Lead vocalists recall glory days of the ’90s


“The ’90s: Live” headliners, from left: Wency Cornejo, Naldy Padilla, Dong Abay, Cooky Chua, Paco Arespacochaga, Jett Pangan and Medwin Marfil

One of the things artists from the 1990s miss most about that decade—a time in the industry when local rock bands thrived—was the robust live-music scene. They look back with fondness at the romping times they had in rock festivals; the gigs they played at their usual stomping grounds, like Mayric’s and Club Dredd.

For the coming concert “The ’90s: Live,” nine artists from nine different bands will gather onstage at The Theatre at Solaire on July 22 (call 891-9999) to celebrate their generation’s songs that have become veritable classics today.

The lineup is composed of Wency Cornejo (AfterImage), Jett Pangan (The Dawn), Cooky Chua (Color It Red), Dong Abay (Yano), Medwin Marfil (True Faith), Paco Arespacochaga (Introvoys), Naldy Padilla (Orient Pearl), Perf de Castro (Rivermaya) and Lei Bautista (Prettier Than Pink).

Cooky Chua

In this forum, the artists reflect on the music they produced and what made it so special:

Wency Cornejo. We came up with songs that have become part of our musical landscape. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the music we created catered to our respective niches. We all had a unique sound—you didn’t need to see the bands to know it was them; you knew which was which just by listening to them.

And most importantly, we were good songwriters.

Cooky Chua. The live-music scene was very much alive—and we were all good friends. When I play in multi-act gigs these days, I notice that most of the younger ones leave immediately after their sets. Back then, we stayed and watched each other’s sets. We jammed, had fun, and ate together afterward. I miss that.

Dong Abay. We wrote in our own language, which made our fellowmen relate to our songs better; people were attracted to that, and the music stood out from the many foreign songs being played on the radio. It was a great decade for musicians, as it allowed us to remind people that what we had was something good.

I hope our fans from the ’90s bring their kids with them to the concert. It’s always heartening when the young ones come up to me and tell me that they know my music, because their parents introduced it to them. In moments like that, you realize that music truly lives on.

Perf de Castro. We put out our own work. And it made our shows more sincere, because who can express what’s inside your heart better than yourself? That helped the audience form a bond with us and develop an affinity to our music.

I miss the energetic live shows—they were a spectacle. The pounding of drums, the rumbling of bass… these are something you won’t get from watching shows from a small screen.

Lei Bautista. Even if we aren’t as active anymore, our songs still touch people’s hearts. I wrote “Cool Ka Lang” more than 20 years ago. To think that some people still know the song—or at least have heard of it—is an accomplishment for me. Our music became bigger than us.

Medwin Marfil. We wrote songs on a very personal level. I agree, there was a great sense of individuality—one of the best things about OPM back then. We came up with enduring songs that outlived our fame.

Paco Arespacochaga. We didn’t have the luxury of having producers; things were more organic when we came out. We wrote our own songs, played our own instruments. I hope that younger people watch us, and I hope they get inspired to write songs. They don’t have to be complicated—the music just has to be real.

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