Interview by Lauren Acurantes & Robert Soriano / Photography by Owen Reyes / Grooming by Darvin Macabales & Andrew Jardenil
A candid, humorous conversation with The Oktaves about being a ‘superband’, internal dynamics, and using their rockstar cards to get lucky.
Q1. How would you define a ‘superband’?
Nitoy Adriano (NA): A band that can fly on stage. [laughs] Actually there’s a lot of ‘superbands’ and we happen to be one of them.
Ivan Garcia (IG): The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. ‘Nuff said.
Ely Buendia (EB): A group whose members come from various already well known acts.
Chris Padilla (CP): A band.
Bobby Padilla (BP): When bands feel super. [laughs]
Q2. How do you guys feel about being touted as a ‘superband’?
IG: For me it feels kind of awkward because, of course, what am I compared to what I defined as a superband. Marami pa akong kakaining bigas, tsaka suntok sa buwan para maabot yun. Baka nga wala pa ako sa kalingkingan; nastestereotype lang talaga! Pero salamat na rin kung superband, di ko lang din maramdaman pero syempre honored naman kami sa Hilera na makasama sila Nitoy at Ely. [laughs]
EB: It doesn’t concern me. It’s only the most convenient tag for most people.
Q3. What’s the advantage of working with bandmates from different backgrounds and age groups?
NA: There’s respect towards each other.
IG: Of course you can learn a lot mutually from each other. Nitoy and Ely have old styles of playing which I think really works, both of them are veterans while us kids inspire them with our energy and drive to play and write music. With that chemistry [and] in this era, I guess things work pretty well.
BP: You get the chance to learn from what they experienced, good or bad. It helps you think right.
Q4. Were you all fans of each other’s previous works?
NA: Yes, except Hilera, but when I started playing with them, I became a fan. They’re awesome!
IG: We, Hilera, are fans of their works, Nitoy is a really good guitarist and The Jerks are key figures in the music scene while Ely, of course, wrote good music with The Eraserheads.
EB: I was, and still am, a big fan of everyone as musicians and as people.
Q5. With three generations of rock legends teaming up together to form this super group, don’t you have challenges with, say, the generation gap?
BP: No, we don’t really have problems with that. I think that in terms of musical influences, we are very much on the same page. We have the same musical preferences. We zone into the music of The Beatles, Elvis, Rolling Stones, The Smiths, and Stray Cats among other music greats.
Q6. As a group, what is your biggest fear?
EB: Our biggest fear would be not to be seen as a group. We all come from great bands and because of that people identify us a part of this and that group. We want to be seen as a single musical act despite [the fact] that we still play for other bands. I hope that the local music audience sees The Oktaves more as a musical collaboration, not a side project.
Q7. A band is almost always identified with its lead singer. Chris is still the frontman of Hilera, and you are still with Pupil, and this Ely Buendia stamp is just inevitable. What are your thoughts on this?
EB: That, in part also answers your previous question. But I believe so strongly in this band. What makes the Oktaves unique is that every member of this band played a pivotal role at each turning point of the Filipino music scene. Each member is as important as the other.
Q8. What’s behind the name “Oktaves”?
CP: Octaves was the name of the garage band that my dad formed. I suggested the name, gave it a slight tweak and we all agreed on it. I think the name is actually perfect. Musically, notes in an octave “ring” in harmony. I’d like to think that despite our diversity as a group, we all fit together.
Q9. If there is a song that you like playing as a group, whether during a gig or a jam session, what would it be?
CP: Well, we mostly play our original songs during rehearsal, but apart from that we love jamming to the music of Stray Cats.
Q10. Nitoy, as the senior member of the group, having been in the music scene since the early 80s, how do you think Pinoy music has evolved?
NA: A lot of younger generations today want to be musicians. Almost every band is composing Pinoy music and that’s great. You can hear different types of music being played, Pinoy style.
Q11. Your former group, The Jerks, is said to be ‘protest-oriented’. What is The Oktaves’ orientation?
NA: We also have one protest song, some love songs, songs about relationships. Just a lot of good old rock n’ roll.
Q12. Hilera boys, you make up a majority of the band yet you are also the juniors. Do you find that you have a good amount of say over band activities by virtue of sheer number or none at all by virtue of being juniors?
IG: We find that we have a good of amount of say because Ely and Nitoy are open to suggestions and there is a mutual respect among the members of the group.
Q13. Whose music is the biggest influence in the group: The Jerks, Eraserheads or Hilera?
IG: I’d say all of the above. The Oktaves are pretty different from all of our bands, though. It’s like coming together from different genres or generations, but when we formed, we had this one music which we all loved; that music is also applicable to The Jerks, Eraserheads and Hilera. That makes it difficult to trace who’s got the biggest influence.
EB: I would say Hilera and The Jerks.
Q14. Bobby, when you first started out playing for Hilera, you’d only been playing the drums for two months. And now you’re part of a ‘superband’ playing with veterans in the industry. How does it feel being in the big leagues now?
BP: It makes me smile even when I’m sad, but dreams do come true. I’ve been learning a lot being surrounded by these guys. I love them to death. [laughs]
Q15. Ivan, what’s with the hair?
IG: I just feel comfortable with it. For the past 15 years, I’ve tried different cuts and styles. I just think that this suits me best. Some like it, some don’t. Plus, I cut my own hair. [laughs]
Q16. Chris, you are arguably the looker in the group kinda like Joe Perry in Aerosmith. Are you the one bringing in the lady fans?
CP: Thanks, but no, not really. [smiles cheekily]
Q17. Which band member is most likely to pull the ‘I’m a rockstar’ card just to get laid?
IG: [laughs] I don’t really know and I’ve never done such [a] thing. I guess none of us would do that … that would be pretty conceited. But, of course, we all wanna get laid! But to pull that card would look desperate. Most probably that stunt will end in a cockblock … and the girls are just gonna fucking tease you! ‘Rakstar ka pala ha akala mo makakasibak ka?’
BP: Nitoy! [laughs] I’m kidding … NOTiy! [laughs] Whatever. [shakes head]
Q18. Is Nitoy considered to be the elder rock god in this group, the hand of discipline?
IG: He is actually the most childish.
EB: Childlike! But he is honestly, what keeps this band together.
Q19. Your self-titled album has been out for quite some time now. Tell us more about it.
CP: It has 12 tracks. Ely and I share song writing and vocal duties. Our first single K.U.P.A.L (K.P.L), was nominated in two categories in this year’s Awit Awards. It was number one in the singles charts for digital sales when it came out. The Oktaves album spent some time at the top spot for nationwide CD sales. We are doing really and we can’t wait for the next album. Right now, we are currently working on the finishing touches of the music video for Paakayat ka pa lang, Pababa na ako.
Q20. What do you guys say to people who claim that OPM is dead?
NA: OPM is very much alive, even when lots of foreign singers or bands are coming. They can’t sing in Tagalog.
IG: Well, they can believe that OPM is dead all they want. The local music scene is pretty small so why don’t we just support each other instead of gossiping, elitism, dissing and cussing. Music is not a gang or a clan, it is for everybody. The rock scene alone is much divided: the true fans, the elite hipsters, the indie or underground and the mainstream. Colonial mentality is another factor. With third world problems people may regard music arts and entertainment as a last thing to think about.
With all this pessimism, people will gradually send OPM to the grave. I know this may sound corny and cliché, but why don’t we all just unite and start changing this attitude within ourselves and start appreciating it more and be more open-minded?
EB: You’re dead.
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