It’s their first-ever show in Manila, and Elephant Gym couldn't have chosen better timing.
It was way past midnight which, according to the band, was probably the latest time they have ever had to perform. KT Chang (bass, vocals), Tell Chang (guitars, keys) and Chia-Chin Tu (drums) went onstage and straight into the welcoming claps and cheers of their Filipino audience.
The audience is so loud, so we are very happy.” - KT Chang
Energy was felt from the first note played, and the intensity continuously and relentlessly soared from there. As Elephant Gym concluded their set, jaws dropped, spirits soared, hearts felt warm and ears were buzzing with the beautiful music they’ve just heard — the perfect way to end the first day of a sought-after mini-festival.
The audience in Manila really treat[ed] us with so much passion.” - Chia-Chin Tu
Truly, the bass-led, jazz-influenced math rock trio deserves to be lauded and more, and the whole world knows. Their uncommon approach on making music has gained much popularity, leading to a sizable following from different parts of the globe. Coupled with their powerful performances live and their out-of-this-world lyric videos, each fan is sure to be eager to listen to them live as they tour their sophomore album Underwater.
But what most do not know is that Elephant Gym has this knack for exploration not just with the way they create music but as well as with the way they discover things about places they visit. We at Bandwagon had the chance to talk to them about their first time to set foot in our busy city:
Taking breaks while on tour
You guys have been on tour, but with a lot of breaks in between? Why is that so?
Chia-Chin Tu: Actually, we practice almost every day.
KT Chang: Yeah, ‘cause every country, we add new songs. We just finished our album, so [for] every country, we add one song. Then we go back and practice again.
That’s so cool!
KT Chang: This time, we played a song called ‘Half’. It is in our new album and this is our first time to play this song.
Awww, we feel so special. We all saw you perform last night.
KT Chang: When we were playing that song, I was so nervous. (laughs)
Tell Chang: Because it was the first time.
Playing at All of the Noise
I’m impressed that people take their cellphones [up in the air] and have my name. It never happen[s] in Taiwan.” - KT Chang
What can you say about your experience playing at All of the Noise?
KT Chang: Me and my brother (gestures to Tell) [told] our Auntie [to] come yesterday. At the end of the show, we brought her on the stage and took a picture. I think it’s very nice.
Tell Chang: And we’ve been looking forward to seeing tide/edit, we’ve known them for a long time through YouTube. So we’re happy to play with them together and see them perform.
Chia-Chin Tu: Of course, it’s our first time to visit Manila, so everything is special.
Elephant Gym with tide/edit
Elephant Gym with tide/edit and Li Perez of A Spur of the Moment Project
Were you guys surprised with how the audience responded to your performance?
Tell Chang: I found out that the audience would try to sing our melody, but not the vocals. I’d like them to do that, [but] they seem to be shy. And when I saw Tom’s Story, they sing out loud! That’s very cool.
Discovering Filipino music
You spoke about your yaya onstage last night.
KT Chang: Her name is Flora!
Did you get to be exposed to different Filipino entertainment through her? Did you watch any Filipino films or TV shows? Did you get to listen to music?
Tell Chang: When we were child[ren], we didn't know anything. But when we grew up, we started to dig into the math rock scene and post-rock scene, and then we [knew].
KT Chang: We know there’s a lot of good post-rock bands in the Philippines.
I went to see Tom’s Story today. They’re good; they’re really good. We’ve talked and we’ve chatted. But Manila bands seldom go abroad. I think maybe they can go more and see.
- Tell Chang
Exploring the city
We saw people swimming in the river. It’s so cute!” - KT Chang
You were able to go around [the city] today right? Where did you guys go?
KT Chang: We just [got] back from the show.
Tell Chang: We walked around this area, Makati City.
KT Chang: And I bought second-hand clothes!
KT Chang: Under the bridge.
Tell Chang: It [was] a very long walk.
Oh, you went [to the] ukay-ukay (thrift shop)!
KT Chang: Yes! But the walk back here was a little dangerous. It’s hard without the traffic lights.
Tell Chang: Yeah, why [are] there no traffic lights?
Um, there are really places here without traffic lights, and pedestrian lanes.
Tell Chang: So you don’t go there?
You were very brave to go there.
Discovering Filipino food
KT Chang: I have a question, what is your favourite Filipino food? [Because] yesterday, we tried something. (turning to Tell and Tu) Do you remember the name? What we ordered yesterday. It had some shrimp and the noodle was soup … but it was not delicious.
Tell Chang: (trying to remember) Lah-mee… loh-mee…
KT Chang: YES! Yes!
Where did you eat lomi?
KT Chang: Just walk[ing]…
Tell Chang: ...around here.
Chia-Chin Tu : There’s a 24 hours [eatery nearby].
Tell Chang: We always do this in other countries.
KT Chang: I only [had] one bite and I [didn't] eat.
Tell Chang: We ate Filipino food for lunch.
KT Chang: With our Auntie in the mall. The sauce is made with peanut?
KT Chang: YES! YES!
Tell Chang: That’s good. That’s good!
KT Chang: And uh, halo-halo!
Tell Chang: It’s good!
KT Chang: Do you also like that?
Chia-Chin Tu: I ate at Banana Leaf for lunch. Restaurant. It’s just in the shopping mall called Powerplant.
You have such a unique experience! You went out on your own!
KT Chang: I can send you the picture [of] when we [ate] the not so delicious food…
Going back to Manila
You’re going to Singapore and Malaysia in January. How come you're not heading back to Manila?
KT Chang & Tell Chang: AGAIN??
Tell Chang: Too soon! Too soon!
KT Chang: We want to do a one-man show here. Maybe later next year.
Crossing our fingers, KT. Crossing our fingers.
Check out more photos from their Manila experience below:
Elephant Gym's 2nd full-length album, Underwater, is now available on Spotify, Bandcamp, and iTunes. Elephant Gym are set to perform at Decline in Singapore on January 18, 2019. Get tickets to the Singapore show here.
Special thanks to All of the Noise.
Elephant Gym portraits by Iya Forbes.