16.07.13_NANAY MO_Racca and Tan 20

Nanay Mo: You wanna talk about mothers?
by , on September 5, 2013

If there was an appropriate time to say that anybody loved “Porn,” this would be it.

While it sounds like your typical offensive rock ‘n’ roll ditty, vocalist Jhong Cardenas sees their hit song as a social commentary, a way to make the audience sing along to something they know is wrong.

Much like the guilty pleasure, Nanay Mo is euphemistic, dirty and easygoing. Evident with Cardenas’ take on the song, though, there is more to them than meets the eye. Their hit single invites listeners to watch porn tonight with the band—“everybody’s coming,” after all.

Whole lotta history

Having come from the same high school, the band got together in 2008 out of a common love of music. After several lineup changes, the band currently consists of communication supersenior Jhong Cardenas on vocals, Gio Puyat (AB Comm ‘11) and Anjo Joaquin (AB IS ‘12) on guitar, Anton Magno (AB Comm ‘11) on bass and Nash Ignacio (BS ME ‘11) on drums.

If there’s any term that comes close to classifying Nanay Mo, it’s “malabo rock.”

Before Vernice Feleo came onboard as manager, they were your typical bunch of “disorganized boys,” as Puyat puts it, scheduling the occasional jam session, playing like mad and leaving it at that.

Noong sumali si Verns, parang nagkaroon talaga ng direction (We only really had direction after Verns joined),” shares Magno. Though prior to having Feleo onboard, they had already graced the stages of high school and college fairs. The band was also a member of the Ateneo Musician’s Pool (AMP).

Fast-forward to today, and they’ve played in numerous bars both near and far from Katipunan: From Route 196 and Tomatokick to Freedom Bar and the ‘70s Bistro.

Room for the imagination

Just like a good euphemism, Nanay Mo’s lyrics leave a lot to the imagination. Allusions abound in the form of underage smoking in “Marlboro” and a mass murderer in “Shotgun.” It’s the one-liner choruses that make the most impact: “Huy bata, bakit ka naninigarilyo? (Hey kid, why are you smoking?)” they chant repeatedly in “Marlboro.”

Puyat shares that their creative process comes in the form of stinted “eureka moments.” One person would opt to try a riff over the existing parts and they would build up each track from there. “It’s how the dynamic goes. It’s very spontaneous.”

However, creating their self-titled debut album—which was released this June—was a bit of a challenge even for their quick wits; According to Magno, they had to record and write their songs simultaneously. “Comparing it with other bands, it was really slow, especially since a lot of amateur bands can record [studio quality recordings] on their own, but at that time [we couldn’t].”

A genre of their own

The product of that degree of spontaneity leads up to something in a class of its own: Cardenas’ raw and slightly nasal vocals are backed by gang chants from the rest of the band. Their riffs are heavy with gain and distortions. Their melodies are heavily influenced by both blues riffs and classic OPM rakenrol, which makes their sound nearly impossible to put in a specific niche.

 “They’re the sort of teenagers that said, ‘Let’s start a rock band.’ And then even though they’re in their twenties, they never let go of that idea, like, ‘Tara, tara, let’s just play together!’

AMP President Anton Rodriguez has nothing but praise for the band, but putting a finger on their sound is difficult even for a music aficionado like himself. “I think they’re amazing, you know. Very raw, very garage band,” he says.

The general consensus is that Nanay Mo sounds like a Filipino version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in their early days, but Rodriguez simply sums their sound up as “Kalokohan [in] its purest form—in a good way, in a really good way.”

If there’s any term that comes close to classifying Nanay Mo, it’s “malabo rock.” Feleo, recalling when the term was coined, says, “We had this show before, sinabihan kaming ‘malabo rock’ tapos we also had this thing na ‘malabo blues.’ I guess it’s nice because we get to create a sound out of different influences [like] rock and blues.”

We know it might be wrong, but—

There’s a certain energy in the air at every Nanay Mo performance. The crowd becomes an unruly mass of bodies, drenched in beer, sweat and drunken tears—the works. Suddenly everyone begins hollering out the words and you wonder whether you’ll suffocate, get crushed to death or just bust your eardrums.

It’s this adrenalin-pumped, almost violent atmosphere that sets the band apart. The band and the audience feed off of each other’s energy, occasionally with hilarious results. Halfway through one performance at Route 196, the band stripped down to women’s lingerie.

Cardenas explains, “Sobrang saya lang talaga siya, parang nakaka-liberate siya. Since nakahubad ka na, what else could go wrong? So parang, gawin mo lahat ng hindi mo nagawa before (It was really fun and liberating. Since you’re naked already, what else could go wrong? So, just do everything you’ve never done before).”

At heart, they’re still those rowdy, disorganized boys, true to their offbeat, malabo sound. “They’re the sort of teenagers that said, ‘Let’s start a rock band.’ And then even though they’re in their twenties, they never let go of that idea, like, ‘Tara, tara, let’s just play together!’” says Rodriguez.

Nanay Mo will be jamming on and rocking out just the same, except now everybody’s listening. Here’s to hoping they retain that balls-to-the-wall energy and teenage delinquency that make them so appealing.

Don’t worry, mom; the kids are alright.