History shows that track record for most bands carrying on after major lineup changes has been less than stellar. Fortunately for a lucky few like The Strange Creatures, life begins in the aftermath of drama. “We don’t want to think of it as a vindication,” Jon Tamayo tells us in an interview. “We picked up what we left off, exerted more effort, got lucky that I Feel Like I’m On Drugs became a part of Jam 88.3’s regular playlist and charted in their weekly Top 10.” Aside from snagging major attention from an alt radio station in Manila, The Strange Creatures was recently featured in a Malaysian-based music and pop culture magazine, Time Out and got picked up in a mixtape alongside indie heavyweights in Southeast Asia—all of this happened after former bandmates Aleph Emea and Jimbo Cuenco decided to leave the band to pursue a different musical path.
Now with a lineup that consists of Jon Tamayo on vocals/acoustic guitars, Steph Coojacinto on vocals/keyboards, Tobit Rubio on electric guitars/backing vocals, Tan Evangelista on electric guitars/backing vocals, Bam Butalid on bass guitars/backing vocals, and Ryan Rillorta on drums/backing vocals, the indie-pop collective is all set to debut the songs from their upcoming album, Stargazer via joint EP launch with ambient-pop pairing, Three.! this Saturday, May 10 at Route 196. Here’s what we gathered in a recent Q&A:
1. When Aleph left the band last year, did you guys think of just ending the band or changing the name of the group?
Jon: It’s a knockout blow to us when Jimbo and Aleph left the band. It’s hard to find replacements because both of them are dear friends, great/gifted musicians and we have good chemistry. Honestly, at some point I wanted to disband out of frustration and hopelessness. I even sent a message to Ian Urrutia of VOTW about my plans of disbanding. But he urged me not to do it because “Stargazer” is doing well in Southeast Asia, thanks to ERASING MEMORIES mixtape. So I snapped out of that emo phase, went online and found a skilled drummer in Ryan Rillorta. Then our good friend Ahmad Tanji discovered Steph Coojacinto. We never thought of changing our name.
2. What can we expect from the newly formed The Strange Creatures? How did the lineup changes affect the songs in your upcoming album?
Jon: Dreamier with hints of darkwave can be expected in our new songs. We’ll also experiment a lot because we don’t want to restrict ourselves to a certain type of music. As for our upcoming EP, a lot of things changed with the songs arrangements and sound because of the magic Ryan and Steph brought in. You should buy our EP to hear it.
3. “Stargazer” was a breakout internet hit last year, which also attracted a couple of music heads in Southeast Asia. You were also featured in a Kuala Lumpur-based Magazine called Time Out. Do you have plans of promoting your music in the neighboring countries, given a chance?
Jon: We’ll definitely grab the opportunity if there’s any. Every musician’s dream is to be heard all over the world.
Steph: Definitely yes if given the chance, because sharing our music is basically our main objective here. We want to inspire people to be inspired through our music.
4. Your sophomore single “I Feel Like I’m On Drugs” on the other hand, is currently on Jam 88.3’s heavy rotation. It also charted inside the top 10. Do you feel vindicated now—I mean, after all the drama that happened in the past few months?
Jon: We don’t want to think of it as a vindication. We picked up what we left off, exerted more effort, got lucky that “I Feel Like I’m On Drugs” became a part of Jam 88.3’s regular playlist and charted in their weekly Top 10, now we’re releasing an EP. I guess the universe is conspiring with us this time.
Steph: Not really, I mean, we just like exploring and trying out new stuff. It’s what we do, we don’t know how the audience will respond to it, if they like our stuff, then that’s a plus ‘cause that’ll help us continue doing what we love to do. We don’t make music to please people; we make music ‘cause that’s what we are.
5. Let’s talk about your new album. What is it all about?
Jon: It’s a collection of songs we arranged last year. Songs about Love, Heartbreak and that imaginary place you go to in order to escape from reality. Songs that people can relate to, I hope.
Steph: It’s about you, actually. Everything you feel, you think about, you dream or fantasize about, whether good or bad, or whatever.
6. What can we expect from your album launch?
Jon: Expect it to be fun, memorable and a great night of music. We’re co-launching it with electronica-ambient-pop duo Three.! Awesome bands will be performing as well. Everyone is invited.
Steph: Expect to hear more of us, I mean the music of course ‘cause we’ll be playing more songs. And obviously, you get a chance to grab a copy of our EP, yey.
7. Any new music you guys are listening to?
Jon: Right now I’m listening to a lot of local indie bands. Most of them will be playing in our EP Launch. Listening to them inspires me to write more and improve myself as a musician/writer. As for foreign music, the geek in me is digging more into Shoegaze and Dark Wave music. There’s “Butterfly Explosion,” “The Rosemarys”, “The Machine In The Garden” to name a few.
Steph: Phosphorescent, Warpaint, Washed Out, St. Lucia, Freelance Whales, The Paper Kites.