had played predominantly to Manila’s local scene for the good part of the past four (4) years. My little side project with Laura as part of her “touring band” is also on a little hiatus of sorts, with no gigs that require the band to go to Baguio or in Manila.

Let me say though, while I like J-rock / pop, it isn’t my first love with regard to playing out in a band. I’d always been in some kind of Western style rock or metal band, with my first real band being a short lived thrash metal outfit. When it came down to Shinkan going on hiatus, Urusai being not really active and Ikuzo Iwa winding down on operations, I suddenly had the time to devote for my other musical ventures.

About five years ago in the wastelands of Philmusic, I answered to an ad that was looking for a heavy metal guitar player who’s influenced by Van Halen, Mr. Big, Deep Purple, Rainbow etc. Back then, I was looking to join a band so I answered the ad, and got a response back from one of them, asking me to go to their audition. The band is called “Slash n’ Burn”, and they seemed to be a very 80’s heavy metal band, and I shit you all not when I say they hitched a ride on the DeLorean’s trunk and landed in 2010 somehow.

Doc, let’s hitch this band with us.

They seemed to me then as an awesome band so I was really excited at the prospect of playing with them. However, they wanted me to audition for the band – at their church. I kinda couldn’t believe it, not that I am against Christians, but rather I was surprised at their venue of choice. They had an exciting sound and energy to them, and they wanted me to learn their original song “Itaas Mo!”, which I found on Youtube. I first found the title to be fairly strange, and didn’t think much of it, and thought that I can easily learn it. What I thought was a cheesy-as-fuck song, turned out to be an amazing song with great riffs, and very guitar hero solos, which honestly were beyond my capabilities at the time.

I ended up not going to the audition because I felt that my skills then were not at par, I didn’t want to disappoint them (myself included), and waste their time. I still met them at a local gig, and took their photos instead.

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I took this back in 2010 when there Guerilla Radio Bar still existed. The bar had since ceased to exist. From left to right : Aaron, Gerald, Bert (drums), A2 (?) and Martin.

All my friends immediately berated me for not joining the said band, especially Kevin (lead guitar for Subkonsious Terror) who’d said that I was a dolt for turning them down. They’d said that I had the chops to stand with the band, and while it felt good being regarded as such, I knew I can’t cop the said song.

As history would have it, I did get to join another band, but not in the heavy metal vein. Fast forward to 2015, Shinkan just kinda stopped existing and Urusai was formed in its place so us guys (Kajo on drums and Marlo on bass) can still play out. To date though, we only have two gigs under our belt, and I wanted to play out some more.  But scheduling is a bitch so we hadn’t really sat down on anything, and playing originals isn’t on the menu. We very nearly played some of my recorded instrumental guitar work, but I was told that while those sounded nice, it was too slow and will work to get our audience snoring. How or why it is, I just can’t fathom, but that shot down any hopes of me playing my original material again.

And I really want to play original material now more than cover stuff.

Anyways, even though I didn’t audition for Slash n’ Burn back in 2010, we remained friends and we often bump into each other at gigs. We’d even met at Mr. Big’s  most recent concert, and it was there that I gathered the balls to tell Bert and Agie that if need be, I can do session work with them.

One day, out of the blue, Slash n Burn’s drummer, Bert, pm’d me on Facebook, and told me that one of their guitarists was leaving (or left already, I forgot), the second guitar spot was open, and he was asking if I can play for them.

I immediately said yes this time.

I’d taken some time to hang out with the main guitar guy, Dax, who’d taught me the songs and how to play them properly. I swear, while I did know “Itaas Mo!” by heart, I seemed to be playing the riffs wrong, almost the reverse of how it is played as he says, and certainly different from the new draft form of the song as it is to appear in a future recording. The current focus is on synchronized guitar parts, something I’d always dreamed of doing but never properly learned to do right nor found the correct playing partner. Right now, I feel more confident about being a fit for the band. While my chops seem to still be behind what I think is what the band requires, they’re still willing to work with me.

The music that SnB stands for – hard hitting, no non-sense heavy metal and hard rock, requires quite a bit of refined guitar chops to  play, and joining them had since made me practice more than I normally would. Whereas previously I’d pick up a guitar whenever I feel like it, nowadays I devote at least half hour to about an hour for exercise and getting our songs down. I still suck with the riffs but hey, these guys play beyond Em (my favorite key in the universe) and that had since allowed me to wander outside my comfy pentatonic boxes, play in different keys and to also use my string skipping stuff (lol) at will.

So far, I’d jammed with them to work out my dynamics with the band, and to help audition the replacement vocalist. Actually my first time with them was also kinda like my first real dip into the water with their music. That particular vocalist though had left us to go abroad, and Bert is currently looking out for a new one. If all goes well, there is talk of finishing their EP by writing new songs, and to go on regular gigs. I’ll write more about it as I go along with them.


On to other things…

I was raised in a household that was quite close to classic rock, rock n roll and all the related stuff that goes with it. Even though I lived in the 90’s with exactly one Eraserheads tape (Fruitcake) and almost zero rock knowledge, I was at least familiar with the classic rock requisites like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Animals and the likes.

When I reached the later part of my teens, my father brought home a copy Stratocaster, and a Morris P-bass with active pickups. I preferred the bass highly because I couldn’t play chords back then, and thought that a bass guitar would be an easier instrument to learn with only four strings on it. My friends also somehow got instruments of their own. With the stuff we had at disposal, it was quite natural to want to form a band and just play out.

 

At the time (2003), forming a band or being a member of one was becoming quite a trend. My friends have also somehow started acquiring other pieces of gear, and sometime in April of 2003, I started a band with a couple of my friends – Rich and JC, with the former on guitar, the latter on drums and myself on bass. We called ourselves “JC’s Funk Project”, and we played a hodgepodge of grunge (I was a very late bloomer and didn’t quite get on the 90’s train), classic rock and bits of worship songs. We didn’t write songs much, but we did make a lot of noise. And while we didn’t get off the ground, that started us out with playing in a band. JC quit after a while, and we all kinda went our separate ways for quite a while.

Then sometime around 2007 or so, Rich called me back to form a band which he called “Bulagta”, which was more focused towards a hard rock / blues rock sound. This went on for quite a while, just jamming for fun. I soon left though, and came back into the fold for a few gigs in 2009.

Bulagta was nominally a cover band back then, but perhaps sometime in 2012 or so, they started writing original songs and playing them out, eventually going from having a cover or two, to performing an all original set each time. Come 2013 though, their other guitarist, Jairo, flew off to Singapore for work. They were left as a three piece band with Francis on bass, Josh on drums and Rich as both vocalist and guitarist. They’d expressed numerous times that I come in to take the vacant guitar spot, but I didn’t as I was still actively involved with Shinkan, and the fact that they play gigs on weeknights, didn’t make it possible for me to play with them much since I work at night. In any event, I did go around to playing with them towards the later months of 2014, mostly because I was beginning to get comfy with the idea of less sleep, more rock n roll. Jairo eventually returned to Manila because he’d had it in SG – he apparently didn’t like the lifestyle of all work and no rock n roll.

We’re currently having a pretty uneventful year with gigs spaced far in between, unlike in 2014 where we had gigs almost weekly for months at a time. Our current big effort is now towards the ongoing Pambansang Muziklaban. What started out as a not-so-serious effort in April turned out to be a lucky one – we got selected to go on, and just over the past Saturday (11/07/2015) we played in the Manila stage of the contest. It was still a not-exactly-serious effort, something we have become known for, and I even popped a cable due to excessive rock n roll. I guess Surelock wasn’t so sure about not snapping when stepped on.

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Taking a bandfie (lol) before the show!

And now some photos grabbed from my friend Je’s Facebook. Ogle at our combined osamness.

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Rich : Ninja Guitar

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Jojo : Schenker wannabe (lol)

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Francis : Pumping Bass

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Josh : Beaver Pleaser Drums

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Jairo : High Guitar

With Bulagta, we’re also planning to come up with more songs to put together into an EP. I hope that our brand of no-nonsense, no glitter, often no practice mix of blues rock and other things will be heard by even more people. We don’t aim to go pro, nor go big, but we’ll rock out to our heart’s content.

Slash n Burn plays mainly heavy metal music, inspired by late 70’s – early 90’s metal, with very fancy guitar work and heavy riffage. Bulagta’s music is mostly in a blues rock vein, and most – if not all, of our songs revolve mostly around the key of Am. How and why Rich writes the songs like this, I have no idea. The idea, as my friends put it, is to go for sexy rock and to put up a tent in the pants, rather than dazzle the brain with technical guitar playing. And while most of the words to the songs have sexual innuendos to them, we are not maniacs nor are we perverts. Our message is simple – unadulterated rock n roll!

Visit us on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Bulagta-197000013707463/?fref=ts


PS. I just checked our page – we got eliminated woooot! Very rock n roll! Better luck next year!
PS. 2 : Ok, so somehow we did get selected for Muziklaban’s next stage and we’re playing tonight (Saturday 11/21/2015) at a bar in Novaliches, QC. Sadly, Josh is no longer our drummer and we wish him well with his life pursuits. We’re currently looking for a permanent replacement as of the time of writing.
PS. 3 : We ultimately got eliminated – again, and for real haha. The Metro Manila representative band is now the amazingly suave sounding MAY. Check them out! We’ll probably be back next year.
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