Interview by Bea Faicol
Since its launch in 2013, Wanderland has become the magical realm that bridges two alternate worlds: the international music scene and the Pinoy music underground. Which is why the music festival’s Wanderband competition is a one-way ticket to the land of legitimacy. An indie band that once wandered aimlessly gets a chance to be launched into the global soundscape.
This year, that band was Oh, Flamingo!, composed of fresh grads from UP with an apparent degree in creating lovelorn ear candy: Howard Luistro on vocals, Pappu De Leon on guitar, Billie Dela Paz on bass, and Fries Bersales on drums. They had such skill for making heartache sound festive that we just knew they’d put a fresh spin on “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
With their sway-inducing vocal harmonies, emotionally precise lyrics, and melodies perfect for a sunburned drive home, this is an act sure to build heat over the summer. Before Wanderland this weekend, BENCH BLOG catches up with a bunch of flamingos who are clearly about to take flight.
Hey, guys! 2015 was a breakthrough year for your band. What were some highlights?
Howard: This is the year we got into the music scene. We played a lot nung February and March. [When we launched our EP], we broke Route 196’s capacity! (Laughs)
Of course, you’re playing Wanderland this year. How are you guys preparing for such a monumental gig?
Howard: Dina-draft ko na yung letter ko kay Benjamin Gibbard (frontman of Death Cab for Cutie).
Wanderland being a global stage, it’s great seeing international acts take our music scene seriously enough to drop by. What can you say about the local industry in this regard?
Howard: People say that nothing’s happening, but it’s the opposite. Madaming artists ang lumalabas and nag-bo-boom ngayon. There are artists who are able to record tracks on their own.
Billie: And the mainstream artists are a bit upset with indie artists…
Pappu: Because yung alternative na yung nagiging mainstream ngayon.
Billie: So kung dati kailangan mo ng record label to aggregate your mainstream media features, ngayon, yung mainstream media na yung lumalapit sa indie artists. It’s good kasi naririnig na sila ng madaming tao.
Howard: And I think people just don’t see that it’s blooming because they don’t go to places, but if you go around, they’re all thriving.
Any local artists you dream of collaborating with?
Pappu: Sa local, si Martin Nievera, but as a band? Gary V. Tapos yung sa ASAP…
Howard: Gusto naming yung kakantahin yung song mo tapos sasayaw sila along with it. Yung may dance number pa talaga!
Billie: Akin si Sarah Geronimo.
Howard: Akin si Ogie Alcasid. Pero kung ABS-CBN, si Gary V.
What about a guilty pleasure playlist?
Billie: My guilty pleasure song is “Dahil Mahal Na Mahal Kita” by Roselle Nava. As in! Favorite kong kantahin yun forever!
Howard: Gusto ko yung “Stupid Hoe” ni Nicki Minaj. I know… Pero hindi naman talaga guilty pleasure yung song kasi maganda talaga.
Pappu: Ako “Stupid Love.” Parang muscle memory ko na yun. Alamin mo lang yung first word ng lyrics ng kantang yun, alam mo na.
Have you earned yourself some groupies?
Billie: Yeah, we had Oh Flamin-girls. Mga friends din namin sila…but wala na din kasi silang masyadong time.
You all just graduated and have day jobs so I’m wondering how you find the time to keep Oh, Flamingo in flight.
Howard: This is our current struggle since we’re all transitioning into work…We’re not even transitioning, naka-immerse na pala kami.
Pappu: Kaka-graduate lang namin and halos kaka-start lang din mag-work, so last last year, ang dami pa naming oras.
Billie: But we manage to do the gigs naman. Struggling and managing. Yung tipo na papasok ka ng trabaho ng puyat tapos mag-gig ulit tapos puyat ka ulit, tapos maiipon na yung puyat mo. Sa weekend ka na lang makakatulog. Pagdating ng Sunday, akala mo tapos na, tapos may practice pa pala. It’s fun naman, but if we had a choice kasi, if our band helps us survive our lives and feeds us, we’ll drop everything for it. I’m not kidding. I can leave my advertising job any day.
To wrap it up, what are your top three goals this year?
Howard: Play abroad, definitely.
Pappu: Play abroad. Play sa ASAP with Martin Nievera! (Laughs)
Billie: Perform with Sarah G. To be Candy Cuties yung mga bandmates ko.
Howard: Magsulat ng bagong material.
Billie: Wait, sagutin natin in order. Ulit.
Howard: So una, play abroad. Second, magsulat ng bagong material.
Pappu: Yung material na makakakuha din ng same response from the previous one… pero hindi dapat parallel. Hindi yung parang inulit lang namin yung ginawa namin. Sana makagawa kami ng mato-top pa siya.
Billie: Pero yung pinaka-goal siguro is a well-balanced life.
Howard: Work, life, and band. I guess yun kasi yung pinaka-struggle namin as of now.
Billie: I don’t feel any pressure at all.