Dickies Philippines head Dody Arcaya has been making specialized shirts for the Slapshock since the band started 22 years ago. ‘I’m proud of the members who have remained grounded all these years,’ says Dody, with (from left) Jerry Basco (guitar), Lee Nadela (bass), Jamir Garcia (vocalist), Lean Ansing (guitar), and Chi Evora (drums).
What keeps Slapshock at the top of the game
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - August 28, 2019 - 12:00am

‘I am afraid of needles,’ confesses Jamir, the rocker with the most number of tattoos, with the faces of Christ and Virgin Mary across his chest.

First, a trivia: Did you know that Jamir Garcia, the vocalist of Slapshock, has a mortal fear of needles?

Sounds incredible because, among the rockers, Jamir has the most number of tattoos all over his body — with the faces of Christ and Virgin Mary across his chest. The tattoos were done by Jamir’s brother Chris, a tattoo artist who used to work as a researcher at NASA and now runs a tattooing business in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where Jamir had his middle/high school education.

Asked if Chris administered anesthesia on him, Jamir said no, it wasn’t necessary, even if he had to sit for 60 hours for 10 of the tattoos.

“I had an anti-flu shot recently,” confessed Jamir, “nakaka-tense.”

Over lunch at Oriental Palace (on Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City) hosted by Dody Arcaya, head of Dickies Philippines, we didn’t really talk much about Jamir’s phobia for needles but about what keeps Slapshock at the top of the game for 22 years, unchallenged by any band and now followed by a new generation of fans composed mostly of children of their older fans. (Another trivia: Among their celebrity fans are Paolo Contis, Antonio Aquitania, Benjie Paras and Joseph Bitangcol.)

“Dickies has been the band’s partner since the boys started,” recalled Dody. “Through the years, they haven’t changed at all. Their success never went to their heads. Grounded pa rin sila.”

The members showed up for the interview wearing Slapshock shirts designed specially for them. During their shows, Dody makes sure that Dickies prepares new sets of shirts for them. Fans so love the shirts that they order some for themselves. Sorry, but the shirts are personalized “limited edition.”

Slapshock still has the same members (including Jerry Basco on guitar, Lee Nadela on bass, Lean Ansing on guitar and Chi Evora on drums) who continue to play the same kind of music together. Unlike in the case of other bands, not one member has ever attempted to break away to join other bands. The Slapshock is solid as a rock and as hard as metal (oops! no pun intended!). That’s it: they are the exponent of rock metal.

The members consider it an accomplishment that they have stuck together through changes in trends and genres, graduating from the days of vinyl to cassette to CD and to digital. They go with the flow, venturing into social media with ease. They have more than 500,000 followers on Facebook and a lot more on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

The members are growing with the times and looking like the way they did back then even now that they are into their 40s.

“In the beginning, during what I call our angry and hungry years, the lyrics of our songs were explicit kasi galit nga kami sa mundo,” recalled Jamir who graduated with an Auto Mechanic degree from Samson Tech to please his strict father who didn’t want him to be in a band.

“We expressed what we felt. We were young then. We have mellowed but the rebelliousness is still there, although medyo toned down na. All of us are married. Except for one member, all of us have children so we have a conscious effort to be better role models because we have fans who are impressionable, some of them as young as seven.”

Jamir showed us a video clip of a little boy singing and dancing to a Slapshock song, holding a microphone.

“I don’t know who that kid is,” said Jamir. “The video was only forwarded to me.”

The band had just done five shows in Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, etc.) and more shows in South Korea in the same venue where K-Pop stars perform. Over the weekend, they had a show at the Esplanade in Singapore and are set for a nationwide tour as part of the promo for their new song Bandera, a patriotic song that can be interpreted many ways — a man waving a bandera (flag) for his family, a fan for his idol or anybody rooting for whatever and whoever.

Bandera is just one of the over 100 songs Slapshock has composed so far, some of them compiled in 10 albums. Other songs that play in the public memory are Agent Orange (the band’s first hit), Cariño Brutal, Atake and Unshakeable which is dedicated to the Yolanda victims and survivors (beneficiaries of the song’s proceeds). There’s also The Crown which is about people who are toxic and power hungry (“Kahit makipag-patayan para makamit ang crown,” said Jamir).

Fans should expect those songs (plus many more) to be performed in the Slapshock concerts, among them the band’s annual Dickies tour, the Rakrakan Festival in which more than 5,000 bands participate and the Muziklaban annual competition spearheaded by Red Horse (of which Slapshock is also a long-time partner).

“We don’t experiment with other genre,” stated Jamir. “We stick to the same sound our fans love us for. We know our audience and we give them what they expect to hear from us.”

And what does Jamir do to sustain that distinct Slapshock sound?

“I avoid sweets,” he said. “I take ginger tea and not cold drinks because they take away the raspy quality of my voice, lumilinis ang boses ko. I’m known for my raspy voice and that’s how it should be. May garalgal na parang muffler ng kotse.”

Now, did you know that when Jamir had himself ”tattooed,” his father warned him, “Wala ka nang trabaho kapag nagpa-tattoo ka. Hanggang banda ka na lang n’yan.”

Happily, Jamir has proven his father wrong.

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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