Pariwara: Get lost in Ely Buendia and the Itchyworms’ latest collaboration

Never meet your idols, they say. That’s always a recipe for disaster. And yet when Jazz Nicolas, Jugs Jugueta, Chino Singson and Kelvin Yu, known collectively as the Itchyworms, got the chance to work with theirs, the result was a seamless unity of sound and an unlikely pairing that turned out to be really, really MFEO. Far from disastrous, the collaboration between the band and Ely Buendia spawned the song Pariwara, an ode to the often-misunderstood post-MFEO generation, who would probably call it #collabgoals. Well, it really depends on the way you look at it — it sings a different message to different people.

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Ely, who’s had an unfinished version of the song in his archives for quite some time, wrote it in the voice of a misjudged youth. When asked if he had ever been na-pariwara (lost his way), he recalls his own youth, saying, “Siguro nung bata pa ako. Ang naiisip ko lang yung time nung naglayas ako, but hindi naman dahil I did not know where I was going, pero I knew where I wanted to go.” The Itchyworms offered a different perspective. Jugs, in particular, has a more positive definition of the word, comparing it to being carefree. “Ang una kong pagkakaintindi is it’s a ‘you and me against the world’ kind of thing,” Jugs says.

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Neither sounding like the Eraserheads or the Itchyworms, but instead, a potent hybrid of their vocals, styles, temperaments, Pariwara could very well be, as Jason Caballa told Jugs, song of the year. And while anyone who’s lived for at least 25 years would immediately recognize the voice of Ely Buendia, the Itchyworms’ contribution — via LSS-inducing melodies, harmonies that are the aural equivalent of warm hugs, and a certain unpredictability that agrees with the Eraserheads tradition — is just as vital to the song’s spirit.

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The best part of digging up the collaboration’s origin story is hearing the Itchyworms gush over Ely right in front of him, and witnessing how the fan-“idol” dynamic is still very much present, with a generous helping of mutual respect — and sometimes, none at all. It was like hanging out with them, only we got to ask them the tough questions, like, will Ely ever actually join the band? That one was met with a roll of nervous (or as Kelvin says, nervious) laughter and a brief moment of awkward silence. But all is good — they’re actually friends. Here, Ely Buendia and the Itchyworms tell us the story of Pariwara and their dream collaboration.

GIST: How would you define “pariwara”?

CHINO: ‘Yun yung mga times na naging pasaway.
JUGS: For me mas positive yung definition, parang carefree.

Napariwara ka na ba?
ELY TO JAZZ: Kanina nawala ka papunta dito ‘di ba?
ELY: Lahat tayo at one point sa buhay natin, in search of something, either your identity or something that you want to be passionate about. Siguro hindi mo pa alam yung ginagawa mo, especially since inexperienced ka pa.

What’s the message of the song?
ELY: It’s rooted in some sort of relationship, either romantic or barkada. It’s like saying dapat intindihin ng adults yung youngsters, either ngayon or in the past, dahil mahirap yung proseso ng paghahanap ng identity and lahat naman tayo dumaan sa ganun. Intindihin natin yung mga kabataan ngayon. Tayo din yun. Dun sa song, we were speaking from the point of view ng kabataan, dahil nakaka-relate kami dun, putting ourselves in the shoes that we once wore ourselves.

So is it safe to say that your view on millennials is generally a positive one?
JAZZ: Our generation, sama ng tingin sa millennials, generally. Nakakatawa kasi, before, nung kami naman yung younger generation, naalala ko iniisip ko ‘Pag tanda ko hindi ako manlalait ng mga bata. Yung mga matanda kasi, hindi naman nila tayo ma-gets.’ Ngayon, may younger generation na na hindi din namin ma-gets. Kanya-kanyang panahon of not getting it ‘yan eh.
ELY: Pag tinanggal mo na lahat ng BS, pare- pareho lang naman talaga yung pinagdadaanan ng mga tao in society. Feeling namin with this song, we can give voice to the young people. Unfair din na bigyan sila ng ganung pressure
to conform to the standards na na-set na ng older generation. It’s basically about generation gap, we’re just singing about it in a different way. But it’s still an age-old problem and it will never go away, I think. This time, we’re siding with the new generation.

Ano yung pinapakinggan niyo nung kabataan niyo na hindi naiintindihan ng mga nakakatanda?
JUGS: Eraserheads!
(ELY: Talaga?!)
KELVIN: Nung unang pinakinggan ko yung Ultra di ma-get yun nung mga tito, tita namin eh.
JAZZ: Exactly! Pag nadidinig nila yung Ultra, sinasabi nila ‘Ano ba ‘yan? Bakit ang dumi-dumi ng tugtog na ‘yan!’
ELY: Galit na galit tatay ko sa new wave dahil hindi daw marunong kumanta. Nakikinig din ako ng konting punk noon, mga Ramones, Sex Pistols. Di nila ma-gets yun! Labo nga, kasi gusto ko naman yung trip nila, yung music nila.

How did you get into the older stuff?
KELVIN: Ako kasi naintroduce ako sa Beatles agad. Isa yun sa mga una kong nadinig na songs sa casette. In uence niya lahat halos ng music after niya.
CHINO: Iba din yung sounds ng parents eh. Pag napakinggan mo yun, ibang memory siya. Kumbaga sa movie, core memory yun na dilaw. Pag nahawakan ni Sadness nagiging blue. May sarili siyang space sa memory mo.

How did you feel when Ely said you are the “true heir” to the Eraserheads tradition?
KELVIN: Binayaran namin siya para sabihin yun.
ELY: Typo yun! True H-A-I-R dapat!
JUGS: Sa totoo lang, nung panahon na yun, di namin naisip na pwedeng mangyari ‘to.

So how did the collaboration come about?
JUGS: Kinulit ko siya nang kinulit hanggang pumayag siya. ELY: Naghahanap lang ng
panahon yun. Nung time na yun, hindi ko pa naiisip mag- collaborate with another band, especially sila. Kasi feeling ko masyado silang established na, ayoko nang manggulo pa. Wala pa kong naiisip na song na feeling ko bagay samin. This year, nung tinext ako ulit ni Jugs, asking about the song, may naalala akong song na nakatago. Umpisa palang yung demo, feeling ko na bagay samin. Kaya yun yung napili ko.
KELVIN: Tyaka matagal kaming nag-jam bago niyan. And way-way before in 1999, gumawa kami ng demo for the rst album sa bahay niya. At that time shinoshop namin yung mga kanta sa mga record labels.

What’s the best reaction to the song that you’ve received so far?
CHINO: Nag-tweet si Ogie Alcasid na nagandahan siya.
ELY: Tyaka meron din nagtwe-tweet na nakakarelate sila and naiintindihan nila yung meaning nung song, which is the best reaction.

Did you feel any pressure, working with THE Ely Buendia?
KELVIN: Sa simula, oo. Kasi nun palang kami magkikipag-work sa kanya in that capacity, na collaboration. Before kasi, siya nagproproduce ng demo namin. Hindi naman nervous. I just didn’t know what to expect — in a good way.
JAZZ: Ako mas na-nervous ako nung sinusulat namin ni Jugs yung lyrics — kung matritripan ni Ely. Kasi siya nagstart nung song and kami yung nag nish nung lyrics. At that time, hindi pa namin alam na tungkol dun pala yung song niya. Nalaman na lang namin nung interview na! Pero pasok pala.
ELY: Yung verse lang tyaka chorus yun
nun. Nung sinend ko sa kanila yung song, natatawa-tawa pa ko, na parang ‘Sige, tignan nga natin ‘tong mga to kung anong gagawin.’ Kung ako siguro yung magdadag sa song, di ko alam gagawin ko kasi mas madali yung meron na, tapos tatapusin ng iba. Mas madali yung trabaho ko. Madaming elements na kailangan isipin ang songwriter. Thematically dapat pasok siya, melodically, spiritually na rin. In the end, nung narinig ko na yung nished product… at nagdagdag pa sila ng bridge na sobrang ganda and kailangan talaga nung song. They did it with ying colors.

What was your reaction when you found out na pasok yung sinulat niyo?
JAZZ: Kilig! Nagtetext-an kami ni Jugs, ‘Nagustuhan niya!’
KELVIN: Ok din kasi alam na ni Ely kung anong gusto niya. Kaya pag may idadagdag siya, hindi vague na ‘Lagyan mo ng konting ganon…’

How do you stay true to your “sound”?
JUGS: Yung tunog namin nanggagaling sa tunong naming apat.
ELY: May identity naman na lumalabas talaga. Tanggalin mo yung isa sa kanila, magbabago yung tunog. Kahit magpalit siya ng drumstick, magbabago yung tunog. Madaming elements na nagcocontribute. And most of the time hindi pinag-iisipan ng banda yun. Unless yung bandang yun ay nagpipilit talaga na may katunog sila, which is a different matter.

What’s the first record that you bought?
ELY: Blondie, Greatest Hits
KELVIN: MC Hammer, yung may Can’t Touch This. Tapos unang CD na nabili ko, The Company “Everlasting Love”
CHINO: “Songs from the Big Chair” ng Tears for Fears
JAZZ: “Rubber Soul” ng Beatles
JUGS: First CD ko ata Eraserheads eh!

What’s your takeaway from this collaboration?
JUGS: Sali na si Ely sa banda banda namin!
ELY: Na may sarili silang style talaga. Nung sinabi kong sila yung heir, di ko ibig sabihing magkatunog kami. More on yung spirit with regards to their love of melodies and strong harmonies, yung creative arrangement. Out of all nung mga na-in uence ng Eraserheads, hindi talaga sila nanggagaya. May sarili silang voice. Hindi tulad nung ibang banda diyan.
CHINO: Gift itong collaboration na ‘to, para bigyan ka ng idol mo nang matagal na ng something. Dream yun ng ibang musikero.
KELVIN: Sobrang thankful ako na nangyari yung project and I’d like to do it again in the future.
JAZZ: Natuwa ako sa process ng pag-collab. Kasi parang may magic na nangyari na kahit ‘di niya dinictate sa amin exactly kung tungkol saan siya dapat, na-sense namin na ito yung dapat naming ilagay. Sabi nga niya, parang isang tao lang gumawa. Natutuwa ako na nagawa namin yun.

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Photos by DENISE VIÑA, Sittings by COCO MACEREN, Shot on location at Treskul Records & Café. Treskul Records & Café buys and sells records at CIFRA Building, 641 Boni Ave., Mandaluyong Ciy, tel. no. 234-5599.