Slapshock ready for its US tour
Patricia Esteves (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - When Filipino rap-metal band Slapshock went to the US last year to record its first international album, the members of the group said they were very prepared, armed with five pre-produced, self-written, original Filipino songs in English. Slapshock was ready to work with some of the best rock artists/producers in the US music industry. Still, no matter how much they’ve prepared, they were still taken aback by the meticulous and strict standards of Grammy awardee Shavo Odadjian of US metal/rock band System of a Down, American record producer Terry Date and Grammy-nominated mixer/producer Damien Page Lewis.

“When we went to the US in November 2013, we knew the caliber of the people we will work with, that’s why we prepared very well. But when it came to actual work with these guys, it became so challenging and difficult for us. There were instances when we would spend 12 hours revising on just half of the song. Our producers were very particular, even up to the last detail. They criticize us and when they say they don’t like the sound or the lyrics, they let us change it on the spot. Minsan buong song pinapapalitan sa amin. The songs have to agree to their musical taste and we respected that,” Jamir Garcia, the band’s vocalist told The STAR during a recent interview in Quezon City, together with other members Chi Evora (drummer) Lean Ansing (lead guitar), Jerry Basco (rhythm guitar) and Lee Nadela (bass guitar). 

“Chi, our drummer, has to stay in our apartment so he could practice some more and he can deliver the sound that they want,” Jamir said.

“We know our songs are good pero pagdating sa standards nila, hindi pa pala,” Jerry, for his part, said.

But quitting has never been an option for Slapshock. The bandmates only pushed themselves harder for their album’s completion.

“We learned how to compromise. We know naman their credentials, that’s why we didn’t object. We followed their instructions and advices,” Jamir said.

In fact, the people they’ve collaborated with are actually their musical idols, like Shavo, the bassist/background vocalist of System of a Down.

System of a Down is a four-time Grammy nominee and a Grammy awardee for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2006. Its second album Toxicity, released in 2001, has sold 12 million copies worldwide.

Jamir recounted how it was like working with Shavo, saying the rocker had many revisions on The Crown, one of the songs in the album, which talks about the endemic corruption in the Philippines.

“ Shavo and I talked about the song, about how some people want to grab the ‘crown’ with whatever it takes. I told him why I wrote the song and why I felt strongly about corruption in my country. I felt that Shavo brought out all his musical experience to improve the song and make it more meaningful” Jamir said.

Slapshock is the first Filipino artist signed up by Black Eyed Peas’’s BMBX music label and production company. The band stayed in Los Angeles for three weeks last November to record the album.    

Apl, with his extensive connection in the US music industry, has linked Slapshock with the best American music producers like Date, who has helped produced hits for Incubus, Smashing Pumpkins, Pantera and Deftones and Lewis, who earned a Grammy nomination for his work on Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.

The outcome of its hard work will  finally come to fruition, as Slapshock releases its album Night Owls on April 27. The group will then embark on a US tour in May, followed by shows in Dubai and countries in Southeast Asia. They will also headline performances in Canada in July.

While promoting the album here, they will have mall tours. They’ve recently signed a new contract with Red Horse and will also do concert tours with Dickies.

The album’s carrier single Night Owls will likewise be released on iTunes worldwide today (April 7).

The songs in the album are Filipino sentiments on love, corruption and dreaming big, said Slapshock.

“Night Owls is about misfits like us, para sa mga katulad namin na sa gabi namamayagpag. It’s our tribute to bands like us who are underrated at gustong mamayagpag pa. It also talks about Pinoy rock that they say is dead but it was never really dead,” Jamir said.

Other songs include Coma, Turn Back Time and Dangerous.

"Coma is about waking up from a coma and realizing that after a deep sleep, you’ve lost everything that was so dear to you because you took everyone for granted. Turn Back Time is a love song about regrets and not having second chances,” Jamir said.

“Dangerous depicts kids nowadays, how they’re driven through music,” he added.

Slapshock is very excited for the album’s realease because it will showcase the best of Philippine rock music.

“We look forward to bring the Filipino rock music to the world,” Lee said.

 Meanwhile, the members said none of these would have happened if not for the indefatigable support of apl.

They fondly recounted their experience living in an apartment near Sunset Boulevard, a good five minutes away from where apl lives.

Every day after breakfast, they would head to the studio, which is located in Glendale in Hollywood, to record and work until afternoon. After work, they’d go back to their apartment, have dinner and go to apl’s house to relax. This has been their routine for three weeks.

“Si apl, may wishlist kami sa kanya kung sino gusto namin makatrabaho. Everything that we’ve asked him for the album, binigay nya sa amin,” Jamir said.

“He’s very hands-on with this project, which is surprising kasi hip-hop sya and rap metal kami. He’s really keen on helping us and we’re very grateful to him,” he said.

Last year, apl signed Slapshock into his label, saying he believes in the talent of the group.

 â€œApl has opened doors for us and we know that he will give opportunities to other bands here and in other Southeast Asian countries, to shine in the international stage. Napakaraming magagaling na banda sa Pilipinas  na kailangan lang ng opportunity, ng platform to showcase their talents. Hopefully, kung magkaroon ng attention sa amin, the international music industry would start to notice na maraming magagaling na banda pa dito sa Philippines,” said Jamir.

 â€œActually, this is apl’s vision, he wants to create a platform for all the bands, not just in the Philippines, but in the whole of Southeast Asia to be given an international break. He also  wants bands in Southeast Asia to co-exist with each other,” he added.

Slapshock members hope they can be an inspiration to other bands, saying that no dream is ever big, as long as you believe in yourself and work hard for it.

“Who would have thought that we would realize our dream of having an international album? Seventeeen years ago, when we were starting as Slapshock, all we ever dreamed of was to be able to perform at the UP Fair. We aimed for that and we’ve achieved it. If we can do it, others can also do it,” Jamir said.

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