Bamboo hopes to break 8-year album drought this 2023
While his duties as a coach and judge for the “The Voice Philippines” franchise have kept Bamboo Mañalac busy and visible for the past decade, not a few fans couldn’t help but wonder if a new album is finally in the offing for the singer-songwriter.
The last time Bamboo put out a full album was in 2015 with “Bless this Mess.” But it’s not because he has deprioritized making new music. He just wants to come up with something different in terms of production. And that takes time.
But the good news for his followers is that the long wait could very well end this year. “It should be soon … definitely this 2023,” Bamboo told the Inquirer in a recent virtual conference. “My band and I have been to the studio and started a couple of things already. Some are hits, some are misses. I’m looking for something different. That’s the thing.”
Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic did his creative process no favors. Some artists had to make do producing material remotely through digital means. Bamboo, however, couldn’t get fully behind it.
“I have held back because I didn’t enjoy the process of writing or releasing music in this space, especially during the onset of COVID-19. It just didn’t work for me … the exchanging of files and such. It would take you 15 minutes to do something you would normally finish in five seconds,” he related. “I needed to be in the same room with my guys.”
So, to keep his creative juices flowing, Bamboo was more than happy to lend his skills to other artists. “I have been collaborating with other musicians. Even if I’m not on my lane, I’m on another lane, working on other people’s projects. And it’s a great way to learn. It’s not your song, so you have to bend to their ideas and collaborate. It’s a great exercise.”
One such collaboration is his North American tour with fellow “The Voice Kids PH” Season 5 coach KZ Tandingan.
Show promoter Enteng the Dragon will bring the two OPM stars to Seattle, Washington on April 16; Palm Springs, California on April 22; and Sacramento, California on April 28. The tour continues with Bamboo performing solo in Chicago, Illinois on May 5; and Toronto, Canada on May 6.
“Touring outside the country is a different experience. Music is one of our flags and stamps as Filipinos, so that’s really special,” he said. “You also get to be with your group and fellow artists, and create a bond that ultimately affects the way you play music. And it’s a beautiful thing when the ball starts rolling.”
Putting together a setlist is always hard, he said, because he has an expansive catalog that encompasses hit songs from his former bands Rivermaya and Bamboo.
He also has two albums worth of material as a solo artist. “I have stuff from way back and newer stuff. There are things I have already done in past shows and concerts. So it’s about balancing it,” he said.
But one thing about Bamboo is that he always leaves room for surprises. He’s a spontaneous performer. And Bamboo has no doubt that KZ has what it takes to keep up—and then some.
“The highlight of the show for me is the unexpected. Once you put KZ and me onstage with a band, there’s chemistry. And we love doing things on the fly. We will let the people’s and the bands’ energy guide us,” he said.
“KZ and I take a lot of pride in our live shows. We know that, by the end of the night, the fans’ heart rates will be up. They will be sweaty. They will feel like they’re part of the show—not just watching the show. That’s something we will both bring every single night,” he added.
The 47-year-old rock star couldn’t be more excited about the resurgence of the live music scene. Because there’s nothing more humbling than standing in front of an adoring crowd.
“Seeing people’s support and energy is humbling. So it doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day or what, you have to give it your all,” he said.
In describing what it was like to be working with someone like Bamboo, KZ highlighted the former’s contributions to the local music scene, and how he paved the way for artists who don’t necessarily fit the traditional mold.
While that was heartening to hear for Bamboo, it’s not something he obsesses about.
“I don’t go to bed thinking about it. I feel like I’m starting out again. As a musician, it’s about moving forward. Every single time I do a song or an album, I’m like, ‘Will I be able to do something like that again?’ Will I be able to replicate that?’” he said.
And fortunately, he did, thanks to the people around him. “I’m lucky I was able to do it from time to time. But there are lots of people involved. It’s also about being with the right people who believe in you and push you… That’s one of the most gratifying things—gifts—of my job,” he said.
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