What keeps the ‘heart’ of a band like Moonstar88 beating all these years?By Joseph R. Atilano
Interestingly enough, Moonstar88, despite being part of the local scene–on and off–for more than a decade, still has a timeless appeal about them. So much so that most listeners and music aficionados do not feel that this veteran band is an “old act” to watch or passé to listen to when compared to newer bands that have started to make their own marks.
Even with the change of lead vocalist a couple of years ago, they still have managed to keep that signature “Moonstar88 sound” about them and not lose it over time. That is one reason they have kept a loyal following to this day.
Furthermore, the members of Moonstar88 have band chemistry. I believe it is because the old and new members all share some similar personality traits which has generated to the harmonious working relationship among themselves. Herbert Hernandez, Maychelle Baay, Pao Bernaldo, and Bon Sundiang all seem to have a goal in mind and that is to continue their band’s existence in delivering quality sentimental and inspired love songs that are uniquely and undeniably OPM at heart.
I already had a good impression about them years ago and this perception of mine was further cemented in my mind when I was lucky enough to be able to interview Moonstar88 a few months back. During that interview, I found them to be forthright and sincere in their answers and very professional in every sense of the word. And there is a palpable “warmth” about them which to me represents musicians who have a clear understanding of their purpose–of why they are here and why they are still making music together.
Coincidentally, each time Moonstar88 released an album and in between the years that they didn’t do so, significant events did unfold in the local scene. FM stations that had strongly supported the local scene are now defunct or have been completely reformatted to the point that you feel their original format had never existed–with DJ’s then who were knowledgeable and passionate manning the booth and playing music that people actually wanted to listen to. Now, when you listen to these reformatted stations, you would hear senseless banter and shameless boisterous laughter from these “goof ball” radio DJ’s who seem to have nothing informative or of value to contribute to the listeners who would have actually–and “sana” –have learned a bit or two from them. To add to the blow, a few long time establishments have closed, and major bands have ended their run, as well.
But on a more positive note, while some things have changed for the worse in the local scene, one of those things that have remained constant is an inevitable new studio-release from bands like Moonstar88. Whether it would take 2 or 5 years in between new studio-releases from the acclaimed and respected local band, they have remained consistent in always coming back and returning with a brand new record for everyone and not just for the hopeless romantics. I, for one, am glad that Moonstar88 is still around and I hope they continue to make music for many more years to come.
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