Peel, Squeeze, Repeat

by Regina Mae Parungao
Manila Bulletin / October 13, 2017

Orange & Lemons prefer to call their reunion, a reformation. Whatever it is, hooray, they are ‘Abot Kamay’ anew to loyal fans.

Many years ago, Orange & Lemons supplied fresh musical nourishment to listeners until sour overtook sweet. They disbanded – but it was not the end.

Orange & Lemons (Photo by Christian Carl Quides/Manila Bulletin)

Exactly a decade since putting their music into what many deemed as permanent storage, Orange & Lemons are back; this time as a trio namely Clem Castro and brothers Ace and JM del Mundo.

In an exclusive interview with Bulletin Entertainment, Clem said they will remain faithful to retro fashion sense and that Beatles-esque sound.

Orange & Lemons are set to release new song “Lovers Go, Lovers Come” this year. They will be doing a series of shows till December.

Asked what else is ahead, Clem promised “new songs that are the worth the wait.”

At this point in their career, Orange & Lemons no longer aim for commercial success despite having a double platinum award in the past.

“We want to be successful on our own terms not on any term na dictated by whoever,” Clem noted.

The reformed Orange & Lemons primarily want artistic fulfillment.

“We are hobbyists,” the vocalist said. “But music is also a business and if things go well, let’s see, maybe we could also make business out of it. It’s not the priority, though.”

Ace added, “To be honest, masarap din kasing gawin ang isang bagay na gusto mo at the same time, kumikita ka. Right now, passion (project) namin itong banda but to sustain the passion, we also have to think of the business as well. But kami, hindi kami nagmamadali, maraming plano. Let’s take it one at a time.”

Back in each other’s arms

When Orange & Lemons broke up in 2007, Ace and JM became part of the band Kenyo while Clem formed his own group named The Camerawalls. Clem then pursued a solo career and launched his album, “Dragonfly Collector.” He also embarked on a whopping four-month, 44-city tour to promote “The World Is Your Oyster.”

Well, as the saying goes, first love never dies which is why the three eventually reunited despite having successful ventures on their own.

It was Clem who welcomed the idea of working again with his former bandmates.

“Isa lang naman ang reason naming lahat, sa loob ng isang dekada (na pagkakahiwalay namin), sobrang na-miss namin gumawa ng music together,” bassist JM said.

The reunion was not that easy, though. Ace admitted he hesitated joining the group anew but timing had a way of healing old wounds.

The drummer shared, “Dati kasi tumawag na din si Clem pero that time hindi kami interesado kasi may kanya-kanya kaming banda. But then, it’s already 10 years, at sobrang nakaka-miss na ka-trabaho sila. From then, I said yes to his offer.”

Orange & Lemons were responsible for the hits “She’s Leaving Home,” “Just Like A Splendid Love Song,” “Kailangan Kita,” “A Beginning Of Something Wonderful,” “Pinoy Ako,” “Heaven Knows (This Angel Has Flown),” “Abot Kamay,” “Hanggang Kailan,” among many others. The band also produced three albums namely “Love In The Land Of Rubber Shoes and Dirty Ice Cream,” “Strike Whilst The Iron Is Hot,” and “Moonlane Gardens.”

Clem pointed out the main reason he pursued reuniting the band is to be able “to protect the legacy of the band” and continue to roll where they left off.

“In the history of Philippines music… ayaw namin magbuhat ng sarili bangko, pero isa rin naman kami sa mga nakapag-contribute dito,” he said. “We’ve always wanted to make world class songs, na kayang ilaban outside (of the country) and that’s we are aiming to do right now.”

Minus one

Noticeably absent in the band’s present lineup is founding member and rhythm guitarist Mcoy Fundales. In his place is seasoned guitarist, Rain.

Clem has a simple and straightforward explanation: “irreconcilable differences.”

“Hindi maganda ’yung separation namin, mayroon talagang rift between us,” he admitted. “I think, tinawagan din siya (to ask if he wants to join) but it seems like he’s not interested. Ako, as much as possible, ayoko nang i-bring up ’yung issue namin, I just want to focus now on the band.”

It is no secret that a large percent of Orange & Lemons’ songs were penned by Clem, himself.

According to him, he is not the typical songwriter who gets inspiration from heartbreak.

“I understand na malaking trigger ang heartbreak sa millennials but hindi na kami millennials eh,” he said, smiling. “Eventually, tumatanda na kami at humahanap na kami ng ibang inspirasyon. Ayaw na namin du’n sa cliché (na paraan ng pagsusulat).”

Most of the time, the 40-year-old band vocalist shared lyrics usually comes first in his process but in general, he doesn’t have any rules in writing.

Asked what makes a song beautiful, Clem said number one is the melody.

“If the lyrics are crappy but the melody is superb? Malaki ang impact niyan. Ang isang awit, may lyrics man o wala song pa rin ’yan. So ang lyrics laging secondary lang iyan.”