By Tiny Diapana
WITH the crash and growl of urgent socialism, the hard-rock rock ‘n roll band Paltik stands as one of the fiercest lions of the Cebuano music scene.
Named after the Bisaya term for homemade revolvers, Paltik plays powerful riffs that shoot through the dead of night like true-blue guns of the South. In this day and age where riding-in-tandem killings have become the norm, the music played by Bang Bang (vocals, guitars), Julius Martinez (lead, bass guitar, drums), Nico Ybañez (Bass guitar, back-up vocals) and Intoy Corpin III (drums) is nothing but powerfully apposite to the temper of the times.
Congratulations on the new album! Many consider Paltik one of the established bands in the Cebuano music scene and we’re excited to listen to the new album “Kraka-Koom!”
It’s been a while since Paltik’s very first album “Here Come the Guns of the South,” which was released back in May 2013. What kind of sound can we expect from the new set of songs, “Kraka-Koom”? Have there been any changes in musical direction for the band?
First of all, I am not sure that you can call us an established band. I don’t even think a lot of people know us. I could say we’ve been here for long though since the band officially came together in 2004.
I think Kraka-Koom! is similar to Here Come the Guns of the South that it is still very much guitar driven hard rock sound. Three of the songs from the first album (We will be lions, R & R, What do you stand for?) were re-recorded and is now part of the Kraka-Koom! album.
The changes I could say would be that because our new guitarist Julius Martinez also contributed two songs on this album. Julius leans heavily into the influence of classic hard rock, straight up rock n roll styles of AC/DC and that is pretty evident in Kraka-Koom!
Whereas, I lean more on the melody-favoring rock n roll riffs of Led Zep or the Rolling Stones.
So it’s a good addition to the sound that we have now. I’d like to think that we are, in a way, flexible in the rock genre. It’s kind of like hearing a lot of hard rock -rock and roll styles in one album.
How long did it take to work on “Kraka- Koom!”? Do you have any interesting stories to share from the time you spent working on the new album? What’s the best experience you’ve had so far?
If my calculations are right, it took us five to six years to finish this second album. It’s been an interesting ride for us. I’m not sure it was the best experience or a happy experience. We had a lot band line-up changes since the first album. We were a trio back then and the original plan was really to make an album every year but the real world had other plans. Our guitarist from the first album left. Then Intoy Corpin our co-founder and drummer had to leave for other commitments after that. So there were really times when I did not know if I should pursue the plans for the band, because I was, essentially, alone.
I think the only positive side to this one was that Dexter Sy of Bomba Press wanted to produce our second album. This was a massive boost in morale and motivation to sputter on, despite and inspite of all the roadblocks.
I am really sorry if I can’t remember the dates anymore, but I kept on and started looking for new bandmates. That’s when Nico Ybañez came into the picture and he brought along Julius Martinez with him. But still we had no drummer.
We did search, but nothing stuck. Then Intoy had a change of heart and came back to the band. Then I think two years after Intoy’s return, he had to leave again because his family had to relocate to Samal Davao. So in the interim, we don’t have a drummer.
If I count it since the beginning, we had four guitarist changes, three drummer changes. The constant was only me. That’s why sometimes I feel like I can relate to Dave Mustaine with his line-up changes in Megadeth… hahahaha.
I made a lot of songs during those frustrating and doubtful times so at least something productive came out from that experience.
I was in this band when I was 27 years old, more than a decade later. I’m still here. I’m not sure if that is an achievement in itself but that is the reality.
What’s your musical process? Where do you draw inspiration to write and compose your songs? What kind of message do you hope to convey through your music?
I have to be honest about it, I am no guitar virtuoso so when it comes to my guitar riffs I usually just play around with either the bass guitar and acoustic guitar. And when I think the riff sounds good I immediately record it. After a while I go back and listen to the raw records and pick up a good riff and start developing it to a song. After the raw arrangement is done, I start putting lyrics.
Before my wife helped with me the lyrics but soon I also learned how to write lyrics on my own.
I get my inspiration from a lot of things because when I was writing these songs when my life went through a lot of changes. Personal problems or life experiences is always something you can take inspiration from. Then because I am always concerned with what is going around now with the country or around the world in general, I also try to share social commentaries through my songs.
I think different songs have different messages. Some have positive themes while some have negative vibes. I know I am supposed to be responsible to my audience and only write the positive-themed songs. But I think in order for me to also survive, I also need to express my negative experiences and create songs from them. So yeah, when it comes to the messages it differs from song to song.
“Kraka-Koom!” has already been released on Spotify. Are there any plans to release physical copies of the album? If so, could you provide a few details?
With the release of the physical copies, we are doing a little bit of it for now. The decision behind this is due to the reason that we are not convinced people are really going to buy our albums. We are not sure if our audience are the online streaming generation or the CD-buying types. So we’re not sure. I think in these times, it would make more sense for us to sell band shirts than a hard copy of the album.
The band has been around since 2004. What’s changed in the Cebuano music scene so far? Has the music scene changed for the better, or for worse?
I can see it either way, on the worst side of it is that a lot of bars that catered to and showcased local bands have closed down – The Outpost, Handuraw Gorordo, Koa tree House Lahug, Kahayag and Handuraw Mabolo before that.
I was hoping that Cebu would have an artists’ strip starting from Turtles Nest and ending at The Outpost. But that did not materialize. So these bars closing down was bad for the local music scene.
On the good side, opportunities have opened up because of the arrival of online streaming sites. We don’t have to rely on local radio to get our music heard at the start. We can just post our music online hopefully creating a buzz.
The reach of online streaming is also not limited to one’s locality, it can also reach a wider audience around the world. So it does have its advantages.
What does Paltik have planned for the future?
Our plans really depend on two things, first for a gig to happen. All the band members have to be in Cebu at the same time. Hopefully it’s going to happen this October when Intoy Corpin III, our drummer will be in Cebu around the last week of October this year. Hopefully our schedules open up and Julius and Nico will also be there because these guys also travel a lot because of their jobs.
The second one, for the long term, we are planning to make more albums and maybe release new material once a year. At our age right now and also geographical distance, we like to write songs than to play live.
If all goes well, I think between me and Julius Martinez, our guitarist, we can still make to four albums tops. Maybe if it is all said and done I can retire at 50.
For now, we hope for you to listen to Kraka-Koom! Maybe you can get something from it.