"I didn't like the name but it doesn't matter. They played great band music." - Nina Araknida Sunstar, Flip / September 15, 2002
"Few rock bands in town could stand at the crossroads of a dynamic and evolving music scene and knock down the high walls that divide music genres and audiences with as much success as Sheila and the Insects. " - Ronald P. Villavelez Yup!, Issue 1.03 / November 2001
"Sheila & The Insects’ music is new wave-influenced post-punk rock music that is considerably heavy yet still melodic " - Cris O. Ramos Jr. The Manila Times / May 31, 2003
"What does an indie band do with the oft-maligned mix of rock and new wave? In the case of Cebu-based Sheila and the Insects, plenty." - Ganns Deen PULP , PulpReviews / Issue 13, March 2001
I have neglected this blog for too long that I don't know where to start.
I was surfing for content on SATI and stumbled on our old blogs. Dang, was I surprised that this was all still still up. I half expected that blogdrive did not exist anymore.
I guess it's a good thing for this is the closest thing we have to a documentation of our story. Yes, the band is still around and we're working on new material. We're not as active as before and we've chosen to be very selective of the gigs we play.
It's a new year so I guess I'll get back to writing for the blog again. I'll take it slow. I'm rusty and do I know it.
My account's been deactivated because of inactivity. So posting a quick update to temporarily correct the problem.
Am struggling with a respiratory infection for the last few weeks. This has me worried because we are opening for Moonpools and Caterpillars this April 9 at The Outpost. I should be fine by then as I've been taking new meds.
I'm not yet 100% but I'm getting there.
I'll be meeting with the band later tonight to work on some new songs, although we skipped booking the studio because I don't have a voice. Would have been a waste of studio time. We'll just work off of our recorded jams and work on lyrics.
Sheila and the Insects will be playing in Saguijo on the 31st of July. That’s two Saturdays from now. Jerros is still in Manila reviewing for the bar exam which is why the band hasn’t been doing any gigs of late. This special gig though is all Kate Torralba’s idea. And it’s all happening despite the logistics of flying in a band from Cebu for a small-venue one-night-only event. It’s hard to say no to an old friend.
Kate used to play for Hard Candy, one of the mainstays of the Cebu underground band scene back in the 90’s. Together with Frank! which was fronted by Franco Reyes, currently of the superband Franco, we’d do the rounds of the small clubs. We even did a short Visayas tour with all three bands together.
Gigs and corporate sponsorships back then were rare and far in between, so that tour and others like it were important milestones for us struggling acts back then. Hard Candy is no more but Kate still performs occasionally as a solo act in between her current full-time gig as a fashion designer, and you can catch her on the gig as well. For Sheila and the Insects, we’re still around although we’re not the full time band we used to be. Gigging only when it suits us, which is a luxury of choice I rather enjoy.
The band Franco, with its dream lineup showcases Franco Reyes’ talents that Cebuanos have always known about. He’s like Cebu’s best kept secret all these years. The only surprising thing really for me is why the rest of the country took this long to notice. Too bad his band won’t be making an appearance for this gig, that being Kate’s original plan. But I won’t be surprised if he shows up. This, after all, will be like a reunion of sorts for the indie acts that did the rounds in Cebu’s celebrated music venues like Artist Dais and Ribo’s Party Central.
Right now, the thing we badly need to schedule will be the band rehearsal, which we’ll have to do in the afternoon before we play. We’ve no choice on this considering Jerros is temporarily Manila-based. But we’ll make do with what we can. The circumstances aren’t ideal but it’s all pushing through in spite of the hitches. The plane tickets have been bought already so it’s all a go.
Now if we can only get a crowd to come see us. This after all, would be like only the 3rd or 4th gig in maybe less than 10 for us this year. So please pass the word and hope to see you guys there.
We had to pause our studio recording at 11:30pm last week. To avoid having our vehicles towed for overnight parking by the roadside, we had to move them before midnight to a pay parking lot. But we came back right away and finished the rest of the beer and the bass tracks. We called it a night after Wesley finished recording his tracks for “Blind” and “Pretty Loser”. The guys are all done, except me.
I need to do my vocals and guitars which are scheduled for tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have enough energy to finish both in one session. Which is why I’ve decided ahead that I’ll be doing my vocals first that being the more strenuous task. At times like these, I stock up on pei pa koa.
Here’s a useless factoid: for the song “Pretty Loser”, we used a metronome as a guide track set to 122 beats per minute. For the song “Blind” though, we used 128 and 130 beats per minute depending on which part of the song. It took us a while to construct a tempo map but that felt like the best way to approach the project. For the singing parts of the song, 128 was just right while for the instrumentals, 128 was just a tad bit too slow, hence the compromise.
You probably won’t hear the difference when you hear the song played in its final form. For one, it sounds so natural. In fact, when we play the song live, we have a natural tendency to speed up on the instrumental parts. If anything, it should make the song sound more organic, subtle the effect might be.
After what seemed like ages, SATI’s finally going back inside a recording studio to record new material. We’re starting tomorrow at Zzubo with Paul Cañada manning the boards for us. Paul worked with us on the last single we released which was “Softly” for the Apo Hiking Society tribute album.
For tomorrow’s session, we’re mainly going to concentrate on the drum tracks for the singles “Pretty Loser” and “Blind”. I wrote the former while the latter is a band collaboration. Jerros will be leaving next week for his bar review and will be gone for maybe half a year which is why we hurriedly scheduled a studio session. With him away we’d end up in forced hiatus. But with his drum tracks in, the rest of us can work on the songs in the studio without him. At least there’s progress.
Wish I could say when the songs will be available for the public. To be honest, we haven’t planned things that far just yet. There are some plans afoot though to do a special single release but we’ll get to that when we get there.
I’m personally happy the way our song arrangements ended up. We’ll see how it all comes together though in the studio.
We’ve been struggling of late to finish arranging our two new songs. We are not motivated enough -- that is probably the simplest explanation of why we can’t seem to finish the last mile. If and when we get the chance to be in the studio together to work on something, we end up free jamming instead of consciously working on our compositions.
Nothing wrong with having fun, but when we do that too often enough without regard for goals and a timeline, we end up suddenly realizing it’s been roughly a year since we got back together and we still haven’t played any new material at all.
Which I surmise is why we’re not at all motivated to play gigs of late, but then that’s a different thing.
Hopefully, that will change with our commitment now to shoot for Tambayan sa Outpost this March. One of our goals is to play a couple of new songs for our episode. That plus the fact that we have to start recording before Jerros leaves for Manila for his board review in a few weeks adds to the pressure.
So how are our new songs doing? Let me put it this way: if our lives depended on it, we could probably play our new songs on a live set. Meaning if, and only if, we absolutely had to would we play them in public. But we’re just not comfortable with our tentative arrangements just yet. We’re not happy so we can’t debut it.
Then again, maybe we’ve been at them for far too long that we can’t see them for what they probably are already – good songs. Or then again, they could just be crap that took us a long time to morph into better arranged songs but still crap.
I lose scraps of paper that I write notes on. Writing on a table napkin while having lunch doesn't work for me either. It's highly likely I'll forget about it and it ends up forgotten in the laundry bin inside my jeans pocket. To eventually end up as a wad of pulp.
Better to record works in progress in the cloud that is the internet. You can't lose it once it's posted. Unless you intentionally delete it. That or a terrorist nuclear attack annihilates the city block and the data center where this site is hosted.
Laundry detergent is a very real creative inhibitor, believe me. More real than a rogue can of plutonium inside a tourist's backpack. Sorry Jack Bauer.
So here it is, posted as a blog entry -- tentative lyrics I've been working on in my head. Yes, in my head. I rarely write lyrics with a guitar. I don't know why. It seems to work better for me.
If you wanna tell me lies all night
Alarm bells ringing, oh no, oh no
You wanna be my girl, tonight
Alarm bells ringing, oh no, oh no
This is what my mother warned me of when I was growing up
This is what my mother warned me of
I know, I know, I know, I kno-ow-ow
Don't be alarmed, girl
I know what I'm doing
Don't hesitate, girl
I know what I'm doing
Eyes on you
I got my eyes on you
I can’t get rid of the Curtains and Trims jingle from head. It’s been playing on loop mode. If you’re from Cebu, you know this jingle and you understand how annoying it gets. They should use it in Guantanamo Bay since waterboarding is no longer an option for them there. Not as violent but just as effective. Prisoners will tell all or beg to be killed and be spared from such a torturous never ending audio loop. Or they might suffer permanent brain damage, whichever comes first.
We didn’t stop to rest after Sonic Boom because we had to drive straight to the airport for our return flight to Cebu. The exhaustion finally caught up with us after the check-in ritual. After finishing a styrofoam bowl of the most expensive Lucky Me instant noodles at P89, all three of us ambled towards the lounge area near our gate, laid down and promptly slept. Or at least tried to.
The booze and the rush of the performance blurred my memory of the gig. I remembered the set though -- Lemerson, Maude, Everyday Drive, then we closed with Quick to Panic. Someone held up a sign asking us to play Happenstance. We didn’t practice that one though so we couldn’t oblige. And we had a four-song cap.
We’ve been away for so long that I had forgotten how it felt to be up there on the stage. The lights burn you to melting point. I would close my eyes, not to feel the rush of the moment but to fight the sting from my sweat. If it didn’t make me look stupid, I’d wear a sweatband around my head during gigs, like when I play basketball.
But other than weak monitors and strong lights, I couldn’t complain. The gig was well worth the quick trip. (I counted us staying only 15 hours total in Manila – not even a full day) I think the crowd enjoyed our set. I know I did up there. Our biggest thanks to Alex Lim’s production for inviting us and putting up one rocking show. Special thanks to Gino also for driving us around town and for the Count to Ten sampler. Thanks also to Louie for inviting us to Darkus Nights. Turbo Goth blew me away. Too bad we couldn’t stay to watch the rest of the bands.
Hopefully before the year ends, plans push through that SATI gets to do a few smaller gigs over a weekend. The intimacy is different for bar gigs, not better, just unique. A big plus -- the lights won’t be as harsh.