Franco’s leap of faith reaps self-titled debut record

Franco Reyes (main photo) fronts fast-rising local rock band, Franco. The band—composed of Franco on vocals-guitar, Gabby Alipe and Paolo "Ocho" Toleran on guitars, Buhawi "Buwi" Meneses" on bass, and JanJan Mendoza on drums—recently released their debut self-titled record at Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City.

The buzz around fast-rising rock unit Franco resembles the kind of excitement generated by any good underground band on the verge of crossing over to the mainstream.

Franco is generating buzz both the modern and traditional way by spreading their brand of in-your-face rock music through the Internet and by word of mouth.

The result: a growing fan base eagerly waiting for the release of their debut record.

That massive show of support couldn’t be more obvious than last May 1 at Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City where fans and supporters all gathered to witness the launching of the band’s self-titled album under MCA Music.

"Nakakagulat," an obviously elated Franco Reyes confided to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) after the event.

COMING TOGETHER. Music and friendship formed the band’s nucleus right from the beginning.

Franco’s enduring friendship with fellow Cebu native musicians Gabby Alipe and JanJan Mendoza of Urbandub led him to hook up with Queso’s Paolo "Ocho" Toleran and Buhawi "Buwi" Meneses of Parokya ni Edgar.


A demo copy of Franco’s own written songs eventually caught the attention of his old and newfound friends.

"Sabi ko sino ’to at tsaka nasaan siya?" was Paolo’s animated response when asked about his reaction upon hearing the raw songs.

Mendoza and Meneses shared Toleran’s enthusiasm and the three jammed together hoping to make something out of the unheard materials.

"We could not think of what kind of sound we wanted," recalled Buwi. "May mga naisip kami pero hindi solid tapos nung pumasok na ’yong MySpace ni Franco ’yon din talaga ’yong tutunguhan namin. That’s the exact genre and feel we wanted."

As for the band’s name, Franco has this to say: "Nung una I really didn’t like the name [Franco]. It sounds egotistic pero nung sinubukan namin I think that was in 2008 sinubukan naming mag-gig for one week and we thought na walang mangyayari.


"Tapos when we did a tour for a week we came up with different names each gig like Armalite, The Watusi Boys, we came up with different names talaga and ’yong name na Franco kinda stuck and ’yon din ’yong napili ng mga kabanda ko and ng label din so wala akong choice. Two weeks before nai-finalize ’yong pangalan I really insisted na palitan natin. Pero nag-meeting kami ’yon na lang."

FRESH KICK. It didn’t take long before the band started cultivating supporters in the underground scene. Franco openly welcomed the band’s escalating cult status but he was hesitant to branch out commercially including the business side of doing things with a major record label.

"He was very apprehensive. He was very protective of his music and even nung signing bumaba pa si Boss Ricky [Ilacad, executive of MCA Music] from the building just to convince him. Kami we’ve been there and we know how he feels na parang ayaw naming ma-rape ’yong music namin back then. So naintindihan namin why he’s not that trusting. Pero gradually he became comfortable naman nung nakita niyang all out naman kami and the focus is on him," mentioned Toleran.


The band recorded the album intermittently for two months. Franco confessed feeling intimidated at first with the entire recording process as compared to his comrades who are all studio veterans. But that was only in the beginning and studio time went smoothly until the final take.

"We’re friends and foremost so ’yong chemistry nandun na," said Franco with a smile.

Added Buwi, "Lahat ng trip namin, we like hanging out, we like the same music so ’yong chemistry natural na. kahit hindi kami mag-usap usap just the fact that we’re hanging out with each other is very natural."

That camaraderie carried over to the tracks as each number smoothly shifts from rock, alternative, and reggae. Critics highlighted the band’s impressive strengths: well-thought lyrics, catchy melodies, driving beats and dynamic riffs.

Songs in the 11-track album include "Memory Kill," "This Gathering," "Next Train Out," "Seasons," "Song for the Suspect," "A Mass for the End of Time," "Touch the Sky," "Last Waltz," and "Castaway."


Franco, dubbed by many as a "Powerhouse band," hopes to go out on tour and play more gigs to further promote the album as well as to let many rock enthusiasts experience the band’s music live. The group, after all, is a great live act as much as they are impressive heard on record.

Franco’s self-titled album is now available in all major record bars nationwide and exclusively under MCA Music.


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