First Tour, Second Album

By: Ashley Chua

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From left to right: Ryan Shook (guitar, vocals), Jordan Hardy (guitar, vocals), Julius Raposa (drums), Robert Caguin (bass)

It has been a long five years since Matala has put out their first album, but finally Guam’s two-time winning best rock band of the Island Music Awards is resurfacing with a new full-length LP releasing this November. These past years Matala has continuously satisfied their cravings to live as true musicians as they took on each opportunity at its arrival. One of their greatest approached just last year as they touched down on Philippine ground.

But constructing albums and touring are not the only factors in Matala’s achievements. Their earliest feats include opening for popular American rock band Hoobastank in 2006, and gaining more attention in 2007 when they released their first self-titled album, which was featured in the Pacific Daily News, GU Magazine, and Giant Robot – a magazine based in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2008, they were asked to have their track “Unity” as the opening song for Guam’s first feature film Shiro’s Head, and was chosen as best rock band in the Island Music Awards for two consecutive years (2009, 2010).

In between, Matala has landed countless gigs, including a sponsorship to play in Saipan, which they believe aided in preparation for a bigger trip such as the one to the Philippines. As the summer of 2011 drew nearer, the band continued to gig and practice heavily.

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Saturday nights at Livehouse, Tumon, Guam

One of their most influential gigs before the trip was at a wedding, and this was a chance the band least expected to run across. In earlier years, Matala covered music from Slayer, NOFX, Propaghandi, and Lagwagon, but there they were at a wedding, having a surreal experience playing “Closing Time” as they shared the stage with the actual lead singer of Semisonic, Dan Wilson. Jordan Hardy, rhythm guitarist and vocalist, expressed, “I felt very appreciative on being a musician and entertainer when we played with Dan Wilson. I felt super blessed sharing the stage with a well-known songwriter. Made me realize that anything is possible.”

Accompanied by supporters that have connections to the local music scenes in the Philippines, Matala finally committed to visiting Manila and Cebu last summer. They performed at SaGuijo, The Outpost, and Casa Makati alongside whom they credit to be some of Manila’s most skilled local bands: Good Morning High Fives, Curbside, and Pitik. It was healthy for Matala to meet these musicians that share the same vision as they do, and crucial to their creativity. “The bands were independent, extremely educated, knowledgeable about their instruments, and well versed in the arts as a whole,” Ryan Shook, lead guitarist and vocalist, explained. “They create their own pedals, press vinyl, coordinate projects for the community, and collaborate regularly.”

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First Day at The Outpost, Cebu, Philippines

In the end, Matala underwent a new surge of inspiration to persist on pushing forward as both individuals and a collective. After being in a bigger country with likeminded groups, performing night after night, they hope that Guam will soon surface with more high quality original rock music, and believe that there is a potential for growth in the music scene.

This past summer Matala has been busy trying to cook up new material to release. The new CD highlights influences by recent past and present experiences and innovations, a lot of which involve the tour.

Different from their first album, which has a post-high school feel, there is a definite effort in getting large room sounds and experimenting with different effects with the new CD. Matala continues to invest heavily in creating their music as they produce their albums independently. They are excited to announce in issuing exclusive colored vinyl in addition to their upcoming CD.

Click here to check out Matala’s Facebook page.

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