Putting together seasoned musicians isn’t always a guarantee that things will work out. Aside from the actual talent, any serious player will tell you that there’s a shitload of other stuff to worry about: the vision, the internal chemistry, and well, the actual music and songs. More often than not, “super-groups” barely get past a few years before its their individual members realize that technical skill isn’t enough to keep a group together.
Fortunately, that’s not a problem for Kosmiksala.
Inspired by the style and sound of the greats like Eric Clapton, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and The Allman Brothers (to name a select few…) and fueled by a driving goal to let the good times roll, vocalist Tin Virtucio, guitarists Nitoy Adriano and Ronnie Bungubung, bassist Gred Afunggol, and drummer Paolo Manuel have been consistently wowing audiences collectively since 2014 with powerhouse performances at bars around the metro and outside the country, and at festivals like the annual Fete Dela Musique. The band’s live performances are driving, and consistently fiery – and frankly, goes perfect with whatever poison one is imbibing – like any good classic rock n’ roll.
Of course, it does help that the individual members have quite the resumes: Adriano, a veteran axeman who has played for THE JERKS, ELY BUENDIA, and OKTAVES; Manuel, who has also played for, DATU’S TRIBE, EBE DANCEL, and even seminal 90s heavy metal group DEATH BY STEREO and QUESO; and Virtucio, who played for another collective called PLAN OF FOOLS. Gred previously played for bands like ANTSFLY and KUMPAS, while Ronnie also played for Kumpas and the BLUNGUBUNGS.
And finally, after nearly a decade of playing together and getting the party started wherever it’s needed, Kosmikskala has released their first recorded single, “7/8,” a musically playful five-minute plus jam that seemingly goes wherever the fuck it wants to go: a groovy odd-time tune that combines both English and Tagalog lyrics and bouncy, infectious rhythms and melodies that are both raunchy and well, loud.
And despite the fact that they’ve been around for quite some time now, PULP still took the opportunity to ask these lady and gentlemen a few Qs to get to know them a little better.
PULP: How has Kosmikskala been? Up until the release of the new single, what has been keeping the band busy?
Tin: Well, we’ve been playing gigs in and out of Metro Manila, and we hope to play more outside the country, like when we did in Macau. The recent pandemic really set us back, like everyone else, so we’ve been saying “yes” to every good opportunity that has come our way.
Paolo: At a steady pace, though. We still like to hang out as a group after our gigs, and we stay connected as much as possible until the next one.
PULP: Feel free to take us through the history of the band. What was the idea behind the band?
Nitoy: Kilala ko lahat members na mahilig sa blues, at nagja-jam lang kami dati kung saan-saan; nagkayayaan na magbuo ng band, so ayun: na-form na nga Kosmikskala.
Ronnie: It was 2012. Gre-thee, Nitoy, and I were members of a band called Kumpas, together with Claire Lapus of BLUE RATS and Wendell Garcia, who played for PUPIL, ELY BUENDIA, and BARBIE’S CRADLE. Then we met Tin and Paolo.
Tin: Nitoy made a suggestion of forming a band together over drinks at Handlebar. We jammed and hit it off right away. It wasn’t really part of a plan that was elaborate or deep: we just really liked each other and loved playing music together; our name was inspired by Janis Joplin’s “Kosmik Blues,” and Nitoy’s reputation as the “Gitaristang Hindi Marunong Mag Skala.”
Gred: Funny story. After noong first jam namin, gusto namin mag one beer – e beerhouse lang malapit; naisip ko ‘pag umarte si Tin, [it was a] no-go. E game siya… Nagbayad pa siya ng PHP 50, kasi babae siya. So, go na. (laughs)
PULP: Seeing that you’ve been around for nearly a decade, why did it take quite a while to get an original song out? What was the catalyst behind the band’s decision to finally release music?
Tin: We never felt the urgency to release music when we were starting; my bandmates are the chill-est people I know (laughs). But throughout the years, we have made a lot of songs together. but we also lacked the knowledge and resources to do it independently.
We were supposed to release “7/8” around 2020. But then the pandemic happened. We decided to do everything again from scratch. Good thing, our good friend, Waxie Joaquin, offered to produce the song for us. Perfect timing.
Paolo: We didn’t want to stress over it, even though we have about ten songs ready to go.
Ronnie: We had an offer before to record, but we focused more on gigging and honing on our sound.
PULP: Tell us about the inspiration behind the song, from the idea to the actual creative process.
Tin: Paolo had an idea for a riff, and he hummed it to me, and then we just presented it to everyone. I had a draft of the lyrics, but I was able to finish it when we jammed on the song as a whole band. It was such a fun process of pitching ideas, and it’s still one of our favorite songs to play live.
Paolo: There’s actually a slow, jam section and a drum solo in the middle and end of it when we play it live, so it keeps things exciting compared to the recorded version.
PULP: The single, albeit the fact that Kosmikskla is known primarily as a blues band, does have an almost progressive feel and structure to it. Was it a conscious bold move that your first single would clock in at more than 5 minutes and have so many twists and changes?
Gred: Yeah, we like that it pushes the envelope…It’s something people wouldn’t expect.
Tin: It was actually seven minutes long! We edited it for the recorded version. Originally, we had a different debut single in mind, but we all agreed that “7/8” best represents how we are as a band… It’s like that first drink of the night – like it promises that amazing things will happen later on. We hope it’s a song that makes people look forward to what else we have in store.
PULP: Now that the single is out, can we expect more music from the band?
Gred: Definitely. We plan to record the rest of our originals.
Tin: Right now, we plan to promote this single first. Though we will be making a music video and the Dolby Atmos version of “7/8” will be released soon. Then we’ll start recording another song with Waxiefied Sound Productions before the year ends.
Paolo: The goal is to keep making new music. It’s something we really enjoy, and well, it’s about time we do it.