In 2017, three friends – Carlo Garcia, Jay Jumawan and Joy Legason – decided to try out new avenues of heavy music. While doing this, they gravitated towards sludge/doom as their new “weapon of choice”.
This led to the eventual formation of Gapang, a band that – as stressed in their web page – “writes about themes involving human and societal strife, third-world tyranny, and uplifted hate.”
The experiences/themes/topics they tackle is best exemplified by – yes! – their name.
“‘Gapang‘ as a word connotes so many meanings… It could mean what most Filipinos’ lives are (hardships). Or it could mean going home after a drunken spree,” Legason – the band’s bassist and vocalist – said with a laugh. “It could also be ‘bastos (indecent, shameless)’.”
And what made them choose this genre?
“Age!” Legason laughed. Then turning serious: “Look, we have been playing heavy music since the early 1990s. Playing fast intricate riffs are great, but this time around with Gapang, we wanted to go back to the basics. Just low dirty riffing that resonates and rings in the ear… Nothing is heavier than a slow riff. And we find deep low sludgy repeating tunes therapeutic.”
Legason, Jumawan (guitars) and Garcia (drums) are veterans of the Philippine metal scene from as far back as 1994 and who are also active members of local protest metal band BARABBAS.
“This past decade the local sludge/doom scene has steadily been on an upswing. Tons of awesome bands are coming out and are releasing quality, world class music,” said Legason.
Samples off his head are: Surrogate Prey and Kushagra, & Rivotril, to name a few.
Gapang’s music, nonetheless, “is now more focused on heaviness, slow tempo, and grit. At the same time, it routinely incorporates experimentations in ambient/atmospheric sonicscapes as a backdrop to the band’s signature sound.”
As a band, Gapang self-identifies as “self-released”.
Asked if this was by choice, Legason said: “Not really; we are always on a look out for labels abroad that we could work with. But locally, yes, we would rather release it ourselves under the Mindplight Recordings Label.”
For Legason, “Ever since the beginning, having a label never was a box to check for us. We have always had a solid vision of what we wanted sonically and visually. And we collectively don’t want that vision blurred by other people or entities.”
He admitted, nonetheless, that “doing passion projects are always costly.”
Still: “We have been fortunate enough to have loved ones that support what we do artistically. Monetary-wise, all of us in the band have professions that ‘bring home the bacon’ and helps fuel what we do in the band.”
Gapang already released two digital EPs “MABAGAL, MABIGAT, MADUMI” and “THE SMIRK TO THE POSTURING” (both available on the Mindlpight Recording Bandcamp); as well as a full-length CD “KONTRASISMO” (still available).
Reception, said Legason, has been – in a word – “positive”.
Legason’s personal favorites from among the songs already released include “Ravages of Diplomacy” and “Wane”, both off the KONTRASISMO CD. “‘Ravages’ is the newest song we wrote and pretty much shows the direction of where we want to go sonically. (And) I like ‘WANE’ because it’s super trippy, ambient and somber.”
For Gapang, “the challenge is always to be heavier and be more sonically dense than the last release. To be more potent lyrically,” Legason said.
But he believes that “the underground has always been on the forefront of innovation and original concepts. It has always been pushing the boundaries and limits of what is acceptable and in the process providing a massive space for the mainstream to live in.”
Part of this is writing about “themes involving human and societal strife, third-world tyranny, and uplifted hate.” In a sense, this is a “political” approach to music-making; and this was a conscious decision for Gapang.
“Just look,” Legason said. “Anyone with an open eye could clearly see what’s wrong with everything.”
That airwaves continue to be dominated by, well, Pop doesn’t faze Gapang.
“We don’t think about that stuff. We just do what we want,” Legason said. “Music is first, all that comes after is irrelevant.”
And so – in Legason’s words – expect “MORE HEAVY MUSIC COMING” from Gapang.