OPM band The One Pesos talks routines, changes and their newest single
After two years (and counting) of living in a pandemic, the world now expects that we’ve gotten the hang of living with the virus. With over 70% of our routines involving working from home, we still find ourselves working on overdrive. We rush through workdays and weekends like clockwork. Staving off cabin fever has us taking on one thing after another. However, despite speeding through multiple tasks simultaneously, languishing continues to hang in the air. We ask, “When will it end?” and “Can we take a break?” In their latest single, Di Matapos-tapos, The One Pesos OPM band perfectly verbalizes these feelings as they remind us to take a breather and lay down our load.
It’s been two years since all of The One Pesos OPM members were in one room, but they managed to pull through and continue writing. They used music as an outlet and extended their stories for others to hear—and maybe even reached those who feel the same way. Despite the world closing its doors and life seemingly zooming by, they recalibrated their creative processes and took it day by day. They’ve shared their thoughts on needing to slow our paces down, too, while doing some mindful yoga. As a result, their quarantine album (aptly named Di Matapos-tapos) made “during, because of and in spite of COVID-19” came to fruition.
We caught up with The One Pesos’ OPM band members Enzo Zulueta, Jason Romaboa, Andrew Florentino, AA Enriquez and Migi de Belen. And they talked about routines, changes, and the choices behind the OPM band song Di Matapos-tapos.
Wonder: Hi, guys! How has quarantine been treating you guys? Any new hobbies or changes in your routines?
Enzo Zulueta: Nagpakasal, nasira ang diet at naubusan ng papanoorin sa Netflix at YouTube. (I got married, got my diet interrupted, and ran out of things to watch on Netflix and YouTube.)
Jason Rombaoa: Two years na, nakalimutan ko na ‘ata ang buhay pre-pandemic. (It’s been two years, I think I’ve forgotten what life was like before the pandemic). Work from home, no gym, no jam. But I got a chance to reconnect with old hobbies and practice drumming.
Andrew Florentino: ‘Di na ako Quezon City-based! Sa La Union na ‘ko. (I’m no longer based in Quezon City! I’m in La Union now.) Besides working on my music day job from here, I'm getting into aquaponics—growing lettuce.
AA Enriquez: Ako literal [na] duma-dad bod. Plus, panay renovate ng bahay at ayos ng clutter dito. Ang “cleaning house” naging metaphorical na rin. Mapapaisip ka talaga kung ano ba ang “essential.” (I’m literally developing a dad bod. Plus, I’m continuously renovating my house and fixing the clutter here. “Cleaning house” has become metaphorical, too. It’ll have you think about what really is “essential.”)
Migi de Belen: Speaking of clutter, I can't seem to stick to a routine. Yet, ironically, everything feels so monotonous. I'm stuck at home, pero ‘yung routine ko all over the place! (I’m stuck at home, but my routine is all over the place!)
W: Di Matapos-tapos talks about taking a breather in such a fast-paced world. So what made you guys want to explore this topic for the song and use it as the album’s title?
AF: Sometimes, I see my life as endless cycles. May mga moments na feeling ko may mga panalo ako, pero sa bigger picture parang wala siyang kwenta at all? Parang hindi nasusunod o gumagalaw ‘yung mga plano ko. (Sometimes I see my life as endless cycles. There are moments that make me feel like I’ve won, but in the bigger picture, it’s like they have no value. It feels like my plans aren’t pushing through.)
AE: While working from home, the idea is you have the most time to do things. But also it's the most pressure to do something with our lives. You see so many people building businesses and gaining from investments on social media. You don't have to pressure yourself to always make something creative or successful, don't feel like it's a waste of time! Sometimes you just need to lay in bed the whole day.
MDB: I think we all have life projects that, as we get older, we feel the urgency to accomplish more and more. The pandemic amplified that anxiety. At the same time, I found it funny to make “‘Di Matapos-tapos” (Unfinished) the title of our band's project. Joke's on us, ang hirap talaga tapusin! (Joke’s on us, it’s really difficult to finish!)
W: From Slow Us Down to Di Matapos-tapos, your “post-pandemic” OPM band songs explore struggles we became familiar with because of what we’ve all experienced. They serve as reminders of what we’ve been through, specifically living through a global crisis. Do you think putting music out with these messages is essential? How come?
EZ: ‘Di naman siguro essential? Pero if you think about it, marami namang bagay na hindi essential pero masaya pa rin naman. Lalo na sa panahon na hindi masaya, I don't want to think about whether essential ang music o hindi. Basta, gusto ko pa rin siyang gawin. (It’s probably not essential? But if you think about it, there are a lot of things that aren’t essential but they make us happy. Especially in unhappy times, I don’t want to think about whether music is essential or not. I just want to do it.)
JR: Essential for the listener or for us? Bahala ka na kung tatamaan ka sa music namin, kung mamo-move ka (If you get moved by our music, that’s up to you). For me, doing what makes you happy is essential.
AE: People are going through tragedies, losing their jobs…I don't think it's necessarily essential to put out a message people already know. But it's good for us as a band to tell our story and put it down on record at this moment, so we can look back in time and realize, “Oo nga ito nga nangyari, this is what we went through (Yeah, this happened, this is what we went through).” Essential or not, this is a good and healthy practice.
MDB: For me, the act of putting out music is part of the process of perpetually asking yourself what you value in life, what's important, what matters? And that’s healthy!
W: On the technical side, you mentioned that the pandemic pushed the OPM band to strip down your recording process to the essentials. Can you walk us through your band’s creative process and how you came to that decision?
EZ: Una demo. Tapos pre-production and arrangement. Tapos mix and master. Typical din naman for a lot of musicians in this period. (First, demo. Then, pre-production and arrangement. Lastly, mix and master. It’s typical for a lot of musicians in this period.)
MDB: Actually, some days before lockdown, we were literally in the recording studio working on what would’ve been our 2020 album. It took some months and a lot of deliberation on how we’d continue at kung safe bang magkita-kita—kung essential ba. (It took some months and a lot of deliberation on how we’d continue and if it’s safe to see each other—if it’s essential.) Eventually, we decided to do an interim project separate from whatever we already worked on in the studio. Para lang may maituloy (Just so we can continue something). It took me a long while to recover from the thwarted dream that 2020 would be “our year” as a band, to be honest. But I know that I’m lucky to even have bandmates, to begin with, especially now.
W: Given that you guys recorded Di Matapos-tapos separately, how has it affected your songwriting processes? Did you learn new things or find other ways to get inventive with your sound?
AE: We deliberately made it simple para ‘di siya extra pressure to release something ultra super polished. Para kahit tunog-bahay lang keri lang (We deliberately made it simple so we won’t have extra pressure to release something ultra super polished. So even if it sounds home-produced, it’s fine). The thing is, these days, home producers have access to some powerful tools, so the inherent simplicity of the arrangements gave us the opportunity not to pressure ourselves further.
JR: Nung live kami magsulat at mag-areglo, mas funky. Ngayon mas simple ang song structures, less syncopation at more downbeat lang. Less technical siya, mas streamlined kasi bagong process. On my side, Garageband lang ako sa iPad. Kailangan kong pilitin ‘yung sarili ko na ‘wag masiyadong maging flashy. Simplehan lang talaga pero rock. Personal challenge wala akong recording gear, pero nahasa naman programming skills ko. Mas naging in-touch ako sa producer side ko kaysa sa performer side. (When we would write and arrange live, it was funkier. Now, the song structures are simpler, less syncopation and more on downbeat. It's less technical and more streamlined because of the new process. On my side, I just use Garageband on my iPad. I have to for myself not to make it too flashy. Make it simple but rock. It's a personal challenge that I don't have recording gear, but it trained my programming skills. I became more in-touch with my producer side instead of my performer side.)
W: What’s the most challenging part of putting an album together separately?
MDB: Dati (Before), the period between the initial demo and the finalized arrangement or pre-production was when we’d get to jam out and test different ideas live in real-time. The way we do things now feels much more linear, and I guess it’s good to have a strong sense of structure, but it’s been two years since we last jammed or even met up.
AF: Baliktad [na ngayon]. Now that we have the time and flexibility to record hundreds and hundreds of tracks, ngayon pa nag-decide na minimal lang talaga ‘yung production. It can feel less collaborative. Pinakagusto ko about jamming in person ay natututo din ako sa kanila, anong trip ng bandmates ko, anong mas magandang approach and how to play together well. Ngayon walang immediate feedback. (It’s the opposite. Now that we have the time and flexibility to record hundreds and hundreds of tracks, that's when we decided that our production stays minimal. It can feel less collaborative. What I like the most about jamming with them in person is that I learn from them, what my bandmates like, what’s a better approach and how to play together well. Now, we lack immediate feedback.)
JR: Nakakamiss din ‘yung social part, kumakain, socializing… (We also miss the social part: eating, socializing…)
AE: …Tumatambay, nagjo-joketime. (…Chilling and joking around.)
W: Dialing back to the song of the OPM band, what do you want people to pick up from Di Matapos-tapos?
JR: Personally, the song made me reflect on quarantine life. ‘Yung title saka lyrics nag-resonate, helped me confront my anxieties and insecurities about the pandemic. (The title and lyrics resonated with me and helped me confront my anxieties and insecurities about the pandemic.)
EZ: Ramdam ko ‘yung topic ng restlessness, parang stuck ka sa second gear. Parang sa FRIENDS theme song—kahit gaano kadiin ‘yung tapak ko sa gas, wala. Ironic kasi chill vibes ‘yung instrumentation. (I felt the topic of restlessness like I’m stuck in second gear. Just like the FRIENDS theme song—no matter how hard you step on the gas, you don’t move. It’s ironic because the instrumentation’s vibe is chill.)
MDB: Ako kasi (For me), I write songs because I can’t help it. It’s essential to me, and if by continuing to release music other people feel motivated to continue doing what they, in turn, find essential, that’s the best response we could hope for.
AF: Our music is more of self-expression without expectation.
W: Lastly, what else can we expect from The OPM band, The One Pesos in the coming months?
MDB: Before the pandemic, we were already working on an album. So we’ve got about a dozen songs already written. [Yung] iba nga mixed and mastered na. Pero sa ngayon, malapit na naming ilabas ‘yung music video nitong Di Matapos-tapos, so expect that soon! (We’ve already mixed and mastered some tracks. But now, we’re about to release the music video for Di Matapos-tapos, so expect that soon!)
While we wait for the music video for Di Matapos-tapos to release, at least we can stream the single on Spotify.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver