It's been a long time coming, but AOUI's debut album is just a day away...for now.
Straight out of the four walls of drummer Franco Malaya's home studio, the Filipino post-rock act's self-titled record is packed with nine DIY tracks, including their singles 'Recess,' 'For Now,' and 'All Good,' that will get your feet moving and your heartbeats racing to their feel-good groove. If isn't going to make you smile, it's definitely going to make you feel tingles of joy all over.
"Medyo matagal yung process," guitarist Sho Hikino, who recorded, mixed, and mastered their album, tells Bandwagon. Even if it did take three years for them to deliver an album, they still have an impressive backstory to tell. Long before they even released their debut single 'Recess,' they shared the stage with Japanese post-rock act Tricot and later with LITE, before hitting the Singapore stage with UDD, Giniling Festival, and Maude. And to keep with the theme of going completely DIY, guitarist Paolo Yazon and bassist Glenn Calingasan teamed up to conceptualize and create the visuals of AOUI together, aiming for a comic-inspired aesthetic.
UDD, Maude, AOUI to perform in Singapore this August
Bandwagon caught up with drummer Franco Malaya, bassist Glenn Calingasan, and guitarists Sho Hikino and Paolo Yazon to give a rundown of each track off their first full-length album ahead of its official release.
Paolo: Yung 'Bludream,' essentially intro lang siya ng 'For Now' na ginagawa namin live, pero mas maikling version.
Glenn: First song na nabuo ng AOUI. Hindi pa nga ata AOUI ang band name namin nun. Roji or AOUIE ata name namin nun (laughs). Hindi pa final na AOUI.
Sho: This guy Christian Babista watched us at Fête de la Musique and probably enjoyed our set. Then messaged us through our Facebook page and offered to help us with a music video. It took months before we got back to him and asked if he was still game. It's all DIY. All the ideas were practically on the fly. It ended up great, surprisingly! We were satisfied. The whole day we were shooting without a proper team. It was just the band and two guys.
Glenn: Nung nagsstart pa lang mabuo ang AOUI, Rega yung isa sa mga influences namin. Nagagree din kami noon na kailangan may groove pa din yung mga songs para 'di nakakasawa pakinggan. May groove and may melody. Isa to sa kinalabasan nun. Groovy! Tapos habang ginagawa yung parang too much groove so nalagayan ng mabigat na part. Ayun (laughs).
Sho: My inspiration for the main riff was Daft Punk and then the chorus with the vocal part was John Frusciante-inspired. I wanted groovy!
Franco: 'Recess' used to be called 'Funk Sinatra.'
Glenn: This is song is about... two pieces of beef chelo kobedeh with basmati rice (laughs)! Yung 'Chebodeh!' ay galing sa Beef Chelo Kebab na favorite namin kainin sa isang Persian restaurant. 'Chebodeh!' yung sinasabi ni Sho, hindi chelo kobedeh.
Sho: Yung truth niyan, Terno had a kebab craze, because they discovered this Persian restaurant up north. Well, it reached AOUI. The recommended dish was the chelo kobedeh—I'm not sure if it was Bombee [Duerme of Giniling Festival] or Franco. After that, nung nakapunta na ko, I asked them what's good. Tapos chelo kobedeh daw. I didn't know what it was, and I couldn't remember the name the first time, I ended up saying chebodeh.
It's song #13. Whenever we ended rehearsal or songwriting, "tara chebodeh tayo!" That's always the order. Ever since. We thought of using 'Chebodeh!' as the title of 13. It sounds nice—with an added exclamation mark.
Glenn: Filler song na pang intro namin sa 'All Good.'
Glenn: '14' yung initial na title nito, madami na ding nagtanong bakit 'All Good' yung title pero sa ibang videos '14 / Fourteen' ang nakalagay na title. Pag gumawa kasi kami ng song, numbers gamit namin na title muna, kung pangilang song idea or riff siya nagawa. Ito yung fourteenth. Yung feel naman ng song parang good vibes, may nagsabi na parang majestic or parang victorious yung feeling nung song. May isa pang term na sinabi samin eh, 'di ko lang maalala (laughs). Ayun, 'All Good!'
Sho: This one started with me also. It's basically a riff that starts with three against four. It ended up with a happy vibe. Rhythm-wise, the middle part of the song has a very Flamenco-ish strum, while the melody you hear that sounds like an organ with a rotary. It's actually based off another song that we also wrote, but eventually used its melody for 'All Good.'
Glenn: Yung main riff nito tunog tubig eh. Pag pinapakinggan ko siya 'di ko alam bakit, pero naaalala ko 'Under the Sea' (laughs)! Kaya nung nagiiisip kami ng titles for the song, nauwi sa medyo kinalaman sa water, sa beach. May part din sa song na may mga tunog ng whale (laughs).
Franco: White water is a safe place to learn surfing.
Sho: 'White Water' was Glenn's title, because he used to go to surfing a lot. I wasn't thinking about the beach or anything like that when I wrote it. But it felt like it when we were playing it na, and we realized it then! We all agreed!
Glenn: The title means "night city." Yung song parang tunog Hapon, si Pao kasi nung bago kami mabuo nagcocover siya ng mga Japanese prog music. Check niyo sa YouTube. Tapos yung mga song ideas niya mga ganyan yung tunog, sounds Japanese. Influenced din ng punk yung song.
Paolo: 'Yoru,' isa sa mga earlier songs namin. Usually pag gumagawa kami ng kanta, either ako or si Sho gagawa ng riff tapos dedevelop namin, 'eto nagsimula sa riff na medyo mahirap, yung second section ng song na 'di ko nga alam kung bakit ko pinahihirapan sarili ko. Tapos ginawa namin na may mga halong ibang tunog tulad ng punk tapos meron pang 3/4 na Irish para pwedeng sumayaw si Sho.
Franco: Last call was initially titled 'Jeng Jong.'
Glenn: Ito yung song na nabuo namin ng isang araw lang tapos kinabukasan may gig kami, tinugtog namin kagad. Halos walang masyado nabago sa arrangement ng kanta simula nung mabuo siya. May mga lines lang na may iniba ng onti ang dinagdag pero overall ganun pa rin.
Ang gusto namin sa song na to, it starts off with a happy mood tapos ends with a heavy feeling. Parang ang saya tapos biglang DESTRUCTION (laughs)! Initially, balak sana namin lagyan ng isa pang song after nito para pangtanggal dun sa mabigat na feeling ng ending pero hinayaan na lang namin.
Sa title naman, nagupload si Franco ng live video nito tapos dapat 'Last Song' ang title ng video kasi last song talaga siya lagi sa set. Pero 'Last Call' ang nalagay niya tapos parang bagay naman so yun na ginamit namin na title.
AOUI's self-titled debut album is slated for release on May 10 (Friday) via Terno Recordings.
They are slated to share the stage with UDD and Maude in Singapore this August. Tickets are available for 100 SGD (VIP) and 60 SGD (Regular). For tickets and inquiries, text Requiem Rising at 8468-7155 or 9836-7120. RSVP to the show here.