Medwin Marfil: Songs must be sung live—or you don’t sing at all

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Medwin Marfil

No celebration of mine could be complete without my fave band, True Faith, performing gratis et amore. The group’s main man, Medwin Marfil, and I are kindred spirits. We know too much about each other that we would make dangerous enemies.

Bands come and go, but True Faith has stood the test of time. I hardly miss any of their gigs. It makes me proud to watch them wow the crowd.

Catch Med and other vocalists of legendary bands in “’90s Live” on July 22 at the Theatre at Solaire (8919999). It’s going be a sound trip down memory lane.

Here’s my chat with Med:

How would you compare the band scene in the ’90s to the current one? The band wave of the 2000s was a lot of fun, and the next one would surely be a thrill to witness. The ’90s was crazy! Along with the excitement were many heartaches, too. There was a lot of pressure then to remain relevant by constantly being on TV and radio.

How has True Faith evolved through the years? We’ve matured musically and personally.

It doesn’t hurt that the band’s recent additions—Allan Elgar (on lead guitars), Macky Macaventa (bass) and Kaka Quisumbing (drums)—are very good musicians and cool people to be with. We’re more relaxed now—and a lot wiser!

Tell us the story behind “Perfect.” I was still studying in La Salle. After school, I’d usually be at Fullerton Studios (owned by Tommy Tanchangco) recording stuff for its business. My work mates, Ferdie Marquez and Francis Guevarra, would talk about being in a band.

One night, I heard this piece of music written by Francis, and I thought it sounded great. I wrote the lyrics, and we completed the recording of “Perfect” in December 1991. I gave the demo to radio station 99.5 RT after FVR (Fidel V. Ramos) won the presidential elections the following year. It became huge among college and high school kids and, soon enough, record companies were looking for us.

What are your thoughts on lip-synching? Back in the ’90s, there was a lot of lip-synching in local variety shows. During shows, songs must be sung live—or you don’t sing at all!

What was the craziest thing that a fan did? It was during a Makati fiesta in the Burgos area. While I was onstage performing, someone offered me a drink, poured on the underside of a toilet plunger.

If you could only sing one song, what would it be and why? Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I love its gorgeous lyrics of love and sacrifice.

What changes would you like to see on the OPM scene? Ever since we started on the music scene, it has been a wish that radio would play more Filipino music.

I also hope that the public would continue to support the physical copies being “peddled” by local artists.

I also want the local music industry to be more communal. I lament that there is this “rock and nonrock” dichotomy that no one really wants to acknowledge.

Tell us about your creative process in composing songs? It starts with a feeling—either I’m sad or happy. Then come the words and melody.

In your book, what are the five best albums of all time? My top five: “The Language of Life” by Everything But The Girl; “Two Wheels Good/Steve McQueen” by Prefab Sprout; “No Sense of Sin” by The Lotus Eaters; “Out of Time” by R.E.M., and “Violator” by Depeche Mode.

Any amusing anecdote about your coperformers in the show? I was studying in La Salle in 1988 when there was talk on campus that a pretty girl with a powerful voice had joined one of the theater groups. It was Cooky Chua. I met her years later when she and her band, Color It Red, became popular. Color It Red and True Faith would eventually work together in a huge ad campaign for a snack brand (Chippy).

Also in 1988, I met Wency Cornejo for the first time. After Image, his band, won the grand prize at the annual La Salle band competition the previous year. Strictly Confidential, my group at the time, bagged third place in the same competition in ’88, and I remember chatting with Wency backstage. We’ve been friends since.

Tell us about True Faith’s coming album. The next album, which we hope will come out in August or September, will include the singles, “Paano Ka Magiging Akin?” and “Consolation for a Fool,” plus more of the kind of ballads that we’re known for. Some songs will evoke the usual True Faith style, while other tracks may sound “very now.”

What’s your personal anthem and why? I have a lot, but one song that I would sing in the shower before a gig is Julie Andrews’ “I Have Confidence” from “The Sound of Music.” It always puts me in the right mood and mode to do well at the show at hand. That—and Katy Perry’s “Roar” (laughs).

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