Of all time.

Now let’s just take a moment to really understand what that phrase means.

To be honest, after decades of being a fan of music, I’d only hear – or use – that phrase whenever I’d get drunk with like-minded aficionados, and go back n’ forth with ‘em, playing stupid question-and-answer games in between gulps of alcohol; it was sort of to get an idea of how both their music tastes and minds were wired: top five songs of all time, top five vocalists of all time, top five opening lyrics of all time, top five side-ones-track-ones of all time… I’d be like Jack Black in that movie High Fidelity – equal parts life-of-the-party, equal parts asshole: in fact, I was a little more interested in refuting other peoples’ choices and calling them complete morons – but ultimately, I never felt the need for any of it to be taken seriously. It was all just in good fun.

Yet recently, the phrase “of all time…” took a more serious, pride-filled and justified tone as indie pop-alternative group DECEMBER AVENUE cemented itself in the annals of local music for having the “most-streamed album of all time,” as cited by online music platform giant Spotify for their 2019 release Langit Mong Bughaw, garnering (count ‘em!) over 720 million views to date. The band – comprised of vocalist/guitarist Zel Bautista, guitarist Jem Manuel, bassist Don Gregorio, drummer Jet Danao and keyboardist Gelo Cruz – didn’t know it then, but the release would be the turning point wherein they’d graduate from being a “great band” to being one of the most sought-after and highest-paid live acts in the past half-decade. The kids and their parents loved ‘em, the promoters couldn’t get enough of them, and the band was busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest – playing all over the country and embarking on tours outside the country in the United States and Canada.

And they deserved it. After years of slugging it out in local clubs and finding the right sound and song to capture audiences, the members of December Avenue – despite their penchant for radio-friendly tunes and universally acceptable repertoire in English – showed true grit and determination, playing half-empty venues and going-up against the best of the best, at a time when heavier bands were ruling the scene. Formed in 2007, the band’s first release came three years later in 2010, in the form of the single “Time To Go.” Through the years that followed, the band simply persevered and did what they did – seemingly not bothered by whatever else what was happening around them. They just kept working… working really hard. By 2013, they released a single “Breathe Again,” and by 2017 they mustered enough material to release their self-titled debut (under Tower of Doom Music…) and already, were becoming one of the driving forces that was ushering-in a new age in local music: songs that were unafraid to be vulnerable and sensitive, and cater to a whole new generation of listeners who seemingly preferred listening to tunes instead of killing themselves in the mosh pits. It wasn’t a bad thing at all: it was a movement that proved that good pop music could be sincere and didn’t necessarily have to come from mindless fucking celebrities who had absolutely no business in the music business.

Later-on in the year, the band released what would be one of their very first humongous live anthems “Sa Ngalan ng Pag-Ibig,” a Tagalog ditty that reached stratospheric heights and struck more than just a few chords in the right direction. It was during this period when the band appeared to be finding its stride, writing songs in their native Tagalog. Soon after, the band could do no wrong – releasing “Kung ‘Di Rin Lang Ikaw” – the swooning duet with Moira Dela Torre, which was the official soundtrack for the blockbuster movie Hello Love, Goodbye… “Magkunwari (‘Di Man Tayo)” which was the official soundtrack for the hit television series TODA One I Love, and “Huling Sandali” which was the OST for the movie Tayo Sa Huling Buwan ng Taon.

By 2019, the band continued a steady trajectory with well-received releases and became so in-demand that you had to be living under a rock not to know who they were, whether you were a fan or not. It was the year where they collected all their releases and unveiled an entire album of all-Tagalog songs, under the collective moniker Langit Mong Bughaw which was an obvious nod to their love and pride for their homeland.

The rest, they say, is history… but PULP decided to take a bit of a stroll down memory lane, and piqued the minds of December Avenue’s members about their now-historic achievement that is Langit Mong Bughaw.



PULP: Take us back in time when you were creating Langit Mong Bughaw. With so many hit singles on that album and so much praise it got, looking back – did you have an idea that you were literally sitting on a gold mine?

Zel: Personally, it was a challenge to write more Filipino songs; I also felt that it was the time when the entire band was maturing – in the sense that we were all aware of the growth of our career, and where we wanted to take it: we had always been an independent band, so we took that first step and tried a different approach [which was nerve-wracking…] to reach a wider audience. We felt we knew exactly what we needed to do, and I guess the hard work, timing and luck were all part of the equation.

Jem: I didn’t expect it to be as big as it became to be honest, because the process of writing and arranging those songs was pretty much the same… I mean, the collab with Moira [dela Torre] was sort of a good boost, but yeah… other than that, we were just writing like we always did.

Gelo: Langit Mong Bughaw was actually my first album with the band, so it was definitely a surprise for me!

PULP: What was the biggest challenge in the creation of Langit Mong Bughaw?

Jem: Definitely, time was the biggest challenge… we were touring non-stop at the time, so we were exhausted both physically and mentally…

Gelo: I definitely had a fear of recording and releasing something that sounded like stuff we had already did…

Zel: I had the same fear as a writer, too… it’s always a challenge to be able to find more ways and words to express something, without repeating yourself.

Jet: Same with drum patterns…

PULP: It seems like such a cheesy question, but in what ways did that album change your life? And how the band operated overall?

Don: I honestly felt that before that album, I was nobody… I was just a regular musician. But then after that, it was nice for me to be able to discover who I was, and what I did. It was – personally – a learning experience for myself, first and foremost…

Jet: …and my perspective on life got a whole lot wider – I had purpose, and I realized why God gave me the talent and ability to do what I love most.

Zel: It changed me in all aspects: physically, emotionally and financially… and there was a big responsibility that came with it: I had to make sure I was healthy and was prepared for the shows that would follow; and the band really became a family: we bonded emotionally and we’re now closer than ever because we know it IS a full-time career.

PULP: What do you think it is about that collection of songs that resonated so much with fans of local music?

Jem: I really don’t know if it was the vibe or the lyrics; baka malungkot lang talaga mga Pinoy noong time na ‘yon! (laughs)

Gelo: Looking back, the album is very much like an open diary I guess for some of our listeners…

Zel: I still think it’s all about the honesty of the songs we write and the music we make… I like to believe that as long as you give it your all with pure intentions, people will ultimately resonate with whatever it is that’s in your heart…

PULP: Seeing that Langit Mong Bughaw is now officially part of history, does that – in any way – put pressure on you to re-create that kind of success?

Jet: Personally yes, there is that pressure… but I still believe that we as a band can re-create the success of that album; I have a lot of faith in the talent of band mates.

Gelo: I honestly never thought of this – I mean, we always made music to satisfy ourselves and the people who believed in what we were doing… but after reading this question again, I guess I DO feel the pressure now! (laughs)

Don: Gagawin pa rin namin ‘yung dapat naming gawin… hopefully hindi magsawa ‘yung tao sa amin and tangkilikin pa rin ‘yung mga gagawin naming kanta

Jem: This achievement goes way beyond what we dreamt of when we started, but hit or not, tuloy lang

Zel: As creative people, we do have to accept the fact that we’ll always be prone to criticism, and there will always be newer artists who would rise up to the occasion and – in a way – do things better. But regardless of that, we will still continue to create the music we like; we’re the ones setting the goals, and we’re the only ones who can really define our success. PULP


For more information on December Avenue, follow the band on its official social media pages:


Instagram and Youtube via decemberavenue

Twitter: @decemberave

Listen to them on Spotify here: