I have been into music since I was a kid. I use to spend hours everyday listening to Motely Crue, Billy Idol, Skid Row, Heart, Duran Duran, The Smokeys and my all-time favorite, Gene Loves Jezebel. Yes, I’m a 90s kid and I still believe the 80s is the best decade of music. New Wave, Punk, Rock, Glam, Ballad, man, how I wish I was a teenager back then so I could enjoy and feel that remarkable era.
I was born in 1983. And big thanks to my Dad who goes home every year from Saudi Arabia with a shoebox filled with his Cassette Tapes and CDs.
Some kids may feel dissapointed once they realized that what’s inside of that shoebox was not actually a pair of brand new shoes. But not me. Year after year I know what’s inside of those shoeboxes my dad gave me and yet, I still got marveled everytime I open them.
Then came the 90s. A huge breakthrough for local alternative and rock music scene. Bands like Yano, The Youth and Eraserheads emerged and dominated the local radio airwaves. Actually, the existence of Dong Abay and Ely Buendia was not the start, before them – we already had The Dawn, Introvoys, After Image, Alamid and True Faith. It’s just – this was the time when most musicians today started dreaming like, ‘man, someday I want to be like Francis M.,Basti Artadi, Dong Abay, Ely Buendia, Bamboo or Karl Roy.’ The 90s is the Golden Age of Filipino Rock Music. The age of the Rockstars. Characters, who we’ll regard in the future, as Rock Legends. From the glory days of the 90s.
I remember back in highschool, when I would skip meals to save money so I could buy a cassette tape. Every Friday, I should have a new one. And not just Rock, I also have Death Threat, Ghetto Doggs, Oblax and Sun Valley Crew in my collection. 90s man. Freeman, Cutterpillow, P.O.T, Most Wanted, Semenelin and so on. There were too much albums made that we treasure up to this day. Most of ‘em were all works of mastery. Filipino Music artistry at its best.
And everytime I listen or watch these exceptionally talented artists, I will say to myself, “I want to be a Rockstar”.
But what really is, a “Rockstar”? Well in my own point of view regarding the word, it’s not about having a kickass car, a mansion or a celebrity/model girlfriend. I can’t even remember seeing a filipino rock icon riding a Lambo or a Ferrari. For me, a Rockstar is someone whose works and contributions to O.P.M will stay for the rest of eternity. Juan Dela Cruz is long inactive, the “Man from Manila” left us years ago, will Razorback make a new album? Man, living or dead, it doesn’t matter. A Rockstar is a Rockstar – and decades will past as I write this piece; I, in behalf of all the followers of O.P.M, will still have Kaleidoscope World, Ang Himig Natin and Giyang on our playlists.
We all have our own definitive basis on being a Rockstar. But if you’re going to ask me ‘how’ to be one in this humongous empire we call ‘music’ – now that’s not really easy to answer. But base on my experience back in the day when I, including my fellow seventeen – nineteen year old bandmates use to play in a variety of gigs. I would say it was very hard.
I’ll tell you a story, this was back in circa 2001-2002 when we got a gig in a bar along Katipunan. We were asked to sell tickets before the event and this guy from the production told us that we need to sell 10-20 (I can’t remember exactly) tickets so we could be included in the line-up. It was my third gig with my second band, and, when we saw the line up which include DTS, Valley of Chome, Dicta License and SIN, we set aside our worries on how to sell the damn tickets. The guy from the production is our vocalist’s friend anyway so, we went to the gig with our instruments, bringing five peers inside and we were still given the privilege to perform. It was a magnificent and unforgettable night indeed. And by the way, we didn’t receive artist fees. Just a bucket of beer, and three hundred pesos for the ‘gas’. We didn’t told the production that we don’t actually have a car that time, for they could give us another bucket of beer instead of three hundred bucks. Good thing there was a fishball vendor near the venue, the guy who barely sleeps saved us from getting ulcer.
We never had the chance to record our own shits, after two years of playing our own power metal pieces for a bunch of beer and gasoline allowance – my bandmates called it quits. That was 2004, and since then, aside from being a writer and music enthusiast – I shamelessly labeled myself as a ‘frustrated musician’.
We didn’t make it. But one thing is certain, you will never regret trying to do something, to make your life complete. It was an unforgettable spree and experience to treasure. Because music, is life.
You could ask someone who write, make and play music before who ended up as a Computer Programmer, Photographer, Illustrator, Engineer etc. and I’m eighty percent sure that that person will tell you the same thing. ‘No regrets.’ But followed by this – ‘becausemusic just can’t pay all the bills’.
Recently, I saw a post from DJ Medmessiah of Tukar Sunati in Social Media, and I quote; “Yung TF noong taong 2000 ay 1,500. Ngayong 2016 – 1,500 pa rin.”
I don’t actually find this statement as a blow against music bars and gig producers (especially the independents). In fact we have to give credits to them because most known musicians started from this before getting heard by many. It’s just this painful reality that we can’t always afford the necessities in living by making music. If one hit wonders in the United States could earn a million dollars, in our local music scene, it’s difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. We have local musicians who are still renting an apartment despite of two to four albums released.
But the good thing is, we are now on the digital-era. If you want to make a track and earn money from it, you can do so. There’s iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, Tidal and many other platforms to sell your self-recorded track/album. Before, you need to get signed by a recording company so the world could listen to your songs. Now it’s not necessary.
Every time I saw someone posting and sharing their shits in Social Media, regardless of the genre, whether its hip hop, metal, techno, folk etc., I always find some time to watch and listen. Because that is the reason why they are making music. Their music is their gift to humanity. And God forbid, if they don’t see any appreciation from us, what could happen?
And if we really want to support our local musicians, mainstream or independent. We need to be more profound in doing so. Support doesn’t end with just buying and listening to their works. Some of them are selling merchandise and souvenirs like shirts, caps, keychains, posters etc. If you have extra money, buy. Tell your friends about their music. Go to live gigs. The thing is, if we really want them to stay, then lets make them see,hear and feel their “value” as musicians. As Artists.
Whether you succeed as a famous musician or end up as someone else, you have your story. And every story counts.
A musician will always be a musician and for me, it doesn’t matter if you are selling hundreds of thousands of albums or playing guitar in a mall getting passed by hundreds of people everyday who don’t give a shit on what you do. That’s not my basis. You’re a true musician? Then you got my respect. You’re a Rockstar.
We don’t need a new Ely, Bamboo or Basti. OPM simply needs you to either embrace our very own music or be a musician to keep O.P.M rockin’. Write songs, grab your dusty guitar from the wall, go to gigs. O.P.M needs us.
There are hundreds of local musicians who could put the foreign musicians’ skills and talent to shame but don’t get any recognition. They are not the problem. We, are the problem. They need us to support them.
And lastly, it is not actually necessary to get labeled as a Rockstar. Most people who have failed (that includes me) to get recognized is because their focus is their “personal status” as a Musician. We wanted to be remembered as “someone”. It shoudn’t be. The focus should be on your own “work”.
If your contribution to music is a remarkable one, believe me, you will be remembered. A Rockstar.