Friday, October 17, 2008

From Parquet to Concrete: Neighbors' Second Album (Radio Blogcast #17)

(Neighbors character artwork by Ebok Pinpiño, appears on the second album sleeve)

[BY JONEIGHBORS] "From Parquet to Concrete" - wooden floor to the concrete stage, this best describe Neighbors' rise to the ska ladder, so to speak. The year was 2001 and the band is on its peak doing rounds around the city and in some parts of the country. Playing 2-3 times a week around the city with support from our good friends. The seed was planted a year ago and now the band is reaping the fruits. Playing helped us develope our style and sound. Money was not an option, all we wanted to do is play on small smoky clubs, have some alcohol and play harder with some good 'ol spliff on the side of course. The good old days man, it was fucking great!

This second album was released a year after "Angono Ska Explosion". The band's creative juices were overflowing and it was really hard to stop and not to do anything. After pushing "Angono Ska Explosion", the band went back to the drawing board and planned the next step. The first quarter was spent composing and rehearsing the songs. What we usually do is get together, talk about the format and style of a particular song and discuss them some more with booze and food on the table. A few days after that, we religiously rehearsed on the chord patterns, format, speed and some horn parts written on music sheets to guide everyone on the first 3 songs. Rehearsal starts with the rhythm section, vocals, then the horn parts, then we keep on playing the songs for 2-3 hours until we get the basic structure of the track. 3 more rehearsals after that then introduce the songs up on stage and in every gig. I think we made about 2 albums worth of compositions during that time frame.

Rudebong and Gabby Rojas our keyboard player and other chief composers were invited to join The Brownbeat Allstars, a few months after Myra left Put3ska in 1997 or 1998. Gabby left after 4 months and I was invited to join after. Bong and I sidelined with The Brownbeat All-Stars from 1998-2003. There, we met Rhanny Torres of "The Lost Boys" and "Ethnic Faces" famed as the bassist extraordinaire of Brownbeat. Neighbors would play alongside Brownbeat and he was impressed on our brand of ska. He encouraged the band to compose more and release an independent album and he would help to make it happen. I said to myself "puta! na impress si Rhanny Torres, record producer pa. SWERTE!" "Angono Ska Explosion!" happened and this second release.

(Some old posters and compilation album covers with Neighbors)

Rhanny was working with Alpha records during that time and asked us if we would like to be signed on a major label. The band had a very long discussion, weighing things, asking around and the possible outcome if ever we were signed to a major label. Personally I’m not that psyched about it because I don't like the business side of it plus the rules and protocols of the company that we have to follow and the idea of some big boss record owner to tell us what we should do with our music. It’s not “punk!” But I have to set aside my feelings on this one, my friends and the band comes first. Democracy is the rule within the band and respects each other’s opinion. I say, “Go with the flow.” 12 tracks were recorded at Pink Noise studios, engineered by the late Jeff Felix. It was a good learning experience. The technical side of recording and mixing songs helped us when we were recording our third release -but that is another story. We were listening to a lot of Hepcat particularly their “Right on Time” cd, Mongo Santamaria and Tokyo Ska Paradise during that time. We picked up some elements and style from them and customized it to fit the Neighbors way. We want to have the “Right On time” feel on this recording, not copying Hepcat but the way the album was recorded. We finished recording 6 songs in about 2 months. Rhanny did the rounds for any label but, didn’t bear fruit. After the band explosion of the mid 90’s, no label was brave enough to sign any new band particularly this kind of music the band offers. All the labels are cashing in on the “novelty” trend at that time; you know the Bayani Agbayani type of muzak. Rhanny gave us the first 3 finished songs and the rest; it’s still in the studio. We consider those tracks as the Neighbors lost tapes.

Plan B - we agreed to record some new sets of songs, produce an independent album and release it by the end of the year. 5 songs were made and were recorded and mixed at Cinematix Studios by Jess Felix, father of Jeff Felix. Same as the first one we recorded and mixed the songs Ramones style- recorded the songs for 12 hours; a week after, mixed and mastered the tapes for another 12 hours. Released the album on December 0f 2001 to a full house at Freedom Bar. Mission accomplished. Another indie album under Neighbors’ belt. NICE!

The first three songs were taken from the Pink Noise recordings –Simbang Gabi, Problems and Come on as the carrier single. With You, No Regrets, Untitled, The Look of Love and Magmamani were from the Cinematix sessions. Simbang Gabi and Magmamani are somewhat of a tribute to our symphonic and marching band roots. "Simbang Gabi" is one of the tunes the Angono National Symphonic Band plays when waking people to go to church for the early morning novena. "Magmamani" is a composition of the late National Artist for Music Maestro Lucio D. San Pedro, Gabby Rojas’ grandfather. We used to practice at their kitchen twice a week when Neighbors was just starting and the great professor was able to tolerate the noise we're making not in the punk or rock sense but it was loud. He would take time to go out of his music room to talk and joke with us while we take a breather.

Here is the Neighbors line up at the time of the recording and releasing of the album.
Marked as Mark II or Mk.II Neighbors:

Jon Capistrano –vocals/tenor sax
Gabby Rojas – vocals/keyboard
Bong Termulo – vocals/trumpet
Ronaldo Banaag –trombone
Madz Velasco –bass
Jaymer Hernandez - drums
Lawrence Intalan – guitar
Bodjie Villanueva-guitar *
(*Bodjie was not present on all recording sessions but he was transitioning to be part of the band after the sessions)

So boys and girls, we’re giving this to you for free. Spread the word. Enjoy! Cheers!

NEIGHBORS "From Parquet To Concrete"
2001 (Die Happy Records)

Simbang Gabi
No Regrets
With You
Look Of Love
Come On


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Neighbors who? (RADIO BLOGCAST #16)


“Neighbors who?” you may ask. People who attended the very early days of Club Ska, Standing Room, the 2002 NU 107 Summer Shebang, the Modern Movement, listens and watch to NU 107 In The Raw and DZRJ’s Soundblasters and Pinoy Rock and Rhythm regularly don’t really need to ask that question. But for you people who are just discovering the ska scene here in Manila, you might not heard of or seen the band live. The band is a ska act that has been about for quite some time and has played venues such as Mayric’s, Club Dredd, 70’s Bistro, Heckle and Jeckle, Hobbit House, the Music Museum as well as concerts such as Fete dela Musique, 1st Bob Marley Festival, Oooohh Lola! and also featured on MTV Siesta. And out of town gigs like Cebu, Bataan, Cabanatuan, Lucena and Baguio. All of the members are from Angono, Rizal and almost all of them have a classical music background, although not all are professionally trained.

Neighbors, an 8-piece ska band, were formally formed on August of 1995 although the original idea of forming a group was being kicked around as early as December of 1994. In May of 1995 they first saw Put3Ska at an Angono underground concert called “Subterranean Tour”. It was at this gig the idea to form a band became more concrete.

The band’s first gig was in, of all places, a strip joint! Called Café Angono, and the band at the time were known as Ska Bonanza. The band got a gig at UP, but unfortunately things did not go too well and they were dissed at the UP fine arts festivities. The band points out that at the time the UP students did not accept ska music. They didn’t have the slightest idea what ska is. But look at them now!

In late 1995 Neighbors met Put3Ska at Mayric’s and approached the band to jam with them. P3K did opt to let them play between their sets. Neighbors duly obliged and showed Put3Ska what they were capable of. They were suitably impressed and promptly had Neighbors included in a gig that was held in Club Dredd shortly after. The band, after another impressive performance (this time surprising Dredd’s management), was slated regularly to play at Ska Nights until Club Dredd EDSA closed in 1998.

[Gig at 70's Bistro, 1997]

[One of the band's early gig in Club Dredd Edsa, 1997.
See Myra (Skarlet) really enjoying the music!]

Their principal influences are Madness of the “Our House” fame, Hepcat, The Beatles, The Clash and the Almighty Skatalites, a pioneer Jamaican ska band formed in the 60’s. The band is also currently listening to other forms of music such as Latin Jazz, Bossa Nova, 60’s modern jazz, bebop and 60’s Soul in order to incorporate those elements into their music.

[First album recording sessions]

In March 2000, the band recorded most of their original compositions and released and later released an independent CD within that year. Called “Angono Ska Explosion”, it is their full-length debut album that includes originals, a couple of early Jamaican Ska hits and some Filipino classical tunes. The band was also nominated in the 2001 NU 107 Rock Awards but unfortunately they didn’t win, obviously a rock band won. The nomination was quite a surprise because it was not expected. They were home having a laugh with their drinking buddies when they heard the nominees announced.

[With Rhanny Torres and Mang Jess helping us out with the mixing & recording at Cinematix Studios in Pasig]

We thank Rhanny Torres, Mang Jess, Jeff Felix, all our friends and families for helping us record our first album.

We're spreading and sharing our original music to you for free, please distribute and share them without the intention of making money off of these.

This is just the first part of a series of Neighbors' recorded materials that we'll post here so watch out for more! Even if we wont be seeing Neighbors perform Live again for calling it quits, Still, there's more to come!

We raise our glass to one of the Philippine local ska scene's great ska acts!


Angono Ska Explosion – 2000 (Zoom Records)


Angono Ska Explosion
Dahil Sa'yo
Back To School, Forward March
Big Thursday
Dancing Mood
Can't You See
Clarence Thomas
Stop Making Love
Sound Sharp
The Clockworks


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rude Maynila Hangover [Radio Blogcast #15]

[BY JONEIGHBORS] It's a good thing that I was able to file my leave last August 30th in time for Bisikleta Production's "Rude Maynila" at Ten 02 Bar owned by the couple Marben "Badburn" and Myra "Skarlet" Romero.  Man! It was just like coming home. Surrounded by like minded people and seeing new and old faces. Hilboy invited Soundblasters to spin some heavy tunes on the said event and we happily obliged. It's been about 3 years I think, that I was able to really go out, drink beer, see bands play and meet old friends.  Maru, Skarlet's daughter was wearing her fairy costume and I and told myself that it will be on hell of a night. I was right.

Rudebong and I were there to represent Soundblasters. We started spinning tunes an hour before the first band went up on stage. It set the right mood on the things to come that night. The show was hosted by Bing Austria of Juan Pablo Dream giving some few pointers about the scene. The first band was Pink Cow, after that and after a few buckets of booze, I don't know who came after. The place was jampacked! That bucket of Red Horse, 6 bottles of Cervesa Negra, 4 bottles of San Mig Light really hit us head on. After that, me and Rudebong was just having fun spinning and shouting and singing along with anyone up on stage. We went up on stage and jammed with one of the bands. I remember Steady Movin' Beat played some tunes from The Body Snatchers and got me in a dancing mood, and other bands with some of their mighty originals. Everyone is having fun with no aggro lingering in the air. After the show, we stayed for a little while and drank some more with friends. Boys from Coffee Break Island came to drop. Marben made his cocktail, it was red and good. Can't explain the taste though but it was damn good. Stopped by at Tropical Hut to load up some fried chicken and rice, went to bed at 5:30 am, had the worst hangover the whole day, went to work Sunday night with a sore throat. Got sick and acquired the flu from Monday to Friday. But it was worth it. Many thanks to Bisikleta Productions and Trash Radio Manila. Read more about Rude Maynila here and here.

Here is the playlist last August 30th. We were not able to play some other favorites but mostly all is here. This post is long overdue. Rude Maynila hangover as we say. More heavyweight tunes from your friendly selecters. Enjoy! Respect!

Radio Blogcast #15

Sly Special - Sly & The Revolutionaries
Revelation Chapter One - High Note All Stars
Marijuana in My Brain - Dillinger
Marijuana - Sly Dunbar
Madness - Prince Buster
I Fought The Law - The Clash
Latin Goes Ska - The Skatalites
Jah Caught Them Dub - High Note All Stars
London Calling - The Clash
It's Burke's Law - Prince Buster
Dubbing with the Observer - The Observers
Al Capone - Prince Buster
Skinhead Moonstomp - Symarip
A Shot In The Dark (Take 1) - Roland Alphonso
Scientist Ganja Dub - Scientist
A Solid Bond In Your Heart - The Jam
Skinheads Don't Fear - Hot Rod All Stars
Skinheads A Bosh Them - Claudette and the Corporation
Skinhead Speaks His Mind - Hot Rod All Stars
Can I Get A Witness - Owen Gray
Hooligans - Bob Marley and The Wailers
Speak Like A Child - The Style Council
Dance Wid' Me - Hepcat
Draw your Brakes - Scotty
The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow) - The Jam
2,000 Tons Of T.N.T. - G.G. All Stars
The Way You Do the Things You Do - The Temptations
Tek Dat - Hepcat
Heavy Beat - Sound Dimension
Fist of Fury - Prince Jammy
Jah Jah Dub - The Aggrovators
Green Onions - Byron Lee & The Dragonaires