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The Camerawalls: Nostalgia & Pop Outings

The Philippine Star – June 13, 2008
by Ricardo Lo

Lord of the Flies
How many will suffer with your lies
Lord of the Flies
Everyone sees right through your disguise
A million watering eyes live to tell the tale
Of how ambition burned their sails
— from Lord Of The Flies

We are at Annabel’s Restaurant (Quezon City) and, over snacks of pan de sal with kesong puti and tsokolate, listening to the sampler of Pocket Guide To The Otherworld, the debut album of the new three-man band Camerawalls, set to be launched on July 3 at the Club Dredd in Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City.

The one singing is Clementine “Clem” Castro, known to young music fans as the organizer of Orange & Lemons which disbanded last year after 10 years of making solid albums, and he sounds intriguingly like John Lennon. It’s not surprising because the Beatles happens to be, according to Clem, “one of our great influences” which also include Morrissey & The Smiths, Paul Weller & The Jam, XTC, The Stone Roses, The Cure, The Pale Fountains, and Echo & The Bunnymen.

I wonder why Orange & Lemons, one of the country’s most successful bands, split up after 10 good years of making beautiful music together, formed in 1999 by Clem who was the band’s guitarist and songwriter, whose music caught the fancy of foreign enthusiasts (from Japan, Germany, the USA and the UK)?

“Due to creative differences,” says Clem, an HRM (Hotel & Restaurant Management) graduate. He doesn’t elaborate.

The truth is that Clem’s ground-breaking and brooding work, Moonlane Gardens precipitated the break-up because “the bandmates, the management and the label couldn’t handle the sudden unpredictable change,” resulting in “a battle between creativity and commercialism.” Then, the falling-out. Ironically, Moonlane Gardens was named Album of the Year (2007) by the NU 107 Rock Awards.

“That was my vindication,” adds Clem.

Your face is a welcome interlude
Like a lift back into school
It’s all hearts and flowers

Love’s umpire called time
You have taken root in my mind
Like a heavenly infection
Taking leave of my senses
— from Markers Of Beautiful Memories

Hardly losing time, Clem gathered his two friends to form Camerawalls in September last year, even before the formal announcement of the Orange & Lemons’ break-up could be made — Bryan “Ian” Sarabia (son of Vivian Sarabia, The Eyewear Specialist of the Stars) as drummer and Lawrence “Law” Santiago, originally with Orange & Lemons, who left the group in 2003 and worked as an MTV cameraman.

“So I lured him back to where he should be,” says Clem. “Law is one of the finest bassists around. I met Ian four years ago during my Orange & Lemons days.”

“I was then managing Amoeba (a music bar in Eastwood City),” volunteers Ian whose main job is director of finance of the century-old family-owned Vivian Sarabia Optical. “I would audition bands every now and then. I play drums as a hobby.”

If they are songwriters and not camera bugs, why call their group Camerawalls?

“Well,” explains Clem, “originally, the name was supposed to be an anagram of our first names — Clem, Ian and Law. Cinemawall, initially. But when I texted the name to them, I misspelled it; I typed Camerawalls. They liked it. It sounds better, so…”

Like Clem’s former band, Camerawalls specializes in indie, pop and rock, a different band that sounds familiar. Well and good.

Hundreds of years ago when emperors rule
The most beautiful girl was torn apart
An honour to her family but death to her heart
A mistress she will be, the emperor’s concubine.
— from The Emperor, The Concubine & The Commoner

With Orange & Lemons, Clem and Mcoy Fundales were both vocalists, forming a duo like that of Lennon and Mcartney, with Mcoy getting the singles, leaving Clem as the “unknown” (better?) half. If Lennon and MacCartney would part ways due to “creative” and other “differences,” it could happen to other tandems, couldn’t it? The remaining Orange & Lemons guys have formed their own new band called Kenyo. With Camerawalls, Clem and Ian are the new “Lennon and MacCartney.”

Clem and Ian collaborated on two of the three songs quoted above, Lord and Markers. The album carries seven other songs: Ignore My Weakness, Don’t Ignore Me (by Clem), Solitary North Star (Clem), Lizards Hiding Under Rocks (Clem and Ian), Changing Horses Midstream (Clem and Ian), Clinically Dead For 16 Hours (Clem), I Love You, Natalie (Clem), and Canto de Maria Clara (Dr. Jose Rizal and Clem), the only Spanish item on the album.

Pocket Guide To The Otherworld sounds good between bites of pan de sal with kesong puti. It’s not the kind of noisy music most bands today are notorious for. It’s easy-listening pleasure. Grab a copy once it is released. You will enjoy it.

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