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The Impossible Sounds Of DiE ROCKERS DiE
The cacophonic singing, irregular rhythms, grating harmonies and discordant guitars of DiE ROCKERS DiE's songs sometimes suggest a near chaotic improvised blend inspired by krautrock, no wave, dub, noise and ambient spacerock - only to name a few. DRD is deeply rooted in the notion that if one's creative intentions are pure, the possibilities are endless. Since it is natural for people to shut out what they do not understand, The band, which is now based in Los Angeles and originated in Long Beach, have earlier on their existence dabbled in more experimental and exploratory post-whatever improvisations. Many have attempted to describe what the band is about but all attempts end up hopeless, since the band seems to exist in a world that is entirely of their own. This earned them the somewhat plausible term "musical outsiders" wherever they played. Always the fish out of water. But the band never took it badly, they took pride in their ability to stand out in their imperfections and regarded it as being their most valuable asset. Besides, the original plan really, was to be able to get away with whatever they wanted to do. DiE ROCKERS DiE's early sound was mostly based in repetitive hooks and trance inducing elements overlaid with atmospheric noise and at times, sudden bursts of effect-laden sound textures which creates this big mass of sound where you cannot distinguish which instrument is which, turning everything into what others have come to refer to as "one big fucking orgy of sounds and noise." Partly improvised or partly figured out? If it is, which parts are which? -or does it really matter? These are the questions people ponder upon themselves once they hear an early DRD track. But asking these questions is not about a matter of answering them. Its more a matter of understanding the question: DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
The band first got together in late 2003. Formulated at first by Champoy Hate and Oliver Dammasch, who were both California transplants from the island of Cebu in the Philippines where they were part of the local indie scene. They later included Jade Abellaneda who was also from the same island to play the drums. In the beginning, though they still didn't have a bass player, they kept working on songs and experimenting with creative ways to produce out of this world sounds with their instruments. However the bass-less line-up did not last long because Brian Jordan, the only true Long Beach native in the band, joined them shortly after adding another driving element to what would be the start of a very strange journey into the realm of sound -exploring all of the sonic possibilities that the available instruments could produce. The first few sessions were still very loose, very raw and sometimes very perplexing, even for the band. The awkwardness and the half-assed playing can be heard in the earlier recordings but it is understood since they were still just trying to gel with each other. The songs reflected structures that build up and collapse as easily as they are built, making them sound really lost and looking for a place to stand in all the wrong places. After a little while, they started to feel a little comfortable with each other and though they produce some really intense and mind-expanding music from those free-form freak-out experiments, the band still wanted to dive deeper into the existing standards and concepts of how and what music should be. Not really as much to challenge it but rather to show others that there are different perspectives to everything -that anything can be done when it is coming from the right place.
From time to time DiE ROCKERS DiE also enlisted the aid of sound artist, Drew De Ramos , who releases his own recordings as A Growl Translucent and who was then a member of the Los Angeles band, Pedro Gil to add synths and bleeps and clicks and klangs, which sort of made him the unofficial fifth member. After having played their second gig, the band then decided that it was for their best interest to part ways with drummer, Jade who was apparently not catching up with what the band was hoping to do musically. They went on for a while as a trio with champoy doing skin duties but luckily found someone a couple of weeks after. Brian knew some friends who knew this guy, Tyler Smith who was pretty much into Can and they thought perhaps he will get what DiE ROCKERS DiE are trying to do. So the band contacted Tyler, who also happens to play skins for another Long Beach band, The Paper Planes and after a couple of mind-expanding jam sessions, the rest was history. The band has been working on taming the madness that happens when they get together, finding a way to be able to communicate the concept to people without appearing too bleak in the process. But with a group like DiE ROCKERS DiE, its all part of the trip. They recorded their first CD recording release called "Pasagdi Silang Matigulang" at Kalibrated Studios in Long Beach, a hip-hop studio and it was all recorded live with two channels. At that time DRD wasn't really so keen about the ideas that lie ahead in production. For them, they were just amateurs, exploring, letting their experiences unfold by itself, letting the journey of this collective of individuals unfold itself through time and creative openness.
Since they formed the band have always found it hard to play gigs or book shows at clubs because they seldom find other bands that sort of compliment what they are trying to do musically in an artistic level. Though DRD hasn't really subscribed to any musical label, they have always been keen in doing things on their own terms, which is sometimes a big problem for promoters because their live sets usually are intended to challenge the audience as to how long they can endure what they are doing. Sets that begin in subtle ambient noises done repetitively that slowly start to mutate into an earplug-oxidizing volume that just fills the whole wrong with vibrations all over. They are also known to play their instruments in a non traditional way, using far-out tunings or using no chords at all, but always keeping themselves open enough to only employ it when necessary. On-stage, the band exudes a childlike grace in what they do, as if they are in their own world and that they are merely sharing an experience with the audience. The band would sometimes go on-stage to culminate ambient soundscapes of epic proportions using only one single chord that often lasts from ten to twenty minutes of total musical mindfucking. Later on, the band got to meet the guys from art DAMAGED, who later on became DRD's partner in crime.
As DRD later on evolved, Tyler quit the band and Champ started to take over skin duties again. The songs started to become more structured and it simply relied on a lot of early repetitious buildups that led to glorious heights of ecstatic noise. The evolution was natural since right after Tyler left, DRD played one show as a trio backed up by some drum loop at a really memorable gig at Long Beach where they caused some minor commotion which ended up with them being ousted from the show for being too loud. Pictures of the gig showed people covering their ears trying to get away from all the sonic madness that was bombarding thing sense of hearing. Having decided that its still at best to keep the sound organic and have that excitement of still being susceptible to slight awkward flaws, Champ got behind the skins and brought out tapes and tapes of audio samples and after much thought the band asked multi-instrumentalist Drew De Ramos to play full time on DRD.
So, with the line-up of Drew, Oliver, Brian, and Champ, they released two recordings, the first on a live CD entitled "Anything Is Possible" and the strange sounding "Orenrock" which included a track or two from the previous line-up with Tyler on drums. The new line-up played several shows with art DAMAGED, and at one point, they were each other's crowd. But this didn't stop them, in fact it made them closer. Once, members from both bands even got together and performed an amazing show as "The Masters Of The Universe". A live recording EP of that performance is available on Lo-Fi Records. The drive to keep making music that challenges peoples perceptions about things, playing it and just to keep doing it regardless of all the so-called standards on how things should be or should be done was what held them together. Eventually, later on, this shared passion developed into what was to be the beginnings of the Cough Syrup Society, a collective that was formed later on by members of DRD and art D with artist Hever Velazquez and was intended on helping the individuals, the bands and the artists who wanted to take part in spreading the "oren" which will not be explained in here -so you better explore your world and find out for yourself!
After recording the material for "Orenrock", creative differences broke out within the band and somehow they went on hiatus for several months. Brian did not want to work things out so Drew and Oliver went to work on Every Man Believes he can Tame a Nymph where they crossed paths with drummer/keyboardist, Vivian Chow. Vivian who does her own thing as Vivian 808 will also later on become a vital part of the collective and DRD.
During this time, Champ also made his second record as C.H. Desafinado while still trying to deal with the desire to make something that involves more people sharing each other's creativity in realizing one cohesive vision. That there can be no cohesive vision! That even if we try to come up with one, its not going to be true! Because despite of our ideals and beliefs, we are doomed to hypocrisy. And the more we try ur best not to fall into the hole, the faster the hole builds up around us. Music itself as an experience cannot be compartmentalized as it is because things are ever-changing and we as living organisms are ever-changing. And the only way to be real is to embrace the flaws together with what others regard as the "ideal" and find ways in making it work together and working with it. Having had this realization one evening Champ told Oliver and Oliver thought he was crazy. And that was it. Champ never went back to work in an office again.
A few months later, DRD resurfaced again at The Scene with another line-up and a batch of new songs that incorporated all the previous ideas into more song-oriented structures that were wrapped in lyrical sarcasm and musical cacophony. The line-up had Oliver still on guitars and Champ back on guitars and also doing all the rambling and talking and out of tune meanderings, weaving words into thoughts that become little black holes of absolute wisdom or worse, meaninglessness... basically, its all stream of consciousness rantings from his notebooks. Drew had shifted from synths and guitar into bass guitars and the band also introduced a new rooster of fresh members. Frank Velez played the drums and the saxophone, Jong Neri played guitars and sang back-up, Lia Montalvan played percussions, sang back-up, screamed, shrieked, made noises and added some crazy acrobatic visuals during the live shows. Also jumping in once in while was art Damaged drummer, Ryan Mata who played tambourines and sat in on the drums when Frank was blowing wind. The whole idea of a collective had become so incestuous and DRD embraced that with full openness enabling those who think they can play with the band to actually play in the band to actually experience for themselves if they really can or if they just think they do. The six-member line up went on to play a lot of crazy wild shows from Fullerton to Bakersfield and to San Francisco, playing like a band of musical lunatics let loose on stage. Some shows sounded like shit, some shows sounded really excellent, but one thing was always consistent, it was always captivating in that really "i-can't-believe-what-the-fuck-is-going-on-with-this-band" kind of way (like people who love to watch car crashes or people who look at the dead bodies at the scene of a crime.)
After a couple of shows later Jong left the band to pursue a life of service to some higher form of authority, Lia also decided to quit to concentrate on her studies and "other things". Whether Frank really can't devote time or he just doesn't want to play the saxophone remains a big mystery. The band had decided to ask Vivian to play drums and considered the idea of perhaps having a full time saxophone because Frank has more edge with that instrument but apparently Frank didn't seem happy about it. So he gave up his time.
Louie Mendoza of art Damaged who has helped DRD a lot doing their demos and recordings also jammed with DRD on certain gigs and later on ended playing synths full time. Louie, who is known also by his solo project as Broken Kilometer has been a really important factor to the most recent DRD sound and his knowledge in sound and audio has been very useful to everyone in the collective especially during shows and recording. For a while the band also played several shows with Vince Wong, a local LA resident and a self-confessed gear junkie. However, his personal priorities and the band's didn't really match up so the very recent DRD personnel remains with Oliver, champ, Drew, Louie and Viv.
As of the moment, DiE ROCKERS DiE have made all their recordings available online and is currently making some deals with the devil and is working on how to capture what they do on record so they can release one soon and play some more shows -simply because without their bands they lead rather meaningless and boring lives but have now just started to consider the idea of meeting other people in other bands or people who are into bands or just basically anybody who might be inspired to do their own shit and share it to everybody else hoping to find others like themselves who can relate to that desire to create and awaken people's creative side so the can also inspire others to do their own shit and over and over and over and over... to do the most with what they have regardless of the existing "standards".
Girls and boys, THIS IS ORENROCK.
-composed based from sources and interviews by Morris D.