If there is one thing we learned about the Philippine music scene, it's that most of the good bands are not seen regularly on mainstream TV.
You know they're out there somewhere, playing at Saguijo or Route 196 and other spots welcoming of countless promising Pinoy Rock acts, or they have made their stuff available for streaming on your favorite app, which is the least they can do.
It's no secret we here at FHM love music, and we love independent artists even more. We've been featuring playlists of late, which, of course, isn't enough. So now we go a step further and introduce to you The Strangeness in all their alt-country-tito-rock goodness.
Composed of Shinji Manlangit (vocals, tambourine), Bijan Gorospe (bass, vocals), Paolo Arciga (piano, vocals), Francis Cabal (vocals, guitar), Jayme Ancla (guitars, vocals), Erwin Hilao (drums, vocals), and Ivan Brosas (guitars, vocals), The Strangeness is your friendly neighborhood barkada band. Their music is easy like Sunday morning—very much like what our dads would play to start the day—and sometimes, banging like a rocking Saturday night, ice-cold bottles of beer and breakup stories included.
And of course, they are tito-approved, too.
Looks familiar? The music video is actually inspired by Jose Mari Chan's Beautiful Girl (Play it side by side, hurry!). "Easy Boys and Easy Girls" is The Strangeness' newest single from their upcoming debut album under Wide Eyed Records MNL, which will be hopefully released in the first quarter of 2017. And boy, we can't wait.
For now, though, why not get to know the band better?
Cool band name. Did you have other options besides The Strangeness?
Shinji: There wasn't any cool origin story behind the name. Before we started the band, we had a penchant for really terrible movies. The Strangeness is a 1985 film about mining and monsters, and it's the sort of thing you find out from watching too much Mystery Science Theater. We decided to call ourselves that because it's strange and weird and campy, all at once. Pretty fitting.
How did the seven of you meet?
Shinji: We've known each other for almost a decade now. For me and Francis, it's longer since we went to the same high school. Francis and I knew Jayme from going to hardcore shows and we plucked him out of his original band, Oh Man! Oh God! Basically, we met the others online, through Tumblr.
Erwin came on board because we asked if he can play drums, and he did, so he was automatically in. Bijan used to jam with us, but we ended up absorbing him into the fold after our old bassist got swallowed whole by work. Ivan and Paolo were the last ones to join; Ivan came from Dr. Strangeluv, another local band that we admired, and Paolo came in because we needed someone to play the synths and he's just one talented motherfucker.
That's one hell of a story. Different bands, different personalities. Do you have the same taste in music?
Bijan: This is a difficult question because each member comes from different musical backgrounds. If I have to answer for the entire band, some of the music we have in common with are groups and musicians like Wilco, Dr. Dog, Happy End, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, David Bowie, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Juan Dela Cruz Band, and Eddie Peregrina.
As for me and the style of bass playing, I really love the old school sound of thumb playing and flatwound plus foam-muted bass, so I listen to a lot of old records and I look up to bands (and bass players) like Haruomi Hosono of Happy End, John McVie of Fleetwood Mac, Carol Kaye, James Jamerson, Paul McCartney, Trevor Bolder on David Bowie's earlier albums, Bill Withers and, George Harrison.
What inspires you to create your brand of music?
Bijan: For me, it's the chaos and the chemistry of making music with these guys. I remember being new friends with Francis, Shinji, Erwin, and Jayme. I wasn't even a member of the band then. We would just lock ourselves up for days. No sunlight. No care for the time. Getting drunk and writing and recording songs. A lot of times spoofing other songs. We just love making music.
Today, everyone in the band has at least one other band and some of us play together in other projects. I think we're naturally attracted to each other's musical personality even though not all of us like the same stuff.
Who writes your songs? Any themes or topics that are usually in play?
Francis: I've written a lot of the songs for the band ever since we started. But with the addition of Ivan and Paolo, who are also songwriters in their own right, there has been more room for collaboration and everyone has been contributing to the process.
Lyrically, I'm inspired by songwriters like Harry Nilsson and Nick Cave. They have a way of telling stories through their lyrics and that is what I've been trying to channel. Writing songs for the band is my attempt at writing stories—about heartbreak, love, loss, and possibly redemption, in some form or another.
How collaborative are you with each other when it comes to producing The Strangeness sound?
Paolo: The music-making process is different from when we work on our own songs or solo projects, because we work on the music collaboratively. One of us can write a song, but it takes all seven members to flesh out the final product. We test run the new songs during gigs, and revise them over time until the final versions are the best they can be.
Your debut EP, Jesus Camp, was released last 2011. Five years have passed. How much has your music evolved since?
Jayme: It's a mix of cohesiveness and individuality. We're now aware of every member's strengths and weaknesses. It's a little bit more streamlined now because we've somehow learned how to deconstruct our own work and try to form it into something we would enjoy ourselves without second thought.
I'm not dissing our old sound, though—hints of it can still be found throughout our upcoming album. It's just that back in the day, we were too "punk rock" to care about musicality.
What has been your biggest challenge as band so far?
Erwin: We're all busy with our jobs and individual projects, and because most of us live in the South, it's sometimes difficult to schedule practice sessions. It doesn't happen regularly but we wish we all lived closer to each other. We just make it a point to coordinate.
What's the "ultimate" direction for the band"
Ivan: Right now, I guess we're not really certain what that ultimate direction is. Whatever it may be, it's bound to be something different. On fame and fortune, it's just that nobody from the band became too persistent about turning into big rock stars. Never was a plan.
Follow The Strangeness on Spotify and stream more of their tito jams by clicking here.