Monday, August 3, 2015

"The Juans" More Than Just A Boy Band

Once upon a time, they were just five individuals dreaming to get a break in showbiz. Today, they are getting more and more recognized for their arresting musicality matched with their boy-next-door charm. All together, Carl Guevarra (vocals/keyboard), Japs Mendoza (vocalist/guitar), Jiad Arroyo (guitar/backup vocals), Jason De Mesa (bass/backup vocals), and Daniel Grospe (drums/vocals) have come closer to achieving their dream as the pop band, THE JUANS.

“Juan” for All, All for “Juan”

The Juans play their own instruments, making them different from the typical sing and dance boy band. In barely two years of doing live gigs, with a solid mix of current and classic pop hits, plus a few of their own compositions included in their setlists, they have already garnered thousands of followers which is evident in their Facebook page. But the road to this happy, stable place they are now enjoying had been a rough and bumpy one.

"We made a list of all the bars and all the people we could tap...It was like two months of roaming around, giving out our profile and volunteering to jam so people could see us, that was our entry point in live gigs," they revealed, not failing to mention that the first bar to take them in was Bear’s Grill in Timog. “We made an oath to never forsake that place,” Carl said in earnest.

To establish their sound, the guys deemed it necessary to live in one roof and rehearse together as much as they could. If they didn’t have any gig, the studio near their apartment was where they’d spend hours of practice.

“We thought it was gonna be easy, but it was hard,” they said in agreement. They recalled being financially challenged as they prioritized paying their bills and they would only get to divide whatever was left.

Needless to say, their months of being housemates strengthened their bond. “We do church together,” said Daniel. More than their faith in their dreams, it was The Juans’ faith in the grace of The One above that kept them going.

I remember telling one of my bandmates that something is happening that we are not aware of,” said Carl, which Jason attested to. “I’m sure God is in the background, we just need to do our best every time because you don’t know who watches us. Whatever we do will have an effect later on.”

So we got to the point where more shows were coming in,” Carl continued, “and we all experienced having to deal with our own bookings, our clients, schedule problems…Whatever a management goes through, we had to deal with it by ourselves.” Unknown to one another, each of them was praying that a legitimate management that would take care of them would finally come along.
An Answered Prayer

One fateful evening in 2014, executives from VIVA Records came to watch The Juans at Bear's Grill. They were asked to perform something they composed, and the group didn't disappoint with their song called "Magkaibang Mundo". They recalled with amusement that not everyone was keen on practicing that song prior to the show, but fortunately they did because it was one of the reasons that got them an exclusive 5-year recording contract with the established record label. Carl noted, "More than what they had to offer, more than what their promises were, we felt that VIVA was the right management because it came at the moment we prayed for it."

An Album for Every Juan

Now comes another first for The Juans as they release their self-titled EP album featuring all original songs: Atin Ang Mundo, Magkasama, and Prom.  Lyrics written mostly by Carl and Japs, the songs speak of the amazing feeling of falling in love. 

Atin Ang Mundo is a danceable tune that takes you to a scenario where you are inexplicably drawn to a stranger, feeling like you’ve known each other all your lives, and with no inhibitions, you dance together as if you own the world.  Japs revealed that he was thinking of James Reid and Nadine Lustre as he helped complete this song in just one night. 

Part of the lyrics of Magkasama goes: Ngayong nandito ka, ito ang pinapangarap kong magkatotoo, lahat ng ito dahil sa ‘yo. Hindi na palalampasin pa, magkasama tayong dalawa, hindi na bibitawan ang mga kamay.  Its melody is light on the ears, the words go straight to the heart. 

The making of Magkasama involved a trip to the Mall of Asia concert grounds a week after One Direction had their monumental concert there in March.  Carl pictured themselves performing there and at once a melody came to mind.  By the end of their show at Prism Plaza (right across MOA) that night, Carl had finished a verse and everything else followed smoothly.  They described it as one of the songs they instantly felt good about, and judging from the warm response they’ve been getting, their instincts were right. 

Prom adapts a mellow tune that goes perfectly well with its poetic lines, like the chorus “Isasayaw ka sa ulap, ang ihip na nagsisilbig himig natin, kasabay ng mga tibok ng puso natin, nagniningning ang mga bituin.”   This was their very first composition.

Each of them a confessed romantic (they even attended a retreat for singles where they learned how to be responsible individuals before getting into courtship), Carl, Japs, Jason, Jiad and Daniel bared their hearts in this album.  They gave their best to make you feel good.   

The Juans in Each Other’s Eyes

Daniel summed up in four words how their relationship progressed since they became The Juans:  “from strangers to brothers”.  Aside from their designated roles in the band, each has a distinct characteristic that makes them more fond of each other.

Carl is considered as “the heart” of the group whose leadership skills have kept them together during their early years.  They value his opinions because as Daniel put it, “He really makes sense.” 

Japs is their “groovy bunso” who they say is someone you’d want to remain close to once you get to know him.  They acknowledge his creativity in songwriting, but he just keeps cool about it. 

Jiad is referred to as “the rock star” now that he’s gained more confidence in performing.  Being a true sport, the boys enjoy sharing jokes with him.

Jason is known to the boys as “the ultimate brother” whom they turn to when they need words of comfort.  Carl sincerely says, “When emotions are high, he’s the guy who calms you down.”

Daniel is what they call “the energy ball” who is not afraid to show his emotions.  On and off stage, he infects everyone with his liveliness.   

The Juans, In Focus

"We are just normal guys.  But if we become successful someday, it can be inspiration to everyone that no matter how ordinary you think you are, you can be someone if you're willing to work hard and fight for your dreams."  -The Juans

CARL GUEVARRA, Vocals / Keyboard

“Don’t prioritize being famous, prioritize being a good performer.”  Carl was given that advice when he became one of the 12 finalists in GMA Network’s musical reality show Ride To Fame in 2007.  Taking this to heart, he got into theater where discipline and value for excellence were instilled in him. 

Carl Guevarra
“For my first play, they gave me a lead role, and lahat sila professional artists, mataas ang expection from me, so I had to work three times as hard,” he recalled.  Kelly Kelly Ang Hit na Musical, Batang Rizal,  Lola Basyang and Peter Pan were just some of the musicals which he was part of. 

While doing theater and studying Music Productions in College of St. Benilde, Carl also appeared in TV commercials, then became a host of Ignite Gospel Music Festival, a battle of the bands reality show on Light TV.  He also hosts Jam, a show where Christian bands perform. 

Carl dreams that he and his fellow Juans will become a worship band someday.  While his journey with them continues, he says he is certain about one thing:  “I’m sure that this is what I really want to do.”

JAPS MENDOZA, Vocalist / Guitar

Japs Mendoza
“Noong bata pa ako, hindi po talaga ako sanay kumanta, nangangarap lang ako,” Japs began as he recalled how he discovered his singing talent.  Apparently his high school classmates already saw his potential so they convinced him to join MACIPRISA, an inter-school singing contest in Bulacan.  This experience combined with his YouTube performances enhanced his musical skill.  “Nagre-record ako sa YouTube, tapos lagi kong pinapanood kung saan ako nagkakamali,” he emphasized.

His perseverance paid off when he auditioned in The Voice in 2013 and it was no less than Ms. Lea Salonga who turned for him.  He remembered that the international star commended his distinct voice.  Being in Team Lea boosted his confidence and taught him to listen and appreciate different genres of music, although he liked acoustic the most. 

A self-taught acoustic guitar player, Japs is also into drawing and painting.  His wide interests add color to his relationship with the band, his passion for work truly make him a valuable “Juan”. 

JIAD ARROYO, Guitar / Backup Vocals

“Hindi ko alam kung paano ko nagawa pero silang lahat ang tumulong sa akin,” Jiad said humbly about how he developed his musical talent with the guidance of his fellow Juans.  He also made use of the numerous guitar tutorials found on YouTube.  Over time, Jiad gained  more confidence in performing, but he knew he shouldn’t stop exploring other things. 
Jiad Arroyo

In 2014, during a train ride, Jiad was approached by someone who said he was connected with ABS-CBN’s noontime show, Showtime.  The man asked if he would be interested to join in Gandang Lalake.  Jiad initially said no, but decided to give it a shot eventually because he wanted to have an identity that’s apart from being a member of The Juans.  “Kailangan ko kahit papaano iangat ang sarili ko sa isang bagay na alam kong kakayanin ko,” he said.  He proved that he can achieve more as he won the 1st Runner-Up title in the said competition. 

In that short period in Showtime, Jiad learned the importance of getting along well with people.  In closing, he said, “Sa industriya na ito, maraming tao na kakaibiganin ka. Kailangan mo silang pakisamahan, lalo na ang goal namin ay maging inspirasyon sa lahat.” 

JASON  DE MESA, Bass / Backup Vocals

Growing up, Jason found encouragement in the words of his father Rico J Puno: “Sundin mo kung ano ang gusto mo talaga, ‘wag mong isipin na maging katulad ko o tulad ng iba.”  With this freedom bestowed upon him, Jason explored to discover his passion.

Jason De Mesa
He enjoyed doing musicals such as Ibong Adarna and Saranggola ni Pepe, where he  learned making big movements on stage, but ultimately, Jason realized his desire to be in a band was greater.  As early as 8 years of age, he was already exposed to rock bands.  Being a skilled bassist, he auditioned for the rhythm section of the girl band PYT, but fate led him in the company of Jiad, Carl, Daniel and Japs.  And for him, being part of The Juans has been “life-changing.”

“Akala ko po dati na parang madali lang makuha ang lahat.  May mga moments na akala mo ‘yon na, sisikat na ako,”  Jason said emphatically as he looked back on their band’s experiences.  “Pero sa grupo namin, hindi po yung fame ang napapanalunan, kundi yung mismong journey.”

DANIEL GROSPE, Drums / Vocals

Daniel has been in the business longer than his other bandmates.  He started out as the champion in an acting contest in Eat Bulaga, then appeared in GMA’s Saang Sulok ng Langit which also starred Oyo Boy Sotto and Maxene Magalona.  He took acting workshops, but projects that came in were just for bit roles in commercials. 

Daniel Grospe
Daniel then transitioned into doing church music.  Performing as a drummer in New Life Alabang, he got discovered by Jimmy Antiporda in 2006.  This led to his role as the vocalist and guitarist of a band called Southwind.  In 2012, he was one of the finalists in TV5’s Kanta Pilipinas.  But the most significant part of his musical journey was being chosen to be one of the interpreters of the first PHILPOP Music Festival for the song “Kesa” which earned him the Awit Awards Best Performance by a New Male Artist for his rendition of the song. “Kesa” also won the Awit Awards Best Novelty Song, Daniel Padilla and Sam Concepcion were among his contenders.

“For me, bilang artist, ang pinakamahirap ma-achieve ay yung mawala ‘yung kaba. Pero ngayon hindi na ako nahihiya,”  Daniel said with a smile.    He sure does add charisma to The Juans.  

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