Gin Rum and Truth’s “Kalayaan”: A rock ballad for better days
MANILA, Philippines – Grunge-inspired local rock band Gin Rum and Truth, a staple in the forefront of Pinoy Rock and Roll, and makers of the song “Goddamn Man”, which topped Jam 88.3’s 2017 Year-End Countdown, released a timely song titled “Kalayaan” last June 12, 2020, Araw ng Kalayaan, and it will be a part of the band’s official album under Warner Music Philippines. Consisting of a handful of close friends, Gin Rum and Truth is made up of the intense Yok Tano on vocals, the enigmatic Snide on lead guitars, gearhead Alquin Eledana on rhythm guitars, laid-back Mey Reyes on bass, and the technical Inigo Mortel on drums. Noting the timeliness of freedom, Gin Rum and Truth seeked to deliver Kalayaan as, in line with the band’s portrayal of the song, ‘a journey towards a place free from limits, barriers, and fears – a place of promising times where we are free to be with the people we love’.
Let’s dive deeper and get to know what the band members themselves personally think of the song’s message.
What’s the song about and why is it important?
For Yok, Kalayaan is about bridging divides and better days, “There’s so much hate in the world nowadays, so much division. It’s frustrating, because you know deep inside, in your gut, that there’s really something wrong with the world, with us. Here’s hopin’; that someday soon there will be better days, and a better place where we are free from hate, judgement, and divisions.”
Mey and Snide both relate to the wanting of normal, freer times, “[Ang Kalayaan ay] inspirasyon na makamit natin muli ang normal na buhay.” “Kalayaan sa mga badtrip na nangyayari.” says bassist Mey Reyes, while for lead guitarist Snide, the song is about, “Self-expression.”
For drummer Inigo Mortel, the song is, “Bukod sa kalayaan, [it is a song about] frustration and hope. Ang tao kasi, nagkukunwari to an extent, kasi kailangan” He observes that individuals tend to compromise, in some way, to properly function in society or situations that they are constantly placed in, and Kalayaan voices the frustration behind the necessity to become a person who is very much unlike one’s self.
Yet, as with most things, this frustration is rooted deep within the self. When asked about the song’s importance Alquin puts it as, “Kailangan natin magtiwala sa sarili, kung wala kang tiwala sa sarili mo, who will believe in you?”.
How was the song formed?
The band created Kalayaan by melding different ideas together. “Nag ambagan ng mga ideas para sa kanta.” says Snide. “Kami ni Yok, Snide and pareng Jeff (a friend of the band).” says Mey,“Snide and Jeff were jamming on guitars. Kami ni Yok ang naglapat ng lyrics”. While Alquin puts it bluntly, “A, D. Bm D, tapos A, D ulit.”
What makes ‘Kalayaan’ unique?
“It’s an old school pinoy rock grunge ballad.” says Yok about the nature of and the sound of the song.
Inigo settles it simply as, “Hindi siya hugot.”
Going beyond simply asking the band for their opinions on something they themselves created, we came to ask some music-lovers and gig-goers on what they think of the song, and what makes the song unique for them.
““Maganda po lyrics niya,” says gig-constant Blade. ““Mas naaalala kong pahalagahan ang kalayaang tinatamasa natin ngayon, hindi lang sa usaping pang bansa, kundi sa ating sarili mismo.”
Dahan-dahang makakamtan kaligayahan na inaasam, the song calls, where another regular gig-goer, Joey Dayrit, relates his own personal problems to. “Para pong kasing nasa isang bilog ako at kahit anong gawin ko, hindi ako makaalis kasi paikot-ikot lang ako dun. Parang problema na gusto ko na takasan patungo sa kaligayahan.”
For local rock-scene photographer, Hannah Ochoco, “[Yung] Kalayaan tungkol sa tao na gusto mabago. [May mga] maling pananaw at sistema sa mundo, kaya sumisigaw siya ng kalayaan para marinig siya at maayos ito.”
Levin Cruz, a solo-artist, notes the song’s simplicity and refreshing nature, “Tumatak din lalo siya dahil kahit simple lang, malakas ang dating. Damang dama rin ang struggle na pinparating ng kanta bago makamit ang kalayaan, lalo sa linyang ‘Konting agwat lang di pa maabot’.
Levin was also one of the first artists to cover Kalayaan, stating his reason being, “Nakaka-relate din ako sa daloy ng awitin. Dahil na rin na isa ito sa mga naging paborito kong kanta at madalas ko rin siyang sabayan.” Stating what part in particular he liked the most, “[Yung] huling chorus. Dito kasi pakiramdam ko yung pinakamalakas na part ng kanta, kung saan doon binubuhos ng GRT lahat para makuha talaga ang Kalayaan na inaasam nila sa kanta.”
As Kalayaan stands as the latest song on Gin Rum and Truth’s released arsenal, being one in the collection of songs the band is set to release in line with their album, it’s time to pick the brains of the band members to bring to light some details about the other songs.
What’s the most spontaneous song you’ve ever written?
“Kill List.” says Alquin, Gin Rum and Truth’s song featuring RAZORBACK’s Tirso Ripoll.
“Laseng.” says Mey, an honest song about the experience of friends drinking.
Inigo and Snide give the title of most spontaneous song written to “Hungover.”, as the song was written, in the account of Inigo, “Tumutugtog ako, kumakanta si Yok. Buti na lang nakarecord, kasi pagkatapos nun kinailangan namin kapain kung ano ginawa namin, pati lyrics.”. Wherein the song itself was seemingly created out of the air, from the unknowing collaboration of different facets of music, and into a well-sounding song.
What song are you most proud of making?
All the band members indicated songs which will be released by the band quite soon. “Kill List, Voices.” says Alquin, while for Mey it’s “Hardin.”, and for Snide it’s “Gone Tired,”. For Inigo, it would have to be, “I Got The Flu. Ganda lang ng feeling niya.”, and for Yok it’s, “Kalayaan,”.
What other songs should we look out for from GRT?
“Lahat. May mga kanta din kami na may featured artists, watch out for that.” says Inigo. The band has a new album coming out, with Kalayaan being the second single to be released from that album, following Goddamn Man. Gin Rum and Truth also has songs coming out which would feature artists such as Tirso Ripoll from RAZORBACK, Pinoy Metal Queen: Trish Reyes, and other surprise guests.
With all that, Gin Rum and Truth is poised to make a great splash in the Pinoy Rock scene, with heavy-hitting songs to be released soon. Bringing with them rough and melodic guitar riffs, pounding drums, rhythmic basslines, and powerful vocals, Gin Rum and Truth stands firmly at the forefront of Filipino Rock music, with their songs proudly in hand.
You can listen to Kalayaan on Spotify here: https://tinyurl.com/GRTKalayaanSingle
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