In ‘Anecdotes’ EP, indie band sings tales of the tragicomic and arbitrary
By Deneb Batucan
EASY-LISTENING tunes, thought-provoking lyrics, and a sound that could only be classified as their own, Snübear takes us to a trance as they get us hooked by the first guitar riff. Each of their songs has a story to deliver, enjoyed only in the listener’s mind. It’s a sound trip that’s hard not to like.
Composed of Kim “Aian” Tiangco (vocals, synth), Bobby Olvido (guitars, vocals), Miguel Saballa (drums, cowbell), Jud Sala (guitars, modules), Jeremie Lim (bass), Isser Libres (session bass), Dan Soco (session bass, sound engineer) and Paolo dela Victoria (session bass, sound engineer), the band was formed back in 2013 when they first graced the Cebuano audience with their music at the album launching of their sister band, Honeydrop.
Although the band has a distinct sound, their name is familiar to us locals. Snübear was named after the ubiquitous menthol candy that can’t be missed at any takatak vendor’s inventory. “It was Bobby’s idea, but he wanted it to sound a bit different since he likes to play with words. The name stuck and we went through with it,” shared guitarist Jud Sala.
Snübear describes their sound as “indie rock infused with synth, folk and funk.” Most of their songs are written by Kim, with the help of Bobby. “It’s easy to draw inspiration from random things if you can somehow connect them with your own experiences or twisted thoughts. Like the lyrics for ‘Crazy Maddy,’ our first single. It was written after I saw a fire truck pass by our neighborhood. I thought about what it would be like to get run over by one, and I let my mind go crazy from there. I finished the lyrics with Bobby’s help of course,” said Kim.
Drawing inspiration from the arbitrary nuances of life, Snübear focuses on telling the stories of these often-ignored subtleties that make up our every days. This is what their first EP, “Anecdotes,” has to offer.
“We imagine characters who often find themselves in tragic but amusing situations like Maddy in ‘Crazy Maddy,’ the stalker in ‘Out Comes the Darkness,’ and the panicked crowd in ‘Waves.’ These characters are the lifeblood of our first EP. The songs are their stories, hence the EP’s title,” said Jud.
To get an inkling of the band’s flair for the tragicomic, cautionary storytelling, the first line from “Crazy Maddy” goes, “Crazy Maddy thought she could outrun a firetruck,” then a few lines later, with an ironic sense of hope, exhorts “the fool of a girl” as she goes, “Higher and higher, oh you head for the top/ Sooner or later you’ll be mingling with the stars.” There are more of such evocative lines from “Anecdotes,” which the band launched to the public last June 27 at The Monastery. Apart from the three aforementioned tracks, the EP carries “You Heard Me Sing” and “Sierra Madre.”
As a self-managing band, Snübear keeps the chaos at a minimum when it comes to the creative process of song writing. Each member of the band gets to contribute creatively in their music. But as for other things, Jud concerns himself with logistics, while Miguel often does the artworks, like the album art for “Anecdotes.”
With story and sound combined, Snübear exudes confidence and chemistry, essential elements in creating good — if not great — music, the kind that eschews formulaic song writing, the kind that embraces a certain kind of madness that’s both baffling and beautiful. Perhaps “Crazy Maddy” was a song about the band itself, maybe not. But with such audacity and talent, there’s only one way Snübear is going — up, probably to mingle, as the song goes, with the stars. And that’s no cautionary tale.
Photos: John Ong