Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
“Express Highway” is one of those songs you can’t get out of your head. Not just because it’s a humongous hit on radio, but more for the catchy beat and melody. The song talks about the freedom of getting on the highway and escaping from the stresses of everyday life. “Malayo na tayo sa mga problema mo… Kasi nandito na tayo.” It has a very positive pitch for much needed domestic tourism. And with the many improvements and extensions especially at the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX), that ‘freedom’ is definitely there. They performed the latest songs “Breaktime”, “No Jealousy”, “Panaginip”, “Eto na Si Juan” and the mega hit “Express Highway” for the launch. Catch them at Eastwood City Mall on May 11, 25 & 28.
The music harks back to what they call the “Golden Era” of rock and roll in the 1960’s. The Bloomfields have a similar sound to what critics hail as the greatest band of all time, “The Beatles”. Looking at the successful album launch with thousands of screaming young fans the sound is just as relevant today. For their latest album, “Hit the Ground Running,” the similarity is not just with the style of sound. The album was mastered at the historic Abbey Road Studios which became famous for the Beatles’ album of the same name.
Drummer Rocky Collado said, “We wanted the best quality for the mastering. When we first found out about it we thought it would be too expensive. But we realized that’s what it takes. And it’s worth it.” Dino Pascual on rhythm guitars spoke about the significance of doing it there. “The Beatles and the Oasis, all of our idols recorded and mastered their music there. Having it mastered there makes us feel like we complete the circle or makes us feel a part of it at least.” Mastering is the final stage when the recordings of songs are adjusted and cleaned up for duplication in CD’s.
The Bloomfields have revived the 60’s sound so successfully that they have captured a lot of young fans not just here but abroad. They’ve performed in cities like Singapore, Honolulu, Kuwait and Macau. Lakan Hila, the band’s lead guitarist, keyboardist and musical arranger gave a great explanation for their popularity, “The music is easy to relate to. If you analyze any pop song right now it still has that vibe. They just don’t talk about it. Even now it’s definitely still there. It’s more prominent in ours because we listen to it more. When we were writing songs we weren’t trying to sound like anything we just wanted to make good music. And what’s good for us are the songs that we listen to so that’s what came out.”
Each of the members have that boyish charm, being in their early 20’s. So the 60’s influence seemed out of place. Initially they were fans of 90’s artists and upon using the internet, they found out the influences of those bands were from an earlier era.
Lead singer, Louie Poco said, “We discovered that their influences were more like the Beatles. Van Morrison, guys from the 60’s. We went deeper. When we discovered that we were playing that in our gigs it was the first time that the crowd actually liked our songs. That’s the time we started playing more of the 60’s. It attracted a crowd and this is it. This is what we love. The crowd loves it, we love it. This is what we’re doing right now.”
Lakan adds, “It’s amazing to know these kids younger than us, teenagers are very much into the songs that we play. It just goes to prove that the 60’s sound is universal, pop and is timeless. It reaches us here (touches his chest) and to write songs that’s influenced with that is a good move.” The popularity of retro music can also be seen in Jazz artist Casey Abrams, one of the top 8 finalists in this year’s America Idol. Dino Pascual on rhythm guitars said, “Casey Abrams is ridiculously good. He plays the bass. Musically he’s the best one.” Other bands that have influenced their sound is actually varied: Rolling Stones, AC DC, Metallica, Marvin Gaye, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix (from the 90’s) Oasis and Gin Blossoms.
What distinguishes The Bloomfields from the music of The Beatles is that distinct Filipino sensibility in lyrics and melody. ‘Hit the Ground Running’ has all original written and composed songs with no remakes. Pascual said, “We’re proud of the fact that we wrote all these songs. And we want to push for more OPM (Original Pilipino Music). If we can, we want to encourage other Filipino artists to write their own music. We know they have the talent for it.” They look up to and admire the works of Noel Cabangon, The Eraserheads, The Itchy Worms, Sandwich and Tanya Markova.