Mr. Bones and the Boneyard Circus are back with the release of their latest studio album The Grand Phantasma.
The Manila-based theatrical horror rock outfit celebrated their 10th anniversary last October 31 (Thursday) at Saguijo Cafe + Bar in Makati City, where they launched their long-awaited fourth full-length record.
The Grand Phantasma takes the 'Bedlam' act to a whole new sense of freedom as they experiment more with symphonic sounds. It is with this album where they learn the strengths of collaboration and discipline, and surely it paid off. Bandwagon caught up with the 7-piece band to talk about everything it took to deliver The Grand Phantasma through all the different stages they faced together over the past five years.
Who else did you work with on the album? What was the experience like?
Bones: First of all, my sister Joanna del Rosario. She is a perfectionist. She has a voice but she’s not really a recording artist. She’s an artist herself. She paints. She does a lot more things. There’s a whole list. But singing is one of her hobbies. So yes, when we got here into the recording studio at Tower of Doom, she told everyone to get the hell out. She just wanted her own time. And she did the tracks 'The Grand Phantasma' and 'The Fall.'
Alvin: We also had Chino [David] for 'The Grand Phantasma (Intro),' then we also had Sid [Buan].
Bones: Yes, that’s right! 'Blood on the Road,' she had a cameo. She’s awesome! That was fast too.
Alvin: We just messaged her asking if she’s around the area, pumunta siya may dalang grocery.
Bones: That’s how it started, yes. So we were recording 'Blood on the Road,' and we’re like, “Aww, man. We need extras. What’s missing?” And then Sid Buan was around the area where Tower of Doom was, and then Karl Kliatchko called her up and asked if she could do this one thing. It was so fun. It was good.
Karl: The Sid collaboration was actually pretty spontaneous. We were looking for people who could do backing and gang vocals for all of the songs. Then she came in and Bones had the idea to have her add some singing layers to 'Blood On The Road.'
Bones: That’s about it. Apart from our new members who made The Grand Phantasma awesome, such as our new bassist, Sid’s sister Paige Buan; our new drummer, Aldreen Alcantara; and of course, Karl Kliatchko, who is Alvin’s twin.
Alvin: Jovic [De Leon], our former drummer did all the drum tracks except for the last song.
This is also the first time that we worked in a different studio. Dati kasi sobrang relax lang. We can come in the studio to record pero mas tambay lang. Sa Tower of Doom kami natuto ng displina. Kasi bayad ang oras, and we have to respect that. First time din namin na may producers outside of the band.
How long did it take to work on the album?
Bones: Three years? No, because three years ago, it was three songs. In one year, we did three songs. We were just playing around. But then we just had that massive break. I mean, we weren’t really working on it for three years. It was more like if we put it all together, let’s give it a year, one and a half years, nearly two years. The other sides, we were just playing around.
Alvin: Four years! In and out of the studio. We recorded our first song with Tower, 2016. Then we signed with Tower in 2017. Then nag-iba ng members, so it’s like back to zero.
Iba pa yung mga songs na dapat kasama for this album. 'Karma Carousel,' 'Violent Dreams,' 'Magic,' 'Wicked Eyes.' Yung 'Smiling Jackal' lang yung nasama. The rest sinulat na bago na. Except for 'Blood' and 'Yours Truly.'
What were you guys up to between now and The Great Fall Onto Madness?
Karl: A lot of people know about the lineup changes, which ended up with Paige, Aldreen, and myself. The band never stopped playing shows either. We also had the Maria soundtrack, which was a whole album on its own!
Bones: Yes. While we were fixing The Grand Phantasma, we did an album for a Netflix movie called Maria by Pedring A. Lopez. We did the whole soundtrack for it. We wrote for it as well. They gave us the script as well. It was cool. It was awesome. That’s what was happening.
And then we’re working on the 10th anniversary as well and the launch for The Grand Phantasma. It’s just busy, busy.
How different is this record compared to your previous releases?
Bones: There isn’t! I’m kidding. I would tell you it’s a lot heavier and less of the storytelling. Our previous one, The Great Fall into Madness, was very much of the storytelling and we just wanted to keep the pace. That’s the difference.
Each album represented something different. The Horror Scene was the youth. The Great Fall into Madness was where I was trying to find myself. Maria was freedom. The Grand Phantasma is freedom too, but I guess deeper? They all kind of are deep, in a way, fighting enemies.
Karl: Horror Scene definitely had a strong psychobilly vibe. The Great Fall Onto Madness sounded like an evolution of the Horror Scene sound, except with the psychobilly elements traded in for heavier riffs and grooves. With The Grand Phantasma, I would say we have a more symphonic sound going on, though some songs are pretty gritty as well.
Paige: I feel like with the previous albums, it was really Boneyard establishing its own unique sound and identity. With Maria, it was taking the script and the story and then translating it the Boneyard way. With The Grand Phantasma, it’s knowing and acknowledging the Jekyll and Hyde.
In what ways would you say the band has grown musically and creatively since you first started out?
Bones: Sobriety is one. Maria, which was completely different from what we were trying to write. That was kind of learning and stretching our music a little bit. We had a lot of bull crap, and we learned from that. Watching ourselves do our live performances and learning from that.
Karl: We are definitely a more collaborative band these days.
Paige: There’s a lot of experimenting and trying new things out, but always staying true to the sound that’s so uniquely Boneyard.
Alvin: I think this time we are more focused on creating more materials. Less of the drinking and the drama (laughs).