When Pedicab broke into the scene in 2004, we remembered that it was perfectly acceptable to shuffle our feet and dance our hearts out during gigs. With highly infectious songs that stay true to the aesthetics of electro dance punk and which arguably ushered in a new breed of homegrown music, Pedicab could send the audience into a frenzy with its heady mix of playful synths, fuzzy guitars and disco drum beats, as well as fetchy lyrics that you could sing to even as you sway your hips and tap your feet.
Pedicab’s distinct sound, which first blew listeners away starting from the band’s first album, “Tugish Takish,” was a rare gem even in the vast music landscape of 2005. Not dancing, singing and rocking to singles like “Dito Tayo Sa Dilim,” “Bleached Streaks” and “Dizzy Boy” was—and still is—close to impossible. A Pedicab gig, or listening to the band’s album, is a contagious habit one gets into, song after song. Pedicab won as Best New Artist at the NU Rock Awards on the same year.
The band released “Shinji Ilabas Mo Na Ang Helicopter” in 2009. “Simulan Mo Na” and “Ang Pusa Mo” became fan favorites and the band proved that Pedicab wasn’t just a fad that fades when a new tide comes in. By the time the single “Otomatik,” a song from the EP “Kaya Mo Bang Mag-Sando” was released three years after, we knew in our hearts that the band’s members—Diego Mapa, Raimund Marasigan, Jason Caballa, Mike Dizon and RA Rivera—were never going to run out of ideas that would soon transform from plain weird, to whimsical and edgy yet catchy and melodic.
These days, Pedicab’s members can be seen wearing helmets while performing, as they tour bars across the country to promote “Remuda Triangle,” a 10-track album that was released earlier this year.
The concept for the album feeds off vocalist Diego Mapa’s fascination for extraterrestrial theories. The title takes its cue from Bermuda Triangle, the name of the area in the Atlantic Ocean where aircrafts have mysteriously disappeared. “Remuda” is the street in Marikina where Marasigan’s personal studio is located. Longtime friend Shinji Tanaka engineered and mastered the album, while Buddy Zabala coproduced.
The album was released on vinyl; yet another daring move from the most dangerous band in the land. The helmets were handcrafted from household items by artist Leeroy New as part of his Aliens of Manila project.
“What’s The Algorithm,” the first single off the album, was released via a nifty music video that pays homage to popular 8-bit video games from the 1980s. Five alien beings in helmets representing Pedicab’s members appear throughout the video and serve as an introduction to the overriding concept for the album.
In an interview with Super, Diego, Jason, Mike, RA and Raimund talked about their album and ongoing tour, among other things.
It’s been five years since your last album was released, why did you finally decide to release “Remuda Triangle,” and on vinyl, no less?
Jason: Feeling ko long overdue nana maglabas kami mg bagong stuff.
Diego: It’s our first independent release. Dream talaga namin magkaroon ng plaka. Mas doable siya na independent kasi puwede namin gawin ’yung gusto naming gawin and fortunately may backer kami na tinulungan kami to print the record, which is gray market.
Tell us more about inspiration for the concept for the album. When did you start cooking up ideas for “Remuda Triangle”?
Diego: Inspired by aliens. Actually, mainly of History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” pero marami rin siyang aspects ng films. Chariots of the Gods, ’yung book, Zachariah Sitchin. Tapos mga films, “Superman,” “Interstellar.” Since 2014 pa lang, naiisip na namin.
Was there a conscious effort to write songs under this specific alien theme from the start?
Diego: Para siyang running joke sa amin eh. Parang, ‘ano, gawa tayo ng album tungkol sa aliens lahat!’ Parang ganun. Ano kaya pa lang nun eh. Lagi kasi akong nagpi-pitch ng songs sa kanila eh. Meron na akong 10 demos, actually more than 10, and then pinili namin kung ano ’yung trip naming buohin talaga. So yes, there was a conscious effort.
How is this album different from your previous releases?
Raimund: This one’s more textured, parang opposite ng previous albums na mas minimal. Eto parang mas, we just piled on stuff for fun.
Would you say it’s better than your previous releases?
Raimund: It’s different. It’s weirder, we’re just trying to outweird ourselves.
Jason: Ang daming nangyayari.
Diego: Sa buong discography namin, marami ding moments dun na favorite namin. Sa recording, marami kaming ginawa na ’di namin ginawa previously. Pati sa arrangements, may extro na hindi naman kailangan, may weird parts na…
Raimund: It’s getting out of our habits.
Diego: Kumbaga hindi siya verse-chorus-verse, nag-try kami nang ibang arrangement ngayon. Parang, verse-chorus-bridge and then second bridge, ending, parang ganun.
Out of the 10 tracks in “Remuda Triangle,” which ones stand out, in your opinion?
Diego: “What’s the Algorithm,” “Meet Your Right.” Favorite live tracks ngayon, “Walang Maramdaman” and “Sending Out a Signal.” Pati “Virgo Dragon” and “Star Jetty.”
Jason: Mahirap kasi pumili ng standout kasi tahi sila. It works in a bigger context kasi lahat sila medyo weird.
Why the decision to let Diego play the guitar, after so many years?
Jason: Kasi hindi ako magaling (laughs). Joke lang. I think the songs called for it.
Diego: Nung ginagawa ko ’yung demos, iniisip ko talaga magkakaroon kami ng twin guitars. Kasi na-enjoy namin, nagkaroon na kami ng tracks na nagtwi-twin guitars na kami.
The band is over a decade old. Would you say you’re getting better with age?
Jason: We’re getting weirder (laughs).
Raimund: We’re getting more confident, not necessarily better. We’re getting more confident to try out new things.
Diego: Hindi, we’re better (laughs)!
But there’s no longer collective pressure to be better, or to outdo your last body of work?
Personal na ’yun. We’re all trying to be better musicians, a better band. Playing better live, find ways to improve the live shows. But it’s something personal, as artists, parang ganun. Find new ways to present the old songs visually, sonically. Little things.
Tell us about this tour you’re having.
Mike: Consciously nag-hold back for two months, we didn’t play for two months after namin mag-launch ng album. And then minap-out namin ’yung places and bars na normally iniikutan ng live bands, and we added more bars na hindi pa iniikutan. Like kumuha kami sa provinces, may Laguna kami, San Pablo , Nakahanap rin kami ng LB (Los Baños). Pero siyempre, with the help of our friends na rin na nakaikot. Na-inspire kami. Like ’yung Typecast, DIY lang sila. Parang, ‘Wow paano niyo nagagawa ’yan, pa-hookup naman sa ganitong bar.’ And in return, kami naman, uy may iikutan tayong bago, shine-share naman namin ’yung bago sa mga sususunod. Puwede kasi ’yun, kasi ‘indie.’ So kumilos kami and naghanap kami ng venues.
Raimund: Pumili kami ng mga lugar na gustong puntahan and pumili rin kami ng mga bands na gusto naming magkasama sa mga venues. So, we mapped everything out and called people.
Diego: Tsaka ’yung bars, pinili rin namin ’yung bar. Hindi lang siya ’yung basta bar. Kailangan, may tugtog ba diyan, may eksena.
Mike: And in every bar, naka-match din ’yung lineup. Hindi siya basta-basta mapuno lang namin ’yung four bands. Sa ganitong lugar, sino ba ’yung bagay na kasabay natin? So pinag-isipan talaga.