"If this were the Nineties the hotel room would be trashed by now, the local police trying to break down the door. These days we prefer to partake of simple pleasures like meet-and-greets with loyal fans and friends, playing with our new walkie-talkies, and gorging on ramen. Decadence."
Rock icon Ely Buendia wrote the above entry on March 16, 2009, following his band Pupil’s gig in Davao. The Davao engagement jumpstarted the group’s grueling one month nationwide tour—an event documented and compiled by the band for their latest project curiously titled, Against the Light .
The book chronicles the reality and seldom seen life—the highs and lows—of a touring band away from home.
Fans and casual observers carry the impression that bands on the road usually engage in debauchery and wild behavior. True, even by local standards. But the photos as illustrated in the book exhibit "mature" musicians all somehow over the hump as far as living that cliché rock n’ roll lifestyle.
It is safe to assume that Ely, Yan Yuzon, Dok Sergio and Wendell Garcia are presently on that "been there, done that" stage of their career. But it doesn’t mean also that the chart-topping unit responsible for the hits "Nasaan Ka," "Gamu-Gamo," and "Disconnection Notice," among others, is not prone to silly antics and random stunts while passing time in-between and after gigs.
A series of photos shows Ely roaming the streets of Naga in Bicol wearing a fake moustache while Dok and Wendell struggle to maintain a straight face in public. Bouncing from one airport and hotel to another, trying out delicacies in wild abandon, watching caged animals in a zoo somewhere in the North, candid snaps of backstage happenings and disrupting a sleepy provincial town through a surprise motorcade—the pictures provide a fascinating peek of "all the triumphs and tribulations, the excitement and excruciating boredom" of living and playing on the road.
Even more interesting are the candid side notes penned by the band members themselves, adding candidness to the images that adorn the pages.
"I am aware of what my band and the crowd expect of me. And it’s not out of stubbornness or selfishness on my part that I want the set list to be all Pupil songs. I really feel that I’m cheating whenever I sing the old stuff. My band and the fans deserve more than a predictable nostalgia trip. They deserve passion and urgency, something I just cannot cough up when playing the old songs," reflected Buendia in one of the entries—dated a few days after the highly successful reunion concert of his old band, the Eraserheads.
"But things changed this year. We had our first bona fide crossover hit in ("Disconnection Notice"), a song that rock stadiums with the best of them and stand head to head with anything I’ve ever put out in the past. The Final Set provided that much-needed closure for everyone, and now the fans are starting to appreciate Pupil and I’m starting to appreciate the Eheads and it’s fun. This tour has been an ’eye-opener.’"
Against The Light is now available during all Pupil performances and selected bookstores nationwide.