03/27/2015

Bands on the run

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The jungle book: Indie band The Jungle Giants goes way back to high school.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Just in case your iCal hasn’t informed you yet, Wanderland 2015 is already happening next month. We can stop pretending not to be freaked out anymore.

Because, really, how can you not do so (freak out, that is) when it’s one of the few days of the year when some of the world’s coolest bands come together on one stage? Even more so this year, as Wanderland has expanded to even more delectable genres: hip-hop royalty Kid Cudi is this year’s headliner while indietronica genius RAC is set to take the stage too. It’s ridiculous how #blessed the Manila music scene is these days.

And just weeks before their arrival in Manila for Wanderland, Young STAR caught up with some of the acts performing this year. From the soulful indie rock of Augustana, the lush tracks of Jungle Giants, to the jumpy indie pop of Youngblood Hawke, we chat about what makes their music tick, music video memories, and making friends on the road. We also ask them the clichéd but necessary question about visiting the Philippines: What in the world are they looking forward to seeing in Manila?

AUGUSTANA

Based in: San Diego, California

Composed of: Dan Layus

YOUNG STAR: Hey, Dan. What have you been up to these days?

DAN LAYUS: I’ve been spending most of my days writing songs and spending all the time I can with my amazing wife and children.

You released your latest album “Life Imitating Life” last year. Any particular story behind the name? Does it allude to a particular viewpoint?

I felt that much of the album pointed towards lessons learned from harder times that came before. I felt, in retrospect, that many of the things that I’d experienced had been laid out before me in other people’s experiences, yet I fell into some of the same obvious holes that were so easily avoidable. Therefore I felt that lyrically I was moving through all those moments of regret and anxiety and depression of the past, as well as celebrating beautiful moments of clarity and love. To me it felt like so many other people’s lives, like life imitating life.

Boston is arguably one your most popular songs. Did you expect the response it got when you first recorded it?

I never could’ve imagined that kind of response from such a widespread audience, even to this day I don’t take it for granted and can only hope for another song of ours to have a fraction of that kind of response.

You have been around for more than a decade. What would you say is behind your success?

I’m constantly trying to remember to move forward and authentically progress. I’m a fan of so many types of music that it can be a real challenge to restrain myself at times and not to turn out a record that is far from what people may expect from Augustana. I feel that keeping with what comes out naturally has kept myself, and our fans, happiest over the years. There’s a long arc of musical and lyrical progress in my mind, and envisioning how it could all turn out over the new few decades is as exciting as anything to me.

THE JUNGLE GIANTS

Based in: Brisbane, Queensland

Composed of: Sam Hales, Cesira Aitken, Andrew Dooris, Keelan Bijker

YOUNG STAR: We read that all of you guys went to high school together. Would you say that the friends you make in high school are friends for life?

SAM HALES: I wouldn’t really say that because I’m not real close with anyone else I went to school with. I guess if you’re lucky you can just meet people at school that you really click with. We just really clicked musically at school so I guess that formed a really strong friendship from the beginning.

How did you guys end up being called The Jungle Giants? Any interesting story behind that?

I just made it up one time on the bus. Then I went to get the tracks mastered for our first EP, and the guy doing it asked what our band name was, so I called Dooris up and asked what he thought of The Jungle Giants, and we just went with that.

Australia has lately been producing a lot of great indie acts, and the world is starting to notice. What would you say sets the indie rock scene in Australia apart from others?

Each genre has its own scenes, and they’re all a little bit different and a little bit the same. Within those scenes, you obviously pick up influence from international bands, but also if there are local bands doing cool things they can have the same effect. I guess the scenes over in other countries are digging what’s going on here at the moment.

You recorded your debut album “Learn to Exist” two years ago. Are you guys planning on coming up with a new album in the near future? What kind of sound should we expect from The Jungle Giants soon?

We’ve just finished our new record and really can’t wait to release it. It’s definitely progressed from the last. There’s about 300 percent more drums on this one, and it’s going to rock your brain holes. It’s got a way bigger ‘70s vibe in it and a bit of ‘90s too, we just played around with as many influences as we wanted and injected the whole thing with some party.

Are you excited to visit Manila? Any expectations?

Yes! Don’t really know what to expect but we can’t wait.

YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE

Based in: Los Angeles, California

Members: Nik Hughes, Alice Katz, Simon Katz, Sam Martin, Omar Ahmed, Tasso Smith

YOUNG STAR: Let’s talk about your video for We Come Running. That was probably the most fun I’ve ever seen in a video. Could you tell us how shooting that was?

YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE: We swam with 14-foot tiger sharks in the Bahamas!  No cages. It was insane! It was, hands down, the most incredible, scariest experience of our lives. To be that close to such beautiful, dangerous creatures was a chilling, transformative and unforgettable moment. We had a blast shooting the video!

You went scuba diving with sharks as a means of promoting their conservation. Why was that important to you as a band?

The balance and health of our oceans and ecosystems is in our hands. We feel very strongly about protecting our environment and protecting the animals that help keep our ecosystem thriving. Sharks play a significant role in the intricate food web of the ocean, without them that system would collapse. If you remove the apex predator from a food chain, many other species will also perish. We wanted to use the video to bring awareness to the slaughter of sharks and the impact it can have on the health of our oceans.          

You guys have played in a number of places already — South by Southwest for one, but also at the Workaholics showcase on Comedy Central. What was it like to work with those guys? Are they really as fun as they seem on TV?

They were hilarious! Super-fun, creative people. Playing SXSW is always a blast and that show was definitely a highlight.

Anything at the Wanderland Music Festival you guys are particularly excited about?

Just being there! Watching all the bands, experiencing the Philippines. None of us have ever been there so we can’t wait! 

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Regular tickets for Wanderland are available for P5,500 each. Visit SM Tickets outlets or check out availability of purchase at www.smtickets.com for more convenient access.

Wanderland Camp 2015 is a music and arts festival staged by Karpos Multimedia Inc., Presented by Globe and Locally, and co-presented by Fox and Starworld. Official Apparel provided by Topshop and Topman. Official Alcoholic Beverage is Smirnoff Mule.

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