“Ngumiti kahit na napipilitan
Kahit pa sinasadya
Mo akong masaktan paminsan-minsan
Bawat sandali na lang…”
Who could ever forget this iconic Original Pilipino Music (OPM) classic from the 2000s that remains heartbreaking up to this day?
When I heard the band Join the Club perform their hit song live at the recent One Stop Record Fair, I stood there feeling nostalgic for a reason, and I’m sure everyone in the crowd felt the same way.
Hearing “Nobela” again after a few years evokes different emotions and memories as if it has the ability to bring its listener back to the good, old days.
The song’s lyrics personify poetry itself, and lead vocalist Biboy Renia wrote it masterfully and thoughtfully, gaining full control of the richness of the Filipino language even as this alternative rock song’s heart-wrecking melody and guitar solo will rouse a person further into despair. You’re not really heartbroken but it made you feel like it.
The band also played their hits ‘Bagong Panimula,” “Lunes,” “Dekada,” and a cover of Eraserheads’s “Pare Ko” to the audience, and it’s OPM rock at its finest.
Join the Club is a Filipino alternative rock band formed in 2001, back when they were students in the Conservatory of Music at the University of Santo Tomas. Two decades later, the group is as tight-knit as ever and still has more music to write and perform.
Twenty years strong
In an interview with SoundStrip, Renia shared that their respect for each other is what kept them intact and stayed this long in the industry. Recalling their times spent in college, he said that they dealt with each other’s “topak” (tantrums) and mood swings before they formed the band.
“Malaking tulong yung foundation na lumaki kaming magkakasama nung college kami,” he added. [It was a big help that our foundation was growing up together during college.]
Lead guitarist Migs Mendoza also looked back on their college days when they used to live with each other in a dormitory near their university, which he said strengthened their relationship as brothers.
“Kasi kapag magkakasama kayo sa isang apartment, magkakapatid kayo,” he beamed. [When you live together in an apartment, you’re like siblings.]
But during those 20 years spent together as a band, bassist Congie Lulu found it challenging to maintain the tightness of their group but stressed the importance of having passion.
“Syempre nandoon pa rin kailangan yung passion mo sa ginawa mo. Tuloy pa rin para ‘di magkaraoon ng ‘di pagkakaunawaan saka maging successful pa lalo,” he imparted. [Of course, you need to have passion in what you do. It should be continued so there won’t be any conflicts and to be more successful.]
From being the college students handing out flyers around the university belt to come to their gigs to announcing their shows within the country on their social media accounts, Join the Club stood the test of time.
These titos’ passion, true enough, has come a long way and they’re still proving that they are ‘OPM rock veterans.’
As the band matures, so does their take on love as reflected through their current songs. With the usual “hugot” songs about heartaches on pause, they are embracing a “positive take on love and appreciation” but with their trademark poetic lyrics filled with emotions and their nostalgic and distinct sound.
Recently, the band released a single titled “Going Home ’82,” which is about going home—to be back to that person you love. Fans should anticipate the band’s upcoming Christmas EP, following their single “Every Yakap Mo Pasko” released last year.
When SoundStrip asked, “Why a Christmas EP?” Renia answered that for 20 years, it’s already long overdue for them to release it.
“Gusto namin sa mga susunod na panahon, decades from now, meron kaming something to look back na gumawa pala kami ng Christmas songs,” Renia mused and that every year they would hear it, it’s something that they would celebrate. [We want for the coming years, decades from now, we have something to look back on, that we created Christmas songs.]
Although it’s a joy to ring bells to the songs, the band said “it’s a bit of a challenge.”
“‘Di siya yung compared sa normal songs, kapag Christmas [songs] mahirap,” drummer Mark Garchitorena added. [It’s not like compared to normal songs, when it comes to Christmas [songs] it’s difficult.]
“Parang ang dali gumawa ng Christmas song, pero mahirap gumawa ng magandang Christmas song,” Renia seconded. [It’s looks easy to create a Christmas song, but it’s difficult to create a good Christmas song.]
Since the start of September, the Christmas spirit can already be felt because Filipinos love celebrating the holiday. “Parang legacy for us na kapag naging successful yung paggawa namin ng Christmas EP, it would be like para sa ating mga Pinoy,” stated Lulu. [It would be a legacy for us that when our Christmas EP becomes successful, it would be for us Filipinos.]
Apart from this upcoming EP, fans can also look forward to their next full-length album next year, and to those who still collect physical copies, they will be releasing limited CDs as well.
Despite the changes such as the ease of releasing new music through singles and digital formats, the band is kicking it old school. They also have plans on re-releasing their older albums like Nobela and Gera ng Balarila on vinyl records.
Why vinyl? It’s because they grew up listening to their musical heroes like Eraserheads and The Beatles through physical formats and collecting them as well, Renia said.
“Lumaki kami ng analog [era] eh, so ako talaga, yung sense of possesion gusto ko talaga,” Renia shared. [We grew up in the analog [era], so for me, I like having a sense of possession.]
Renia also revealed that they started the band not because of money or fame, but to create music that they will enjoy and at the same time, quality music to contribute to the arts.
Join the Club is arguably one of the best OPM bands of the new millennium. With their genuine passion for music, exceptional songwriting, and musical talent, and with their songs resonating until now—masterpieces, their legacy is pretty much secure. Their own personal “nobela,” however, is far from over.
Image credits: Reine Juvierre S. Alberto