Unlike one of their more popular songs, we didn't even get the memo from sessiOnroad when they were about to leave us two years ago.
The alternative rock band—composed of Hannah Romawac-Olives (vocals) Coy Placido (guitar), JV Romawac (percussions), Chavi Romawac (drums), Jimbo San Pedro (bass)—took a break from the scene shortly after celebrating their 16th anniversary, and fans have rarely heard from them since.
Those who wanted to satisfy their longing for hits like "Suntok Sa Buwan," "Cool Off" and "Blanko," among others, had to make do with CDs and lo-fi YouTube videos.
Thankfully, the group seems eager to play again as it announced its return recently, just in time for its 18th anniversary.
Last May 21, FHM went to The 70's Bistro in Cubao for the second leg of sessiOnroad's series of comeback shows titled, "Merge Ahead." Indie band UBE was the perfect opening act, serving an eargasmic platter of blues, funk, and rock that warmed up the audience.
Five songs later, Hannah, Coy, JV, Chavi, and Jimbo took the stage to rousing anticipation. An acoustic set loosened up an already spirited crowd.
By the time the members plugged in and the percussion section settled in their usual spots, you knew that sessiOnroad is indeed back. In fact, by the sound of it, it seemed that they never even left.
FHM caught up with Hannah after the show and managed to not get too enthralled by her to talk about their return:
How did the comeback come about?
Parang somebody just suggested, "You guys want to play again?" Tapos, "Yeah, game! Oh sige!" The timing was just right, everybody was into it. At this point wala nang pilitan eh. Kung hindi pwede yung iba, then we don't force it. Eh sakto nag-shoot lahat yung schedules ng lahat... Actually, as of now, we're kind of feeling our way back into it so hindi rin sure pa kung anong mangyayari after the next few days.
How does it feel to receive that kind of reception despite your 24-month lay off?
Nakaka-overwhelm; you feel grateful na kahit na um-exit ka ng two years, the same people are still here, they still appreciate, so parang nakaka-inspire to really get back into it.
What did you miss about buhay-banda?
Mainly, really, the music. Because the whole two years that we weren't playing, I was just really focusing on my child. Music-wise, I wasn't even writing, no music-related activities for me, so yun lang tumugtog, umakyat sa stage, kumanta, sobrang...that's what I really missed about it.
No music in those two years? Didn't you feel any rust when you first picked up a guitar again after not playing for quite some time?
Sobra! Akala mo ba ganun-ganun lang yon? No! Actually, the first rehearsal that we had, sobrang laughtrip, like, "Paano ba ikabit yung gamit?" "Input ba to or output?" Yung mga ganun. And then sobrang rusty nung mga gamit, ganyan. Parang, "Linisin natin yung mga agiw." As in literal, sa instruments. Sa utak mo naman, "Paano yung chords? Ano yung lyrics?" But it was a process that we had to go through. When we settled into it, parang bumalik naman eh, yung feeling and yung pag-gel nung banda.
What has changed upon sessiOnroad's second wind, in terms of priorities, considerations?
Actually, yun nga yung nakakatawa, kasi ngayon, for example, "Okay, we want to play in this venue." Tapos, "Wait lang, maghahanap muna ko ng mag-aalaga." Yung mga ganun, kasi everybody is already a parent. In effect, there really are more important things, but then, we have this to go back to na parang pang-amin lang. The short time that we were together and hung out, nakagawa kami ng kanta. So parang nakaka-excite, na parang, "Wow, one afternoon lang, nag-inuman tayo," tapos there's something. Creative-wise, may spark pa rin. Parang, there's hope for sessiOnroad.
In terms of musical direction, do you plan to change anything?
SessiOnroad naman has always been about what feels right for the band; we never really wanted to be boxed into a certain genre. Parang if this song feels like reggae, let's put reggae, ito parang ballad, let's go with it. Whatever the song asks for, that's what we do. Kung may pagbabago music-wise, we'll see really. But so far, that one song that we were able to make, we kind of need to fix pa.
Any future plans for the band? New album?
At this point, we can't peg yet. We're just happy that we're back and we're being creative again. So stepping into it lang ulit eh, doon lang muna. And then, we'll see. Open-ended na lang yung sagot, ha ha! Hopefully, we can come up with something. But I feel like the timing is right again.
In the first place, what made you decide to take a break?
Honestly, we really all got burned out. After our 16th anniversary, maybe a few months after that—the last gig we play was here rin eh—nag-usap kami tapos parang, "Ugh." Naumay, ganun. Hindi ka maniniwala, pero after that last gig that we had, we didn't even hang out. Parang everybody just needed space. Seryoso, as in space; hindi kami nagtawagan, nag-text-an—wala.
Nung nag-decide na kaming tumugtog ulit, it was pretty cool kasi parang walang pilitan, everybody was okay with it. So sabi ko, since parang excited ulit lahat, I guess, ito na yun. Kasi from the get-go naman, sessiOnroad has always been, kung ayaw mo na, hindi na natin pipilitin. Ganun lang. I mean, what for? Hirap din kung hindi kayo all in it eh.
Photography via MaskedRider Kenneth