A strange name for a band.
With eclectic synth-focused musical stylings, Manila-based Paranoid City has been rocking their local airwaves since 2009. It’s hard to nail their specific niche if you go through their tracks, but the synthesiser has been a major presence throughout. Even though the band admits that they are a synth-pop band, hints of EDM (electronic dance music) can be found, and even mentioned.
For 2016, Paranoid City is all about welcoming new things with an aptly-named EP (extended play). But before we get to that, let’s meet the band, each with their “Clark Kent” personas:
- Dax (vocals and guitar), who writes training manuals for call centres;
- 8-Bit (dual synth operator, vocoder), a wedding photographer, assistant director, and a member to another band – the full-time musician;
- 4-Track (support synth operator, FX/Loop Scientist), an art director;
- and Eric Strange (beat engineer), the academic of the quartet – a finance professor, a financial advisor and is finishing up on his PhD.
So how did the band come to be?
It all started when a band Dax and 8-Bit were in went on hiatus. “I called up Eric and 8-Bit, but Eric didn’t want to play bass. I said, ‘perfect!’ and let Eric play the synthesiser,” Dax recalls. That’s three out of four – so when did 4-Track come into the picture?
“We saw him (4-Track) during one of our gigs, and 8-Bit invited him,” Eric adds.
8-Bit further expands on the professor’s hypothesis. “I saw him (4-Track) in front of me dancing to the beat and I asked, ‘Hey dude, why don’t you play the pop synth… after that, he became our band mate!”
With most of the band holding full-time jobs, how do they juggle between their vocation and their passion?
According to vocalist Dax, who is also a father, “you try really hard.”
Embracing your passion does not mean shirking your responsibilities. Dax illustrates how he balances between work and Paranoid City. “I go to work, and if [we’re playing on] a weekday, I just have to make sure I wake up the next day and go to work. It’s not easy, but I love playing music so much that I’m willing to sacrifice a full night’s worth of sleep.”
“Being in a band is a commitment,” Eric adds.
“Compromise and a lot of understanding,” according to its latest member 4-Track.
If you’ve noticed, most of the band (except Dax) adopt stage names. For Eric Strange (derived from a previous e-mail address), the stage name is a matter of duality – a separation between his work persona (academician) and his “wild” side as a member of Paranoid City.
Each band member draws inspiration from different genres of music:
- For Dax, it’s bands like The Killers and The Smiths;
- 4-Track lists Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson and the metal genre (as he used to be in a metal band);
- Eric Strange draws from Stars, The Ting Tings and The Carpenters;
- and 8-Bit is inspired by 80’s synth music.
How does the band approach songwriting as a collective? “There isn’t a really a strict formula, sometimes I start writing a song, and then I give it to them, sometimes it’s 8-Bit starting with a melody…it’s a band effort – everyone has a say,” so says Dax, “Sometimes we make a song on the spot, during our sound check!” exclaims 8-Bit – clearly improvisation also plays a part.
For their Southeast Asian tour, Paranoid City produced a new EP, “Transitions”. Like its title, the EP’s concept is the band moving towards new horizons, without forgetting their past efforts.
It includes three songs from our first album, and three from our new album. We haven’t released those three new songs in the Philippines – Malaysians are actually the first to listen to them. ~ Dax
“When you hear the first three songs (of the EP), you can hear the difference between the old Paranoid City and the current Paranoid City,” the multi-disciplined 8-Bit adds.
So what’s next for Paranoid City?
“We’re planning to release a full-length album by September… when we go back [to the Philippines], we will release our first single from our second album. We will also release a brand new music video,” continues 8-Bit.
After work and music, each has a different approach to leisure. Dax, 4-Track and 8-Bit collect action figures, with the latter two also sharing a common pastime of leisurely drives. Eric seems to be odd one out, listing trekking and sleeping as his preferred activities.
Live photos source: Laundry Bar Facebook page, shot by Navin Daniel