The Soulmates are Choco-lovers
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - May 30, 2005 - 12:00am
"Oh, yes, we love chocolates!"

Understandably so.

After all, they are the duo called Soul Control who’s behind the smash-hit dance song Chocolate (Choco Choco) which has all but edged out of earshot the local novelty hit Otso-Otso.

Yes, admitted Tom and Leo, they love chocolates – and yummy-yummy how!

"What kind of chocolates?" asked Leo, the darker one.

"All kinds," smiled Tom, the lighter one.

Cadbury. M&M. Kisses. Baby Ruth. Hershey’s. Toblerone. All kinds, yes!

"There’s a brand of chocolate from England called Cranberries," exclaimed Leo. "Wow, delicious! It melts as soon as you put it in your mouth. Chocolate is like a woman. Once you taste it, you’re hooked!"

There’s a story behind that song.

"It’s a very happy song," said Tom (Thomas Quella), "a song that everybody could sing. The music was there before the lyrics came. It took our producer (Ross Hammond) two months to match the lyrics to the song which didn’t have a title yet."

"And what would we call the song?" Leo remembered the producer asking. "Then, he saw the chocolate bar he was holding and he said, ‘That’s it – Chocolate!’ Everybody loves chocolate and that’s it!"

Soul Control didn’t know how popular the song also is here in the Philippines until they arrived Wednesday (May 25) last week for a week-long promo for their album Here We Go (which carries Chocolate and the duo’s other hit, Boogaloo). Their trip was made possible by Universal Records (which is releasing the album locally) in cooperation with ABS-CBN, MYX, Studio 23, ABS-CBN Interactive and Mobile MYX.

Chocolate
was an instant hit in Berlin where it was first released, with sales exceeding the "gold" status (170,000 copies sold) and spending 11 weeks in the Top 20 and 18 weeks in the German Singles Chart. In UK, it peaked at No. 25, in Austria at No. 2 and in Switzerland at No. 3. In the Philippines, it has gone beyond the "platinum" status after its release last January – and going up!

And they didn’t have any idea how popular they are among fans here (now they can match the faces to the "danceable" voices) until they started guesting on ABS-CBN shows and going on a mall autographing tour.

"We got excited when we saw our billboard along the highway on our way from the airport to the hotel," said Leo.

"Have you seen that billboard?" asked Tom. "It’s huge!"

Describing themselves as soulmates, Tom and Leo have been making danceable music together since 1999 when they first met at a talent-search show in Berlin. Tom had his own band and so had Leo. On that show, they tried singing together, minus their respective bands, and they realized that they blended better. They have bonded since then, leaving their bands and forming a duo.

Why Soul Control?

"It’s like Tom is feeling what I’m saying," explained Leo. "And vice-versa. We click with each other so good that there’s magic in everything we do."

"He can read my mind and I can read his mind," said Tom. "He’s only thinking it and I can tell him what’s on his mind even before he can say it. We kind of have ‘control’ over each other, that’s why we decided to call ourselves Soul Control."

Thomas Quella, 25, was born in Berlin. He started singing at age 12 with a school band called Teenage Boys. He later joined another band called Secret Society. He’s the youngest among three children (his two siblings are both girls).

Leonard Buck, 26, was born in Sierra Leone and moved to New Jersey when he was four years old. He discontinued his training as gospel singer and lured to the street corners of the city where he began to develop a rap style. Afraid of threats posed by street gangs, they sent Leo (the oldest of three brothers) to Berlin to live with relatives. That’s where he has stayed since then.

"Leo and I are not just friends and soulmates," said Tom. "We are like brothers."

Besides writing and singing songs together, they play soccer and football together and hang out together. They share each other’s problems, too. They even lived under one room, until their girlfriends started hinting that they wanted, you know, some privacy. So Leo and Tom retired to their own respective bachelor’s pads located within shouting distance of each other. Now, their girlfriends don’t grumble.

"We can share many things," joked Leo. "But not girls."

They think the same way and look at life from the same point of view.

"We even think the same way about The Lord in heaven," assured Tom.

Their music goes, so to speak, beyond borders – and so does their range of favorites (singer/artists who have influenced them).

"We love the music of the ’50s and the ’60s and the ’70s and the ’80s," claimed Leo. "All kinds of music from years ago to the present, from Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. to Boyz 2 Men and George Michael and Backstreet Boys. We sing old songs as well as new songs."

They are going back to Berlin tomorrow, bringing home fond memories of their brief but fruitful stay in Manila.

"I love the weather," said Tom. "Great weather! It’s as warm as the Filipinos who are so open, so welcoming. They’re not suspicious like most people in other parts of the world. They’re...delicious?"

Yes, like chocolate!

Yummy!!!

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph)

BABY RUTH CHOCO CHOCO CHOCOLATE DEAN MARTIN AND FRANK SINATRA AND SAMMY DAVIS GERMAN SINGLES CHART LEO SOUL CONTROL THOMAS QUELLA TOM TOM AND LEO
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