As one of the pioneers of the Davao music scene, Carey Reyes stands as a living chronicle of its evolution, and he remains the “legit OG punk tito.” The independent rock scene of the city would undoubtedly echo a different tune without him. His two-piece band with his brother Richard, Reyes or REY35, has also been around for almost two decades, continuing to traverse the musical cosmos with their authentic and radical voice and presence.
I know Carey to be an idealist and defiant in a very admirable way. Rock n’ roll, especially punk, as complex as it is, encompasses different things, but Carey revolves beyond its hipsterism and commerciality. Crush out Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop, and even John Lydon. Carey is the epitome of punk in a three-fold utopia.
Real punks are here in the city; they may even be your next-door neighbor. Carey is at least 11 km away, which didn’t allow a face-to-face interview. I was stunned that he didn’t have an email address. How much more punk can he be?
In this unedited interview, we dig deep into the REY35’s defiant and, according to Carey, complicated stream of consciousness.
The Pop Blog: How did your love for punk, grunge, and garage music begin, and what specific bands or albums significantly influenced you?
REY35: Everything starts with how a band presents itself. How the band looks (this may sound petty to the readers, but it all started with that) is something that I could relate to image-wise. I like bands that I call every man’s band (that deal/talk about the everyday struggles of/in life, not necessarily just struggles but life in general). I am a rock n’ roll fan, first and foremost. As to genres or subgenres of rock n’ roll, I tend not to think about it. It isn’t that important to me. The bands and artists that I hold close to my heart are as follows:
A.) Pearl Jam – The essence of a rock band trying to keep things real. Their music is so powerful that they make people believe in themselves, that one man makes things better for others. I admire their advocacy; they built houses for the homeless and libraries for schools, to name a few.
B.) The Ramones – the truth is I’m not a fan of all the band members, and to be earnest about this matter at hand, it’s only Johnny Ramone that I love in this band. I admire his discipline, dedication to their band, and lifestyle (no drugs, no alcohol). I read in the books written about him that he was very frugal (I read somewhere that he bought the first guitar he owned from a pawnshop). He only spent money on things that really mattered. Johnny Ramone’s uniform is jeans, denim jackets, t-shirts, and sneakers. Oh man, that’s rock n’ Roll to me. It’s not just music, actually. It’s also the people behind the music.
C. The Replacements – Here is a band with everything a rock and roll band should have to make it to the top. Then again, they didn’t. The loveable loser complex that’s what made me love the band. The cult that they’ve built. Only some bands enjoy that(I wonder if your readers will understand what I’m trying to express here). I love The Mats as a band than The Ramones.:) I could never put into words my love for The Mats.
D.) Tom Waits – Here is an artist that encompasses the three bands I mentioned earlier. The mystery, the weirdness (I mean the authenticity of his weirdness, if there is such a term). I don’t know how a husband and father could keep this up without compromising his family and art. Oh man, I can’t imagine how fun Tom Waits would be as a family man. It is not just his music that I like or love about him. It is the persona behind his music and the cult that he built over the years.
E.) The Mono Men – I have this thing for bands that has everything to make it big but did not. I loved them before I even got to hear their albums—the guitar and the drum sound very basic. I kind of stole some of their elements and used them in our band 🙂 Again, they are a great band that can’t reach the top.
F.) Steve Albini – I’m a late bloomer when in tomes to Steve Albini, but I’m catching up. His principles and ethos as an artist are unquestionable. He doesn’t take royalties from the bands that he had produced/engineered/recorded because he believes that the people (the creatives) behind the music should be the ones enjoying the fruits of their labor. That, to me, is very admirable, and I love the fact that to some people (those who don’t like him), Steve Albini is a jerk. Being honest and earnest is synonymous with being a jerk.
I like plenty of bands, but these six are at the top of my list.
The Pop Blog: What distinguishes your sound from other bands, and how do you maintain authenticity while still innovating your music?
REY35: I can’t tell what sets us apart from the rest besides being just a duo and the fact that it is a band of brothers (no pun intended). As to authenticity, I have no recipe for that aside from being just myself(the thing is, you get bashed for being yourself; I can’t speak for my brother. He has his own thing apart from this band). Innovations? I don’t want to touch this word; let’s say that I’m a man of routine and very happy to be a man of routine. I don’t see myself as someone who creates for other people’s satisfaction. Instead, I think of our band as an outlet for whatever we’ve seen and experienced.
The Pop Blog: In a genre that often rebels against the mainstream, how do you balance staying true to your ideals and reaching a broader audience? Or do you do?
REY35: That’s an excellent question, in fact, the best question that’s ever been thrown at me. From the very beginning (I mean this as from the time that I realized the real meaning of life, which came to me at a very early age), I have never intended any of the things that I’ve done (be it music at work or just me doing my shit) to be validated by larger audiences or by other people. I am not born on this earth to please other people because it defeats the purpose of being yourself as an individual or a man. I don’t mean to disparage other people’s views in life. I don’t see myself reaching a wider audience. I wouldn’t be happy if I did. Again, I love cult artists. I’d rather have a small audience that understands what I represent than have an audience of a thousand that’s there for the “char” of it.
The Pop Blog: How do you approach the creative process when writing and producing your music?
REY35: I don’t have a process; I just put in what I have and try to be consistent. Well, maybe that’s my way of processing things–creative and spontaneous.
The Pop Blog: Why do you have a strong aversion to other genres, cultures, and even rockstars?
REY35: Haha, it’s not to genres and cultures that I’m aversed. It is the phoniness of those claiming to be part of these genres and cultures. Remember the phrase “Don’t act like someone you’re not” or something like that. As to my aversion to rockstars, there is nothing wrong with being a rockstar. You have to be who you have become. But these rock stars must remember that they owe their success to their audience and those who bought their records and concert tickets. They shouldn’t act as if the people who patronize them owe them. It should be the other way around. If a fan asked for an autograph or photo ops, one shouldn’t have to be a jerk. It is as simple as that: you owe your audience a performance worth their money. These rock stars should remember that they were once fans or worshippers of those artists they admired.
The Pop Blog: Your lyrics are often raw and honest. How does your band use music as a platform for expressing your views or addressing societal issues? How do you see the role of your music in today’s society, and how does your band contribute to the ongoing narrative of rock music?
REY35: I just write what I feel and what I’ve experienced. Honestly, I don’t really think that my lyrics are that important 🙂 To people or should affect other people. I’m just here to have fun. I never thought of myself as someone who means anything to anybody. I just want to have fun. The words I’ve written for the music are simply an expression of what I’ve observed.
The Pop Blog: What does “D.I.Y.” mean to your band, and how do you incorporate a D.I.Y. ethos into your music and overall approach? You may share a challenging moment your band has faced and how the music community supported you through it.
REY35: All my life, long before I discovered the acronym D.I.Y., I’ve been practicing it. Even when I was a little boy, I didn’t like shiny and nice toys, and if I had toys like that, I’d find a way to deconstruct them (I hope I’m using the correct term) or destroy them and make something that my imagination allowed it to be. I’ve always admired people who self-styled and marched to the beat of their own drum because they’ve made great use of their individuality, a unique man who is free from other people’s opinions about them. Music or making is d.i.y in its essence, and trying to bring it to an audience is a great challenge. You get heckled and mocked, but who cares? You and I are not born on this earth to become prisoners of people’s opinion/s. There is no other way for you to survive and achieve the things you aspire for if you don’t DO IT YOURSELF.
The Pop Blog: How do you think the Davao indie scene has evolved, and how has your band contributed to or reacted to those changes?
REY35: I don’t really have an opinion on what has become of the indie scene in this city, but I wish all the best to those who still carry the torch and those who’ve passed it on. Our band hasn’t done anything to help shape the “indie music” in this city. I will never ever think or even venture to anything suggesting that we have contributed something to any movement. Please Allow me to be earnest on this matter. Our band is nothing but a band that loved and still loves to play rock and Roll, and I will continue to do what I love to do as long as time permits me to do it. Rock And Roll will always be part of me. Family and rock and Roll.
The Pop Blog: How do you handle criticism, especially within a community that values individuality and expression?
REY35: Hahhaha I’m 46 years old. Should I worry about things that are trivial and baseless? Well, I should never even entertain any thought of it. Hahaha, to those who value individuality and self-expression, do what makes you happy. Just don’t physically harm other people. I’ve been bashed for smashing cheap guitars and been laughed at for my opinions. I’m old and tired and, most significantly, bald. hahahahaha, I don’t have the energy and time for opinions and criticisms. I am here to rock and roll, and it isn’t for the balat sibuyas. Life is not for the balat sibuyas (sensitive).
The Pop Blog: Share a favorite memory from a live performance that perfectly captures the spirit of your band.
REY35: The smashing of cheap guitars 🙂 Exorcising inner demons and frustrations.TPB