ECHOES

Three broth­ers re­turn with new mu­sic

Cebu Living - - Front Page - By OLIVER EMOCLING Im­ages by JIM UBALDE

“Our mom thought we looked like mon­keys, so she called us Wong­goys since we were kids,” Kyle Wong, one-third of the Wong­goys, explains. He and his broth­ers Gabe and Billy have been in­ter­ested in mu­sic since they were chil­dren, and in 2010, they re­leased their first al­bum “I’m Not Sure What To Say But I’ll Say It Any­way.” Six years later, the Wong­goys re­turns with their new al­bum “High Hello.”

“We draw our in­spi­ra­tions from life ex­pe­ri­ences but not much from pains or heartaches,” Gabe says. With lyrics mostly ac­com­pa­nied by gui­tar, the Wong­goys tack­les themes rang­ing from an­tic­i­pa­tion of the week­end in Week­end (which was writ­ten on a Mon­day) to ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in Gay is Okay.

We vis­ited the Wong­goys at their home on a cloudy day, but their joc­u­lar mood made up for the weather.

Who from your fam­ily re­ally in­flu­enced your mu­sic?

Gabe: My ma­ter­nal un­cles play in a band. But for me, my dad, who doesn’t play any in­stru­ments, re­ally in­flu­enced us. He doesn’t sing well but he has a col­lec­tion of LPs, and we’ve been play­ing those since I was two years old. Is there any spe­cific song that you re­mem­ber him lis­ten­ing to? G: In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins. Billy: I’m a Michael Jack­son baby. Kyle: Both. You are called Wong­goys be­cause of your sur­name and your mom thought you looked like mon­keys. Be­yond that, how would you de­scribe your­selves? B: Gabe is the artis­tic one. Hands down to

him when it comes to the art, not just in song­writ­ing but also mu­sic it­self. He is good at ev­ery­thing he does.

K: Billy Boy is the shy guy. He’s a shy guy who’s best in in­ter­views. He’s the PR boy. He’s the cu­tie boy, parang puppy. He’s the most se­ri­ous yet very ap­proach­able.

G: When we started the band, I knew that I couldn’t be the lone band leader; Kyle fits as one. For me, he’s the most re­spon­si­ble band mem­ber. He’s the pole that ev­ery­one is hang­ing on to.

What’s your song­writ­ing process like?

G: I write the lyrics and Kyle does the riffs. When we’re on a rush, I ask him to play some riffs, then the riffs ac­tu­ally dic­tate what the song would be about.

Do each of you play any in­stru­ment?

K: Gabe was the one who played the gui­tar first. Then we got jeal­ous of him, so we started learn­ing it, too. Af­ter we got bet­ter than him, he just stopped (laughs).

There was a song about your late dad called Post No Bill from your first al­bum. How did that song come about?

G: We were at our un­cle’s wake, chilling at the lounge. That song sud­denly came to me as we were mourn­ing for our tito. I was think­ing he was with Papa al­ready. While I was writ­ing it, my fo­cus was on fin­ish­ing the song. But now, whenever I sing it, I feel sad, be­cause I’m there, [ex­press­ing what I feel] al­ready; I’m no longer writ­ing or creating it. There have been many times when we just cry in the mid­dle of per­form­ing the song and have to stop.

B: I think the only time we got to fin­ish that song was dur­ing the al­bum launch.

It took you six years to come back with a new al­bum. Why?

B: It took us six long years be­cause Kyle and I had to fin­ish study­ing. Then, we went to the States where we also started work­ing.

G: It took us five years to de­cide [whether to con­tinue].

K: We’re busy with other stuff. We’re busy with life.

How would you de­scribe the process of mak­ing this al­bum?

G: Truth­fully, we thought it was time to make a new al­bum be­cause we felt stag­nant. We kept play­ing the same songs, but I felt there was some­thing new to write about since [we made] our last al­bum. Some­times, there are con­cepts that pop up while Billy Boy is play­ing with the PlayS­ta­tion 4 and we’re just there. When we’re pres­sured, we go to the bal­cony to re­ally write.

K: We got re­ally fo­cused six months ago, but there are two to three songs that we wrote just last year.

Why don’t you have any songs in Ce­buano?

B: For us, it’s eas­ier to ex­press our­selves in English. Our di­alect is dif­fer­ent when it’s writ­ten.

But you have this song called Kalayaan?

K: Kalayaan was writ­ten one evening at 10 p.m. I was about to sleep when I re­mem­bered a song con­test in school. I’m com­pet­i­tive, so I made my own song. I went to Gabe and asked him to write a song with me in Ta­ga­log and mix in other lan­guages. Our mom helped— B: With the trans­la­tion. K: I wrote it in 30 min­utes, and our teacher liked it. For some rea­son, even the other stu­dents liked it. We put it in the first al­bum.

As mu­si­cians, what did you learn about Ce­buanos? B: Ce­buanos are hard to please.

Do you imag­ine do­ing mu­sic full-time? B: We can’t. K: I don’t think you can do that here. In the U.S., you can.

B: It would be hard to have a fam­ily and just do that.

All: We’re do­ing it for the love.

What’s your dream for Filipino mu­sic?

B: For me, it’s sim­ple: I want the world to know how Filipino mu­sic is. I want the whole Philip­pines to share its mu­sic, to be world-known. We have good artists, so I guess there’s noth­ing to stop us in reach­ing that soon.

G: For me, it’s the end goal. I can’t say it’s [just] a dream be­cause we’re re­ally go­ing to do it.

FROM LEFT: GABE, KYLE, AND BILLY

BE­YOND MU­SIC, GABE HAN­DLES THE BRANCH OP­ER­A­TIONS OF THEIR FAM­ILY BUSI­NESS WHILE

KYLE IS IN MAR­KET­ING. ON THE OTHER HAND, BILLY WORKS FOR THE SIS­TER COM­PANY, BUT HE ALSO PLANS TO PUT UP A

RESTAU­RANT SOON.

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