Monday, April 27, 2009

30 Years Of The Jerks

30 years. What already seems to be a lifetime in human years is practically a millennium when converted to band years. Most bands don't even make it to 3 years and you'd be considered lucky if your band lived to be 10. For Pinoy rock veterans The Jerks, who celebrate their 30th anniversary as a band this year, it's just another day at the office.

Formed by Chikoy Pura in October of 1979 , The Jerks came in during the final years of Martial Law. A time of social and political unrest in the Philippines. The "peace & love" hippie ideals of the past decade succumbed to the frustration and angst of the turbulent early 1980's. This was the time when music from bands like The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash fueled the hearts and minds of the new generation.

They have been thru five presidents, two revolutions and countless coup de 'etats. They've seen hundreds of bands come and go and thousands of rock fans singing along to their music. With the release of their 1994 album, "The Jerks Live!!!" and their self-titled opus a few years later, this band has produced some of the most compelling Pinoy rock ever heard. Classics like "Sayaw Sa Bubog", "Reklamo ng Reklamo" and "Rage" have already reached anthem status.

Founder Chikoy Pura answered a few questions about what the band has been through, where it is now and where it is heading.

The Pinoy Rocker: When you started the band, did you ever think you’d still be playing in the same band after 30 years?

Chikoy Pura: No, we weren’t counting the years. It’s basically a one-day-at-a-time affair for us.

TPR: What directly influenced you to start a band?

CP: I used to be a solo performer when I started out so I wanted to try performing with a band.

TPR: What was the atmosphere of the country and Pinoy rock music at the time you started?

CP: Being a rock musician in those days was like being a pirate. Some people would hate you because you were different while other people would love you for the exact same reason.

TPR: Where did you play your early gigs?

CP: Bars like TGIF in Morayta, Shakey's Taft Ave., Bodega 1 & 2, ON Disco and Olongapo.

TPR: What was the scene like?

CP: It was Electric!!

TPR: Who were the other active bands playing at the time?

CP: Pepe Smith, Chaios, The Wuds. There were lots of bands then and some remnants of the Pinoy rock phenomenon of the early 70's were still playing.

TPR: What was the reason for 15 years to pass before you recorded your first album, “The Jerks Live!!!”?

CP: I guess we were more into our regular gigs. We came in at a time where record deals were hard to come by, especially for a rock band like the Jerks. The bands of our generation were more focused on the live performance rather than recording.

TPR: Why did your first studio album, “The Jerks” come later?

CP: Personally speaking, it's not my priority to make albums. Making albums is just another option I can take but it's not a priority.

TPR: Do you have any recorded material (EPs, demos, bootlegs) before then or since?

CP: Yes there were a lot of compilation albums that we shared with other artists. Most of which are campaigns.

The Jerks performing the obscure "VFA".

TPR: Being a political artist is a unique position to be in. What made you decide to include your political and social beliefs in your music?

CP: Maybe because I’m just one of those people who believes that music is not just for entertainment but also has the ability to liberate.

TPR: After 30 years are you still politically and socially driven when it comes to your music?

CP: Definitely.

The Jerks performing "Nukleyar"

TPR: Do you have any new material and are there any plans of recording a second album?

CP: Yes, maybe.

TPR: Will you be active in the upcoming Presidential elections next year?

CP: No. I believe that elections are the last thing that we need. We need something more radical.

TPR: Are you giving your support to any one potential candidate?

CP: No.

TPR: With ¾ of The Ramones and Joe Strummer not with us anymore, is punk rock dead?

CP: No.

TPR: Since you started in 1979, you’ve seen the Pinoy rock scene go through its different eras and stages. What do you think of its overall state in 2009?

CP: It’s all about business now.

TPR: Have you taken any interest in any new Pinoy bands/artists that have come out recently?

CP: There's so many of them. It’s all a blur to me.

TPR: What is The Jerks’ most memorable gig?

CP: The first night we played at TGIF in Morayta, back in ’79. I thought ” these guys are good”.

The Jerks performing "Sayaw Sa Bubog"


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