“Nervous” is not a word that would readily be used to describe Jamir Garcia, soft-spoken vocalist of the rap-metal band Slapshock. But with potential international stardom on the horizon for the local group after signing with apl.de.ap’s startup label Jeepney Music, the frontman can’t help feeling like a newbie again, after 16 active years in the scene.
“Not everyone gets the chance to do something like this, so the pressure’s quite great. There will be a lot of expectations, for sure. We feel like we’re a new band starting over,” Jamir told the Inquirer at a recent dinner hosted by clothing brand Dickies.
Jamir said he and apl—or Allan Pineda—had been friends since 2006, when Slapshock opened for The Black Eyed Peas’ first Manila concert. Both Kapampangan, Jamir and apl hit it off; they have since kept in touch. They performed the official theme of the historical biopic “El Presidente” last year.
“[apl] was interested in our band from the start of our acquaintance. He said he knew right away that he would sign us, as soon as he got his label started. We really admire him for wanting to help the local music scene,” Jamir said. “I’m producing some songs for his coming solo album.”
Since the five-man band’s formation in 1997, Slapshock has released seven albums under PolyEast Records (formerly EMI)— the latest is “Kinse Kalibre” (2011). This September, or October, the band—composed of Garcia, bassist Lee Nadela, guitarists Lean Ansing and Jerry Basco, and drummer Chi Evora—is flying to the United States to start work on their international album, which will be released, tentatively, in the first quarter of 2014.
“Every band dreams of going international. I think now is the perfect time for us to pursue that dream, dahil hinog na ’yung banda,” Garcia noted, adding that they were the first local act to join Jeepney Music. “We’re very lucky to be able to share our music with the world.
Jamir said that they would collaborate with apl and tap other foreign producers and artists—hopefully including Shavo Odadjian of American metal band System of a Down. Jamir also told fans that the sound of Slapshock’s coming record would be different from its past efforts.
He elaborated: “The album, of course, will have all English songs. There will be some changes, but they’re going to be good. It’s a surprise! Now is the chance to explore new things.” He cited Korn, Limp Bizkit and Deftones as some of his strongest musical influences.
Asked if Slapshock would stay abroad for good, Jamir said, “No, we’re just going to the US so we can have access to the best possible studios, and work with new people. We’re not abandoning our loyal fans.”
While they experiment with new sounds, Jamir said they would continue writing about “Filipino sentiments.” “Being from a Third World country, I’m in touch with the people’s angst and anger. We’ll go on writing about things that affect our daily lives— love, hate, struggle.” That, Jamir vowed, was one thing that would never change about Slapshock.
He singled out the band members’ resolve to stay true to their music as the one thing that kept them together for many years. “We’re still here because we didn’t compromise by following trends—bossa nova, pogi rock, etc.,” he said. “Other groups in our batch have long disbanded, but Slapshock is still intact.”
Jamir knows only too well that the type of music his band churns out is not something everyone would understand or appreciate. But despite being dismissed by many as mere noise, metal, for Jamir, will always be one of the sincerest forms of music. “For me it’s silence, harmony. Metal is food for my ears.”