Arts & Entertainment

How Brian Velasco Joined Razorback: “He Was a Nice Guy”

The musician will be sorely missed.
IMAGE Razorback Facebook Page (facebook.com/pg/razorbackmusic)
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Brian Velasco’s life story is inextricably linked to music. While he played for other rock outfits like Brain Salad and DRT, he is perhaps best known to people as the drummer of one of the country’s most iconic hard rock bands, Razorback. 

After founding member Miguel Ortigas left the band in 1996, Razorback members Tirso Ripoll, Louie Talan, David Aguirre and Kevin Roy held auditions for a replacement. In an interview with RadioRepublic, Velasco, who was then a teenager, said he remembered that day when he came in to play in front of the rest of the band.

“I was late,” he said chuckling. “Two other guys (were there, including) an Australian guy. I wasn’t nervous. I was just happy to play.”

“Brian was a drum instructor,” Ripoll said. “He knew what he was doing, but he wasn’t hitting. He hit like a girl. (we told him) ‘You gotta hit it harder.’”

Ripoll told RadioRepublic that the deciding factor came after they heard the guy from Australia play.

“We had a guy who could play immediately,” he said. “Brian was an instructor, and he was a very good friend. And we said, if we’re gonna be with this dude from Australia who smells funny, we were thinking, we’re going to be in a van for two hours with this guy? Or Brian, who’s nice, and we know him, he’s a nice guy. 

“Skills you can learn, but you can’t teach how to be a nice guy. You can’t teach how to be a real brother.”

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Since then Velasco remained a core member of Razorback, staying with the band through all of its ups and downs, album launches and lineup changes.

The first time I met him was in 2003, during the shoot for their music video “Minsan Lang” from their self-titled album. It was inside Room 404 of the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, which Velasco himself attended. In between breaks, I chatted with the guys about the new album, which Ripoll said the band did all by themselves.

“I’d like to think of this one as a hybrid,” Roy said then. “It has the depth and dark factor of Beggar’s Moon and the rocking of Hebigat and Star.”

Velasco said they expected a pushback from listeners.

“We’re going to disappoint a lot of fans,” he said then. “We’re also going to make a lot of people happy. This is who we are. And I think that’s the best way to go.”

Apart from music, Velasco kept himself busy with other pursuits, including a culinary course at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies and quality time with his pet dog Alfie, whom he lost late last year, based on his most recent Facebook posts. A good friend and former classmate said he was funny and dedicated to his craft.

“He could pull off a ripping imitation of the French taunter in Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” said Fatima Potenciano, who says she was Velasco's friend in college.

“When I would go to shows as a much younger kid he would always be one of the kindest ones to me. Always happy to see me.

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“We lost a real one.”

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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