I have two vivid yet polarized memories of Pinkmen; one was back in 2017 when I just recently started attending gigs and I was lucky enough to witness them as a duo at Mow’s in Quezon City and the other was early 2019, with them as a full-blown, 6-piece, folk-rock outfit at the Newport Theater in Resorts World Manila. Personally, I found the former to be a sound reminiscent of television jingles and catchy hooks while the latter was more grounded and looming on psychedelia. Despite the drastic differences in their sound and lineup (which kind of confused me then), one thing seemed to stay the same. There’s always a certain charm emanating from Giro Alva and Matt Medrano in how they have conceived their repertoire, further strengthened by the addition of Mark Armas, JR Recla, Jed Zulaybar, and Manuel Baile. It was apparent in the group how contrasting energies seemed to coincide to give off a very interesting end piece; which seemed to have captured interest from Offshore Music, which had recently signed them in as one of their artists.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit down with the band, sifting through the years on how two became six, catching up on their current material, and trying to catch a glimpse on their future projects.
How did you form the duo?
Giro: We started in high school. I transferred to Matt’s school when we were sophomores then we met in a guitar ensemble class. He was a violin major and I was a guitar major in our special arts track, then eventually school events and projects led us to collaborate and make music. “Hanggang Sa Muli” was actually for a class play in Arts App.
Matt: So we basically formed the duo out of necessity in writing for school activities.
Giro: But that still wasn’t “Pinkmen”.
Matt: We just knew that the both of us had the most similar styles and tastes when it comes to terms with music given our influences.
It was apparent in the group how contrasting energies seemed to coincide to give off a very interesting end piece; which seemed to have captured interest from Offshore Music, which had recently signed them in as one of their artists.
Giro: The Beatles was one of our main influences, to be quite frank.
Matt: Then we went to college, and we were residing at literally both ends of the campus because we had entered different courses. We didn’t really get to interact much by then until we joined the UP Music Circle. In our sophomore year, we suddenly decided to join the UP Fair 2016 Battle of the Bands.
Giro: I have actually joined the Battle of the Bands from the year prior, then I decided to play the next year with Matt. We were eagerly waiting for it.
Matt: I was actually doubtful at first, because I never saw myself doing anything related to music when I got into college. I knew Giro was into it, he approached me with “ Let’s just do what we did in high school, I have a couple of new songs. Let’s work on it.” So we worked on it overnight.
Giro: We were actually allocated 15 minutes for 3 songs.
Matt: Though we only got to play our first song which was “Asked You To Dance” due to scheduling issues. But the crowd response was great then we ended up winning the night. Afterwards, me and Giro thought we could put it out and start gigging. At around April 2017, we added Mark, Baile, Jed, and JR.
How did you form the band, going from two members to six members?
Giro: It was outsourced. We put up a post on Facebook, and mostly our friends from UP Music Circle went on with it. We ended up having a ridiculous shortlist for it.
Matt: After a year or so of gigging, me and Giro felt like we needed to add more parts to our songs.
Giro: It was more of like, hearing the songs in a full sound and then wanting to realize the full sound with a live band. Back then, we never thought of it as if we would track our songs in a full band, we were more of into the intricacies of execution in a live performance. So if we wanted to play it live, we would need people to play it with us live.
Matt: We didn’t form the full band for the main purpose of recording, it was more for realizing our orchestral qualities. Having a duo is great, but there’s only so much you can do with two people. With some of our songs, we really had it in mind that there are more parts to it than just two guitars.
How did you conceive the name “Pinkmen”?
Matt: A few days before UP Fair, we still didn’t have a name to have on the poster for the event.
Giro: It was a time where I was so into Breaking Bad along with me reconnecting and bonding with Matt. We really couldn’t come up with a name, and we saw other bands using pop culture references for their names.
Matt: So we tried to look for an interesting name in Breaking Bad, something that would stick. So we thought, “Hey, Jesse Pinkman! Pinkmen.”
Giro: What’s weird about it was on UP Fair the original name of our duo was “Pinkmen of Epiphany”.
Matt: You’ll actually see that in the pub. But it was such a mouthful to say. It was also starting to become a struggle to pronounce. Our parents suggested to shorten it to just “Pinkmen”.
Giro: It came to a point that despite telling everyone its “Pinkmen of Epiphany” they’d come back at us calling it just “Pinkmen”.
Matt: It’s never really about the color pink. Although when we play our shows, we like to have the color in our outfits for fun.
What are your influences?
Matt: For now, our sound is basically a combination of everyone’s influences. For me it’s Simon and Garfunkel, Don McLean, and James Taylor.
Giro: The two of us are more on the same side of influences along with Mark. So as for JR and Jed. Then there’s Baile.
Matt: We really come from different musical backgrounds.
Giro: Though in terms of techniques, it’s still noticeable how deeply rooted we are to are influences one we play for the band. We’re a fair mix.
Matt: Actually, when you listen to “Asked You To Dance” back then, it was really different to what it is now. We were even struggling on categorizing what genre are we in, because before it was more folk-psychedelic but now its like more pronounced folk-rock given the addition of influences from the other members.
Matt: It’s never really about the color pink. Although when we play our shows, we like to have the color in our outfits for fun.
Jed: For me my influences are kind of eclectic; a mix of Southeast Asian and East Asian music. Hence, my input of ideas towards the arrangements might seem to be quite unusual given the outsourcing from foreign material.
Matt: For JR, he is influenced by a lot of rock. It’s very apparent when you listen to his other band, The Cupcake Alliance.
Giro: It’s like Giniling Festival, but a bit softer.
Matt: For Baile, what are you into Baile?
Baile: Jacob Collier! [laughter] But really, my input is that I just like to put interesting things in the song. I just like putting stuff in that pisses off Mark.
Giro: You’re doing your job well! [laughter]
Matt: When it comes to music, Giro, Jed, and Baile are responsible for mixing non-standard things into the band. Me, JR, and Mark more or less play within the standards.
JR: It’s because I have no choice! [laughter] As a drummer I have no choice!
Giro: That’s what’s actually hard about it! Because we wrote the songs in the format of two guitars and in the process of arranging the songs with a band, there is a play between serving the song and giving spaces for each member to shine.
Matt: Despite having very varied influences, I’m happy we had come to terms that we had figured to declare the band as a folk-rock-psychedelic outfit.
What is your current songwriting process?
Matt: As Giro had mentioned, we’re still playing the songs we made as a duo but right now were recording it and we haven’t had really much time to sit down and make new songs. But we’re working on that. How it has been so far is that we have demos as a duo, then we pitch that to the band then we rearrange it again. It still follows the major arrangements but the parts come in once we pitch it to the band.
Giro: Its really how we lay everything all over the first two parts.
Matt: We just jam it. Then we wait for something to form.
Jed: Basically we give each other space. We try to put out a democracy amongst ourselves throughout the process. We try our best to give everyone a chance to have a certain input in every song.
Matt: Based on experience, when we tried working on a song that already had a vision and was being dictated all throughout, it just didn’t work out.
Giro: Exactly! Unless you record it as a finished product then you make the band listen to it. If every part is already intact and exact, it just might work. But now, our songs still go through the cycle of pitching it to the band because we have no idea how to do it past being a duo.
JR: Over time we just figure it out.
Matt: Remember for our first three songs, “Hanggang Sa Muli”, “Asked You To Dance”, and “Rocketman”, we got those down pretty fast.
Giro: Those were easy “band” songs. The elements of the song make it easier to execute from a duo to a band. It can work both ways. But there are still some songs we wrote that we’re still trying to figure out how to arrange for the band so that it’d seem expanded but still loyal to its original form.
Matt: That’s basically the process. It usually originates from me and Giro. We’re currently working on songs from Mark and JR. As long as someone has an idea, they finish it themselves, they pitch it to the band, then the band finishes the final product.
Giro: It goes the same for the lyrics. Just like me and Matt then, we try to work the syllabication and pronunciation of the verses. We were very particular with the words we put in the songs.
JR: We even got to a point when we wrote a song that was half finished and we just had to fill in the blanks in the future.
Matt: Looking back, sometimes there are parts we find too cliche. So then we actively try to “make from the mold” as we dont want it to fall into a category that people usually hear or are used to hearing.
Giro: It’s a conscious effort.
Matt: We want to bring something new to the music scene.
Jed: In every approach towards every part of the song, we always try to bring in something unique. We always try to balance out the paradox of having a song that is catchy and interesting.
What are your plans for the future? Any following releases?
Matt: The most immediate one is on May 25, it’s our double single launch at SaGuijo, Makati. Were gonna have two new songs out for digital release. Past that, were just trying to record what we have now, along with putting out music videos. There are a lot of singles coming out soon.
Giro: That’s the current bulk of the work we have now. We don’t want to put out the whole thing in one shebang.
Matt: By nature, the songs are their own kind of unique piece.
Giro: We don’t want the songs to all sound the same, but there is a very noticeable repeating style to it when you listen to it collectively.
Matt: We just don’t want to end up playing a 30-minute set that ends up as just white noise.
Giro: We’re really trying to put out music that people would listen to and would pay attention and digest it. We don’t want to put out catchy songs that you’d just passively listen to because you have no other choice. We want our audience to find the songs catchy and actively listen to it. That’s our goal.
Matt: Going back, so we’re gonna put out individual singles separately because we find them to be their own individual stories. So now there’s “Hanggang Sa Muli” and “Your Name” and later in the year we might put out “Mary Ann” and “Rocketman”. We’re also working on new material, but we’re still not sure if it’s going to be an EP or an album. Along with the singles, were also planning to put out music videos along with it, so you have to watch out for that.
Pinkmen Presents: “Your Name” & “Hanggang Sa Muli is set to happen on May 25 at SaGujio, Makati as a back-to-back, double single launch. To hear more from them, you can stream “Asked You To Dance” on Spotify.
Watch the band’s latest music video Asked You To Dance below:
Rejected? Samedt.May music video naman kami.———————————————-Like & Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram@pinkmenmusicph———————————————-Stream "Asked You to Dance" by Pinkmen, released under Offshore Music! Available on all major streaming platforms.Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2t8HLNQ———————————————-We're launching back-to-back singles on May 25, 2019 at saGuijo Cafe + Bar Events! Don't forget to RSVP!Pinkmen Presents: "Your Name" & "Hanggang Sa Muli"!For bookings & inquiries: Ricardo Recla / +email@example.com———————————————-Directed by PinkmenProduced by Offshore Music and PinkmenDirector of Photography: Dayne GarciaEditor & Colorist: Anton AysonSpecial thanks to:Cyd RedelosaRene PrincipeGabriel Angeles Rene Austria & Backup DancersKuya Guard#AskedYouToDanceMV#PinkmenFolkingRocks#OffshoreMusic
Posted by Pinkmen on Monday, May 20, 2019