For a school whose reputation has staunchly been on the conservative side, it’s quite surprising that some of the country’s best rock musicians hail from UST. Making their marks on a wide spectrum of genres like, alternative pop, spoken word, world music, rap-metal, and even to the indie persuasion, Thomasian alternative musicians have definitely had a hand on the apparent rebirth of the local rock scene.

UST has always boasted of the numerous presidents, tycoons and saints who once walked its hallowed halls. It’s about time we got to know our rock artists.

Zach Lucero – Imago, drums

Zach Lucero, drummer for the popular folk rock group Imago, never seems to tire of clowning around. The description fits him well, considering he needs his sense of humor for a 6 a.m. radio show.

Lucero, co-host of NU107’s Zach and Joey in the Morning, can be considered a radio broadcasting veteran, having started his career in the station in 1996.

However, music remains his niche, especially since the success of his band’s debut album, Probably Not, But Most Definitely. Lucero, who graduated from UST in 1997 with a degree in Industrial Design, has interesting insights regarding his alma mater.

“Ang UST, parang UP pero naka-uniporme ‘yung mga tao,” he said.

The 28-year old has fond memories of UST, adding it was where he met Imago bandmate Tim Cacho. “Nag-enjoy ako. Puro kalokohan lang kami nung college,” he added.

Lucero started out playing guitars before taking up percussions seriously. Curiously, Lucero took up the drums after watching a band mate play. “Na-inggit lang ako sa isang ka-banda,” he joked. His first band as a drummer was Hungry Young Poets, which he formed with Barbie’s Cradle vocalist Barbie Almalbis.

He has come a long way since then, receiving acclaim for his work in Imago. He was hailed Drummer of the Year in the 2001 NU Rock Awards. However, his victory was met with criticism since he works at the radio station. “Next year, if I get nominated, ayaw ko na. Hindi nari-realize ng mga tao na mas hassle kapag masyado kang malapit sa bosing,” he said.

Lucero never seems to be idle. Whenever he gets a break from his commitments with Imago, he helps out other artists with their recordings, as he did with Radioactive Sago Project and Chicosci. Also, he performs sessions with Joey Ayala and Cynthia Alexander.

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Lucero said his days as a musician would eventually run out, and he is bent on living it up. “This would stop as we grow older. Kaya bawat gig nilulubos-lubos na namin.”

As with most musical artists, Lucero denounces piracy. However, he offers an alternative. “It’s still stealing. Imbis na bumili ka ng pirated CD, mag-mp3 ka na lang. O kaya, I-burn mo na lang. At least dun, may bumili ng original tapos kinopya. Basta wag mo ibenta,” he said.

Despite revenue lost to CD pirates, Lucero said financial matters hardly dampen his love for music. In the first place, he adds, he never got in the music business for money.

“You get rich here musically and spiritually,” he said. Pretty profound words considering it came from a guy who once described an audience as “parang mga garapata.”

Reg Rubio – Greyhoundz, vocals

Greyhoundz frontman Reg Rubio has quite a story to tell whenever UST is brought up.

Rubio, a journeyman of sorts during his four-year stay in the university, had stints in three courses and was debarred from two of them. Pretty bad credentials except maybe when you end up as one of the cornerstones of the local rap-metal scene.

Rubio never quite got his act together, juggling school with a music career. “Kasi sa banda, puyatan kami. Gabi ang buhay ko. Tapos yung mga klase ko noon seven a.m.,” he said.

“Meron nga ako dati isang subject, hindi ko pinasukan ng isang sem. Pero pumasa pa ako.”

Rubio started in the University as an Engineering student in 1994. Unfortunately, he was debarred two years later. After taking some time off from school, Rubio then enrolled in the Conservatory of Music as a vocals major.

Rubio had a short time in the Conservatory, shifting to Fine Arts at the first chance he got. But his stay in the now-defunct College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA) was also drastically cut short.

Rubio recalled the Greyhoundz’s lone gig in UST, a Levi’s event held at the Engineering Complex. “Nakakahiya. Doon ako galing eh. Asar talo ako sa barkada ko,” he laughed.

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This, however, is not the only performance that stands out for the 25-year-old. Rubio has fond memories of the road, saying he is always hyped for out-of-town gigs. “Lahat malupit. Iba sila tumanggap ng tao,” he said.

Rubio then recalled a Greyhoundz performance in Iloilo that was something short of a logistical nightmare. With cables for the sound equipment not properly covered, a few people in the front rows were electrocuted. This, however, failed to dissolve the moshpit. “Kahit naku-kuryente, ayos lang sa kanila,” Rubio said.

Despite the band’s success, Rubio downplayed any claim of being famous. “Talaga? Sikat pala kami,” he said. However, he admitted a lot has changed since the release of the band’s debut album Seven Corners of Your Game.

So much, in fact, that the success of the first album got in the way of the production of the group’s self-titled sophomore album. Greyhoundz, which got the band nine nominations at the recent NU Rock Awards, was released two years after the group’s debut album. “Masyadong naging masaya. Sa pagsulit sa mga biyaya, nakalimutan nang sumulat ng kanta,” he added.

Oddly, the group’s chief lyricist has developed a penchant for creating songs with a unique edge in social commentary, something other rap-metal bands hardly do. This, Rubio relates, was never a conscious effort. “Nagsusulat kasi ako based sa mga na-experience ko. Eh yung mga nangyayari sakin, nangyayari rin sa ibang tao. Kaya siguro nagkakaroon ng social relevance.”

This social consciousness was highlighted in the band’s music video for the track “Your Puppet and Clown.” The video, which is also the first single off Greyhoundz’s latest album, was a time capsule of sorts of colonial oppression.

“Lahat naman tayo puppet eh. Pero yung napili naming representation yung pagiging puppet ng Pilipinas sa ibang bansa,” Rubio explained.

Kakoi Legaspi – Rivermaya, guitars

Pinoy rock fixture Rivermaya, which has been churning out hits after hits since the early 90s, is still going strong despite a few alterations in its roster. This is due in large part to the band’s three new members, one of whom is Thomasian Kakoi Legaspi.

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Legaspi, whose real name is Victor Angelo, was recruited by lead vocalist Rico Blanco who saw him perform at Big Sky Mind. At the time, Blanco was looking for new members to fill in the void left by former bassist Nathan Azarcon. “It’s an honor,” he says of his inclusion.

Upon his entry into the group, Legaspi immediately worked on the band’s latest studio album, Tuloy ang Ligaya. “In a span of three months, gawa na lahat. Paspasan talaga. Kasi sa studio inu-umaga na kami,” he said.

The album was a success on all accounts, even garnering Legaspi an NU Rock Awards nomination for Guitarist of the Year along with band mate Mike Elgar.

Legaspi started playing the guitars at a young age. “Nung 11 years old ako, binilhan ako ng mom ko ng guitars. Tapos nag-lessons ako for a year or so,” he added. His first band was Mr. Crayon, which he formed in high school with The Jerks drummer Paolo Manuel.

Oddly, the 21-year-old lists jazz artists Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Charlie Hunter Trio as his influences. Legaspi insisted this is nothing out of the ordinary. “Wala naman akong prejudice sa music. It’s all interrelated. The more you listen to music, nawawalan na ng titles,” he said.

Among his contemporaries, Legaspi names Weedisneys, Vintra, Wdouji, Sandwich and Sugarfree as some of his favorites.

Legaspi said that not much has changed since he joined the high-profile band. “Pareho pa rin. Mas naging homebody lang ako. Ironically, the more na lumalabas ako for gigs, mas naa-appreciate ko yung peace and quiet sa bahay,” he explained.

A change he has yet to adjust to is acting in music videos. “Sobra. Hindi ko talaga linya yun,” he said. In his first music video shoot, which was for the carrier single “Umaaraw, Umuulan”, Legaspi was placed right smack in the middle of a desert at high noon, not exactly the best place to get a first acting job.

So far, the highlight of Legaspi’s short career has been playing with New Wave icons Lotus Eaters, whom Rivermaya sessioned with during the Liverpool-based band’s Manila performance last year. C.B.Bautista

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