As far as I know, I have three more Virus, Inc. intern blogs overdue, plus the next installment of the “Me and My Lists,” but to be honest, this post has been the longest overdue.
Before I get into the details of who we are and what we do, a bit of backstory is in order. If this motley crew looks familiar to you, it’s for a very good reason–they were the band I sang for with in the post Eyes Turned Skyward, when we worked on REVERB Music Productions‘ charity album Christmas Is. I was recruited by Jian Manjares (the guy on my left, if you can’t read the text in my photo) along with Dan Buenafe (the guy on my immediate right, again if you can’t read the text in my photo), to help with a pop-rock rendition of the hymn Joyful Joyful which you can check out here.
Full disclosure here: I’m no rock-and-roll singer. If you look at all my posts on music, they’re mostly me talking about (or singing) acoustic-based pop, or else musical theater songs. So after we finished our recording session for Christmas Is, I wrote “Eyes Turned Skyward,” contenting myself with having achieved one more thing on my long-cherished bucket list–a thirteen-year-old’s dream of singing with a rock band and recording a song for an album. Little did I expect to be contacted by Jian in early December with a startling proposition: “How would you like to be in a band?”
Let me reiterate this: I am (well, was) not a rock singer. For my Reverb audition, at which Jian was present, I sang an acoustic version of an RnB song. I cover Ed Sheeran, Sara Bareilles, Maroon 5–all chart or alternative pop and acoustic. The last time I wanted to be in a rock band I was thirteen and stalking Kitchie Nadal.
…but Jian asked if I wanted to be in a band, not if I think I actually could, so I said yes, and a few weeks later the “Joyful Joyful” crew (at this point still nameless) was cooped up in Jian’s home studio listening to (and learning) the eclectic mix of rock and indie that the Manjares brothers had amassed over the years, working out our sound.
A little before midnight on December 31, 2013, we had a name, Stories Told, whose provenance I still insist was derived affectionately from a quote by the Eleventh Doctor–“We are all stories in the end.” (Jian and I are both Whovians.) If this is the “official” band explanation though is still up for debate. At any rate, we had a name, and soon after that, a genre: “fusion,” which is a nice way of saying that we are a mix of everything–as Jian put it on our band’s official Facebook page, we are “…what you get when a hard rock turned wannabe jazz-rock fusion guitarist, a musical theatre actress, a do-it-all drummer, and a grunge bassist come together to make some really cool stories.”
So you’ve heard of our backstory, now it’s high time to introduce the touring band.
Stories Told (touring band), from left to right: Jian Manjares (lead guitar); Dan Buenafe (bass); Jedd Manjares (drums); Frankie Torres (lead vocals/occasional rhythm guitar – acoustic)
Jian Manjares is our band’s undisputed leader, having reluctantly accepted the nickname of “Boss.” A lover of hard jazz fusion and progressive rock, he’s literally the sickest guitarist I have ever seen, capable of making notes ring out with piano-like precision (which he did with the “Ode To Joy” riff in Joyful Joyful–a gorgeously modern homage to Beethoven) or else hiss and scream in the dramatic, Golden Age arena-rock solos he cooks up before or after band rehearsal (and usually after banging his head against the studio wall a couple of times). Jian is what happens when you combine geek with rockstar: a lethal combination of old-school attitude and the technical precision of a senior music theory student (which he sort of is, I guess).
But while Jian is the band leader, the undisputed genius of the group is Jedd Manjares. At seventeen, this do-anything drummer has listening lists broader and deeper than many twenty- and thirty-something music enthusiasts I know. Responsible for many of the arrangements of our covers, he ensures that Stories Told is not just a “copycat” band. His ability to appreciate and integrate the patterns of various genres has formed the base for many of our original compositions, while his music director ear for timing ensures that we rarely (if ever) get lost or out of sync during performances. And while other musical geniuses are guilty of “baking” (in the “herbal” sense), Jedd literally bakes–pies, cakes, and awesome desserts, all in between epic drum solos. I predict he’ll be the reason we get fangirls in the future.
Dan Buenafe rarely pops up in photos, probably due to his being a vampire and all (kidding!). This Marshall Lee-lookalike (YES, I WENT THERE DAN.) is, quite appropriately, our (left-handed!) bassist. Coming from a combination funk and grunge background, “Marshall Dan” (as I call him) is an extremely flexible performer, going back and forth from our more hard-rock pieces to pop-y ground with ease. He and Jedd often conspire to introduce more offbeat classics and currents to our playlist, with hilarious degrees of success (such as discovering that I fail at singing Bruno Mars). Where bassists are usually “unsung heroes,” our band (or, well, Jedd) has a motto that we all like to stick to–“Let the Dan shine.”–because when it all comes down to it, Dan’s wicked skills are what bring the groove that makes Stories Told what it is.
(…Abangan ang pangkaraniwang rhythm solo.)
Marceline and Marshall Lee: The Vampire Twins of Stories Told at Handlebar for Play4Life.
And then there’s me, Frankie Torres, lead vocalist and occasional (emphasis on occasional) rhythm guitarist. I’m in no position to comment on my performance, so I’ll stick to sentiment. Truth be told, I’m the odd one out here: while Jian and Jedd and Dan all have rock-based backgrounds (or something like it), I come from chorale singing and musical theater, meaning I’m less likely to growl and more likely to trill. Complete with spirit fingers.
But that’s what makes Stories Told so fun: by being fusion (thanks to Jedd, we’re really fond of switching genres within a set), we’re allowed a lot of freedom in style and interpretation, and this makes the challenge of going from wannabe-Rachel Berry to rock singer a little less daunting. As a frequently typecast character actress, this band has been the role farthest from type, and I relish that. I’ll admit I’m still playing catch-up, but the journey’s been absolutely worth it so far, and I’m really grateful to be on it.
Stories Told at Play4Life! Many thanks to Dean Carayag of the Big Beer Dippers for the photo.
So that’s us–Stories Told! Admittedly at this point everything’s talk. But if you’re interested in seeing if we can put our money where our mouths are, catch us at 19 East on May 11, 2014, as we perform back-to-back with some of Southern rock-and-roll’s finest: Attic Wench, Consolidar, The Big Beer Dippers, and Eddie Shawarma!
Tickets are pre-selling at Php. 350 each up on the event page, and you can catch a quick written preview of all the other bands here. As for us (Stories Told), we’ll be having a pre-gig sometime next week, so do check out the Stories Told Facebook Page for updates. 🙂
There you have it! Hope to see you guys at a gig soon! 😀