When asked what their first instrument was growing up, Jiesus nonchalantly answered, “my voice”, an answer that is mirrored by Tintin. In this emotionally-laden outfit, the soulful vocals of the band sits perfectly well with their heart-wrenching lyrics masked by noise so sweet resulting in songs so potent that they could freeze the listener in place. Creating art and music for just a little over a year, they have made believers from just about anyone who have heard or seen them and they do not shy away from extending their tendrils to the other islands of this archipelago.
Join us as we have a sit down with Ashtrays to Gaza, our sixth guest artist for the Out of Tune series, and talk about topics ranging from how much of the band life consumes them to the DIY ethos, and just getting to know the hearts that compose this quartet.
(This video only contains excerpts from the full interview. Read the full transcription below.)
Out of Tune Verse VI Ashtrays to Gaza
November 8, 2023
(Note: The following writing is based on a transcription of the interview conducted last 8 November 2023 at about 7 o’clock in the evening at Backyard Project Studios, Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City of Ashtrays to Gaza.)
(Note: The interview was conducted in the English language with the occasional Cebuano and Filipino language. For purpose of catering to possible non-Filipino and non-Cebuano speaking readers, the following transcription has already been transcribed to the English language to the best of the abilities of the author.)
(Note: This is not a 100%-accurate transcription since some words are not audible or may be misheard by the author. The author also took liberties in making grammatical corrections, and omitted repetitive words and stutters, if any. However, the substance of the answers remains faithful to the original. Moreover, the author honored the request of the interviewees to omit parts of the interview that they do not wish to be published and will be marked as “XXX”.)
(00:00:00 – intro)
Patrick: Hello, everyone. We are now half-way through the series for Out of Tune and to mark this occasion we have another special band for tonight. Again, everybody knows this band but, anyway, it’s Ashtrays to Gaza. One of the most unique sounding outfits in Cebu City right now. At least, in my opinion. So without further ado, let us do this, Out of Tune Verse VI, Ashtrays to Gaza.
(Greeting noises from the band and Jiesus suggests to make this hand gesture for the band intro)
Jiesus: Let us do this together. One, two, we are
Everyone: Ashtrays to Gaza. (with hand gestures)
Jiesus: Energy, man. Positivity, guys.
Patrick: First of all, I would like to thank you guys for doing this. I know you have busy schedules. And, Jiesus, I just learned that you had to travel very far from Carcar, but still you gave your time to do this. Again, this is Ashtrays to Gaza. So let’s start. Who are the people behind this band?
Angelo: Hi, I’m Angelo. Guitars.
Tintin: Hi, I’m Tintin. Bass.
Jiesus: I’m Jiesus. Guitars.
Cypho: Cypho, drugs.
Patrick: What, drugs?
Cypho: Drums, drums, drums.
Patrick: We don’t do that, okay?
(00:02:26 – what’s in a name?)
Patrick: The band name Ashtrays to Gaza is one of my favorite sounding names for a band. It rolls nicely in the tongue. In fact, I found myself before coming here keeping on pronouncing the name Ashtrays to Gaza. How did that name become the name for the group?
Jiesus: It was actually me and Summer from Awkward Dancer. We were brainstorming, calling. It was the evening so we were on the phone with each other and we were talking because I was inspired by his record, Don’t Leave Me Summer. That’s what inspired me to make a solo project at the time. So I was like, “yo, dude, do you think I should do it?” And he said, “f**k, yeah, dude. You should do it.” I was like, “what kind of name should we have?” And we were like, Flights to Iran or something like that. And just came up with Ashtrays to Gaza and I was like, “yeah, that sounds nice.” Initially, it was Ashtrays for Gaza. Then he (Summer) told me, “you should change that to Ashtrays to Gaza so it doesn’t make sense.” So I was like, “yeah, dude.” So it doesn’t make sense, which is…
Cypho: Thank you, Summer.
Jiesus and Tintin: Thank you, summer.
Patrick: Shout-out again to Summer, Cris99.
Patrick: Aside from being a good-sounding name, is there a significance to the name Ashtrays to Gaza? Especially considering the political climate right now in the said area. Did you take that into consideration?
Jiesus: The conflict in Gaza, because this whole project started in 2019. So although the conflict in Gaza at that time was already happening, it was more of just the creative aspect for that sort of arrangement in the letters of the alphabet. Like you said, it rolls off the tongue. So if there’s any significance, I mean obviously what’s happening is really sad, but there was no connection to what was happening at the time. Because this wasn’t, it was 2019. You know. The war, the conflict was already brewing, but it hadn’t yet made it’s, you know…
Patrick: The Hamas didn’t do it’s attack yet.
(00:05:01 – beginnings)
Patrick: How was the band formed? How did it start, Ashtrays to Gaza?
Jiesus: Solo project.
Patrick: So it was a solo project, then you tried to contact Summer Veins, is that it? Do a duo, a collab thing?
Jiesus: No. Uh, yeah, we eventually did a collab together for an EP. And then it was more of like, it sort of developed from there because this guy (Cypho) was like. I knew he was a great drummer. I was like, I should make a band with this guy. Then we started f**king around. It was just the both of us, just me and him. We played as a two-piece band for a few gigs.
Cypho: Two-piece (making a two-piece swimsuit hand motion)
Jiesus: And then she (Tintin) came around.
Patrick: So Tintin was the third member?
Jiesus: She’s the third member, this (points to Angelo) is the fourth, basically.
Patrick: So Ashtrays to Gaza, no one was replaced? This is the exact lineup from when it started.
Patrick: I recall there was a gig, there was Nikki. Was she a part?
Jiesus: Yeah, she was after Tintin, and then Angelo. I forgot, sorry.
Patrick: When was this band started, again? This was during the pandemic, so is this one of the pandemic bands?
Jiesus: No. Pre-pandemic, but if the pandemic did not come, I don’t think I’d be releasing as many releases as I did with Ashtrays to Gaza as a solo project.
Patrick: Speaking of “as many songs”, I was looking through your discography, if you’d like to call it that, through your bandcamp and I messaged you earlier, “Jiesus, how did you become one of the most prolific persons in the scene right now, how many songs have you done? How many collabs? How many EP’s?” Leading to that, is the songs from Ashtrays to Gaza primarily written by you, is that how it works in this band?
Jiesus: We’re still at this stage, because the band, we’ve only been together as a band for a year or so. Each of us is still discovering each other’s energies, seeing where things go with this one, we should try this one. I guess we could say the band, the four of us, are trying to find the chemistry. However, there are times, for example, Angelo needs to connect to Cyril, and they would have some sort of bond together and, like Tintin with Cyril, and me with each of the people in the band. For me, if we’re in a band and we’re not friends, it’s gonna be, you know. I’m that kind of person. I need to…
Patrick: There has to be a bond.
Jiesus: There has to be a bond. If you don’t have a bond, you can’t be James Bond.
Jiesus: If you don’t have a bond, it’s cool, yeah, sure. You are playing with this person. But, man, I feel I’m at home playing with… Like being on stage is already nerve-wrecking enough when you’re under the right substances and the worst thing I could in being in that anxious state is if I’m on stage, especially, if the people I am on stage with are people who I don’t really know and it’s so uncomfortable for me. So that’s why I prefer that. Some people function if they’re not friends with the bandmates, but I need to be friends with each and every one of these people because they are so important in my life.
Patrick: That is a very good point. There has to be this comfort level with the people you are with. Not only in playing live, but I think the chemistry has to be there when you are creating the songs.
Jiesus: Yeah. Like, dude, now we are just uncovering. When Tintin first came into the band she didn’t know that she could sing like how she sings right now. She didn’t know that she could do these things on stage. Both of us (Cypho and Jiesus) were seeing that unfold in real time. And seeing Angelo, we just recorded his vocals. He’s still shy about it. But when we release that shit, bro, watch the f**k out, man. This guy’s voice, we were recording in Kristin’s room, I almost cried, bro. Oh, shit.
Tintin: It’s so emo.
Jiesus: It’s so emo, dude.
Patrick: Despite the fact that you said that this band, for the lineup, just barely a year, the chemistry is there. The music speaks for itself. I heard you guys play last Saturday and it’s one of those performances when I could literally say I was fixated. I don’t want to move. Because you guys are, I don’t know how to say this, to simply put it, I just love you guys. It really sounds good, what you did. And the vocals, everything, the drums, the guitars.
Jiesus: Tintin’s vocals…
Patrick: But the funny thing is, you just stated earlier that it’s barely a year and you’re already doing this. I mean you are at this level, it’s really good.
(00:11:50 – the Malaysian connection)
Patrick: Anyway, my first recollections of Ashtray to Gaza, there are gig posters, event posters which states the nationality of bands, and there’s Malaysia. Can you tell us what is this about?
Patrick: Are you a Malaysian citizen?
Jiesus: I was born there. I was an illegal immigrant there.
Patrick: I’m an Alien…(in the tune of Englishman in New York)
Jiesus: I’m a legal alien. That’s true, bro. I was born there. My mom and dad met there. And then they had me. And I grew up there. I came here, I think I was twenty, twenty-one.
Patrick: You spent twenty years in Malaysia?
Patrick: So you’re still adjusting when you’re here?
Jiesus: I’m adjusting to the amount of pork dishes I have to face everyday because in Malaysia you have Muslim food. So if I feel bad that I’m eating pork every day because I have hypertension, so I could just switch. If there’s anything that I want there in Malaysia, it’s the choices of food.
Patrick: Philippines is kind of hardcore when you’re talking about culinary…
Cypho: Humba rice. Shout-out to humba rice.
Patrick: Everything is pork, grease, starch, salt.
Jiesus: It’s good though, it’s good.
(00:13:19 – intro to music)
Patrick: So when you were still in Malaysia, you were growing up, how did you become indoctrinated or got introduced into music, the band life and everything? Is anyone from the family a musician?
Jiesus: My great grandma.
Patrick: A Malaysian? Jiesus: No. I’m not a Malaysian citizen. I am a Filipino. Both my mom and dad are Filipinos, they went there.
Patrick: You’re born in Malaysia from both Filipino parents?
Jiesus: Yeah. I just grew up there for some reason.
Patrick: And your family are into music already?
Jiesus: My dad got my mom to be with him because of singing.
Patrick: So your dad has a great voice? A singer, right?
Jiesus: I’m better. (laughs) I’m joking. My dad, he’s the best. He taught me everything that I know.
Patrick: What kind of music did you grew up listening to?
Jiesus: Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Michael Jackson. (Stars singing words from Ben) We should cover that song, man.
Patrick: And I’m sure you’re perfectly capable of doing that.
Jiesus: We should. We’ve done a shit ton of covers we’re we took OPM songs or random songs from the pop charts and made it shoegaze and so far it worked. So I’m planning on compiling every single so we can do something with it. It’s really interesting.
Patrick: Again, going back. Your introduction to music was because of your dad, is that basically it?
Jiesus: My dad. And then he decided that I couldn’t really learn anything from school so he just put me in music school.
Patrick: I think that’s smart. Because in the Philippines, I mean I think everyone in the world, we have this traditional concept where you have to go through all of this structure. I mean if you could find the strengths of your child, “these are your strong points”, I mean I think that’s a good thing.
Jiesus: I guess they’re kind of regretting the fact that they put me in music and now I’m not a functioning adult per se.
Patrick: According to the terms of the society.
Jiesus: According to the terms of them.
Patrick: Your first instrument is the guitar?
Jiesus: It was my voice.
Patrick: Man, I love your answer.
Jiesus: It was my voice. And then I went to guitar.
Patrick: Let’s get to know each and everyone of you, individually. Cy, your introduction to music, how did you get started into this?
Cypho: Eep. (Laughs) I don’t know.
Jiesus: Be clear, man.
Cypho: Actually, there was no influence from the family. Just in the house, listening to the radio.
Patrick: And you just decided that this is what you want to do? I want to learn drums.
Patrick: So you first instrument is the drums?
Cypho. Yeah. Nothing else.
Jiesus: Keyboard, you also have keyboard at your house.
Patrick: Okay, influences. What did you start listening to? Was it really punk rock when you got into the drums?
Cypho: First, it was grunge. Then punk, Green Day. Green DAYpartment. Mostly, I started with grunge. I listened purely to Nirvana before. Then covered punk.
Patrick: So transitioned from grunge to punk?
Cypho: Punk was in high school already. Shout out to Keith, who is now a councilor. A punk councilor. And also Madera, my classmate, who introduced me to grunge.
Patrick: Tin, how about you, how did you get involved in all of this?
Tintin: My dad’s a music lover. He plays the guitar. I also grew up listening to CSNY, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. He’s more of a folk fan. And he introduced me to a couple of folk singers like Peter, Paul and Mary.
Patrick: John Denver?
Tintin: Yeah, John Denver. So I get to enjoy it. That was my music growing up. And then when he finally saw the potential in me because I was like singing ever since.
Patrick: So your first instrument was also your voice? Tintin: Yeah, my voice. I used to sing in church. Like during the sugat, I’m the angel. And then the first thing my dad introduce to me as, he kind of pushed into some songs that I liked. So it was Alanis Morissette. So he bought me tapes.
Jiesus: He bought you Red Hot Chili Peppers, right?
Tintin: Yeah. Red Hot Chili Peppers and then I felt being a music lover ever since because I listen to songs, I used the recorder. You know, the play and record button in the cassette. I used to do that.
Patrick: You record the tracks you like?
Tintin: Yeah. And I write down the lyrics even if it’s not making any sense.
Patrick: Old school. That’s how we do it when there was no internet then.
Tintin: Yeah. He then asked me to choose between piano and guitar and since I was looking at Alanis Morissette’s performance ever since, I chose the guitar.
Patrick: So Alanis was a big influence on you growing up?
Tintin: Yeah, she was. Then I started playing the guitar and then…
Patrick: How did you get into the heavier stuff?
Tintin: It started with punk also. I listened to Green Day, Blink 182. Just the mostly known punk bands. Because in Bukidnon, our source…
Patrick: So you are from Bukidnon?
Tintin: Yes. Are resource is very limited so we don’t get to listen to the underground music. Just what’s available in the market. So I always buy the CD’s, the pirated ones. Thirty-five pesos each. So that’s how I got started into the heavier stuff and discovering…
Patrick: That’s your introduction.
Tintin: Yeah, that’s my introduction.
Patrick: How about the band life? Did you play in bands in Bukidnon?
Tintin: I did, but it’s more of like a church band. I sing in the band, I played the guitar. But it didn’t last long because I was focused into something else.
Patrick: Alright, I’m not even going to go there. I’ll leave you to it.
Tintin: And then I grew up there until highs school. And then I transferred here. I studied college here and I got into more serious stuff. But I didn’t join a band yet, I was just part of the audience. Just hanging around.
Jiesus: She was just hanging around with metalheads.
Patrick: You (Tintin) were with the metal crowd?
Tintin: I don’t really consider them as my circle because I was just hanging around with them.
Patrick: You were there for the people…
Tintin: Also for the music. I was discovering at that time.
Jiesus: Discovering Dimmu Borgir.
Tintin: No. Discovering all kinds of music.
Patrick: What did you say?
Jiesus: Discovering Dimmu Borgir. It’s a black metal band, which she really loves by the way.
Tintin: Yeah, I go to punk gigs, I go to metal gigs. I’m just around.
Cypho: Test Tube Babies.
Tintin: I don’t even understand why I got to this point of really joining…
Patrick: “What the f**k am I doing here?”
Jiesus: Sometimes it would be like that, dude.
Tintin: Yeah, that’s true. It’s so funny because it’s so random that Jiesus asked me to play the bass because he didn’t know that I play anything. He said, “do you have any samples that I can listen to that I can use as a reference if you can play?” And I didn’t even send him anything.
Cypho: He (Jiesus) consulted me at first. “Cyo, do you know Kristin?” I said yes. “Do you think she could be a good bass player?” She plays Ukelele.
Jiesus: That was all I needed. I was like, four strings, okay.
Tintin: Because as he said, he wants a connection not just like a band member. And we were really close.
Jiesus: I love this person so much, I don’t even know. I love every one of them. Ate is my favorite.
Cypho: She’s his favorite.
Jiesus: She’s my favorite. This is favoritism. You know this.
Patrick: Sorry, Cy, Gel, take the backseat. If the boat will sink Tintin will be saved first.
Jiesus: Let us argue later, Gelo.
Tintin: That’s basically how it started.
Patrick: Gelo, we already have been introduced to Gelo from Hollywood Folk Hogan, but let us get to know him better. Gel, how did you start with all of these, the music, everything?
Angelo: I grew up watching MTV.
Patrick: Alright, I’m also part of that. Angelo: I grew up listening to grunge. My first band was grunge. We covered Alice in Chains, STP.
Patrick: And your first instrument, it was the guitar?
Angelo: Yeah, guitar. Then I started to learn guitar through my uncle.
Patrick: Also a musician?
Angelo: Yeah, he’s a musician. He taught me. The first song that I learned was Narda.
Patrick: Narda, Kamikazee?
Patrick: Angelo is so young.
Cy: I am old.
Patrick: I’m embarrassed. Anyway, okay.
Angelo: It just continued from there. I got in bands.
Jiesus: So how did you get here?
Cypho and Jiesus: Share your story.
Patrick: How did you get to join Ahstrays?
Angelo: I don’t know. She (Tintin) just sent me a chat message.
Cypho: It was when you posted a bass for sale.
Angelo: Oh, yeah. I didn’t know them. I just saw them in gigs. I posted my bass for sale because it sounded too aggressive for Hollywood Folk. It was him (Jiesus) who sent me a message, “dude, how much is the last price for your bass because Tintin will buy it? You are friends, anyway.” “okay, I will lower the price.” So then we chatted with Tintin. That was our first interaction. As time went by…
Jiesus: I got a crush on you…
Angelo: He (Jiesus) got a crush on me.
Angelo: He confessed. He said they needed another guitar player.
Cypho: We need handsome.
Jiesus: This is what is true. Angelo in the band, he is probably the most good-looking person in the band. I don’t even know, man.
Cypho: That is the only purpose…
Angelo: You are crazy.
Jiesus: He is so handsome, man. Look.
Patrick: Aren’t you insulted, Cy said that is your only purpose?
Patrick: There has to be someone handsome in the band.
Cypho: Yes, there has to be a handsome person in the band.
Angelo: I now am doubtful of my skills.
Jiesus: No, man. You are so handsome.
Patrick: Let’s go back, let’s go back. How about the scene right now, the indie scene, what was your first band? Before Ashtrays?
Angelo: I had no a band before. I don’t know how to play the bass. The first band I was in as a bass player was Hollywood Folk Hogan. I didn’t know how to play the bass, just fiddling around with it. I don’t even know what I’m doing.
Patrick: And this bass is the same bass that Tintin plays?
Tintin: Yeah. I’m using it now.
Patrick: That’s great, there is a connection.
(00:28:00 – describing your music)
Patrick: I cannot say for certain what genre should I put you in. You have elements of shoegaze, slowcore, even elements of emo. But how do you guys describe your sound?
Jiesus: We don’t.
Patrick: Nothing? So Ashtrays to Gaza will always be free without limitations.
Jiesus: Exactly. We play what we like in the moment. We’re not really scared of trying anything new. It’s fine whatever you want to do. For me, it’s too mundane to put myself in just one category of whatever it is we’re playing. With Ashtrays to Gaza, I feel like everyone here is just like, you know, they’re game to do anything. So I was like, “f**k, yeah, dude. Let’s do this.”
Cypho: Let’s make a reggae album.
Tintin: (touches Jiesus’ dreadlocks) Reggae. Rastacore.
Patrick: In other words, you’re not closing the doors to anything.
Jiesus: No, bro. Even our discography speaks for itself. We have like so much stuff going on. I even forget sometimes.
(00:29:20 – how much do you give?)
Patrick: How much of your self and your time are you giving into this thing? Into this band?
Jiesus: I think you (Cypho) should answer that, Cyo.
Patrick: How much is it consuming you? Cypho: Eep. (laughs) On my part, I’m the merch guy. It takes a lot of time just to prepare the concept and to execute it. We do DIY, almost everything.
Jiesus: By the way, guys (points to the camera), those shirts you’re wearing, and those boxes and stickers, we made them with love, dude.
Cypho: Manual. Handmade.
Patrick: Handmade with love.
Jiesus: Just know, sus intawon.
Cypho: So it takes a lot of time. One shirt, one day. But when they (Jiesus and Angelo) arrived at our house…
Patrick: Because I saw the video, you were preparing the merch box.
Patrick: From what I understand, you’re a family man. Does it not conflict, does it not get you into trouble with the commander?
Cypho: No. Luckily.
Patrick: How about you, Jiesus, how much of it are you giving into this?
Jiesus: Everything. I put everything.
Patrick: And it shows, actually. Tin?
Tintin: Yeah, I’m a normal citizen of the Philippines. I work.
Jiesus: She’s very balanced.
Patrick: Work-life balance.
Tintin: I’m the most balanced person, I guess. Or I don’t know. I’m sorry for judging everyone. But it was from them that I’m the most balanced. Because I work, and then I spend my free time practicing and hanging out with these people.
Jiesus: I know. I love you.
Patrick: How about you, Gelo? Same?
Angelo: I don’t know. I’m not balanced.
Patrick: Because sometimes even if you’re at work, but you’re still thinking about all of these things, then I think you are not balanced. I mean you are complying with the things we need, so it’s something like that. Even if you are at work, you’re still thinking about it.
Angelo: Yeah, yeah.
Patrick: You’re looking forward to the next gig and everything.
Jiesus: I love Angelo’s body language on stage. He really brings a very sexy dynamic. It’s very sexy, man.
Angelo: This guy is crazy. Stop that.
Jiesus: It is true. We are all hot, dude.
Angelo: Just edit it out.
Patrick: No, this is important. This should be included.
(00:32:34 – creative process and talking about Leavers)
Patrick: Talk us through the songwriting process for Ashtrays to Gaza. How do you make your songs?
Jiesus: Which album?
Patrick: In general. Yeah, the earlier works for Ashtrays that was all you (Jiesus). When did it start to become the full band?
Jiesus: When we had the band members?
Patrick: I mean which EP or album was it? Or was there none yet released for this lineup?
Jiesus: For this lineup, yeah. The leavers one.
Patrick: But no album yet for this lineup?
Jiesus: No, it’s still in the process. Like I said, we’ve only been a band for like…
Patrick: Okay, how are the songs made for this lineup?
Cypho: Initially, we jam.
Cypho, Yeah, random. Leavers, I remember it was just a soundcheck.
Tintin: Yeah, that’s true.
Jiesus: The first time Leavers came around it was crazy because we did not plan it at all. We just said, it was recently Valentines and my crush at the time she wanted to come so I want to prepare something romantic like the samples and shit. And it just came out of nowhere. That song just came out of nowhere. It was just an improve, basically. We were like, “dude, we should make this a song.” It slowly evolved.
Patrick: So this is how, for this band, this is how it’s done. You have a sit down, you have a session? And you just come up, you brainstorm of ideas?
Jiesus: Pretty much, pretty much.
Patrick: So this is not a Jiesus-centric thing?
Cypho: It is, it is. Actually, Tintin is just lip-synching.
Jiesus: Actually, that is true. Nah, just kidding.
Cypho: We jam random stuff.
Tintin: Jam, yeah.
Jiesus: She records the session and when she’s bored, she’ll look through it. And then maybe she’ll find something cool.
Tintin: Yeah, and send it to everyone. “Hey guys, this is good. Let’s make this a song.”
Jiesus: And there you go.
Patrick: How about the words of the songs, Jiesus?
Tintin: It’s Jiesus.
Patrick: Earlier outside, Jiesus said that you (Tintin) also wrote your things, wrote some lyrics, but you do not allow it to be used in this band.
Tintin: It’s not that I don’t allow it. I’m just not confident enough that it’s a good lyric.
Patrick: Have you heard of these songs?
Jiesus: Yeah. Both of us (Gelo) did. It sounded very, kind of like very shy aura.
Angelo: Very innocent.
Jiesus: I said, “yo, we should do this.” She said, “no.”
Patrick: So you cannot use it because Tintin is holding back.
Jiesus: She’s so shy.
Tintin: I share ideas, but I don’t really present my…
Patrick: Your full power. (laughs)
Tintin: Full power to them.
(00:35:45 – talking about influences)
Patrick: So there’s no sense for asking you what’s the influence for Ashtrays to Gaza?
Jiesus: A lot.
Tintin: Yeah, a lot.
Patrick: Okay, let’s go through it. Name a few artists or bands that influenced Ahstrays to Gaza.
Jiesus: Largely, The Melvins. That band is just…
Cypho: Sonic Youth.
Tintin: Yeah, Sonic Youth.
Jiesus: What else? Boris. A lot, man.
Patrick: but at the top of your head that was it?
Jiesus: I guess if you’ll talk about the heavier stuff we do, maybe. When it comes to generally what we want to make, we would drag from a lot of things.
Patrick: There are a lot of influences to pull from.
Jiesus: Yeah, we covered a Kylie Minogue song and made it shoegaze. Who the f**k does that? There’s a lot going on in our… We should play that.
Tintin: And that Jopay one.
Jiesus: Yeah. We covered Jopay and we turned it shoegaze or postrock, whatever you want to call it. Just so everyone knows, we did that before Jopay became a meme because if it already became a meme I don’t think I would…
Patrick: Touch it with a ten-foot pole.
(00:37:21 – meetings)
Patrick: How do you guys meet to practice or songwriting? How often do you guys do that? Or is it just electronically, sending recordings.
Tintin: Recently we’ve been hanging out in my house. Both of them (Jiesus and Angelo). Recently, it became more often. Like, I don’t know, once a week they go to my house.
Patrick: This is for songwriting, practicing?
Tintin: Recording and just jamming.
Jiesus: Coming up with some random stuff.
Patrick: Speaking of recording, is the recording for Ahstrays to Gaza DIY?
Jiesus: I have a different kind of audio interface.
Patrick: This is a secret that you’re not revealing.
Jiesus: Dude, I’m just using an iRig. That’s all I’m using.
Patrick: That’s all you need.
Jiesus: That’s all I need. I mean I could probably use an audio interface if I wasn’t broke.
Patrick: The iRig does the job?
Jiesus: It does the job. It’s not like I have a choice.
(00:38:38 – current listens)
Patrick: What songs or bands are you currently listening to?
Cypho: Totoro. It’s math-ish. Some…
Jiesus: body once told me (Sings All-Star by Smash Mouth)
Cypho: Post rock.
Patrick: So you’re into math and post rock. That’s your playlist?
Patrick: Jiesus, what have you been currently listening to?
Jiesus: I cycle through a lot. This morning I was listening to Vildhjarta.
Patrick: What’s Vildhjarta? Sorry.
Jiesus: It’s like more self-indulgent version of Messhugah. Then on the way here I was listening to Castlebeat.
Cypho: Castlbeat, yeah.
Jiesus: Black Marble. Black Midi. Dude, I don’t even know anymore. I just let my phone shuffle. Sometimes I listen to my own depressed cries at night for sample purposes. I break down for art. Just joking,
Patrick: Okay, Tin, what are you currently listening to?
Tintin: Angelo introduced me to Delta Sleep and I really love it.
Angelo: Math rock:
Tintin: Yeah, it’s math rock. Tricot has always been in my playlist. It’s a Japanese math rock band. I listen to Yvette Young because she’s so girly.
Patrick: Yeah, we need a feminine touch.
Tintin: I don’t know, that’s probably it.
Patrick: Gel, last time we spoke, you talked about Title Fight, Toe, is it still the same or are you listening to new things right now?
Angelo: No. I’m just listening to, I type in Spotify, “Calming Anxiety Music.” That’s all I’m listening to right now.
Patrick: Calming anxiety, so these are basically the instrumental classical types.
Angelo: Lo-fi beats.
Jiesus: You are worth it. There are voices saying, “you are worth it”.
Patrick: Good that you brought that up because I chatted with Jiesus earlier and he said that, because I asked Jiesus how did you make so much material in so short period of time. And Jiesus said that, “because I cannot afford therapy, this is my therapy.” Now this is an important discussion, I think. The mental health. It’s often disregarded, ignored as just being cool, mysterious, dark. Is this something you want to talk about? Why did you say I cannot afford therapy, so this is my therapy? Is there something behind that?
Jiesus: There’s a lot. I think everyone in the band has sort of like a tie to that because a lot of the pressures, like the day-to-day reality, living here. Anywhere really in the world there’s always bound to be sort of thing that will drag you down if you don’t play your cards right. I guess for everyone here.
Patrick: How about personally, do you have a specific problems or things that you are going through right now?
Jiesus: I mean there’s always something going on with someone. So, yeah, it depends. Because it could be the smallest thing, it could be the biggest thing ever and it just works the same. This band just ends up in that place where you are like, “f**k this, I’m just going to disappear into this void of down tuned guitars and reverb, random notes, and the steady drumbeat that sometimes fall out of tune but it still somehow works.” You just want to go there sometimes. And that’s therapy. The normal life would not be enough anymore once you experience that, dude.
Patrick: In a way, you’re saying that this life, the band life, is some sort of escape.
Jiesus: A form of me forging my own reality. That’s it.
(00:44:10 – what do you write about?)
Patrick: Proceeding from that, could you tell us what are themes or the songs of Ashtrays to Gaza about?
Jiesus: A lot.
Patrick: Yeah, because I was going through your discography and there are many about genitalia…
Jiesus: Those are different bands. In my bandcamp, I have Discrustshea, my previous band, is there.
Patrick: You have many collaborations, actually.
Patrick: Okay, how about Ashtrays to Gaza, what are the songs about? What do you write mainly about?
Jiesus: For real, say what you want, but having heartaches is one of the best tools for me to write something. It’s f**king sick right now because I don’t even know how to make happy songs anymore. Like what the f**k? Argh! When everything is all good and natural, I find it hard to create something and I just create something out of frustration.
Cypho: The poet needs the pain.
Jiesus: It’s fine sometimes when you put yourself in a very uncomfortable position just to know what that uncomfortable position is so that you can write about it. You don’t necessarily have to involve anyone, you can just go to the public market because you don’t like the public market and see how it feels and write about it. It wouldn’t be good unless you mean it, be sincere about it.
Patrick: In other words, you cannot sincerely write or sing about something if you have not immersed yourself to that thing or situation, is that what you’re saying?
Jiesus: For me. I can’t.
Patrick: These kind of immersions or explorations on your part translated into the songs that are now being made into Ashtrays to Gaza.
Jiesus: Pretty much, man. I try my best to have these guys do the same. This is why, years from now or any time from now, Kristin is going to open up her writing skills. So is Angelo, so is Cyril. When those things happen, that’s going to be such a good moment and a healthy moment in the band because I am more than willing to give all the creative space here to these people. Why would I be in a band with people that I am not willing to share that writing process with.
Patrick: I really love this idea, this ideology, this principle of yours on how you go into treating the band members. The songwriting or creative process.
(00:47:02 – sound essentials)
Patrick: Speaking of sound, what are the essential elements for you that should be present to be considered to make an Ashtrays to Gaza song?
Jiesus: You (Tintin) answer that. You know why I told her to answer? Because every singly new material that I have just mixed, she is the first person that gets to hear it and I wait until she says okay. You remember how many albums are rejected because you found there was something lacking?
Tintin: Some of the reason in the things that he sends me, what’s important is really the heaviness of the sound. If I see that it’s lacking, it’s not that heavy enough, then I would just say no.
Patrick: So there’s this heaviness that should envelope every sound of Ashtrays to Gaza?
Tintin: And it has to be emo. It has to be really, really emo.
Patrick: So happy songs are off the table for Ashtrays to Gaza?
Jiesus: Some start out happy and they get depressing after. At least there’s happiness. Better than nothing.
(00:48:30 – best experience)
Patrick: You have been working together, playing together for a year. Could you tell us what is the best experiences you have as a band?
Patrick: Yeah, you are one of the busiest bands out there. You are everywhere.
Tintin: Go, Cy. I think you can share.
Cypho: I think touring.
Patrick: Bacolod was your last?
Patrick: Touring is one of the best experiences, best part of being in Ashtrays to Gaza.
Cypho: Because at first we get really psyched about it. Then a day after we get sick of each other.
Jiesus: Yeah. We don’t even text each other for like two to three days.
Tintin: Yeah. That’s true.
Jiesus: It’s kind of a drain. The feeling is mutual, man. (laughs)
Patrick: So let’s say you’re in Iligan. You play a gig. After that, you’re still there, but you already avoid each other?
Jiesus: We fight after.
Cypho: We go to an ukay-ukay and we fight over the finds. The long trips, long bus trips. The one in Bacolod.
Tintin: Yeah. That was the funniest moment in Bacolod because there’s no, we didn’t book a hotel. So we didn’t have a place to stay, but we need to really take a nap because we were so tired of the long drive. So we were like roaming around and there was really no place.
Jiesus: We found Jade’s Court.
Tintin: We found Jade’s Court and we rented for three hours.
Cypho: Jade Court will not allow threesome.
Patrick: So threesome is not allowed.
Tintin: Yeah, threesome is not allowed.
Jiesus: I mean, come on, man. What if three friends just want to have some three some, bro?
Cypho: Boo! So in the end we took two rooms.
Patrick: For anyone who will find this information useful, Jade Court will not allow threesome.
Cypho: Jade Court sa Bacolod. Not sure if it was Jade Court, but the logo is the same. Negative three stars amo review. We took two rooms, that was your strategy.
Jiesus: Watch out. The toilet is very sticky. They don’t allow threesomes, man, why would they judge people?
Cypho: When they arrived there, we looked so good. We rode on a trike.
Tintin: We couldn’t even understand the guy.
Jiesus: We didn’t understand the guy who was driving us. What the f**k, dude?
Patrick: Why, Bacolod is Bisaya speaking?
Cypho: I think it was German.
Patrick: What a high-class driver.
Jiesus: The guy was like talking, and we were like, “Cebu, banda-banda.”
Tintin: We could only understand the tip of what he was saying.
Patrick: basically, the touring is all in one. It’s your best experience but your worst also comes from the tour.
Cypho: We’re exhausted.
Patrick: It drains.
Jiesus: I hate seeing Angelo’s face in the morning.
Patrick: But you just said he’s sexy, man?
Jiesus: But he doesn’t like it.
Cypho: When we slept there, our sleeping arrangements were so cramped. We were like shoes placed in a shoebox.
Jiesus: She is the only one who slept separately, so comfortable.
Patrick: Of course, she’s a girl.
Cypho: But the aircon was so cold.
Patrick: At least.
Jiesus: We were so pitiful.
Cypho: But it was fun, Iligan.
Jiesus: We should have separate rooms.
Cypho: Next time if you invite us, give us separate rooms.
Jiesus: One room each. Separate hotels.
Patrick: Minimum, has to have a bathtub.
Jiesus: Minimum, dude.
Cypho: Has bathtub. Has petals. Wine.
Patrick: Scented candles.
Jiesus: Scented candles, man.
Patrick: What are you going to do in the hotel?
Cypho: We will pour melted candle on each other.
Jiesus: We need to get in the moment.
Cypho: We have a ritual to perform.
Jiesus: Like Angelo. Before he can actually sing and be emo he needs to cry first. He will curl up in the corner for fifteen minutes. And he will just tell us, “guys, I’m ready now.” Then play. Remember Iligan, dude? He was slapping himself.
Patrick: Okay, it appears that you have different recollection of what happened.
(00:53:17 – changes, anyone?)
Patrick: if there is anything you can change in the band right now, what would it be?
Jiesus: I don’t know, man. We’re just seeing how it goes. We have sort of adapted this whole thing where we are like you just have to see what happens and then you just have to ride it out. So far, the signs have been clear that we shouldn’t try to force anything or mold anything. You just let it be. If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t really be in this space right now. Because if we didn’t start playing as a two-piece band, we wouldn’t probably work out as Ashtrays to Gaza. We just stuck it through and see what will happen. Then Kristin came along, and then Angelo came along. When Kristin came along that was, for me, such a good experience because it was interesting. When we went to Bacolod we had songs planned to play and this was Kristin’s first gig.
Jiesus: And after that Jade’s court thing happened, we played, and we were the last band, we were like, “dude, let’s just do improv.” Let’s just improvise. Whatever, man. Me and Kristin weren’t even in tune with each other. And we were like for some f**ing reason it still…
Patrick: It still worked?
Jiesus: It still worked. I was watching the short videos that people took and I’m like…
Patrick: There’s this magic that happened.
Jiesus: Chemistry. That’s basically it. That’s all I rely on.
Patrick: But this chemistry you’re talking about really translates. It shows when you’re doing live. I’ve seen your videos, I have not been there for every gig you did, but you really sound good. Speaking of which, the drum parts. Everything is good, the drum parts though, there was one when you invited the two vocalists, that was really good. Did you (Cypho) come up with that?
Patrick: What was the title of that song?
Tintin: Song One.
Patrick: That was Song One? I really loved that. How did that come up?
Cypho: That was Travis Barker.
Jiesus: Shout-out to Travis Barker.
Patrick: So that was Travis Barker inspired?
Jiesus: Not inspired. It’s really his rudiment.
Cypho: It’s in his song. Always.
Patrick: Oh, yeah, how could I have missed that.
Cypho: It was practiced here, Backyard Project Studios. We were taking a break. And I just randomly played that.
Patrick: I really love that part, man.
Cypho: And then he said, dude…
Jiesus: Can you do that, man?
Cypho: And then the vocals, Justin, it’s supposedly without vocals.
Patrick: So this was supposed to be just an instrumental song?
Cypho: Justin from Blood Clot.
Everyone: Shout-out Justin!
Cypho: He placed a soul into the song. I get goosebumps every time.
Tintin: And Ronnie. Thank you, Ronnie.
Cypho: Shout-out, Ronnie. Mind blasting.
(00:57:10 – more about Leavers)
Patrick: Since we’re talking about songs, let’s talk about the latest single, which is really, really, again, very good, Leavers. You said it was supposed to be for soundcheck, is that it?
Patrick: Let us go deeper. How did it become this version now? If I got it right this is about heartache. Or is this platonic, we can’t be friends anymore? Is this an emo song?
Jiesus: As I said, it was an improv the first time around. I thought I had the lyrics because I just kind of let my mouth say anything even though it doesn’t make any sense. The more we played that song, the more evident it was that it was talking about someone leaving. Because the way I felt at that time, there was this girl I was trying to talk to and I invited her to the gig and I thought she was coming. So we were on stage and I was like, “aaaw, she’s not here”. So I just started singing and then that became sort of leavers. Shout out, b**ch. I am not ashamed.
Patrick: How about technically, the parts, the musical parts, the instruments, you were just improv-ing?
Patrick: Cause you were down here in Backyard when you were practicing?
Cypho: That was for the Weird Emily gig.
Patrick: So it’s also apt that we did this interview here in Backyard.
Patrick: Actually, the original plan was to do this in Madera, but they were closed for today so here we are. Which is also good. It worked out fine. Because we’ve got the lightsabers.
Jiesus: It’s very intimate.
(00:59:35 – stupid questions in a box)
Patrick: We’re nearing the end of this interview. We just have a few questions left, but first we got to do this. Stupid questions in a box. So we got random questions, which you got to pick. Again, if you’re not comfortable with the questions you can just pass, we’re not going to judge you.
Cypho: Wait, let me think. What band or artist are you ashamed of admitting that you are actually listening to? It’s like guilt pleasure. Mainstream pop bands that are in the radio. Not totally ashamed, but…
Jiesus: Me, I like Midnasty.
Cypho: Yeah, I like Midnasty. It’s just different. Not ashamed. So, yeah, maybe Midnasty.
Patrick: Maybe Midnasty is just far from the typical things that you are listening to.
Jiesus: If heaven does exist, how do you picture it to be? Shit ton of cats, bro.
Cypho: With no human being.
Jiesus: No humans. Just the cats and you don’t feel hungry. You just play with cats all day and sleep and not get hypertension and blood pressure. Just sleep and eat with cats.
Patrick: Basically, Jiesus in perfect health surrounded by tons of cats is heaven.
Cypho: Jiesus is in heaven. Perfect question.
Tintin: If dreams were real, today I would be… From the bottom of my heart, I would just be in the mountains selling in sari-sari store. That’s what I really want to do. Selling dry goods with a multi-cab. Very simple.
Gelo: If God was an animal what would that animal be? God is within every animal so all animals. Because God created everything.
Jiesus: That is not fair.
Cypho: God is a dog, just inverted. The clue is already there.
(01:04:38 – what’s next?)
Patrick: What are we to expect from Ashtrays to Gaza in the following days, weeks, years?
Jiesus: Don’t do that, man.
Angelo: The tour.
Cypho: Yeah, we will plug our tour.
Jiesus: Where are we touring:
Cypho: Deep City, Dipolog.
Patrick: Ashtrays to Gaza will be playing in Dipolog.
Patrick: This is in when?
Tintin: November 25, that’s a Saturday.
Patrick: What gig is this? This is the zombie beach thing, right?
Tintin: Yeah. Zombie and beach from Deep City Crew.
Cypho: Shout-outs to Zamboanga peeps.
Patrick: So again a testament to how far this band, how much will tour.
Cypho: Mindanao. We were also surprised.
Patrick: They are now invading Mindanao. They are looking forward to going back to Jade Court. The Mindanao version of Jade Court.
Cypho: We hope there are no house spiders. (laughs)
Patrick: They won’t allow threesome and they also have spiders. Negative four stars.
Jiesus: Dude, we are not holding a grudge, but you should do better. We were offended.
Angelo: Maybe they (Jade Court) will see this interview.
Patrick: Let’s tag them.
Patrick: Every gig there must be a sponsorship from Jade Court.
Cypho: We will make a music video in Jade Court.
Jiesus: In the parking lot. (laughs)
Patrick: When someone is humping.
Cypho: It really was my first time to go inside one of those places.
(01:06:42 – where to follow ATG?)
Patrick: For everyone who wants to follow Ashtrays to Gaza, where can they find your music, whatever it is you are creating?
Tintin: We have Spotify, of course. Apple music. Pretty much every music platform, we are available. And you can follow us on Facebook, Ashtrays to Gaza. And Instagram, Ashtrays to Gaza.
Cypho: DYIO, dude, request our song. Earth Diver and Leavers soon. Request it if you are still listening to Radio. Y101. Request our Earth Diver there, please, so it will have airplay. It’s just free.
Patrick: Ashtrays to Gaza just said to help them get more airplay by requesting at DY101 there song Earth Diver and soon when they submit it, Leavers. One of our lightsaber just died. Anyway, we are now closing. This is Ashtrays to Gaza. Guys, thank you again for spending your time. It’s extra, I appreciate it more knowing that Jiesus comes from Carcar to do this. Guys, this is Ashtrays to Gaza. Thank you very much for doing this. Cyril, Jiesus, Tintin, Angelo. This is Out of Tune – Verse VI, we are halfway through the series. Again, please support your local acts. Follow what they do, buy their music, their merch. The songs are in bandcamp you can actually buy their songs other than streaming their songs you can buy it.
Jiesus: You can support us in bandcamp. We have a ton of albums and releases that are not in spotify.
Patrick: In fact, most bands say that they’d appreciate it more if you go to their bandcamp page and buy their stuff. All of these things that they’re doing are not free. Just to change strings, to rent a studio, everything is, you have to spend something. In return, this is indie, there’s no big production backing this act. Yet they’re doing it anyway just for the love, so please support your local acts. Buy their shit.
Cypho: Come to our gigs, please.
Patrick: Go to their gigs.
Cypho: It’s different during live. Promise. You can make friends there as a bonus.
Patrick: And I promise you, you won’t regret it. The live acts are really good. So again, Ashtrays to Gaza, thank you for your time. Thank you, everyone. Again, support your local acts. Thank you, Jig Gy. And that would be it. Thank you, everyone. See you on the next one.
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