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Razorback’s former guitarist David Aguirre recalls growing up in the fast lane

 

By WAKU SAUNAR

DAVID Aguirre

DAVID Aguirre

RAZORBACK is given to dishing out muscular guitar riffs and fiery solos, what with two wild guitar players at the helm.

However, long before Wolfgang’s Manuel Legarda became Tirso Ripoll’s partner in crime, David Agu­irre was already strumming bone-crushing tunes like “Payaso,” ‘Munting Paraiso,” “Tabi ng Bulkan” and “Giyang,” to name some.

Born and raised in Manila, Aguirre studied exclu­sively in La Salle Green Hills from kindergarten to high school, spending a short-lived college excursion at Saint Benilde. “At that point, Razorback was starting to get quite busy and I opted to further explore the road less travelled so to speak,” says Aguirre.

Aguirre remembers being drawn to rock n’ roll at a very young age. “It seemed like nothing quite gave me that same rush. My mind, body and spirit seemed to respond to this sound like nothing else at that point in life,” he says. “I always like to say that I pretty much existed in black and white until I heard Elvis Presley for the first time and only then did life start having color. I was also very lucky to have a mother with great musical tastes, who introduced me to everything from 50’s DooWop and early rock n’ roll to classic ‘60s, ‘70s psychedelic rock.”

Growing up in the 80’s, Aguirre recalls older step-brother Miguel Ortigas, who formed Razorback with Ripoll, having an extensive vinyl collection of hard rock albums from KISS, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Deep Pur­ple, among others. “So between my mom and brother, I had it pretty much covered. I don’t take their influ­ence for granted one bit. In the days before Internet/YouTube, having a family that knew what was cool and what sucked was gold,” says Aguirre.

According to Aguirre, it was Jimmy Page that made him want to play guitar. “He’ll always be my main hero. However, in the early days of the band, we shared ‘residency’ with Cocojam at the legendary Kalye bar for almost 5 solid years, giving us the opportunity to watch, experience, and learn from such seasoned Pinoy rock greats like Edmond Fortuno, Rico Velez, Rolly Maligad, and most importantly, blues shredder Jun Lopito, who is pretty much my all-time hometown hero, right up there with Page. I must’ve learned more from just watching Jun play than from anywhere else,” says Aguirre. “Juan De La Cruz also made a huge im­pact on us as a band. Pepe, Wally and Mike are defi­nitely to thank for our deep passion in Pinoy rock,” adds Aguirre.

As to the early days of Razorback, he says it is “a tale filled with twists, turns, adventures and mishaps.”

He adds, “It’s a dream of Tirso and Miguel that be­came real.”

The band started thorugh jam sessions at Aguirre’s and Ortigas’ parents’ home, forming its first line-up with Isabel Lozano on vocals, Miguel on drums, Ripoll and Aguirre on guitars and Junus, Tirso’s older brother on bass. They played a few house parties and carni­val gigs before Lozano and Junus immigrated abroad. It was then that Jose Mari Cuervo and Louie Talan, whom Ortigas both met in college, took over as singer and bassist respectively.

The Cuervo era held court in Ka­lye for about two years, playing hard rock covers to a packed crowd of col­lege rockers and rowdy yuppies. Agu­irre, 14 at that time, couldn’t hope for a better ‘on-the-job-training.’ “We rocked that place every Satur­day without fail, playing three sets a night. It went on until Cuervo, who was soon to graduate, made the de­cision to buckle down and finish his studies without further distractions.”

After failed attempts to recruit frontman Karl Roy, who happened to be a childhood friend and grade school classmate of Ortigas, due to commitments with Advent Call, Razorback opted for Roy’s younger brother, Kevin.

“Kevin came in rough, raw, and flat out weird, to be honest, but quickly grew on the band, and before long we were back at Kalye fronted by the younger Roy,” says Aguirre.

Razorback’s Kalye reign went on for about three more years, and by the time it had come to an end, the band was signed by Alpha Music and recorded their debut album Hebigat Sounds Volume 1.

“Needless to say, our half-de­cade Kalye experience had taught us to rock n ‘roll all night and party everyday with the best of them. And about a year and a half into promot­ing the first album, moods were en­hanced, tempers were flaring, habits were out-of-line, and Miguel made his exit from the group,” says Aguirre.

Brian Velasco, a good friend of Aguirre outside the band’s circle, was brought in. “Though we knew he is a musician, we weren’t completely aware of how serious he was about going full-time. After much harass­ment from his end, we had him come down for an audition, and to our surprise, he came in prepared and ready. He had learned enough songs to cover our next booking, and save for a few tempo issues, it was like we didn’t even…uh… skip a beat,” says Aguirre.

Thus began the songwriting ses­sions for what would become the band’s sophomore effort Beggar’s Moon.

At this time, Tirso had gotten the band out of their Alpha deal and sealed a new one with Sony Music. Razorback, with producer/engineer Diego Garrido in tow, began to cut tracks at Hit Productions in Makati.

“We met bi-weekly at Sessions stu­dio in Makati, owned by G3 Misa and managed by sound engineer extraor­dinaire Ariz Guinto, who went on to be a key player in Razorback’s evolv­ing saga,” says Aguirre.

Another fond memory worth men­tioning, according to Aguirre, is Ra­zorback’s stumbled opportunity to open for Metallica on the last leg of the Black Album tour. “As a matter of fact, I think their Manila date was the last one of the tour after a three-year run. We were also blessed with a two-night stint opening for Bon Jovi. It may have been among the biggest crowds I’ve ever played to. Good times,” says Aguirre.

That was eons ago. Today, Aguirre is living the quiet life in the States.

“I moved to California in 2004, and I currently reside in Orange County with my lovely wife, crazy kids, and a very vicious puppy dog. I try to visit the Philippines every two or so years, though the gaps have been getting wider of late.”

If and when he decides to come back and rock again, only time will tell.

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