What I've Learned

Bamboo: What I've Learned

"The friendship. That would be my greatest regret. I think that’s on me."
IMAGE Edric Chen
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These days, it’s pretty fun. It starts out with just me and my guitar, writing stuff up. Now I’m not relying on formulas. I’m trying a bunch of different stuff these days.

No Water, No Moon was written in a time when I was so broken and down. With the process of writing it, I sort of found myself and rekindled my joy. ‘Cause I got sort of beaten down by the business, by the whole thing of being in a band. As much as how much we succeeded, for me, we failed in a sense.

The message that we started out with, the mission vision, the stuff we talked about, I think in the end we didn’t live up to that. I sort of take that as my failure. I carry that.

I don’t want to go back. I want to keep pushing forward. My label doesn’t want to hear that. They want to hear, you know, part two of this or part three of that but I refuse to do that. I refuse to be a jukebox.

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My friend mentioned that here, we get caught up in the cult of cool. The brand, the image, it speaks before the music. I mean let the music speak first because that will define you before anything else.

I miss being with the boys on some level, but that’s happening now too. It’s just a different dynamic. We got kids running around in the studio. It’s light and I love it. I’m enjoying myself thoroughly.

This was never my dream. I’ve always been resistant to music, it was never my thing. But I think the resistance is what kept me grounded.

During Rivermaya, I learned so much about the business at that time, and I was pretty turned off about how things were being run and how things were going. And I knew at that point, that that wasn’t what I wanted to keep doing.

I was disappointed. You come in bright-eyed, 16 or 17, and to see how it all plays out…I felt I was too young.

When I came into Bamboo, the scene was sort of reeling at that time. There was no long-term plan with the band. We were successful but I think we lost vision and lost the way, I didn’t want to go back to being Rivermaya.

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The friendship. That would be my greatest regret. I think that’s on me.

I can’t save everybody. I’ve learned that.

My family was broken, so at a very young age I was the man of the house. And you’re young and you think you know how to play that role, but you don’t.

Women have been more predominant in my life. They’re the ones who save me time and time again.

This was never my dream. I’ve always been resistant to music, it was never my thing. But I think the resistance is what kept me grounded. I never had fantasies of doing this or that so it’s kept me sort of level-headed. I can see the whole picture. I think I’m the only one who has stayed sane in this. I’ve seen everything so I consider myself a witness.

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I’ve done bands twice, and it didn’t work. I don’t think you’re going to see me in a band again. I just can’t see myself committing to a band anymore.

Bands that I’ve looked up to, like R.E.M or U2, are like broth-ers to the end. They carry each other and help each other out. I think the romance is over for myself and at some point reality hits. That was my fantasy and my ideal of how it is, but it just didn’t translate to my experience.

With bands and everything else, it's ego and success, and I think it’s what breaks you. I also say, at some point, once you get a hit, oh man, it’s the end. ‘Cause I love the beginnings of the band, where everyone is just hanging out and talking about music, having a drink and enjoying each other. And then once everything comes in, it’s a different dynamic. And it spoils everything.

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When I weigh things, the biggest challenges are not in music, it’s in life. When you weigh that next to music, it’s a job. It’s a hobby. But life weighs heavier.

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

 

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Kara Ortiga
Kara Ortiga is a writer and the editor in chief of Supreme.
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