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December Avenue is a 4-piece indie rock band from Manila, Philippines known for their light, softcore rock compositions. Their songs mostly touch romantic subjects, with their musical style often compared to City and Colour, Mae, and Dashboard Confessional.
The band has a solid following all over the Philippines, with over 8 million collective views in their official YouTube channel. In 2012, Tower of Doom Music released a live recording of December Avenue’s “Sleep Tonight” and it has garnered more than 5 million views and counting.
The band was formed in 2007 during freshmen year in college. All of the members attended the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music. In a 2009 article published by one of the university’s newsletters, Tomasino Web, December Avenue was still portrayed and up and coming band. It was said that the band’s name used to be “Sense and Sound,” but was later changed to December Avenue.
“Sa tingin ko nag-mature rin kami in terms of marketing ourselves so we decided to change the name to something that’s more marketable,” said Bautista to Rappler Philippines.
When asked if there was a specific reason for picking “December Avenue,” Bautista said that the band name reflects the kinds of songs they make.
“Our songs mostly talk about life, moving on, an December is actually the last month of the year which is an avenue towards the New Year, which [signals] a new life,” Shares vocalist Zel Bautista in an interview with One Music.
The band released their first single, “Time To Go” in 2010, and it started their slow rise to the mainstream indie circuit. Regularly playing gigs, the band has gained a steady fan base since then.
2016 proved to be a big year for December Avenue. On February, the band released their highly anticipated first full-length album. Later that year on December 8 and 12, 2016, the band held their first headlining concerts in Teatrino, Greenhills. Musicians Clara Benin, and rock icons Gabby Alipe and John Dinopol of Urbandub appeared as guests.
December Avenue’s music is mellow, alternative rock with simple riffs and easygoing lyricism. They are known to be present compositions that usually focus on matters of the heart. In several different interviews, the members repeatedly stress that their band name signals the kind of songs that they put out there.
While their peers in the indie sphere are known for musicality and skill, members of December Avenue say that relatability is the band’s biggest selling point.
“The focus of our music is basically the lyrics itself, so we don’t really put that much effort with musicality” said Bautista, in the same interview.
When asked about how they channel emotions and sensitive issues, Bautista says that putting himself in someone else’s shoes does the trick.
“’Yung mga hugot lines namin, I [tend to] write it [in a way that] I’m putting myself in others’ shoes, na kung ano ba ang mararamdaman ng taong ‘to in a situation like this.
“So our music is probably relatable to the listeners because of that.”
After independently releasing two EPs, the band released their first studio album on February 2016. Released under Tower of Doom Music, the album contains 11 tracks that took 5 years to make.
When asked why it took years for the band to release an official debut album, vocalist Zel Bautista explained that aside from their conflicting schedules, building hype was crucial in the process of creating one.
“If we released the album too soon, hindi magiging ganito ang anticipation ng tao. Kumbaga, kung tayo tayo lang nakakaalam, what’s the sense of releasing an album if nobody knows you?” said Bautista, in an interview published by Indie Manila.
The same question was asked during the band’s Rappler Live Jam performance, with Bautista saying that it did not feel right to release an album without much of a following.
Members added that they felt that they have fulfilled their musical destiny upon the album’s release, and that they are “overwhelmed.”
The band picked Saguijo Bar in Makati for their album launch, with the packed event attended by their fans and peers in the industry. In an interview by Indie Mania, the band members refer to the iconic music club as their “favorite place” and they consider it as their “comfort zone.”
“Dito ‘rin kami na-expose eh. It’s a different exposure talaga eh. Maganda ‘yung crowd,” said Bautista.
During the album launch, December Avenue played alongside Autotelic, Jensen and the Flips, Miles Experience, and Reese Lansangan.
A second album from the band is in the horizon, and it is said to include all-Tagalog tracks.
“[It’s] coming soon. But we do feel the pressure of releasing the second one because the first one was long overdue. Hindi na namin pwede pahabain,” said Bautista, adding, “kailangan gumawa na kami ng bagong materials to keep the flame alive.”
On their song, “Eroplanong Papel”
In an interview with One Music, the band revealed that one of their most famous singles, “Eroplanong Papel” represents the concept of a “floating prayer,” in the same way as a paper airplane reacts to gravity.
“If you throw a paper airplane, you’ll never know where it will land, so the same thing as when you’re praying, you’re meditating, you’re talking to someone, without even knowing it’s being heard. So the message of the song is like that,” said Bautista.
In a separate interview, members of the band were asked how they felt now that “Eroplanong Papel” is in karaoke song lists all over the country.
“Im not sure how to react. In the first place, we weren’t notified, so medyo may problema sa rights,” said Bautista. While this might be the case, the band still decide to look at it on a lighter shade.
“In a way of course, iba ‘yung makita mo ‘yung song mo asa videoke, ‘di ba? Maraming lasing na kakanta ‘nun!” members of the band joked.
December Avenue Album and Songlist Discography
[PASTE SONGLIST SECTION IF ANY]
Time To Go EP (2010)
2. World On My Shoulder
3. I Don’t Wanna Wait (Cover)
4. Time To Go
Sleep Tonight TD (2011)
1. Sleep Tonight
2. I’ll Be Watching You
3. City Lights
December Avenue (2016)
1. City Lights
2. Sleep Tonight
3. Fallin’ (ft. Clara Benin)
4. Ears & Rhymes
5. I’ll Be Watching You
6. Back To Love
7. Eroplanong Papel
10. Breathe Again
11. Time To Go
Other Releases / Compilation Albums:
Breathe Again Single (2013)
December Avenue Members
Zel Bautista – Vocals, Guitars
Jem Manuel – Guitars
Don Gregorio – Bass
Jet Danao – Drums
Gelo Cruz – Keyboards
December Avenue Music Videos and Other Media
Live Performance Videos (Playlist)
Official Music Videos (Playlist)
Official Lyric Videos & Other Content (Playlist)
Other Related Information
December Avenue on Mental Health Awareness
The band released a music video for their single, “Bulong,” on April 2018 and it follows a narrative showing what it is like to have a relationship with someone who suffers from mental illness. The video stars Eo Marcos, drummer of bands Salamin and Kjwan, and TV actress Gee Canlas.
In a feature posted by Bandwagon Asia, the band opened up on the sensitive issue, saying that the video’s goal is to spread awareness about mental health.
“Our efforts and knowledge about mental health are incomparable to those who are actually experiencing it and to those who have been actively voicing out their experiences to others,” said Bautista, adding “this is us doing our part, raising awareness while continuously educating ourselves.”
When asked if they feel that the video would open or inspire dialogue among teens and young adults suffering from mental health issues, the band maintains their positivity.
“That’s the main goal. We do hope that this music video would somehow be a tool to reach out and to spread awareness. Any mental illness is definitely a serious thing. It’s just a matter of knowing how to deal with these kinds of stuff.”
On Media-Filtered Music
The band also shared their thoughts on how the mass media is feeding music as a popular culture, expressing their dissatisfaction on what the mainstream is producing.
“Ang mga Pilipino, sobrang ganda ng music taste nila. Ang problema lang ay yung media—kung ano ang fine-feed ng media,” explains Bautista, adding that local music fans should always welcome and embrace local underground scene.
“Kung hindi natin tatatangkilikin sarili natin, walang mangyayari,” said Bautista.