Down south, they know how to deliver the goods when it comes to heavy music.
In fact, one band in particular has been holding the fort and keeping the flame alive in the Negros Island Region (NIR) since 2004, combining hardcore sensibilities with chugging riffage, furious lyricism and an overall power groove. Their name? Oppressor. And judging by the band’s past live performances, they definitely know how to work their magic to induce musical mayhem any chance they can.
Originally formed in 2004 by vocalist Jedd Lefthander and the late JC Skinhead, the group combined a serious and intense live ethic with a penchant for creating straightforward mosh-anthems that earned them the honors of being hometown heroes in their native Negros. After conitnuous touring in their region, the band released a local three-way split called HC Punk Vol. 1, with General Santos outfit Sacrifix and Polomok, Cotabato’s Explontoi, and did another one internationally, featuring Sabotage and Cheburashka – both from Russia – under Tiera Libera Records.
By 2018, the band was lucky enough to open for New York Hardcore Legends JUDGE, but soonafter, tragedy struck with the passing of co-founder JC.
Fast forward to 2022, the band decided to soldier-on and recruited guitarists Mark Humphry and Terence, who would complete the lineup alongside bassist Jay One and drummer Flint. After playing a handful of shows, it has now become clear that Oppressor is ready to hit the stages once more, and is even excited to reveal that an entire body of work will be available this year.
PULP: It’s great that the band seems to be busy again, post-pandemic…
Jedd: Yep! Me and Flint have been figuring out how to keep the band alive ever since JC passed, and it’s awesome that the new lineup is made up of old friends who happened to be session players for us ever since… Terence comes from a band called Passingrade75 and Mark comes from a band called Throatpunch. When we asked them to officially be part of the band, they immediately said “yes” and it’s been around four of five gigs ever since.
PULP: Do refresh us on how the band was formed, and what the initial goals were…
Jedd: It was me and JC back in 2004 – we lived in the same neighborhood, and honestly, there really was no plan: we were 14 or 15 year olds, listening to bands like Philippine Violators and The Exploited because we had read about ‘em in some magazine we bought at some store… we were curious, and a friend gave us pirated copies of their music, and well – we got so fired-up that we decided to form a band. JC saw another name of a band called “Oppressed” in another magazine, so we decided to call ourselves “Oppressor.”
PULP: Paint a picture of the scene in your native Bacolod for us… because there’s always been a healthy underground music culture there, right?
Jedd: For sure. In fact, it’s alive and kicking because our collective BCHC has been running D.I.Y. shows since the early 2000s.
Actually, we did a little digging and found that there was an issue of [now-defunct] Jingle Magazine – dated April 1989 – that featured the Bacolod punk/hardcore scene: the title of the article was “Pangk Ka To?!” “To” or “Toto” in Hiligaynon means “young male,” or “kid,” and it mainly described how the youngsters back then were forming their own scene. They featured a local band called The Case of the Missing Bottles, and later on, groups like Food Shelter and Clothing, The Hurt, System 100 and Collodial Mixtures.
We were lucky enough to meet those musicians, specifically John Gamboa, who was the cousin of Betrayed/Tropical Depression’s Dominic “Papadom” Gamboa who was also a native of Bacolod.
So last year, we paid homage to all the musicians that came before us by holding a benefit gig for a friend.
PULP: How has the sound of the band evolved through the years? What elements have remained, and what styles have been added, if any?
Flint: We’ve always tried to sound like, well… us. I mean, we’re definitely rooted in the fast and straightforward punk D-beat style and combine it with 90s hardcore, but we’ve always tried not to sound like anybody else… and now with the new guitar player, we’re definitely experimenting a lot more.
PULP: So you mentioned that the plan is to release a full-length this year by October…
Flint: Yeah, Jedd told us to hurry up and write songs (laughs)! October is definitely the target, and we want to do 10 songs. It’s pretty much the same themes: social and political issues; you know – same old us! PULP
For more information and updates on Oppressor, you can follow them here: