The Itchyworms busier than ever

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Since Jugs Jugueta found success as a co-host on ABS-CBN’s It’s Showtime, people have convinced themselves that his career as frontman of The Itchyworms was over. The band had not recorded an album in nearly four years, and most took the inactivity to mean that the band was close to giving up, if it was not there already.

On the contrary, The Itchyworms is far from that. Although the band hasn’t been visible on TV, it hasn’t been idle either. In fact, Jugs being on It’s Showtime has helped, rather than harmed, the band. “Dahil sa It’s Showtime, naging mas busy kami, ang daming gigs,” says Jugs who is proud of the fact that before guys like Steven Tyler of Aerosmith (who was a judge for two seasons on American Idol), he and Teddy Corpuz of Rocksteddy were already doing the same thing for Pinoy audiences, making them both a rarity among Filipino rock musicians. Because of the exposure they earned on the show, more people came to know about The Itchyworms and their music, and more opportunities to perform also came their way.

“Showtime definitely helped The Itchyworms. Akala ng mga tao, hindi nakakatulong, at napapabayaan ko ang band because of the show, but the truth is that ever since I started Showtime, dumoble, nag-triple, nag-quadruple ang mga nanonood sa amin,” says Jugs.

During a Talk and Text-sponsored tour in 2012, Jugs and the other members of The Itchyworms were surprised that big crowds were showing up to watch them even in places so remote in the Visayas and Mindanao that they had to travel an additional five hours by land after a one-hour flight.

“Nakakatuwa din na (because of the show) we get to reach more people,” says Jugs. “During that tour last year, we reached the ends of Mindanao, and from Manila, we would fly to Davao or Cagayan de Oro, then from there, it would be five hours inland, really far — the farthest places — and without Showtime, we wouldn’t have that kind of exposure. Akala lang ng tao, dahil hindi nila nakikita ang banda on TV as much as they see me there, alone, that it must mean we are close to breaking up or something. But that’s not true.”

As a matter of fact, The Itchyworms is busier than ever. It went back into the recording studio to work on its first release in almost four years (its last was in 2009). Titled After All This Time (talk about an appropriate title), it contains 10 tracks but will not be released by a major label. The Itchyworms was under contract with Sony Music Philippines and had several recording projects in the pipeline when the company closed, and it was left without a label. That’s when Talk and Text stepped in and offered the band the opportunity to record an album. It was originally supposed to have been an EP (Extended Play) recording of about five songs, but Jugs realized it would be much simpler to just come out with something closer to a full album, with 10 songs but marketed differently.

The partnership with Talk and Text allowed Itchyworms to come up with an album over which its members had complete creative control, from the line-up of songs to the cover art, which was done by artist Christiana Jade “CJ” de Silva. The album will also be marketed differently for the first three months. Each purchase of P300 worth of Talk and Text cellphone load gives the buyer a free copy of the album.

After All This Time isn’t really a comeback album. Rather, it’s a continuation of The Itchyworms’ four-year interrupted journey. “During those four years, it wasn’t as if we weren’t doing anything,” says Jugs. “We had different plans that didn’t materialize. Then this happened. It’s like they gave us money to produce an EP, five songs supposedly but for me personally, I refuse to call it an EP. This one is more like a short album than a long EP. It’s somewhere in between.”

Jugs and the other members of The Itchyworms are happy that the album is out. Its release marks a new chapter in their continuing story, one that everyone now knows will keep moving forward.

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