October 06, 2007

Remembering Ethic Faces

By: BigBadJamMan

They straddled the bounds of New Music and indigenous ethnicity. I'm making it sounds so complex, but the 80's band Ethnic Faces was ahead of its time. Way ahead that not everyone got the gist of their music. Okay no one, so there. But here and now, we celebrate the fusion of the old and the new with a blast from the past.

Ethnic Faces. An amalgam of talent that paved the way for other bands to follow. Born out of two pioneering Brave New World bands, The Zoo, later renamed Ocean Zoo, to avoid confusion with an Australian band of the same name, and The Lost Boys, Ethnic Faces was a band that fearlessly tread where other bands cowered and buckled. But before Ethnic Faces, there were then two.




The Zoo. Guitarist Jolt. Edgrr 5, their keyboardist/bassist, drummer Zebra and singer frontman Jack B. Quick played barebones punkish keyboard-driven poppy un-chong New Wave. The first of their kind, in more ways than one. No other band looked like The Zoo. No other band had stage presence like The Zoo.. and no other band played like The Zoo.

They were also one of the first to have released an independently produced 7" EP entitled Animal Party. Resplendent in its hot pink sleeve and cartoon cover drawn by singer Jack's nephew Ari, Animal Party was a first. Yes, local punk band Chaos, later renamed Third World Chaos, also produced and released an equally independent single, The Zoo was different. The Zoo took Punk's raw energy, re-channelled it and spit it right back with a New Wave angst that fit right into the predominantly Punk Brave New World underground movement.




The Lost Boys. Leader vocalist and bassist Rhany Torres, drummer Bojie Gabriel and their guitarist whose name eludes me at the moment were also ahead of their time. Way ahead. The Lost Boys were a Ska band. Think Ska with a Punk attitude minus the trademark horn section, add on the angst and you have The Lost Boys. Their single Krrz Kraze was popular to those who religiously listened to Howlin' Dave over RJAM back then.

Then sometime in 1984, these two bands decided to join forces and become one. Ethnic Faces. Rhany Torres on bass. Bojie Gabriel on drums. Edgar Ramos on keyboards. Boyet Miguel on guitar and Jack Sikat on vocals. A band to be reckoned with. Borne out of the ashes of The Zoo and The Lost Boys, Ethnic Faces brought a new face and a new facet to the burgeoning 80's Underground music scene.

Initially formed as an entry to the Pepsi Punk Band Contest, a battle of the bands tilt powered by the softdrink sponsor, and televised over PTV 4's then-noontime variety show Ito Yun, Ang Galing!, Ethnic Faces, a New Wave band, braved the Punk Band competition and ran away with the trophy. Though some contestant bands, as well as the contest itself had its share of lopsided moments, it was a shining moment for Ethnic Faces. Their winning piece, Within Tribes, with its conglomeration of New Wavish rock and ethnic overtones, put them on the musical map, as far as the Underground was concerned. Post-Punk Band contest syndrome was yet to set in.

Though its tumultous history and rumored infighting seemed to overshadow its very existence, Ethnic Faces weathered the times, through numerous line-up changes and stylistic variations. They managed to release a now-rare, out-of-print single of Within Tribes b/w Back Home Shangri-La. They also saw two of their now-classic cuts from the local late 80's New Wave compilation Ten Of Another Kind, Balikbayan and Golden Boy, even managing a major label album Dekada under the now-defunct Octoarts Intl. label in 1995. And though some of its members have gone onto different paths, playing differing genres, Ethnic Faces remain, as I once wrote in the liner notes to their 90's album release Dekada, "..alternative, long before the term Alternative was coined."

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Unknown said...

Nice one Manny!!! Cheers!!!

Mark M said...

this is a good find! surprised that a photo of ethnic faces is available in the net.

if you have time please visit my site about pinoy new wave tribute @ waversphils.netfirms.com

Anonymous said...

tandang tanda ko to napanuod ko sa TV to! heheh ayus yun keys is that a fender rhodes?....san pa kaya nakakabili nyan dito sa pinas?...hehhe

Anonymous said...


- www.squeezersband.com

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