Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The word ‘rehab’ can mean different things in certain contexts. It usually means another chance for wayward sons and daughters to return to society with a more stable state of mind. Back in 1980’s-era Manila, someone you knew about was sent to it’s grim facility in Bicutan after getting busted by his or her parents. Hollywood party animal Lindsay Lohan has frequent flyer miles in the local “LaLa land” rehab center while trouble-addled singer Amy Winehouse sang about refusing to go but ended up checking in to Hotel California anyway.

In this particular case however, the ‘Welcome To Rehab’ phrase represents the latest production outfit to hit the active local rock scene. With a number of “prods” circulating the Metro and various cities around the country and each showcasing a certain sub-genre of Pinoy Rock, ‘Rehab’ boasts their roster of old-school hard rock, blues rock and reggae artists. Bands that have rocked the ‘Rehab’ shows include surging up-and-comers Kastigo and Powertone, hard rock heavies Monks’hood and E.R.F., classic rockers Holy Water, Timog and House of Ravens, reggae masters Coffeebreak Island and Reggae Mistress and power trios Reklamo and Hilera. Even Pinoy Rock veterans The Dawn have graciously lent their time and talents to give WTR some much-needed street cred.



As others would use a production outfit to promote their own agenda and personal ambition, ‘Rehab’s’ founder prefers to be anonymous. So, for the sake of identification in this article, I shall name this mystery person ‘X’. “I don’t want to take any attention away from the bands. Because it’s all about them and not about me.” says X. “A lot of people, including myself have been complaining about the state of Pinoy Rock and all these stupid ‘pogi rock’ and ‘emo’ bands all over the place and no one was really doing anything about it. I just decided to put my money where my mouth is.”

These particular groups of Pinoy Rock musicians have always been “nomads” or “rolling stones”. Satisfied with just playing anywhere they’re welcome and doing things on their own terms. The sole mission of ‘Rehab’ is to “rehabilitate” Pinoy Rock. To unify these artists and to give them a home where they discover fellow artists with similar tastes in music. This creates new friendships, mutual admiration and respect and maybe even collaborations that lead to interesting music. It also aims to give real Pinoy Rock fans a reason to come out of hiding and be part of a vibrant scene that has been absent for quite sometime. “The bands are starting to respect and interact with each other and that is a very good sign for things to come”, ‘X’ enthuses.





Started in February of ’07 and going full throttle since October, the ‘Rehab’ shows have streamlined into a venue of blistering musicianship and unbound genius. This is the house where the almighty guitar riff reigns supreme and where expressive (but not self-indulgent) guitar solos are encouraged. Where booming backbeats pound the stage and where the low bass frequencies shake your internal organs. Although there is a deep well of talent that’s ripe for the picking, WTR still have high standards with regards to whom they give a precious 30-minute set to. “We help bands who have high aspirations and who aren’t just some timid musical intellectual who wants to play somewhere other than his bedroom,” explains ‘X’. “Bands who want to record albums, promote their music and tour the country and beyond are the people we want to help out by giving them a stage to improve their craft. Everyone who’s involved with us already have recorded demos and even independently produced full-length albums or E.P.s (extended play).”

And the fruits have been evident. Kastigo and Reklamo were both nominated for the “In The Raw” category at the 2007 NU107 Rock Awards, where the latter won. Hilera won the “Best New Artist” award. Holy Water
marks the long-awaited return of hard rock riff-meister Mike Bewer. Kastigo continues to tour their debut album and get radio airplay without the help of a major label while other bands are setting release dates for their independent albums as well. “These bands need all the help they can get to succeed in this commercialized business and WTR wants to contribute in any way we can”, says ‘X’. “Hopefully, with our experience and their talents, we can put real, hard, classy, sticky and sweaty Pinoy Rock back on the map”.

Aside from the major developments that some bands have achieved, a lot of promising talent is also coming out of the practice studio and on to the WTR stage. “King Antares is a really good band as well as Cosmic Love. New reggae group Lady i has a powerful female vocalist that’ll blow your brains out. Dr. Mindbender are a great live band too and are so entertaining to watch”, remembers ‘X’. “I hope they stick it out and keep improving their music.”




With all this positive energy abound, is there any downside to all this? “The downside is really the work you have to put in”, explains ‘X’. “Contacting bands and their managers is a tricky thing when it comes to scheduling. Dealing with some venues has been frustrating especially with venue managers or owners who give me attitude but have no idea whatsoever about live rock music. Makes you want to crack some skulls sometimes. Sitting through at least four hours of loud music can be taxing on the senses as well. But all the bands have been great, with their attitudes and their work ethic. And the music that comes out of these bands is awesome. So it’s all very much worth it at the end of the day.”

So what does the future hold for ‘Welcome To Rehab’? “I just want to keep it simple for now and keep rotating a group of bands that I especially like”, says ‘X’. “I do hope that more fans would come out and support these new bands. It’s really about building up a strong scene, creating great music and promoting real, solid talent.” See you at the next doctor’s appointment.