By Angelique Manalad
(Fudge Magazine Feb-March 2009 issue, p.61)
“Madaming issues.” Guitarist Ean Aguila declares with a telling laugh that only someone who survived all the bull*ts can. Drummer Zig Zabara and keyboardist Heidi confirms how pathetic the whole situation became. The two were referring to guitarist Joe Fontanilla’s schedule at the callcenter he worked at. Priorities came into question. Someone left the group, the band says without pointing out who. It got so bad they say that at one point vocalist Owel Alvero and Zig had to play a gig by themselves. That was in 2003, the band has since gotten over their “issues,” and now fully commit to making it work.
This meant getting a few more like-minded souls to the gold. Fortuitous circumstances led to vocalist Selena Salang singing tracks that required a female voice, and Jing Gaddi doing bass for the now fully armed Ang Bandang Shirley, whose name is taken from the an Eraserhead song called “Shirley.”
The making of their debut album, Themesongs, is of course not without its stories. Created in the appropriately named Love One Another studio owned by Joey Santos, (appropriate because the 11-track album is all about love), the recording process was fun and easy. Band manager Kathy Gener shares, “Sobrang masaya kasi don. Ang ganda nung atmosphere, parang ‘di professional studio pero professional sya. Pero yung vibe na parang laid back tapos they’d let you do kung ano man gusto mo. Saka malapit sya sa masasarap na kainan, mga food establishments. Sobrang malaking part yun. Kaya nag-enjoy kami.”
“Food! Importante yun.” Zig and the rest of the band said in unison. They bond over food and they take things lightly, which is a good way to handle the not so positive reaction from their work. While getting exposure with their song “Sa madaling salita” being included in the soundtrack of the indie movie Endo, the band also opened themselves up for harsh criticism. Selena explains, “May nababaduyan sa video pero okay lang naman…kasi ganon naman, you can’t please everybody. Ang pinakaimportante naman dyan yung sarili namin, sobrang saya namin. We’ll just keep on doing what we want to do.”
But along with the disapproval comes the adoration. From the appreciation they get at their live performances to album sales. Ang Bandang Shirley is being rewarded with oodles of love. Zig opens up “Sobrang nakakataba ng puso, saka yung fact na may naka-relate sa music namin e nakaka-flatter. Tapos mabenta daw yung album sa mga stores sabi ng mga tindera chinichika namen sila e. Nakakatawa rin yun kasi may sumusuporta.”
Selena adds, “We generally like each other as people. Pero feeling ko swak kasi kami like intellectually, (we have a similar) sense of humor wise. We all get along.” Though still busy with different day jobs, the band promotes their album in the market and tours all over the country in different malls and venues. Material-wise they feel that a second album is just around the corner, as they have numerous songs that are ready to be recorded. So all you Shirley fans, get ready for some loving from the band. You know you want it.