Flaunting lyrics that are – by self-proclamation – loud and twisted, Filipino band Boneyard Circus is quite the rare gem in a sea of generic pop. Band member Mr Bones is overwhelmed with emotion at the very mention of theatre and his love for drama does translate noticeably into their music. Torchbearers for discovering new genres flavoured with the distinct Pinoy vibe, they engage with Emaho in a discussion on the Filipino music scene and how playing outside of one’s comfort zone helps to keep the music fresh.
Emaho : What’s the story behind the band name?
Mr. Bones : It was my nickname as a child. It was going to be either Bones, Rabbit boy or Spikey. What name would you pick?
Emaho : Your debut album, Horror Scene, was extremely well received. Did you then expect that the band would get the amount of attention and fan-following as it is today?
Mr. Bones : It’s actually growing more than I expected! Real exciting!
Lipstick : Given the conservative nature of a lot of people in this country and the strong market for mainstream pop music, I really didn’t expect the amount of attention it got. I was pleasantly surprised.
Doc Chan : I think Horror Scene came out at the right time. The timing was perfect. Music that is somewhat new to the local listeners.
Emaho : Any hiccups in the way of recording the album?
Lipstick : The time constraints and tight deadlines were an issue. So many ideas, way too little time
Mr. Bones, you have in the documentary, Demystifying the Monster, mentioned a very interesting story behind how you got into music and how the band was formed. Would you like to share it with our readers.
Mr. Bones : Theatre…the love for theatre. My parents opened that world for me. Classicals! Spotlight! The band was formed with Juni (aka Lipstick; I’ve known him for years). Jammed with him a couple of times years ago. Few years later…I was like ‘Hey Juni…wanna start a project?’ (Winks)
Video Courtesy : Boneyard Circus
Emaho : The lyrics of all your tracks are (in your own words) loud and twisted. In one of your interviews, you also said that most of your songs are about bullying. Anything in particular that influenced you to write them?
Mr. Bones : I sing about bullying and heartache. Also, creating different worlds as a child. And yes, I did have an imaginary friend…actually I still do.
Emaho : Tell us something about the music scene in the Philippines and your take on Original Pilipino Music (OPM).
Lipstick : I think on almost every night of the week, you can find original bands playing somewhere. The scene is very much alive here. There are a lot of lovers and supporters that keep it going. Personally, I would like to see a change in the way new original acts get heard in the mainstream markets. I would love to see big companies taking more of a chance on up and coming acts, giving them a shot, putting more faith in the current local scene and giving them exposure, even before they become a hit. In fact, if they do this, it could be the very reason why they become a hit. Most just play it too safe here, which leaves little room for growth. Thank goodness for Jack Daniel’s going against the flow and putting faith in the new scene. We’re truly lucky.
Doc Chan : There are a lot of new bands with new sounds that have a very big potential to be heard worldwide. Now that the Philippines has became a destination for international artists, I think it’s also time for us to step it up and play outside our comfort zone. Jack Daniel’s gave us a chance to showcase our music outside the Philippines.
Jester : When the Internet was introduced, music here became liberated. Influences became wider which is actually a good thing. Unfortunately, some went down the wrong path. There was a trend of “remaking” foreign songs/music and categorizing it as original. But there have been others too. International influences were also gateways to new genres of music flavored with true Pinoy vibe i.e. passion, dedication and love. You can actually feel it. Now that’s original.
Emaho : Also, the Philippines was put on a black list last year over reports of rampant piracy, which has been a major problem in the country since the 1950s. What’s your comment on the piracy situation in the Philippines and in Asia? Have you ever had to face any problems in those regards?
Lipstick : Every band these days, including all major record labels, are affected by this, whether it’s noticed immediately or not. The biggest hit has been taken by the physical album sales. I believe it’s something that can no longer be stopped. So rather than trying to fight it, we have to start looking at it positively, and start being creative. We have to find ways to harness it and use it to our advantage. For example, it’s also free advertisement, a way to go viral. More fans are always a good thing.
Emaho : How would you describe the kind of music you make to someone who hasn’t yet heard Mr. Bones and The Boneyard Circus?
Mr. Bones : By simply saying: “ARE YOU READY???”
Lipstick : If you close your eyes and listen, you can see and feel it.
Jester : Explosive! Full of Emotion!
Emaho : Any one particular artist or band that you would say is a true “Rakista” in every sense?
Wolf :I don’t know. Unfair question. Difficult to nail one down. It’s like asking me which the best band in the world is.
Doc Chan : I think anyone who gives their 100% to their music, to what they believe in.
Jester : Pepe Smith is the epitome of Pinoy rock ‘n’ roll!
Emaho : What do you guys like to do other than make music? What are your individual interests beyond tours and releases?
Mr. Bones : A travelling cirque. And to be a good husband.
Lipstick : I love to relax and watch movies or a good TV series. Downtime is essential. I love being a homebody.
Wolf : I like spending time with my wife and kids whenever I get the chance.
Doc Chan : I enjoy making and editing videos and go to the beach to surf.
Emaho : Ups and downs are an intrinsic aspect of one’s journey. How would you say Mr. Bones and The Boneyard Circus has matured along the way?
Lipstick : We’ve gone through our share of ups and downs, fears and doubts, frustrations. Making it through these, no matter how clichéd the saying has become, does make you stronger. You learn where your weaknesses lie and you work on them. You find out what works and you use it to your full advantage. We’ve been through trials and somehow always came back on top, even better than before.
Doc Chan : The Circus had gone through a lot of ups and downs, both inside and outside the band. Personally, it just made the band, the family, and the Circus tighter, stronger and more professional.
Jester : We’ve grown in love! That’s what’s keeping us solid. So solid we can even call ourselves a family. That’s the secret I guess.
Emaho : With every album, you have successfully presented your listeners with something different and fresh. How easy or difficult is it to come up with something even better, each time?
Lipstick : It’s easy, because we don’t really try to come up with something better. Whatever comes out, is what comes out. If we personally get better, then automatically the songs are better. I’m sure if we went back in time, being how we are now, and we redid all the songs from before, I guarantee that they would all be better than before.
Doc Chan : I write my riffs depending on my mood. I only pick up my guitar once in a while, but every time I do, I create something new. And as Lipstick said, we don’t necessarily try to come up with something better. We just let what’s inside of us flow out. We have loads of songs piled up and it’s just a matter of when to release those songs.
Jester : It’s not easy, but neither is it very difficult. As long as what we do comes from the heart it always comes out perfect.
Your album, The Great Fall Into Madness, is in the pipeline. Tell us more about it.
Mr. Bones : It’s very, very different. The Great Fall is gonna be THE album. (winks)
Lipstick : Listening to it now, while I type, and I must say, I’m so excited about it. I can’t wait for it to be finally released. You’ll realize our growth as a band when you compare it to the older album. You’ll see and feel the madness!
Doc Chan : If you love Horror Scene, you’ll love The Great Fall even more.
Jester : It’s killer!
Photo Courtesy – The Boneyard Circus
Art & Culture Interviewed by Aditya Varma