Ben&Ben explores ‘darker, rock side’ with Zild & Juan Karlos

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
Ben&Ben explores âdarker, rock sideâ with Zild & Juan Karlos
Ben&Ben members with Zild (rightmost) and juan karlos (second from right) during the filming of the music video for Lunod at the El Deposito water reservoir.
Photos from Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Imagine entering a dark, haunted tunnel and going through a narrow passage. Suffocated, you can feel your heart pounding as you gasp for air due to lack of oxygen.

As you turn around and find your way out, your breathing slowly returns to normal state and you heave a sigh of relief as you see the “light” at the end of the tunnel.

This was how Ben&Ben, Zild and juan karlos (JK) “chronicled the experience of drowning in torrential distress and anxiety” in their latest music video for Lunod, a track about mental health struggles.

“It doesn’t always have to be sink or swim when it comes to mental health,” said Ben&Ben in a media release.

Ben&Ben is composed of Paolo Benjamin Guico, lead vocals, acoustic guitar; Miguel Benjamin Guico, lead vocals, acoustic guitar; Poch Barretto, lead guitar, backing vocals; Jam Villanueva, drums; Agnes Reoma, bass; Pat Lasaten, keyboards; Andrew de Pano, percussion, backing vocals; Toni Muñoz, percussion, vocals; and Keifer Cabugao, violin, vocals.

The cinematic approach in their recently-dropped music video, helmed by filmmaker Jerrold Tarog (Heneral Luna and Sana Dati), is “a visual narrative that pushes the discussion forward with its metaphorical depiction of individuals trying to keep their head above water and find their way out of a dark, harrowing tunnel.”

“The music video is a deeply introspective and symbolic interpretation of the song, which is all tied in together from the concept and writing, down to the location,” explained Paolo. “In the video, the song is narrated as the band, with Zild and JK, moves deeper and deeper into the tunnel slowly—losing breath, then in the latter half taking powerful strides to move out of it. This signals a ‘rebirth’ into a new, more mature version of the self.”

Set against the backdrop of the dark and eerie El Deposito water reservoir in San Juan City, an underground location that held historical significance during the Philippine Revolution, Philippine-American War, and World War II, the location setting added to the heavy, gloomy theme of the song and the video.

There was also a part there where the band members, Zild and JK were submerged in water with flowers on their eyes, a visual analogy which is open for interpretation.

Nonetheless, Lunod, apart from its poetic visuals and words, accompanied by strong vocals and obvious rock elements, is a powerful track that gives you goosebumps.

The manifestation of the rock tune showed the nine-piece collective’s heavy, darker side, which is quite fitting to the message of the song. Not surprising at all, because they have rockers Zild and JK on board.

“I think it’s always been in us to always have that kind of sound (rock),” said Miguel during a digital online media conference. “’Yung work ni Zild and JK, very diverse din yung soundscape. So, I think when it comes to a heavier kind of sound, they have more experience in it than we had. So, they really helped to really bring out that sound. Sobrang na-guide nila kami dun (in that direction).”

The rock sounds in Lunod kind of represent that aggressive, overwhelming feeling when you are drowning in anxiety, furthered Poch. “Parang nasakto din yung direction. Like what Miguel said, nasakto din siya sa kaya ni Zild and JK. Kami rin, like individually sa band, may paths din kami na medyo acquainted sa rock kahit papano.”

“For most of us, it’s more of a passion than it is just familiarity. It just all made sense. Nakakatuwa kasi when you watch the music video, si direk Jerrold sent the edit over, we saw how everything just stitched together. And it kinda pushed towards the message of the song. How chaotic talaga when one is going through that feeling. Sobrang sakto lang ng lahat,” he continued.

This is the first time that Ben&Ben members got out of the Pebble House bubble to shoot in a historical place, revealed Agnes. She likewise hoped that they get to explore more of the “darker, rock side” of the band in the future, and thanked Zild and JK for their input and being the “rock stars” that they are.

The rock piece was penned sometime in April or May this year. The anxiety that Paolo and Miguel experienced when their sibling contracted COVID-19 way back paved the way for Lunod. “Yung feeling ng anxiety na ‘yun, plus yung feeling din na muntikan ka ng malunod kasi nakatira kami dito sa malapit sa dagat. Parang may isang time na muntikan ng mangyari yun last year. So, parang similar yung feelings pala na yun na parang nalulunod ka, minsan mas na-te-tempt ka na sumuko na lang kesa sa magpatuloy,” shared Paolo.

The “skeleton” of the song was already done before they tapped Zild and JK, Paolo shared, “But the first magic happened I think ‘nung nilapatan ni Agnes ng tunog, ng production. And then tinugtog namin as a band, of course. Nadagdagan ‘yun. ‘Yung second na magic was nung pumasok sa studio si Zild and JK (for the recording). Kasi kakaibang gabi talaga ‘yun. ‘Yung nangyari na ‘yun.” And so, the haunting, powerful Lunod was born.

Meanwhile, the indie folk-pop rock band has just bagged four awards at the Awit Awards 2021 ceremony held Monday, including, Record of the Year for Di Ka Sayang; Most Streamed Artist; Best Ballad Recording for Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay; and Best Inspirational Recording for Di Ka Sayang.

(Lunod is out now on all streaming platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines. Zild and JK are also set to join Ben&Ben on Kuwaderno: A Ben&Ben Online Concert, happening on Dec. 5, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

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