Wednesday, May 26, 2004
> So what do you want to know? To start with Life Is Trying is in a very devious way a completely uncomplicated group. They were at their time just a bunch of single-minded punk rock-loving dudes who just so happen to have the endowment to write singular thoughts and ideas that are translated into seductive songs of love, hate, longing, anarchy, mortality, revolution and belongings all of which basically germinated of the very heart of suburbia which is conveniently located at 35-B Malingap St. or M35B as they would like to put it. All information above surely gives you somewhat of an idea as to who exactly are these devious uncomplicated punk rock group once were, certainly it would apparently give you the impression that they are one of the most secretive band to have come around in recent times, yet at times they could be the most surprising.
> What is this all about? This is a history of substance, apparent success and of moving on with our lives; a biography ghosted by the group themselves, the very best of irrational rock music, a question of identity, confessions cut with dry wit, a deflecting adventure in thought and space, a question of style, a parting of ways; the end and the beginning; a celebration of alienated consciousness; a sincere sellout; a voyage into the present; a full stop; a semi-colon; a question mark. Part punk. Part emo. Part indie. Part rock. And part whatnot. It’s the start to stop start; from QHS to PUP, from teenage innocence to young glory up to their apparent discharged college life anxieties, and to the eventual parting of ways caused by the sudden realization of Chuck Baclagon that his band mates no longer share the same passion and dedication that he once shared with them; from movement to movement; from the formulating and the shifting of priorities; from fate to wasted fortune; from Jaded to The Sane Side of Insanity to M35B to Life Is Trying and to the obscure nothingness of their wasted existence; from Jarme Mondragon to Mark De Guzman; from Christopher Villarante to Cedric Buenviaje to Reginald Unigo to then again Cedric Buenviaje; from Laixander Naguit’s guitar journey from Jim Croce’s broken chords to Billie Joe Armstrong’s distorted palm-muted power chords. It’s the putting together in a perfect new order the light and heavy public and private lazy and intense calm and frenzied concealing and the revealing of the hit and miss songs of Life Is Trying.
> What was the question? Here’s one answer. The anti-social ranting of Holden Caufield the infamous protagonist of J.D. Sallinger’s The Catcher In The Rye; Punk rock, emo, indie, ska, hardcore, straight edge, crust, rhythm times and technological agility and new wave music and computer mistakes and dynamic sensations and noise filled suspension and beside themselves and many meanderings and shy purpose and lyrical caress and remote vision and great crossing and clashing and trembling and splintering of the mind and a battered acoustic guitar and the sound of feelings and melodies falling from the sky or blasted to your ear by a resounding distorted electric guitar and shadowy beauty and grave ecstasy and inexhaustible restlessness and looking for life and stoned perfectionism and imprisoned perceptions and a low key engagement with a world of perplexities and uncertainties in which one can hope at best to achieve the small satisfactions a kind of innocence that surrounds the enigma and what was the question?
> Who are Life Is Trying? We may never know.
> Where are Life Is Trying? They’re at home I presume. Or they are flying across the ocean. Or they’re right in the middle of a jamming session inside a cork-filled box called a studio infamously owned by the notoriously grumpy grouch that has become an institution of Philippine rock music commonly known to your average twenty-something rocker as ‘Mang Jun Alberto’, which is basically their home from home, their flight from flight; the only place where for a brief 60 minutes in their life they take the center stage; step into the spotlight to indulge themselves and their guitars into a spiritual experience that cannot be expressed into words; an hour of feedbacks, static hissing and rapid drum rolls. Or they’re still waiting for their drummer to show up for their gig that’s scheduled two hours from now. Though there are some certain hints that I could give you to point to you where they are right now: One is teary eyed with his tears dripping on his bony hands as he types his thoughts on a battered keyboard comforted only by the fact that he has given himself to God's lordship and has finally found a partner whom he can share his life wholeheartedly with. Another is spending his time studying some boring stuff about engineering and the likes. There is also one who’s presently happy at home with his two kids and his pregnant wife. Another is contentedly reading the Good Book memorizing every passage with the conviction displayed only be the Filipino television evangelist that we have come to either love or hate. And another is presently head over heels with the fulfillment of his dream to be actually involved in the making of a comic book. But wherever they are right now, they are in their own special way telling right from wrong, and indulging in slight extravaganzas.
> Where do they come from? 1) The late 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and a pinch of the year 2000 and beyond or so they say. 2) The North; the north of everywhere including the North. 3) Greenday, The Cure, MxPx, Blink 182, NoFX, Rancid, The Offspring, Saves The Day, The Ramones, The Clash, Pennywise and Dashboard Confessional; Anarchy and tackiness, machines and glitter, apathy and sympathy, war and peace, ordinariness and extraordinariness. 4) The Sane Side of Insanity. The badly drawn prototype that would become one of the (sort of…) longest incarnations that is centered on the intellectual and musical collaboration between Laixander Naguit and Chuck Baclagon, and the apparent drum playing of Jarme Mondragon who still doesn’t know how to play drums at that time which was also hallmarked by the irrevocable departure of their friend Christopher Villarante as a member of the musical ensemble and as a friend of the band. 5) M35B. The most devastating imaginative rock group between Greenday and The Cure. There are some saying that all of the curiously naïve, deeply biased and fundamentally instinctive music made up of Life Is Trying, their puzzling centerlessness and their edgy incompleteness, the question mark that surrounds their motives, reputation, presence, absence, it all comes from trying to escape their very self-righteous notion that they have the in their feeble minds that they are an underground super group that never was. 6) The tortured frustrations of Chuck Baclagon to prove himself as someone who isn’t a loser to the mediocre world, which utterly fell into oblivion with the realization that Laixander Naguit and Cedric Buenviaje never really shared the same love and dedication that he had for the band and to his vision of sharing his tortured rhymes to the unsuspecting public who would rather listen to cheap senseless rage manufactured by hordes of dreadlocked, Addidas wearing, hip-hop infusing, rap-influenced, metal-zone guitar effect dependent corporate rock bands who retail their ‘packaged rebellion’ on MTV Rockd’.
> So what’s the point of all of this? Nothing. Other than the fact that this is a very biased description of Life Is Trying as a working unit and as a set of friends who suddenly lost the innocence in the music that they make, mainly because of the fact that they’re no longer geeky high school kids who can’t even find the courage to talk to girls and to face a crowd without saying “I” and “we”. This is the frustration of Chuck Baclagon materialized into words, to give himself poetic justice of the emotional turmoil that he felt when his band fell apart with the shifting of interests and priorities and the constant assaillance of the Freedom Bar concert organizers, backed up with the realization that there were really people who would take the time and effort to really go there, pay for the ticket and order a drink or two to watch them play their music and sing their hearts out, and that for the first time in their long lived existence as a band they would finally get paid for doing it. But sad to say his other comrades would rather go out of their way to pick up lousy discs of mp3s containing downloaded punk rock songs at nine o’ clock in the evening. And how it all doesn’t matter anymore because as Greenday once put it: “nothing good can last.”