Since skyrocketing as one of the top bands in the local music scene in 2017, IV OF SPADES continues to surprise fans–from astounding performances on both local and international stages to new releases throughout the past year. On January 18, exactly at midnight, the 3-piece group dropped their highly anticipated debut album, a 15-track record that features previously released singles "Bata, Dahan-Dahan", "In My Prison", and "Take That Man" plus more fresh songs that strike a perfect balance of their signature groovy sound ("Come Inside Of My Heart", "I'm A Butterfly") and tender moments à la "Mundo" ("My Juliana", "Dulo Ng Hangganan").
As theatrical as their aesthetics are, IV OF SPADES revealed the title of the record to Chalk.ph a week before its release in the same manner–Blaster, Zild, and, Badjao succeedingly answered, "Clap!" "Clap!" "Clap!" But the making of CLAPCLAPCLAP! isn't as easy as putting your hands together to create a sound. It is, however, somewhat an overnight decision–in the middle of recording "In My Prison," the band finally decided that it's time to produce a full-length album. It was a, "Tara, gawin na natin," move, as drummer Badjao de Castro shares, and a, "Kaya natin 'to," push, as bassist and lead vocals Zild Benitez adds. So, in August of 2018, they started practically living inside the studio. Fast-forward to January 2019, they're reaping the fruits of their five-month labor.
All the songs are written by them–some pieces a collaboration of two or all three, some composed by one. For example, lead guitarist Blaster Silonga spills, "'Yung 'I Ain’t Perfect', kami ni Badjao 'yung nagsulat. 'Yung 'I Would Rather [Live Alone]', kanta ni Zild."
This release is a synergy of three musical souls which offers a well-rounded testament to why they're the most sought-after band of their age. "Gusto naming ipakita sa tao na worth it kaming mag-stay kung nasaan kami ngayon. Tapos parang masarap kasi gumawa ng isang record na kaming tatlo 'yung gumawa," Blaster says, to which Badjao follows, "Ayun ang inspiration–ito ang life’s work naming tatlo."
It's a daunting move, considering the events that transpired during their transition from a four-man group down to three. They do admit that the division of roles is a challenge, but they managed to pull through and create music that reflects who they are now. The result? Not so much of the '70s-inspired band they've always been known for, but a more diverse, richer, and experimental sound that feels authentic to the current, progressing IV OF SPADES.
If you haven't given the band's new album a spin, IV OF SPADES shares their personal favorites for you to check out. Collectively, the trio's top pick is "My Juliana". For Zild, he lists the rock-charged "Come Inside Of My Heart" and "I’m A Butterfly" as his favorites, while Blaster prefers the tender tracks "I Would Rather Live Alone (Maybe I'm Not Who I'm Today)" and "I Ain’t Perfect". Finally, Badjao's choice is the melancholic "Dulo ng Hangganan".
CLAPCLAPCLAP! is the band's DNA–which they confess as partly a danger to them. As they strip themselves through the collection of tracks, the more they become vulnerable. But thankfully, the weeks after the crazy moments recording in the studio gave them ample time to recover. We catch them at their calm-before-the-stage, in between putting finishing touches to their album and releasing it, with Blaster saying, "'Yung identity namin minsan, naa-attach na namin masyado sa ginagawa namin. Kaya ngayon, nagkakaroon kami ng pahinga para ma-detach. Para pagbalik namin..." "More fire," Badjao finishes.
For fans who have been waiting for a full release from IV OF SPADES, we can attest that their debut album, along with their refreshed energy, will appease, satsify, and thrill you with what's to come from this ever-promising band. You only have to keep your eyes–and ears–peeled from here on out.
Photographed by Shaira Luna
Creative Direction by Madel Asuncion
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Team Ryuji Shiomitsu
Grooming by Janell Capuchino
CLAPCLAPCLAP! is now out on major streaming platforms.
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