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courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment, Philippines
©1996 Sony Music Entertainment, Philippines

Formed in 1990, Razorback the band began when two hormonally charged guitarists, Tirso Ripoll and David Aguirre, and drummer Miguel Ortigas decided it was time to get out of their respective locked bedrooms and start making a
racket in public. Joining the young axemen were vocalist Jose Mari Cuervo (no relation to the drink, though his singing had left viewers intoxicated), bass blaster Louie Talan (then and now the most reticent Razorback boy).

Early on, Razorback had a reputable following, thanks to their dense yet blistering live Performances. There's no escaping the twin-terror dynamics of Tirso and David, whose guitar-duo onslaught may recall the Allman Brothers or
Lynyrd Skynyrd yet remain a peculiar sight in the Pinoy music scene. Still, there's nothing like the intensity of the entire Razorbunch, their torrential noise initially making them do some time as a joint-shaking, in-demand fixture at the
then-thriving but now-defunct Makati club called Kalye.

As with most bands, Razorback at first helped themselves to covering memorabilia by their musical icons, in their case '70s monsters such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, and the Juan Dela Cruz Band. This just when
the so-called alternative music scene was about to explode, Razorback consequently becoming a genuine good-time alternative to the deluge of bands aiming to ape Nirvana.

As the '90s played on, Razorback amassed much experience, much music, much exposure, and much alcohol. Eventually realizing that they weren't a showband, these sonic swine began writing their own songs, their initial
attempts laden with the intensity that would've made their aural forebears proud. Incessant gigging and songwriting became the norm for the band members, resulting in such riff-rich originals as Tabi ng Bulkan, Giyang, and Pepe the Hepe. Yet, somehow mimicking the band's struggle to earn respect among their peers as well as themselves, it took five years for the first Razorback album to escape the slaughterhouse. Hebigat Sounds Volume One was ultimately unleashed, symbolic of a band that, after a long, grueling climb, has finally reached the mountaintop and planted this flag of theirs for all the world--or at least Philippine listeners--to behold.

Of course, as with any ascent, Razorback was not without bruises, damages, or at least changes. For one thing, before Hebigat even got out, Jose Mari had decided to ditch the rock 'n' roll lifestyle and consequently the band. Soon after
Kevin Roy took on the howling chores, Miguel the pounder split in March of '96 as well, opting to take a different musical direction. Razorback regained composure once Brian Velasco took over the skins, his background conform-ing
with the other members' pre-Razorback live experience: as in none. The ensuing years have also seen Tirso going from bemoustached and bearded to horribly beardless and back, Kevin having his head sides shaved for a fuck-it,
cooler-than-Butt-head look, David and Louie having their own tresses surprisingly shortened, and moreover, the whole band coming out of its classic-rock shell by digging what other wealth the world of music has to offer.

Their penchant for epic, can-you-keep-up-with-us performances found a handy outlet in their succeeding album, the more ambitious 1997 album Beggar's Moon. Clearly more confident than ever, the quake-inducing quintet were steadily showcasing their musical and lyrical strengths to the hilt, as well as manifesting a willingness to loosen up their minds and hands. The result was an array of tunes--Payaso, Munting Paraiso, Ikot ng Mundo, Of Hobbits and Pipeweed, and Goldenthroat: The Electric Mistress, among them--that conjure enough visuals to make Beggar's Moon sound like the soundtrack to some long-lost movie.

As the songs kept coming so did the gigs, which by then had taken the band not just all over Metro Manila but all over the country. Everywhere they played, the gang managed to compel viewers to headbang to their heavy grooves, not to
mention get viewers excited enough to pellet the band with a wild array of injurious elements. But while gigging comes naturally with promoting albums and songs, Razorback keep sweating it out onstage as frequently as possible
since a lull in playing would result in rusty hands.

Not only did their punishing perseverance pay off for them, Razorback likewise have also earned a reasonable dose of acclaim. Besides being among the more respected local bands, there's David winning the 1997 NU 107 Rock Award as Guitarist of the Year--an honor he personally shared with Tirso, no less--and Louie earning the Bassist of the Year Rock Award the following year. The mere fact that they remain under contract with Sony Music Philippines, which had released Beggar's Moon, is testament enough of these guys' repute.

Which brings us to their latest set of explosives, the 1998 album simply dubbed "Star". Compared to the tunes on Beggar's Moon, Star's are shorter, more concise and straightforward rowk-un-rowl. As the cover photo would suggest,
the album is full of fresh licks, as well as pummeling rhythms and melodies that alternately eschew the speed limit or tread slowly yet sensuously. From the get-go with the title track, down to "Tunay na Kulay", "Inflatable Love Thing",
"Firefly", et cetera, "Star" shows no mercy to the ears. What's more, the third Star single, "Voodoo, Who Do?" not only has an enjoyably sinister tone to it, it also boasts of the coolest video ever made in the Philippines.

Nine years later, Razorback have indeed become stars hovering over the Pinoy musical landscape, though they refuse to think so. They would rather be grateful for still rocking after all these years, counting boys and girls of different ages,
backgrounds, and even tastes for an audience. Instead of being status-conscious, they would much rather amass as large an audience as possible, by playing to as many faces and races in as many places as possible.

Not withstanding all the hardworking and hard-rocking years they've logged in, Razorback are still on the virtual road, on a continuing journey for the glory of music. By visiting the Razorback website, as well as by scoring any or all of
the band's recordings, and attending their shows whenever they're in your neighborhood, you join the band in that journey. They sure are glad to have you along.

Razorback Hebigat Webpage
2002 Razorboybaboy