29 January 1975 |
|Genres||Rock, funk, jazz, alternative rock, reggae|
|Occupation(s)||music producer, musician, songwriter|
|Instruments||Bass guitar, acoustic bass guitar, vocals, guitar|
|Labels||EMI Music Philippines, Inc.|
|Associated acts||Hijo, Bamboo, Rivermaya, Kapatid, Pinikpikan|
|Modulus Bass Guitar
Fender Precision Bass
Fender Jazz Bass
Music Man Stingray
Peavey Millenium 4 String
Nathan Azarcon is an award-winning Filipino musician, nationalist, songwriter, and producer. He is the lead vocalist and bassist of Hijo, and former bassist for Filipino rock bands Rivermaya, Pinikpikan, Kapatid and Bamboo.
His complete body of work includes hits produced while he was a member of four different bands. Albums on which he has performed have been certified Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum. In recognition of his work, he has been honored by NU Rock Awards; Katha Music Awards; MTV Pilipinas Music Awards; and the Awit Awards, which are presented and organized by the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI).
- 1 Professional-background
- 1.1 Bazurak
- 1.2 Rivermaya (1993–2001)
- 1.3 Pinikpikan (1998–2002)
- 1.4 Kapatid (2002–2003)
- 1.5 Bamboo (2003–2011)
- 1.6 Hijo (2011)
- 2 Personal life
- 3 Equipment
- 4 References
Azarcon first started playing bass during the early 90s with punk funk rock band, Bazurak. They covered songs from Sex Pistols, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Ramones. The members included Junji Lerma, guitar player for Radioactive Sago Project; Richard Recto on vocals; Paolo Lerma on drums; John Valencia on guitars; and Mark Escueta on drums.
In 1993, Rivermaya was formed by PR practitioner Lizza Nakpil and film director Chito Roño, who planned on developing a musical group into a rock/show band. The band was originally formed under the name Xaga.
The band evolved through a series of line-ups that included Azarcon on bass, Rico Blanco on keyboards and Perfecto de Castro on guitars. The initial drummer was replaced by former Bazurak bandmate and childhood friend, Mark Escueta, while school mate Francisco Bamboo Mañalac came on board as lead vocals. The band was managed by Nakpil and Roño.
With Mañalac as frontman, the band members decided to disband Xaga and reestablish the band as "Rivermaya". They started developing original songs like "Ulan" (Rain), "214", and "Awit ng Kabataan" (Song of the Youth) in demo form for prospective recording companies. They were quickly signed to the Sony BMG Philippines label.
By November 1994, the band had released their first album, the self-titled Rivermaya. Their first single, "Ulan", written by Azarcon and Blanco, shot to the top of the charts. Their second and third singles "Awit ng Kabataan" and "214" were the first songs to have a melodic bass interlude, which would soon become an Azarcon staple. The album was released on the Sony BMG Philippines label and was certified triple platinum. Critically praised for its fresh, excitingly new pop/rock sound, the album went on to become one of the Philippine's best musical recordings of the 1990s.
In 1995, the band's second album Trip, was released by Sony BMG Philippines and was certified quadruple platinum. Singles from the album included "Kisapmata" [Blink of an Eye], "Himala" [Miracle], and "Panahon Na Naman" [Here Comes the Season], "Princess of Disguise", and "Flowers". The songs "Sunog" and "Is It Sunny Where You Are?" were written by Azarcon and Blanco.
The single "Himala" included a rare, nylon-string guitar solo by Azarcon. He also showcased his further musical growth on the funky finger style, pop and slap heavy "Is It Sunny Where You Are". His use of the root third and fifth, as well as the double stops on the hit single "Himala", complimented Blanco's guitar playing and Escueta's drum accents.
In 1997, the band released its third album, Atomic Bomb, with the single "Hinahanap-Hanap Kita" [Always Searching For You]. Other singles included "Elesi", "If", and "Kung Ayaw Mo, Huwag Mo". A funkier and playfully melodic Azarcon can be heard on stand out tracks such as "Hinahanap-Hanap Kita" and "Sunny Days". The album showcases Azarcon's increasingly active song writing on the hit songs "If" and "Luha". He also wrote "Saturday (Bakit Ako?)" and "Tea For Two".
The album received positive response from listeners and received heavy airplay from radio stations. During this period, Rivermaya also released the Rivermaya Remixed album, produced with the help of DJ Toti Dalmacion of Groove Nation.
With the growing international success of the band, combined with a tour in the United States and Canada, Mañalac decided to leave the band and remain in Los Angeles with his family.
It's Not Easy Being Green
In 1999, after Mañalac's departure, Blanco took on lead vocals, and Rivermaya released their fourth album on the Sony BMG Philippines label. Singles from It's Not Easy Being Green included "Nerbyoso" [Nervous Man], "Shattered Like", and "Rodeo". The album also included four songs written by Azarcon, including "May Kasalanan", "Prodigal Dub 1 & 2", "She's So Uncool", and "Homecoming".
In 2000, Rivermaya released their fifth album, entitled Free. After a falling out with their long-time label, the band chose to distribute the album to listeners free-of-charge on the Internet, a first for a Filipino artist. The release was subsequently honored as Album of the Year during the NU Rock Awards 2000. In 2006, Filipino journalist Erwin Romulo of The Philippine Star wrote that Free is "Arguably one of the greatest albums in Pinoy rock history."
In 1998, Azarcon started his apprenticeship under Sammy Asuncion, guitar player of Pinoy funk-reggae-rock band Spy and ethnic rock group Pinikpikan, a group renowned for reinventing musical pieces using indigenous tribal instruments. Notable members include Grace Nono, Rene "chong" Tengasantos and Bob Aves. Azarcon under the moniker "Elqpal", fit well with the band's ethno-tribal rhythms.
In 2000, the band released their album Atas on the Tropical Records label, a subsidiary of A&M Records. The recording won the Philippine's 2001 Katha Music Award for Album of the Year, Best World Song, and Best Performance for "Kalipay". Other standout tracks on the album include "Aumoon", "Salidumay", and "Singkilan".
Kapatid (lit. English: sibling) came together through an informal gathering of friends with diverse musical talents in other bands. The original lineup included Karl Roy of Advent Call and P.O.T.; Marinito "J-hoon" Balbuena of Kjwan; Ira Cruz previously of Passage; Azarcon; and Chico Molina.
In 2002, the band went on to release their debut album "Edsa 524". The album contains the singles "Pagbabalik Ng Kwago", "I like it like this", and "Visions". The band split apart rather quickly, with a couple of members leaving for other bands under less than amicable circumstances. Roy later stated of the breakup, "There was lots of talk about brotherhood and respect and the joy of playing music together. Unfortunately, things didn't turn that way. The band split apart rather quickly, as a couple of members left for another band, under less than amicable circumstances. First, Ira left, and then Nathan followed, and the two eventually hooked up with Bamboo."
In 2003, after living in Los Angeles following the Rivermaya tour in America, Mañalac returned to the Philippines. Azarcon introduced Mañalac to Cruz and Vic Mercado (drums) and together, they formed a band.
As the Music Plays
In February 2004, Bamboo released their debut album, As the Music Plays. The album was certified Double Platinum by the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI). A double-disc repackaged edition was released in 2005.
The first single from the album, "Noypi" (a slang term meaning "Filipino"), was a rock anthem that captivated the hearts of the youth and sparked patriotism in the Philippines. The album contains ten tracks, with three in Tagalog, namely: "Noypi", "Hudas", and "Masaya". The initial release of the album used a white cover, while a second black-cover release later in the year contained six bonus tracks and three video clips of "Noypi", "Masaya", and "Mr. Clay".
The album was honored at the AWIT Awards, NU Rock Awards, and MTV Pilipinas Music Awards. The Awit Awards honored them as the Best Performance of a New Duo or Group Recording Artists for their performance of "Noypi". The song was also honored as Best Rock Recording of the Year and People's Choice Favorite Song of the Year. Bamboo received the MTV Award for Favorite New Artist in a Video, Favorite Group Video, and Favorite Song for "Noypi". The NU Rock Awards honored the band with the awards for Listener's Choice, Song of the Year, and Band of the Year. Mercado was additionally honored as Best Drummer, while Mañalac was recognized as Best Vocalist.
Rumors circulating the Pinoy rock scene were rampantly claiming that Karl Roy wrote "Noypi" (originally as a reggae song) and that Azarcon stole the song from him. The truth about the recording was offered in a 2008 interview with Karl Roy, presented in Rogue Magazine.
Nathan had originally written the megahit rock anthem "Noypi" for Kapatid, but Karl didn't like it. "It takes a while for me to like a song," Karl explains, and to this day, he regrets not paying enough attention to what Nathan was doing.
The album was honored at the AWIT Awards, NU Rock Awards, and MTV Pilipinas Music Awards. The band also won Awit Awards for Best Performance of a New Duo or Group Recording Artists for their performance of "Noypi". The song was also honored as Best Rock Recording of the Year and People's Choice Favorite Song of the Year. the band also received the MTV Award for Favorite New Artist in a Video, Favorite Group Video, and Favorite Song for "Noypi". The NU Rock Awards honored the band with the awards for Listener's Choice, Song of the Year, and Band of the Year.
Light Peace Love
In 2005, Bamboo released their second album, Light Peace Love. The album received the Awit Award for Album of the Year. The album was certified Platinum by PARI.
The song "Much Has Been Said" received the award for Best Ballad of the Year, while the song "Hallelujah" was honored with the 2006 Awit Award for People's Choice as Favorite Song and Best Rock Recording. The song "Hallelujah" was released prior to the actual release of the album, becoming an instant hit and winning the 2006 Awit Award for People's Choice as Favorite Song and Best Rock Recording.
In addition to rock, the band incorporated a variety of styles including rap or scat-style singing, as well as a gospel music theme on the song "Alpha Beta Omega". In 2006, the band was honored at the MTV Pilipinas Music Awards for Best Cinematography in a Video for the song "Much Has Been Said".
We Stand Alone Together
In 2007, Bamboo released their third album, We Stand Alone Together. The album is a double disc recording package of revived cover songs. The album also includes a cover of Sting's "Englishman in New York", presented as a hidden track.
Among the cover songs included on the album are Buklod's "Tatsulok" and Anak Bayan's "Probinsyana" from Anak Bayan, Pearl Jam's "Alive", and Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover". It also includes bonus tracks like unplugged versions of their hit songs from previous albums such as "Mr. Clay", "These Days", and "Hallelujah". "Tatsulok" and "Probinsyana" were released as singles and became hits on local radio.
In 2008, the Awit Awards honored "Tatsulok" with the awards for Best Performance by a Group Recording Artist and Best Rock Song. "Probinsyana" received the awards for Best Musical Arrangement, Best Engineered Recording, and Music Video of the Year. NU Rock Awards recognized the band as the Best Live Act. The album was certified Gold by PARI.
Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday
The band's Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday album was certified Platinum status on 28 September 2008 – two days after its release. The album consists of ten tracks with the lead-off single "Kailan". The title of the album came from the phrase of the fifth track, "Little Child".
Hits from Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday include "Last Days on a Cruise Ship (Don't Wait For Tomorrow)" and "Probinsyana". The 2008 Awit Awards honored "Probinsyana" as Best Musical Arrangement, Best Engineered Recording, and Music Video of the Year. The NU Rock Awards recognized "Last Days on a Cruise Ship" as Music Video of the Year.
In January 2011, News had been circulating that Bamboo has allegedly disbanded. DJ KC Montero of Wave 89.1 confirmed the breakup on Wave's The KC Show and via Twitter.
Montero clarified that all the members of the band "have decided to move on," and that he does not know why they called it quits. The group has not released an official statement on the issue, according to ABS-CBNNews.com.
Bamboo's lead vocalist Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac finally confirmed the breakup of his band in an official statement posted before midnight of 11 January on the group's website.
Three months after the breakup of Bamboo, Azarcon and two former members reunited to form the band Hijo. The new band is composed of Nathan Azarcon on vocals and bass, Ira Cruz on guitar and back-up vocals, and Vic Mercado on drums. The band also includes Junji Lerma on guitar and Jay-O Orduna on keyboards. They performed their first gig at Route 196 on 16 April 2011.
On 19 April 2008, Nathan Azarcon married Ina Serrano at the St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish in Magallanes Village, Makati City.
Azarcon is an alumnus and active member of the Tau Gamma Phi Triskelion Grand Fraternity. He is a 1989 graduate of the De La Salle-Santiago Zobel School and a 1994 graduate of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), which is a Catholic University, based in Manila.
Through his work with the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity, Azarcon is affiliated with community chapters known as the Triskelion Youth Movement or "T.Y.M." Community chapters with whom Azarcon is directly involved include the Bahay Filipino Parañaque Community Chapter, GT Filipino Children's Montessori School, and the Vista Granda Community Chapter Las Piñas.
- Ayson, Jim (10 September 2000). "Has Rivermaya Gone Nuts or What?". Retrieved 2010-09-08.
- Romulo, Erwin (21 September 2006). "Bond of Brothers". The Philippine Star.
- "Lust For Life". Rogue.ph. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 2010-09-08.[dead link]
- "Bamboo Members Regroup Without their Lead Vocalist Bamboo". Showbiz News Philippines. 17 April 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "Introducing, Tonight: Hijo, the Bloomfields". Pulse.ph: Music + Culture. 16 April 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011.