Filipino indie rock quintet SOS, formerly known as She’s Only Sixteen, has been on the scene for 15 years, and some listeners find out late that they’re a Filipino band.
On their TikTok account, most of the comments they receive are: “Filipino band pala kayo? Ang tagal ‘ko ng nakikinig sa inyo.” [You’re a Filipino band? I’ve been listening to you for so long.]
SOS pronounced as “sauce,” reintroduces themselves with their new single “Please Lang,” the band’s second Filipino song, following “Seryoso,” as their third offering from their upcoming EP ‘It Was A Moment’ under Careless Music.
“Please Lang” is a sad song hiding behind happy and upbeat backing music, which the band labeled as “sad kembot.”
It narrates the falling outs—the heated arguments and unresolved fights—in a once romantic relationship on the verge of a painful and inevitable split.
“Please lang, kumapit ka pa
‘Wag kang magpahalata
Na tumigil ang lahat at hinayaang mawala.”
A Tagalog song this time
Responding to SoundStrip’s question, SOS’s vocalist Robert Seña shared that what urged them to write a Tagalog song was when Ebe Dancel asked him during a bike ride in La Union why the band doesn’t have a Tagalog song, to which Seña admitted: “It’s because of [how] I don’t know to use metaphors in English the way I write and translate it into Tagalog without sounding cheesy or baduy.”
At first, SOS tried writing in Filipino with “Seryoso,” which Seña noted as a “fun and interesting process.” Because of that, they pushed themselves to write more Filipino tracks.
With “Please Lang,” all the band members aided in writing, arranging, and producing the song during one of their jam sessions at Bavarian Studios, their studio in La Union where they all stayed for a month to write their two upcoming EPs.
Puentespina recalled: “I remember stepping out of the studio. For a few hours pagbalik ‘ko, the four of them naka huddle up then sabi nila, ‘King, tapos na namin yung kanta,’” [For a few hours when I came back, they were all huddled up and said, ‘King, the song is done.’]
“Everyone came together to write and make a story out of it,” drummer King Puentespina said and added that among the stories in their songs, this is his favorite since it’s about fighting in a relationship. “Everyone has been through that so everyone just related so much to that song.”
Guitarist Andrew Panopio shared that each of them would give a verse or a line and would tease each other about the context of their fights in their relationships.
It usually takes them a week to write, bassist Anjo Silvoza said, but with “Please Lang,” it was already done before midnight.
“Kahit yung pinaka raw version niya, sobrang proud na kami [of] what we came up with. Ito na yon, tapos na to,” he said. [Even its raw version, we’re very proud of what we came up with. This is it, this is done.]
Keyboardist Ram Alonzo chimed in terms of the lyrics, “Please Lang” is more natural and conversational than “Seryoso.”
“While we were writing the song, I guess lahat kami may pinagdadaanan or [have] past experiences,” he said. [I guess we’re all going through something or have past experiences.]
Finding their voice
Silvoza said that for the longest time, it’s been a struggle for SOS to write songs in Tagalog that sound like them and not like other artists or anyone in the scene.
Panopio added that he’s excited about the band singing in Tagalog because they are in the process of finding their voice when they say things.
Despite taking new directions—from changing their name to singing in their native language—SOS is still the same old SOS. They still sound like the indie rock band that music listeners would follow in different music venues to watch their electric live performances.
“Wala namang nagbago sa sound. Nag-Tagalog lang ako,” Seña said. [Nothing changed in our sound. I just sang in Tagalog.]
“It brings more life to the band,” Panopio added.
For more and new listeners
SOS has been performing outside of the country with their recent one for Baybeats in Singapore.
Playing international shows, specifically in Asia, has always been the band’s goal since they started, but Seña admitted that they also want to tap into a newer market here in the Philippines.
Although their English songs do that as well, songs in their native tongue get more mileage here in the country, Seña explained.
“We want to introduce our band to new people,” Seña added.
Silvoza also wanted to reach more cities outside of Metro Manila to play shows and connect with them more. “We get ourselves out there in other countries and we reach more people here.”
Two EPs on the way
Three songs, namely “Seryoso,” “Roses,” and “Please Lang,” were made as singles as part of SOS’s two upcoming EPs titled ‘It Was A Moment.’ The band is still debating whether there will be two parts, volumes, or sides. Why two?
“It’s a logistical thing. A lot of modern music listeners barely have the attention span for albums although I want to make an album soon,” Seña said.
Ram noted that not all songs in their EPs are sad, while Silvoza added that there are introspective memories and coming-of-age themes as well.
Panopio said that listeners can expect the songs to have different vibes, emotions, and grooves, further sharing that a month they spent in La Union allowed them to explore new sounds and they are excited to share it with everyone.
The band revealed that the first EP will be released in February 2024, while the second one will follow soon.
Image credits: Reine Juvierre S. Alberto