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Wilabaliw is a 4-piece rock band from Manila known for their heavy and melodic musical style that blends hardcore, math rock, and reggae elements. Led by vocalist Ian Tayao, who is famously from the band Queso, WilaBaliw easily made their mark in the Philippine underground rock scene because of their “multi-sensory” energetic performances.
WilaBaliw also drew attention because of the band members that formed the first line-up. They were musicians from other bands that were already ingrained in the local music scene.
On their Facebook page, the band declared their goal to “consciously promote the progressiveness of the Filipino music scene and expand it to a global arena.” The band, known for their captivating live performances, does this by “producing shows that engage all the senses.” For WilaBaliw, they prefer to give performances that are not just “watched,” but are “experienced.”
Tayao initially conceptualized the band in 2008, during the time when he was still active with Queso. Constantly working on his musical progression, Tayao aimed to connect with musicians to exchange ideas in order to bring this concept band to life.
When Tayao was able to find musicians who shared his vision for a heavier, more melodic sound, the band was officially formed in 2010.
Tayao accidentally bumped into Isok in Singapore while looking at multi-effects in a music store. Before seeing Isok, Tayao was already randomly thinking about who will be guitarist for this concept band. Describing the moment as “cosmic,” he suddenly heard the sound of a guitar and decided that whoever is playing it could be the one. Seconds later, Isok greeted Tayao, having already known each other from the local music scene. Tayao then invited Isok to jam once they got back to the Philippines, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Drummer Robert Dela Cruz (Skychurch, Queso) and bassist Francis Magat (Salindiwa) joined in and became the first official members. With this line-up, the band released their debut album, 10 10 10.
Emphasis On “Baliw”
The name of the band is a palindrome (when a word reads the same way backwards), and is a play on the term, “baliw” (crazy).
In a documentary featuring the band, Tayao revealed that idea for WilaBaliw came up when he told his father that he wanted to form another band; one that’s “baliw.” Isok added that he feels that they are all crazy as musicians, but in a sense that it comes out with the music they make. Avenido agreed, saying that they are crazy in a way that they strive to perform at an experimental and “topnotch” sense at all times.
Wilabaliw’s sound is a mixture of different genres, blending hardcore metal riffs with math rock-inspired time signatures and groovy bass lines. Funneled by Tayao’s signature vocal execution, the result is an expressive form of heavy music with emphasis on creating harmonies.
The band released their first album 10 10 10 independently in September 2010, consisting of 10 tracks with ambience ranging from dulcet to ferocious. Tayao’s lyrical themes touch on awareness and opening the consciousness, encouraging listeners to open their minds into more possibilities.
Heavy tracks Diveler and Matador are fierce explorations of what each band member can bring to the table. The album’s hit single “Illuminate - i” gained mainstream acclaim because of its catchy hook, and it remains to be the band’s most popular and identifiable release.
Me Techy Love You Long Time showed a softer, reggae and dub approach. This resonates well with Tayao’s loyal Queso followers, as he is known to fuse these genres with his harmonic vocal style.
In 2012, Wilabaliw released a single called Samadi through Tower of Doom’s Tower Sessions.
The band signed to Tower of Doom Music and released a couple of singles in 2017, namely Jack Stone and Sunken ID. In a video uploaded on the band’s official YouTube page, Tayao reveals that Jack Stone has existed for more than 5 years, and that several renditions have already been made. Tayao added that Jack Stone had transformed into 6 songs before the band decided on a final version. Drummer Jesse Montejo further stated that according to Tayao, Jack Stone was conceptualized during the singer’s days with Queso.
WilaBaliW Album and Songlist Discography
10 10 10 (2010)
2. Big Tom
6. Too Many Lines
7. Illuminate – i
10. Me Techie Love You Long Time
Other Releases / Compilation Albums:
This section is still under construction. Please check back soon!
With the exception of Dela Cruz who played drums for local metal icons, Skychurch, the members played heavier stuff for WilaBaliw compared to their other bands. In 2013, the band changed its roster, recruiting Niño Avenido (Greyhoundz) to replace Magat. With his background as the bassist for one of the biggest rock bands in the country, Avenido added bass lines with more thump, as heard in the band’s succeeding songs.
During the same time in 2013, dela Cruz was replaced by current drummer Jesso Montejo, who also plays for nu metal act, 4th Draztik. Avenido left the band recently, and was replaced by Keith Francisco of metal hardcore band, Arcadia.
Ian Tayao – Vocals
Louis Isok - Guitars
Jesso Montejo – Drums
Keith Francisco – Bass
Robert dela Cruz – Drums
Francis Magat – Bass
Niño Avenido – Bass
Other Band Member Related Information
Red Horse Beer Rockumentary
In 2015, Wilabaliw was featured in a docu-series created by Red Horse Beer called “Red Horse Beer Rockumentaries.” The 20-minute documentary showed in-depth interviews from band members, each citing how they perceive their music.
“Wilabaliw’s music is more like water. Whatever container, it will follow. Maraming genre na pumapasok sa Wila eh. Hindi siya isang genre lang.” said Tayao.
Jesso Montejo on Playing for WilaBaliW
Drummer Jesso Montejo admitted that he had to step out of his comfort zone when he started playing for Wilabaliw. “Unang una sa lahat, hindi naman talaga ako nag do-double peds. ‘Yun pa lang, out of the box na ‘yun eh. Kung may pagbabago, sundan mo lang. ‘Yun lang naman ‘yung labanan ngayon eh.”
In line with the band’s goal to progress the integrity of the local music scene, Montejo then explained that his secret to engage listeners is to always bring something new to the table.
“Hangga’t may naipapakita kang bago, hindi nakakasawa. Kung puwede lang ako mag-acrobat sa drum set eh. Si Tommy Lee nga eh, ginaya na siya nila [Joey] Jordison (Slipknot),” said Montejo, in a sound bite published by WilaBaliwTV, the band’s official YouTube page.
When asked about his ideas on how to improve, Montejo mentioned the importance of embracing honest opinion.
“Humanap ka ng totoong kaibigan. Kasi totoong kaibigan ‘yung makakapagsabi kung pangit ba ‘yung ginagawa niyo.”
WilaBaliW Music Videos and Other Media
Being an avid film and video enthusiast himself, Tayao has taken a very active role in the creation and production of WilaBaliW's video content. For the most part he has actively shot, edited and directed several of the bands official music videos, and at the very least has had a personal stake in all of the band's video efforts.
The band released its first Tagalog/Filipino song called “Hindi Na Makita” in 2017, with a music video directed by Tayao himself, along with the aid of the Tower of Doom production team. The video was released in March 2018.
Live Performance Videos (Playlist)
Official Music Videos (Playlist)
Official Lyric Videos & Other Content (Playlist)