Hale and their music from within

- Rhia de Pablo () - January 25, 2007 - 12:00am
Music of rock-alternative Hale takes cue from innermost feelings and inspirations.

In today's youth-driven music industry, only a few artists get to truly stay within the epicenter of admiration of the listening and viewing audience. And one of them is Hale, the band whose hits captured the hearts of many young Filipinos, mostly women, with their musical versatility in the alternative-rock genre.

Hale is composed of four bright, young musicians-vocalist Champ Lui-Pio, guitarist Roll Martinez, bassist Sheldon Gellada and drummer Omnie Saroca. Last Sunday, The FREEMAN Entertainment just got all "HALED-Up" after snagging an exclusive interview with the band held at their hotel just before a show at SM City Cebu to promote their newest album "Twilight."

To use an old English definition, Hale would mean, "sound in body." Champ was actually the one who found the term in a dictionary. He shared their reason for using the name: "Everything that comes out from us, like our music, is from within. It's from the ideas and emotions coming from within us."

After being formed in June of 2004, Hale took off in the music scene of 2005 with their melodious-drama tracks like "The Day You Said Goodnight" and "Broken Sonnet"-compositions that have sent many a hopelessly romantic Filipino heart pumping into overdrive. Their songs have consistently topped the charts over the airwaves and music stations in the country, picking up awards and citations from different prestigious institutions along the way. They recently won the 2006 Awit Award for Best Ballad with "The Day You Said Goodnight" and also bagged the People's Choice Awards for Favorite Band. Another victory came at the 2006 MTV Pilipinas Video Music Awards by taking home the Best Pop Video for "Kung Wala Ka."

The band's self-titled debut album "Hale" under EMI Music sold out 90,000 units in May 2006, thus achieving the Triple Platinum status. At present, their sophomore release "Twilight" has also been making waves, snapping up the Gold Award for selling 15,000 units already by October of last year.

The band, however, stressed that their latest release is way different from their debut album. "Twilight," they revealed, is a more collective effort since they had more time to contemplate on things, add new songs and come up with new ideas. "Nag-start talaga kami from scratch. But unlike the first album, mas sound namin ito ngayon."

Unlike their melodramatic debut, "Twilight" moved the band away from the basics in musicality and songwriting. Their songs are still melancholic, but have become more intricate by encompassing a wider spectrum of musical styles. "Hindi na siya heavy at gumagamit ng malalalim na words and figures of speech. Hindi na exaggerated ang thought. Literal na ang album namin ngayon. What you see and hear is what you'll get," shared Roll who is behind the band's ironic yet compelling piece "Broken Sonnet."

The rise of Hale's career has only proven just how worthy they are of being hailed as one of the country's finest acts amidst some critics giving a moniker to their brand of music, which female fans seemingly find hard to resist, as merely "pogi-rock." Although the band reckoned that good looks could put any group, for that matter, in an advantage, they haven't given this impression much thought, in the same way they haven't allowed themselves to be bothered by such attacks. "Para sa amin, bonus na lang yun. Basta kami, we're working hard on doing our thing and we're just enjoying it. For those who just want to criticize, it's just fine kasi it doesn't really matter. It's all up to the people to decide," Champ said.

Just like showbiz, the music industry is never spared from biting rumors and controversies. Hale, too, got caught up in the gossip web. The "awayan" issue between them and Cebu's very own Cueshe still hasn't faded, though according to Hale, this rumor has just been blown out of proportion. "We're OK! Wala naman eh. It's just part of showbiz. But we really think it's bias to compare us and our music 'coz we are really different. Unfortunate lang talaga siguro na sabay kaming lumalabas sa mga shows at nagkaroon ng maling connotation ang mga tao. Pero we really have nothing against them naman," explained Roll.

Rockstars may be regarded like "demi-gods" in this music-loving generation, but Hale maintained that they're as normal and regular as anyone can get. Take for instance their ways of unwinding. Champ shared that he usually watches his favorite TV shows during free time, plays basketball and video games and talks to his friends and finds time to bond with his family-the same usual stuff he did when he wasn't even part of a band. "Hindi kami yung type ng tao na nagiisky-diving or bungee jumping para lang mag-unwind. We're still pretty much normal," added Roll.

Being in a band, admittedly, has entitled them to a lot of perks, not to the mention, recipient of almost-blind admiration from fanatics. Although Hale is appreciative of all these, what they consider as the biggest benefit of this all is the chance to have gotten their music across a diverse audience. That, and the opportunity to connect with their listeners' innermost feelings.

According to Roll, "The good thing about being in a band is yung nalalaman nung mga tao ang kanta mo and you even see them singing it. Kaya nafe-feel mo na hindi lang pala ikaw yung nakakaramdam nung ganun at marami din palang mga tao na nalulungkot at sumasaya. Yung thought na nakaka-connect ka sa kanila sa kantang gawa lang sa bedroom namin ay ang galing talaga."

Their intention really with their music is to create a positive impact on their audience. "Our music is more of responsibility. We try our best not to make songs na about violence or drugs. That's how far as we go. Di kami gumagawa ng kanta para lang maka-reach out sa ganitong market," Roll added.

Despite their success, Hale still sees to it that their busy schedules would not affect their relationship with each other. And so, after a glorious 2005, the group actually decided to retreat a little from the scene to relax and avoid getting burned out following the aftermath of fame. They didn't fear that such move would result to a decline in their fan base. The group reasoned that since they started as total unknowns, they actually have nothing to lose. Popularity stands inconsequential to their friendship and bonding as a group. After all, they're more than just bandmates; each considers the other like a brother. They added that with so many bands suffering from sudden disbanding, Hale keeps themselves intact by talking things out.

Although it was not their first time to perform here in the city, Hale remained excited as ever to perform before Cebuano fans-again. They even revealed that Cebu was actually their first-ever out-of-town gig as a band so it holds a special place in their hearts. "Dati sabi nila Cebuanos daw are hard to please; so it's a good feeling na they get to appreciate our music. Pag nakikita namin yung crowd dito parang kilala na talaga nila kami," Champ said.

Wondering what else the band wants to achieve at this point in time of their career? According to Champ, "Mababaw lang talaga kaligayahan namin. But personally, I've reached the stage na I'm satisfied and contented in what we've achieved. It's all about appreciating and enjoying at the same time."

This year, Hale is hoping to have an international release and looking forward to a planned US Tour. "Twilight" is still out in record stores nationwide. To join in their mailing list, add hale_music@yahoogroups.com. "Hale is all, to all is Hale!"

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