Fast-emerging indie band Last Song Bea marks a radical departure from its ‘Manila sound’ peg—a nifty tag that best describes the feel-good and lighthearted vibe prevalent in its previous releases, ‘Nakakotse’ and ‘Tara!’
Dark, brooding and melancholic, ‘Inside’ aptly captures the pain and anguish of heartbreak with its cryptic lyrics and chugging tempo. It’s a sonic landscape reminiscent of the New Wave bands of yore, with a dash of country rock thrown in for good measure.
Contrapuntal accents of violin and cello add an even more ambient layer, weaving in and out of the sparse mix, cueing in the foreboding melancholy.
Beyond the tragic pathos, however, the song’s subtle underpinnings reveal a cathartic triumph–a much-needed respite and closure just like the proverbial calm after the storm.
Last Song Bea frontman and band leader Richard Parcia shares his inside track on the creation of the tune.
He narrates, “The core parts of the song were made by the same folks who did ‘Nakakotse.’ In fact, it was composed almost at the same time [mid-’90s], with ‘Inside’ slightly ahead. We publicly performed it then with [retired actor] Bojo Molina, who was my bandmate back in college. The song has four subtle parts stitched together, each part representing the different stages of grief.”
“The original version was composed by Francis Tuazon and myself. The version that came out of the recording is significantly different. In fact, only the chorus was left from the original. I changed the lyrics to reflect a mature sensibility. the original was far too saccharine. And just like the previous releases, it was a team effort. Even the featured artists pitched in.”
Among the guests are professional singer Kathrina Garces, whom Richard describes as “someone who brought in a different approach which allowed us to go for the extra mile with the song.”
He adds, “As a testament to her ability, that high note at the end of the bridge that segues to the roaring solo was her impromptu idea, and was done in one take. We were all blown away.”
Richard also shares that it was his and their keyboard player’s (Nimrod Lacquian] idea to add violin and cello to the track.
“The violinist is Awit Awards Hall of Famer Merjohn Lagaya. The cello part was done by the young and talented cellist, Jon Garcia. Merjohn ‘owned’ the song. He perfectly expressed the melancholic nature of the piece. Those string parts made the song quite epic. With them in the mix, it almost sounds like a fitting movie soundtrack, don’t you think? We’re pitching!” Richard teases.
As an interesting sidelight, Last Song Bea released two versions of ‘Inside,’ the second being a stripped-down, piano-driven rendition. Surprisingly, both versions have so far garnered almost the same number of Spotify streams, with the original chalking in almost 100,688 hits, with the acoustic version not too far behind at 41,706 as of this writing.
Why did the band decide to release two versions of the tune?
Richard elaborates, “We had a hard time writing and producing theis song, and the initial set of tracks were, in my opinion, terrible. Nimrod (keyboard and producer) started to tinker with the piano while we were figuring out how to go about it. Serendipitously, the live piano version sounded good and everyone liked it. So, we decided to record it at the same time as our live cover of ‘A Christmas Song’ (the alternate take of ‘Tara’). For that version, we featured RM Mangahas who is a wonderful singer and a frequent collaborator of ours.”
The numbers do seem surprising, considering that ‘Inside,’ a song about grief, was released on Valentine’s Day.
Of the radical marketing ploy, Richard explains, “I think there’s a different side to any occasion. A lot of times, we keep those emotions buried because it’s a burden. However, it can also be therapeutic to revisit the process because it can be a form of rationalization for closure, In some cultures, some folks talk about the happy times after a burial. It’s how a family or even a community copes. So, why can’t we do the same in reverse? We all experience grief for different reasons. Perhaps, by conjuring it through an art form, we can heal and find reason to celebrate life overall, or just by being alive.”
With their avid listeners enamored by the refreshing “Manila sound” clearly stamped on their two earlier releases, wasn’t the band worried at all about confusing their growing fanbase? Or were they deliberately making a more brazen attempt at ‘opening new doors’ for another set of listeners?
“A little bit of the latter,” Richard replies. “Our major influences will always be there and we will continue to embrace the Manila sound. At the same time, we don’t want to be imprisoned by an idea. There’s no fun in that. Even the live versions of our songs are a little big different from their streaming versions. We really like to mix it up and so far, it’s worked for us. For instance, ‘Tara!’ was a guitar-driven tune, but we went insane and threw in brass sections while in the process of recording it.”
With Richard at the frontline, Last Song Bea is also comprised of seasoned musicians from diverse fields, including Xyrus Judan (bass), Donie Dico (lead guitar), Mark Bambico (drums), Nimrod Lacquian (keyboards/guitar), and Erwin Dimaculangan (guitar/vocals).