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Rivermaya in 2011 (From left to right : Ryan Peralta, David, Elgar, & Escueta)
Background information
Origin Metro Manila, Philippines
Years active 1994–present
Associated acts
Website www.rivermaya.ph
Members Mark Escueta
Mike Elgar
Norby David
Ryan Peralta
Past members Rico Blanco
Bamboo Mañalac
Nathan Azarcon
Perfecto de Castro
Kakoy Legaspi
Jayson Fernandez
Japs Sergio

Rivermaya is a Filipino rock band. Formed in 1994, it is one of several bands who spearheaded the 1990s Philippine alternative rock explosion. Rivermaya is currently composed of Mark Escueta, Mike Elgar, Ryan Peralta and Norby David. Former members included Rico Blanco, who had been the original songwriter of the band, and vocalist Bamboo Mañalac, who later formed the band Bamboo. Rivermaya is the fourteenth biggest-selling artists/act in the Philippines.[2]


Formation and early years (1993)[edit]

The first line-up consisted of Jesse Gonzales on vocals, Kenneth Ilagan on guitars, Nathan Azarcon on bass guitar, Rome Velayo on drums, and Rico Blanco on keyboards and backing vocals. They were managed by Lizza Nakpil and director Chito Roño. The band was then called Xaga.[citation needed]

Classic line-up and mainstream success (1994–2001)[edit]

Bamboo Mañalac performing.
Bamboo Mañalac, the youngest member of the group and was the band's lead vocalist of Rivermaya from 1994 to 1998 and its original frontman.

Ilagan was replaced with Perfecto "Perf" de Castro; Azarcon's childhood friend, Mark Escueta, replaced Velayo, and Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac replaced Gonzales. With Bamboo as frontman, the band members disbanded Xaga and formed the band Rivermaya. They started putting together original songs like "Ulan" [Rain], "214", and "Awit ng Kabataan" [Song of the Youth] (mostly composed by Rico Blanco) in demo form for prospective recording companies.[citation needed]

By November 1994, the band had released its first album, the self-titled Rivermaya, and its first single, "Ulan"; followed by "214".[citation needed]

Citing artistic differences, Perf de Castro left group and returned to his project band "The Blues Trio", a band later renamed "Axis" until its final inception as "Triaxis." Rico Blanco became the full-time guitarist while Nathan Azarcon's friend J John Valencia filled in as session secondary guitar player on live shows.[citation needed]

The band's second album Trip, followed with the singles "Kisapmata" [Blink of an Eye], "Himala" [Miracle], "Flower", "Princess of Disguise" and "Panahon Na Naman" [It's Time Once Again]. Whilce Portacio, creator of the X-Men's "Bishop" and co-founder of Image Comics, designed the album art for Trip.[citation needed]

In 1997, the band released its third album, Atomic Bomb, with the single "Hinahanap-hanap Kita" [Always Wanting to See You]. The album gained positive responses from listeners and received heavy airplay from radio stations.[citation needed] During this period, Rivermaya also released the Rivermaya Remixed album, put together with the help of DJ Toti Dalmacion of Groove Nation.[citation needed]

Departure of Bamboo Mañalac (1998)[edit]

The band then embarked on a US and Canada tour in 1998 with session musician Jyel Tagbo (from the rapcore group G-Spot and a Slapshock sessionist). It was also at this time that Bamboo Mañalac decided to stay in the U.S. (he eventually went on to form his own band, Bamboo in 2003).[citation needed]

Rico Blanco performing.
Rico Blanco, the chief composer of the band; He was the band's keyboardist/guitarist by the time the debut album was released, he later became the band's full-time guitarist when Perf de Castro left a year after their debut album was released & later became the band's frontman after Bamboo's departure in 1998.

Rivermaya decided to forge on, with Rico Blanco taking on lead vocals and released their fourth album, It's Not Easy Being Green containing the singles "Nerbyoso" [Nervous], "Shattered Like", and "Rodeo".[citation needed]

The band released its fifth studio album, aptly called Free, entirely for free on the Internet as well as on CDs distributed at their gigs. Free went on to be named "Best Album of 2000" at the NU Rock Awards.[citation needed]

Nathan performing.
Nathan Azarcon was one of the members of Rivermaya from 1994 to 2001.

In 2001, Nathan Azarcon departed from the group. This signaled a new line up change.[citation needed]

Second evolution of line-up (2001–2007)[edit]

Rico Blanco and Mark Escueta remained as members. They recruited three different musicians to fill in the space left by the former members. Completing the lineup were familiar local guitar heroes, Victor "Kakoy" Legaspi (from blues band Mr. Crayon) and Mike Elgar (from 7 Foot Junior) as well as Japs Sergio (from Daydream Cycle) on bass guitar. This new line-up allowed Rico Blanco to handle vocal duties full-time during live shows.[citation needed]

Together, this lineup released Tuloy ang Ligaya ['The Fun Continues'], preceded by the EP "Alab ng Puso" [Fire of the Heart], featuring a remix by Raimund Marasigan's Squid 9. The band released the albums Tuloy ang Ligaya and Between the Stars and the Waves, producing the singles "Umaaraw, Umuulan" [Sometimes It Shines, Sometimes It Rains], "Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby" [Don't Be Mad Anymore, Baby], "A Love to Share", "Balisong" [Butterfly Knife], "Sunday Driving", "Table for Two", "241", and "Atat" [Eager].[citation needed]

Legaspi resigned in 2004 but continues to work as session player with other musicians such as Julianne Tarroja, and Peryodiko, among others.[citation needed]

International success (2004–2007)[edit]

The band found a variety of partners who commissioned such works as "Liwanag sa Dilim" [Light In The Dark], "Posible" [Possible] (Southeast Asian Games' Athletes Anthem) and "You'll Be Safe Here".[citation needed]

"You'll Be Safe Here", originally created as the theme for the ABS-CBN TV series Spirits was released as an EP by Warner Music Philippines and became the song that MTV Asia selected for performance at the 2006 Asia Awards. Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child introduced the group, and they were backed up by Thailand’s Royal Symphony Orchestra during live performance. It was the first time that a Filipino band was invited to perform in the event.[citation needed]

An album of compiled works, titled "You'll Be Safe Here", was distributed in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.[citation needed]

Rivermaya embarked on a series of Asian tours, including at Thailand's Pattaya Music Fest (2008, 2009) as well as Singapore's Mosaic Festival (run by The Esplanade); and Bangkok's Fat Fest as well as in Indonesia's MTV Staying Alive show.[citation needed]

In the Philippines, the Rivermaya Greatest Hits 2006 album on Viva Records was followed by an album dedicated to its music heroes: Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo ['One Root, One Blood']. At the end of March 2007, Rivermaya scored again another first for the Philippines as their videos, "You'll Be Safe Here" and the recent video remake "Balisong" were chosen as the first Asian artists to have full-length music videos featured on the Star World Channel.[citation needed]

In 2008–2009 Rivermaya performed at the Marina Bay New Years' Countdown in Singapore and became the first Filipino band invited to perform at the 2009 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. Also during that time, Rivermaya has been often referred to as "Banda ng Bayan" [The Band of the Nation], a nickname they share with Parokya ni Edgar.[citation needed]

Departure of Rico Blanco (2007)[edit]

In 2007 Rico Blanco officially announced his departure from the group. Both Rivermaya and its management denied rumors that the band would disband as a result.[citation needed]

After Rico Blanco left, Rivermaya released a new single, "Sayang" [Such a Waste], penned by Japs Sergio and described by the band as "an open letter to the fans."[citation needed] In addition, Studio 23 announced the selection of Rivermaya to create the new theme song for the station. The new song is titled "Sumigaw" [Shout] and marks the release of a second single in two months for the band, accelerating Rivermaya's pace for new songs rapidly (in previous years, the band had managed to release only a single every 12 months).

On August 11, 2007, during a mini press conference held at Mogwai Bar and Café in Cubao's Marikina Shoe Expo, Rivermaya released its all-new 5-song Bagong Liwanag ['New Light'] EP, which hit stores nationwide starting August 15. This 5-song EP is released on the band's own label, Revolver Music, and licensed to Warner Music Philippines.[3]

Third evolution of line-up (2007–2011)[edit]

Jayson Fernandez served as the lead vocalist after Blanco's departure from 2007 to 2011.

Rivermaya held auditions for a new vocalist. The auditions was televised on Studio 23, which was titled Bagong Liwanag. Aside from the band members, main judges are Rivermaya manager Lizza Nakpil, The Dawn guitarist Francis Reyes, and Razorback bassist Louie Talan. On October 24, 2007, then-18-year-old Jayson Fernandez (usually spelled as "Jason") was announced as the winner and new member of Rivermaya.[citation needed]

On February 2008, Rivermaya released the album entitled Buhay ['Life'] with the carrier single "Sugal ng Kapalaran" [Gamble of Fate] penned by Sergio with both Fernandez and Sergio doing the vocals, while Elgar and Escueta do backing vocals.[citation needed]

In October 2008, after allegedly discovering several acts of misappropriation of funds involving the bands' royalties and talent fees, the current Rivermaya band members announced that the band had parted ways with their longtime manager Lizza Nakpil. She was charged with the crime of estafa, sued for damages, and the court issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction forbidding further contact with Rivermaya.[4]

Rivermaya has played in Singapore at the Marina Bay New Year Countdown in December 31, 2008 while in September 2009, the group is the first Filipino band invited to perform on 3 different stages at the 2009 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix and in the same month and year, the band released the album Closest Thing To Heaven with the track "Dangal" [Dignity] as the carrier single.[citation needed]

Fourth and fifth evolution of line-up; present status (2011–present)[edit]

Left to right: Peralta, David, Elgar, Sergio and Escueta

In February 22, 2011, Rivermaya's official Facebook page announced that they would release their music video titled "Remenis" [Reminisce] and will formally introduce their new members, Ryan Peralta and Norby David of the band Overtone.[citation needed]

On March 19, 2013, Rivermaya released the album Panatang Makabanda ['A Vow for the Band Passionate'].[citation needed]

Departure of Jayson Fernandez (2011)[edit]

On August 28, 2011, Jayson Fernandez left Rivermaya after 4 years with the group citing musical differences as the primary reason.[5][better source needed] Paolo Valenciano (son of Gary Valenciano) and Vinci Montaner of Parokya ni Edgar simultaneously filled in as temporary lead vocalists for some occasional gigs weeks after Fernandez's departure. Mark Escueta, Mike Elgar and Norby David now simultaneously switch over the lead vocal duties.

After taking a brief hiatus, on November 2012, Japs Sergio posted on his official Facebook page that he left Rivermaya, in order to pursue his new band, Peso Movement.

Band members[edit]

Current members[edit]

  • Mark Escueta – lead vocals, guitars, occasional percussion (2011–present); drums & percussion, backing vocals, trumpet, occasional guitars and lead vocals (1994–2011)
  • Mike Elgar – lead vocals (2011–present); guitars (2001–present); keyboards (2007–2011)
  • Norby David – lead vocals, bass guitar, occasional acoustic guitars (2011–present)
  • Ryan Peralta – drums & percussion, keyboards (2011–present)

Former members[edit]

  • Rico Blanco – lead vocals (1998–2007); co-lead and backing vocals (1994–1998); guitars (1994–2007); keyboards (1994–2007)
  • Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac – lead vocals (1994–1998)
  • Nathan Azarcon – bass guitar, backing vocals (1994–2001)
  • Perfecto "Perf" de Castro – guitars, backing vocals (1994–1995)
  • Victor "Kakoy" Legaspi – guitars (2001–2004)
  • Jayson Fernandez – lead vocals, guitars (2007–2011)
  • John Paul "Japs" Sergio – bass guitar, occasional lead vocals, occasional guitars (2001–2012)


Rivermaya performing at U.P. Diliman (2007)
For a full, detailed list, see: Rivermaya discography


External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Grip Stand Throw" by Sandwich &
"Serve In Silence" by Wolfgang
NU Rock Awards
Album of the Year
"Free (Rivermaya album)"

Succeeded by
"4-Track Mind"