Interview and text by Joey Dizon
Cebuano deathcore act Tremors is a glorious assault to the senses. Rapid-fire drums, thick and chunky detuned riffage and ungodly, guttural screams make up the sonic barrage the five-piece is hell-bent on bringing back amidst the seeming hibernation of the genre. A single spin will make heavy metal fans realize that Tremors is a band that’s pretty hard to ignore, even if you tried.
Formed roughly five years ago by the surviving members of a host of the city’s underground acts FALSE GRAVEYARD, PERPETUAL FEAR and TERROR AND HUBRIS, the outfit consists of vocalist Carlo Solidum, guitarists Mark Elnar and Gentle Sevilla, drummer Vincent Cuadra, and bassist Elwood Eltagonde. They didn’t immediately throw themselves into gigging like crazy; instead, they decided to write songs and further improve their performances by rehearsing furiously. So by the time they finally hit the stage, they had become noticeably tight and exciting to watch.
Though the band would soon face their first major hurdle in the form of the pandemic, the idea of giving up never entered their minds. They used the time to write more material and work out the kinks that remained. So fans rejoiced when the band recently released its much-awaited single “Papergods,” its first since 2021’s “Legion.” The single came in the form of a Facebook lyric video, which is currently igniting a series of live performances in their hometown. Right now, their priority is to spread their guttural gospel even further in the coming months.
PULP.PH had the pleasure of asking the band a few questions recently.
PULP: Give us a basic history of the band. How, when and why did you get together, and what were your original goals?
Carlo: Vincent Mark founded the band and began making music, practicing weekly at Backyard Studios in Lahug, Cebu City. It took them a while to finalize the band’s name and lineup, but by August 2018, they added Elwood who was a longtime friend from the local music scene, and continued their sessions at Mark’s house. Then Elwood brought in his former bandmate Gentle and the four of them rehearsed and composed songs at Backyard recording studios.
Mark: Finding a frontman was a challenge because many potential candidates declined. Fortunately, Carlo, who was Vincent’s former bandmate, was free to do it and he was a good fit. Once the lineup was solidified, we still needed a name. After considering several options, we settled on “Tremors” during a meeting at Backyard Studios. It sort of pertained to the seismic activities known to occur a lot in the region, and we wanted a band name that had an “s” at the end, like many of the bands we admired.
Our first official gig was in October 2018 at the Sugbu Grounds SRP Cebu City for Tau Gamma Phi’s Golden Anniversary. We shared the stage with Manila-based bands like Franco, Queso, Skychurch, Typecast, and Valley of Chrome. We got pretty good feedback, so that’s when the journey officially began.
PULP: Describe the band’s sound. What influenced the band and its individual members, and how have your collective and individual tastes evolved?
Gentle: The band started without a specific genre in mind. At first, we aimed to play songs from our previous bands and go from there, but we realized that we’d stand out better if we combined our various influences. Vincent, a skilled former drum instructor, is recognized as one of Cebu’s top extreme metal drummers, with a focus on death metal drumming. My musical roots are in punk rock, so that lends a very unique style to what we play; Elwood has a fondness for classic rock—everything from The Outfield to Rod Stewart; Mark’s musical taste is broad, spanning genres like standards and even classical music. Meanwhile, Carlo leans towards deathcore and death metal.
Carlo: Over time, we found ourselves being drawn to deathcore and progressive metal bands from other countries such as After the Burial, Carnifex, Chelsea Grin, Impending Doom, Lorna Shore, Signs of the Swarm, Slaughter to Prevail, Thy Art is Murder, Whitechapel. We all agreed that was the direction we wanted our music to go in.
PULP: How has the heavy music scene in Cebu evolved from the time Tremors started compared to now?
Vincent: Since its establishment in 2018, we were fortunate to be an active part of the lively music scene in Cebu. During that time, weekly gigs and shows featuring Cebu-based bands were a regular occurrence. I like to think that we stood out as a deathcore band because we felt no one around us was really invested in the genre like we were. In fact, finding another deathcore band in the city was tough due to the technically demanding nature of the genre. So because of that, we were able to make an impression, I guess.
PULP: “Papergods” is a brutal track with a very strong socio-political message. What can you tell us about the songwriting process and how it came to be?
Carlo: Mark contributed 80% of the guitar riffs for this song and he demo-ed the drums and laid-out the foundation for everyone to build on. Once we all heard it, we gathered in the studio and enhanced the track with even more ideas.
Elwood: The band’s main aim with “Papergods” was to create a homage of sorts to deathcore by including trademark elements of the genre: blast beats, down-tuned guitar riffs, guttural vocals, and half-time breakdowns. Vincent and Carlo collaborated closely on the lyrics, and they really combed through them before recording.
PULP: Sonically, the track sounds amazing. Where did you record it and who produced the track?
Mark: All guitar and bass tracks were recorded at my home studio. Vincent and Gentle handled the drums by recording at their own homes, so technology allowed us to work remotely. Vocal tracks were captured at Sleepstart Recording Studio in Mandaue City, with sound engineer Dennis Daniel, who also ended up mixing and mastering the track.
PULP: Any noteworthy stories about the process?
Mark: Carlo’s vocal recording took nearly three months due to his work commitments. But when we got that done, the sound engineer consulted us for references and pegs of how we wanted the final version to sound. Essentially, it was a collaborative effort between the band and Sleepstart Recording Studio.
PULP: Which artists do you feel are your current contemporaries in the Cebu heavy music scene?
Mark: The Cebu heavy music scene is still known for its diverse, vibrant community of artists, but when it comes to metal bands, BARANG is definitely worth checking out. They play “culinary metal.” Think blast beats with food recipes as lyrics—it’s definitely unique! They’ve gained a significant following not only in Cebu but also in other parts of the country.
PULP: Now that “Papergods” is out via the Shocktones arm of DSR Records, what are the immediate plans for the band?
Carlo: We’d like to embark on a promotional campaign to increase awareness and generate interest in the music. We want to do it all—play more shows, tour, do interviews, anything. We really want to bring the genre to the next level, and make sure it’ll be recognized as part of the bigger picture.