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Filipino rock band Razorback draws the core of their inspiration from the bluesy, gospel-tinged hue of American Southern rock. The band's twin-lead guitar front line, reminiscent of such Southern bands as the Allman Brothers, is a remarkable feat of dynamic synergy. Though the band's future was put in doubt when one of the guitarists left in mid-1999, his return in late 2000 marked the start of a new era.
Razorback was formed in 1990. Among the initial lineup were guitarists David Aguirre and Tirso Ripoll, and bassist Louie Talan, who have participated in each of the band's three albums. Handling vocals at the start was Jose Mari Cuervo and playing drums was Miguel Ortigas. The band initially performed in nightspots playing covers of such bands as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Maiden, as well as '70s Filipino band Juan De La Cruz.
Razorback began writing original material and five years after forming, signed to local independent Alpha Records. However, vocalist Cuervo left before the album was recorded, and Kevin Roy was recruited to handle vocals. The band's 1995 debut, Hebigat Sounds, Vol. 1, was an accomplished set that delineated the band's interest and skill in performing Southern-styled rock.
Drummer Ortigas left in 1996 and was replaced by Brian Velasco. Razorback was acknowledged as a skilled and exciting act both on record and in concert, and signed to a major label, Epic of Sony Music Entertainment Philippines (SMEP). In April 1997, Razorback released its Epic debut, Beggar's Moon, which saw the band expanding its musical outlook by incorporating Hendrix-styled riffs in several songs.
The album received media attention and sales reflected the interest, nearly turning gold (which is 20,000 units sold). As rock music isn't much known or heard in the Philippines, this is a fine achievement. Aguirre was named Guitarist of the Year at the 1997 NU107 Rock Awards. The following year, Talan was named Bassist of the Year at the 1998 NU107 Rock Awards.
In October of 1998, Razorback released a third album, Star, oriented more toward metal/hard rock, though the Southern influence remained on some tracks. Guitarist Tirso Ripoll was named Guitarist of the Year at the 1999 NU107 Rock Awards, and Razorback's video for "Voodoo, Who Do?," a track off Star, won for Best Music Video. A crippling blow was dealt to the band when guitarist Aguirre left in mid-1999, though Razorback continued to perform and promote Star using another guitarist.
Aguirre's return in late 2000 saw the band making plans for a U.S. tour and a new album. Members of Razorback also participated in a side project with Wolfgang vocalist Basti Artadi, which culminated in an acoustic-styled rock album, Brain Salad, released in August 2001. ~ David Gonzales
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