The Son of a Bigtime Local Automotive Exec Left His Job to Become a Rock Musician
In 2008, members of the three-piece band Firefalldown were in Manila for a whirlwind two-week tour that saw them play at all the usual live music hotspots in town. Jon Blaylock, Andrew Hodgson, and Joel Sablayon flew in from London, where they were based, to play their brand of hard-edged funk-infused rock in front of local audiences, who seemed to respond favorably, judging by their enthusiastic applause and hoots of approval.
Fast forward eleven years later and the band is still rocking out, with some slight modifications. Only Blaylock remains of the original lineup, and this time, he’s joined by newcomers Djimi Django on bass and Jedd Manjares on drums. The band is now based in Manila and Blaylock himself says it's staying here for good.
“I moved here four years ago,” Blaylock tells Esquire Philippines. “The band itself, well, we went through certain phases where we were more quiet, but it was never officially broken or anything.”
Firefalldown independently produced and released an album, which spawned two singles and music videos. It was right after the album came out that the band found itself with the local office of Warner, which signed the band to a servicing and distribution agreement.
When I first saw the band in 2008, its music reminded me of P.O.T., Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus. This time, at the launch of its new single “Kahulugan,” the band hasn’t turned the volume down; it's still playing a loud, gut-busting set of pure rock. The song itself, stripped down to the basics, is a thoughtful, plaintive attempt at finding meaning and truth in a cynical world.
“So much of what’s being shoved down our throats doesn’t hold up anymore,” Blaylock said, in between songs. “You just can’t rely on what you’re being spoonfed at university or through the media.”
It would’ve been easy for the band to just stick to the usual niceties about its musical inspirations or songwriting process, but Firefalldown seems to have found purpose beyond playing music and entertaining audiences. Blaylock said the group is proud to identify as a Christian band even though he knows it’s not cool for artists and musicians to proselytize.
“I experienced this abroad, and I know it’s not cool to talk about what you believe,” he said. “There’s a growing movement towards secularism, but we can’t do this any other way. It’s not just about the number of people we reach but being true to our faith.”
The band also self-identifies as post-hardcore with singles like “Forever Never the Same,” “These Wounds,” and the politically charged “Halimaw.”
Blaylock, who is the son of George Blaylock, a respected leader in the local automotive industry (he is the president and general manager of Diamond Auto Group of Companies, which distributes Mitsubishi in the Philippines, among many other designations), says he joined his father’s company when he first came back to the Philippines from the U.K.
“I was head of marketing and strategic planning for three to four years,” he said. “But I couldn’t juggle the two. I felt that in order to do this, and I ought to give it my all. I couldn’t do the nine-to-five. I’m still involved (with the company) in some ways, like in consultancy, helping out in some ways.
“But for now, this band, this is it. We’re putting all of our eggs in this basket,” he added.
The band is currently gearing up for an extensive tour which it has dubbed #TrutherTour, with stops in different music venues and even “food parks” across the country to get the word out about its music and about its beliefs. The key, Blaylock, says, is consistency.
“We just need to make sure that every couple of months we have a single out, and that we’re constantly active touring to support the single,” he said. “There are a lot of projects that I also have my hand in. Firefalldown is evolving. We’re doing a Battle of the Bands with Warner as well as other projects. It’s all geared towards making it more sustainable.”