By Tinnie P. Esguerra
Former Side A frontman/guitarist Pido Lalimarmo recently released his latest composition, Invisible Cages, under the Glass Onion Entertainment label.
Barely a week since its viral debut, the song already ranked #60 in iTunes Top 200 All Genres category, and also placed #46 in the Top 200 Pop chart.
The steady climb seems like a clear vindication, a fitting payback and an optimistic ray of hope for musical artists like him whose careers went on a standstill because of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s not surprising how Invisible Cages clearly channels its message of hope and resilience despite the desolation, anxiety and bleak uncertainty of the times.
Aside from being a cathartic experience, it also proved to be a productive endeavor for Pido, who traces his last songwriting efforts back to his Bittersweet album (2004) days.
“It was one of the more positive things that came out of the lockdown,” he admits. “With nothing much to do, it seemed the perfect time to get creative and get back in the songwriting groove–which I actually missed doing.”
Amazingly, Invisible Cages took only a week from basic concept to finished product.
“I started with the title. I usually write the lyrics first, then the music follows,” Pido recalls.
With the rough guitar and vocal tracks recorded at his home studio, the finishing touches included the addition of piano and synth patches (courtesy of Wowee Posadas) and fretless bass work by equally prolific session ace, Rommel dela Cruz.
Like most prolific musicians of his caliber, Pido kept his fingers busy to shake off the gloom and boredom throughout most of last year. Thanks to technology, his musical cohorts were just a click away–all eager to collaborate on a just-for-kicks jam, or with a bit of luck, a full-blown paid gig.
One such memorable virtual gig was the much-publicized Side A Calesa Redux reunion concert last January, which turned out to be a creative high for everyone, especially because of an impending sequel and a whole lot of limitless possibilities for collaboration and recording.
“Hearing the new arrangements of the old songs, it made me realize each member’s amazing musical growth. So, it was really inspiring! Imagine, after 30 years!!!” Pido reminisces.
His other musical collaborations included a few online jams with Black Cows (their Steely Dan tribute project) members featuring rearrangements of pop favorites. Pido also got to flex his instrumental virtuosity while breezing through a few original fusion instrumentals courtesy of keyboardist Bobby Velasco.
There’s also the Uniphunk project, comprised of bad-ass session guys giving a ‘phunky’ twist on OPM hits, as well as his virtual concert, dubbed ‘In Retrospect,’ with longtime singing buddy Paolo Santos just this month.
Apart from his musical ventures, Pido also considers himself lucky for having bagged a couple of brand endorsements last year, namely: Skeen Face and Body Anti-Aging Center, and Angelo Falconi III Salon Professionals.
Most of Pido’s fans who’ve seen him in live gigs can clearly attest to his preference for guitar-driven tunes: James Taylor, Stephen Bishop, Christopher Cross, to name a few. But despite his penchant for such songs, Pido admits that he doesn’t want to fall into songwriting cliches.
He admits, “Sometimes, I try to veer away from guitar-based music, like Bakit Di Mo Pansin? (from his Pido With Take One album). Also, Windows of Our Souls (from the first Side A album) isn’t guitar-based.”
“I also try not to worry much about direction, like aiming for a distinct ‘sound’ to reflect any specific time. What matters more to me is songwriting consistency. That’s why I aim to write at least a new tune every month–or better.”
With the vast reservoir of talent in the local OPM realm, who among today’s bumper crop of new artists is he eyeing for collaboration?
He instantly replies, “There’s Clara Benin, who also happens to be the daughter of Joey (original Side A bassist/songwriter). It’s not surprising where she got her talent, and she definitely has that creative spark. This girl will go a long way, for sure.”
The Invisible Cages music video (now on YouTube) was conceptualized and directed by Pido’s Black Cows bandmate, bassist Bolichie Suzara, who is also an accomplished freelance photographer. Additional credit goes to videographer Jerome Mejia of Creative Monkey Productions.
The four-minute vid finds Pido amid the dark, dingy confines of a warehouse cum garage, with a massive pickup as his main backdrop.
“I initially wanted it to be black and white,” Pido explains, “but when I saw the outcome of the first takes, I liked the vibe instantly.”
Another interesting sidelight: the cover artwork for the single was based on a painting of Pido done by Side A founder and frontman Rodel Gonzalez, an accomplished Disney artist whose works have also been commissioned by Lucas Films, Star Wars Arts, Peanuts and many more prestigious outfits.
With the radical changes in the recording industry during the past decades, Pido remains optimistic, especially with the advent of digital technology and the concomitant surge in digital streaming platforms.
He says, “Of course, nakaka-miss holding an actual copy of your album, but nowadays, it’s actually easier to keep track of your stats–downloads and all.”
Invisible Cages is available on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, 24/7 Musicshop, Amazon Music, KKBox, Qobuz, Tidal, and other digital streaming platforms.