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Joey 'Pepe' Smith—August 2000

<p>The Pinoy rock legend on life behinhd bars, using drugs, and the reason Juan Dela Cruz Band disbanded</p>
| Feb 1, 2000
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How does it feel to be a Pinoy rock legend?
It’s nice to be honored. But it would have been better if there was a loaf of German bread and wine and liver spread to enjoy the evening.

But we don’t have halls of fame around here. I think there are only two of us who are in it, at this time, me and the late Edmund Fortuno. I really miss him.

Was professional jealousy the reason Juan Dela Cruz broke up?
No, not at all. Ne, Mike, and Wally Gonzales were perfect together. But I felt then that the sound and music of Juan Dela Cruz were getting stale. So I left. That’s when I started drifting. I got into some good jamming with a lot of people. Bands in Olongapo, Iloilo, Cebu. I stowed away in those inter-island ferries.

How long were you in jail?
I was in jail for a year and seven months on trumped-up drug charges. They set ne up pretty good. I couldn’t shrug it off. This was only in ’92.

Was life inside “inside” hard?

At first, yes. After three weeks, I started getting the knack of it. All I did was make my cellmates laugh. I got into my comedy skits. I was able to penetrate all the walls of the gangs, Bahala Na, Sputnik, Commandos, Batang City Jail.

Did inmates try to rape you?
I was looking for them, nga e. “Wala bang kukursunada sa ‘kin?” Nothing like that happened. And I wasn’t beaten up.

You still take drugs?

I still do, but very minimal, much less than how I used to do it.

Did drugs give your life some sense?
Well, yeah. I don’t think anybody can move himself out of his problems on his own. Drugs ease you out of your problems little by little. It helped me see what was bugging me. It did me more good than bad. It slowed down my aging. It showed me a lot of things I don’t normally see when I’m straight.

Do your kids take drugs?

Nope. My eldest, she’s 24, stays away from shabu. I tell her, “if you want grass, I’ll even be the one to but it for you. But not shabu.” And she tells me she doesn’t even like the stuff.

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Interview: Cecile Jusi
Photography: Ocs Alvarez

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