Bandwagon's first visit to 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub was last year on the Bandwagon to Wanderland tour, where we discovered several artists we're now extremely fond of, such as electronic musician Hana Acbd (we're still awaiting her return from the US but here's some new music) and Logiclub rapper Curtismith (who made headlines hijacking his Q&A slot and performing a verse for billionaire Richard Branson). It made quite an impression on us - the lights, sound, vibe, the convenience of the location (there's parking!), the food, the line up curation - and we've been back a few times since.
Last Saturday, we paid another visit to join the finale of the week-long birthday celebration of 12 Monkeys. Instead of the normal this-is-what-happened and this-is-what-you-missed review, we thought we'd get started on our new series, "Behind The Scene", where we take a closer look at the people beyond the music, whatever "scene" they're in. We decided it would be the perfect opportunity to get to know the people we see at gigs, because there's more to the music community than the artists.
Here are a few of the amazing individuals we met that night:
Archie Aragon, 12 Monkeys' sound engineer. He's been in the business for years, previously working with award-winning songwriter, producer, musical director and musician Nonoy Tan and Hale front man Champ Lui Pio. When asked about his job, Archie says, "Hindi ako nag-aabsent, bihira ako mag-absent... kasi 'pag wala ako rito, kahit sa bahay, trabaho iniisip ko. Kung anong nangyayari dito. (I'm never absent, because even if I stay at home, I think about work. I think about what's going on here.)"
As his boss is mixing drinks behind him, he shares his love for local music, listing Hale and Parokya Ni Edgar as two of his favorites. He has also grown to love the musicians who play at 12 Monkeys. Though it's the musicians rocking it out on stage we mostly notice when we're at a gig, half of what we enjoy blasting out the speakers is down to Archie.
Asked which artist he's had the most difficulty mixing for, he said, "Wala naman kasi magagaling naman parati nag-pperform dito. Wala naman masyado mahirap, basta isa-isa lang. (No one, really, because most of the artists who perform here are really good.)"
Raymond Leyesa has been a bartender for 10 years now. He's one of the pioneers of 12 Monkeys. We asked him who his favorite bands are and right away he exclaims, "Hale! Tsaka Parokya (ni Edgar)! Kasi boss ko sila! (Hale and Parokya ni Edgar! Because they're my bosses!)" He then adds that aside from his boss's bands, he truly enjoys the night whenever Urbandub and Franco play at 12 Monkeys. According to Raymond, what he loves most about his job is how fun and crazy it can get at times. "Masaya talaga ako rito (I'm really happy here)," he told Bandwagon. And true enough, we found ourselves having a hard time choosing which photo of his to publish here, because he just looked genuinely happy in every one. The one we ended up picking? A candid one.
Darling Dangpalan came in as a server in 2014 and is now 12 Monkeys' Dining Supervisor. We found her - rather, she found us while we were lurking behind the bar, trying to think of who to talk to next. She was pretty busy and we didn't want to get in the way of her work, so we decided to wait it out. We found her again and, this time, she was ready for us (sort of). "I'm a pioneer here. I started as a server in 2014, then I was promoted to Team Leader in the same year, and last year, I became the Dining Supervisor. I handle everyone on the floor except the kitchen. We started from a team of around 23 and there's over 40 of us now." We asked her what the best thing about her job was and she answered, "Masaya! Parang naglalaro lang kami every night. Trato namin dito parang pamilya. Tsaka, two years na akong di kailangan magbayad to see my favorites live - South Border, Freestyle, Urbandub! Na-memeet ko pa sila! (It's fun! It doesn't feel like work at all. Here we treat each other like family. It's been two years since I had to pay to meet and see my favorite artists perform live!)"
Eunice Sanchez, one of 12 Monkeys' official photographers for their 2nd birthday party, was standing behind us angling for a better shot when we met her. We let her take the spot, and later managed to chat with her about her experience shooting gigs. Currently studying at College of St Benilde, where she's taking up Photography, Eunice has been doing live music photography for a while now, having previously covered gigs at live music institution, Saguijo. When asked about shooting for 12 Monkeys, she said, "I don't use flash when I shoot, so the lighting here helps a lot. It makes shooting easier."
Merick Safred and Marichelle Capila, fans who have been at 12 Monkeys since 4 PM, crossed our radar sidestage during Hale's set. Marichelle told us with utmost enthusiasm how she's been listening to Hale since she was young. It was her first time at the venue and had been looking forward to seeing Autotelic, a band she admires but has never seen live before. Merick, on the other hand has been to 12 Monkeys a few times and was waiting for She's Only Sixteen and Curtismith. Both of them are self-confessed lovers of local music.
Sitting in the outdoor section, we found Bryan Tolentino, road manager for Hale since 2008. We asked him to tell us what exactly road managers do and he was more than happy to share with us the good, the bad and the crazy. "I take care of logistics. Time ng gig, kung saan yung venue. (Time and venue of the gig). I'll be the one to call them (the band)... Monitor them, kung nasaan na sila, ah pero hindi na kasama yung love life nila dun. (I monitor where they are, but that doesn't include details of their love lives.) Pag nasa venue na yung crew - 3 PA's plus the four members of Hale - the manager is not always with us, so ako nag-oversee sa lahat. Ako nag-fofollow up sa kanila, so ako parati ang masama or ako ang mabuti sa organizers. (I oversee everything. I'm the one in charge of following up after the members, so I'm always either the good guy or the bad guy in the eyes of the organizers.) Family kami. Me and Champ, magkababata kami since 9 years old. One of our crew (members) came from ABS-CBN also. Family kami talaga. Kung anong kinakain ng banda, yun din ang kinakain namin. Brothers kami. (We're a family. Champ and I have known each other since we were 9 years old. Whatever the band eats, we eat the same thing. We're all brothers.)"
When asked which gig has stood out the most so far, he shared two very different experiences, "Sa CWC puro artista nanonood samin before kami nagdisband. Walang nakikinig samin, lahat gusto lang uminom so tapos nun, lahat kami namatay nalang sa pool. So fun yun na gig. (We were at CWC and our audience were mostly composed of celebrities. No one was listening to the band play anymore. Everyone just wanted to drink and we all ended up in the pool. It was a fun gig.) In terms of performance naman, siguro yung sa SM Bacoor. Kasi nung tumutugtog kami dun, lahat ng mga establishments nagsasara sila kasi nababasagan sila ng salamin. Tsaka every time nag-mmall show kami dun sinasamantala ng mga magnanakaw, sa mga stores, also one reason bakit nagsasara sila. (We had a show at SM Bacoor and the stores had to close during the time the band was playing because the glass windows were shaking. Every time we have a show there, the looters take advantage and that's also one of the reasons they have to close the doors down.)
Champ Lui Pio, Hale front man but tonight - at least, at the moment this photo was taken - played bartender to guests and friends at 12 Monkeys. Formerly the pub's Director of Programming, Champ has taken a step back this year to focus on vocalist duties, but remains to be a Managing Partner. With his band on the anniversary line up, Champ took a mid-set break to give a well deserved shoutout to the 12 Monkeys staff for their wonderful work night after night. The crowd responded with thunderous applause for Archie, Raymond, Darling and the rest of the 12 Monkeys family.
12 Monkeys Pub & Music Hall is located at 5th level, Century City Mall, Makati.