A Brand New REPUBLiC
Coming from different bands and coming together to form FORT REPUBLiC are Darnell ‘Neypacs’ Austria (lead/rhythm guitar), Francis ‘Gabs’ Gaviola (bass guitar), Aeron Lugue (vocals) and Erwin Macabulos (drums).
FORT REPUBLiC was formed ten years ago after Neypacs’ and Gabs’ former band, Crossbridge, broke up. Initially playing RnB music, the band shifted to rock-altenative-punk after realizing that they can do better by playing the kind of music that’s closest to their heart. Aeron shares, “After the RnB hype medyo nagsawa na (kami) sa music na pretending you like it, then Gabs and Neypacs decided to go rock-altenative-punk.” Erwin adds, “Oo, nakakasawa na yung tahimik na tugtugan… When we play we just enjoy the company and cigarettes, beers up on stage…”
Playing in various bars, private parties and joining SMB gigs and seeing that the crowd positively responded to the band inspite the change in repertoire, FORT REPUBLiC has spun to a band that plays with passion. Neypacs quips, “The idea was to be different though medyo should I say mainstream ‘pag nakapwesto ka sa mga bars then we stood by our (type of) music and people responded with arms wide open! Naks!”
While Erwin admits new wave as his favored genre, Neypacs and Gabs share mostly the same musical influences. “We started on the same era eh… Crossbridge days, yun yung mga influences! Mga tipong Better Than Ezra, Live, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Greenday, U2, Foo Fighters, mga ganun!” Gabs agrees, “Red Hot Chili Peppers, Greenday, Weezer, Third Eye Blind, The Killers… halo-halo eh… Beatles! Yan!”
Neypacs and Gabs were guitar instructors at Sweet Melodies Arts & Learning Center and Ocampo’s School of Music, respectively. ‘Underground hardcore bands’ is where Aeron started, while Erwin played drums for a local parish and some days, with an acoustic band. Erwin jokes, “Then, nakilala ko yung mga ‘to and my life was ruined!” He adds, “Kababata ko si Ney and back then when we were kids nagja-jamming na kami sa mga studios nuon! OPM alternative days pa yun.”
Juggling their day job and their nightly gigs, FORT REPUBLiC believes that they are living a dream. Neypacs explains, “Many of our batchmates, peers, envy what we do… Nakakabata un ginagawa namin. We like what we do. I mean, Gabs works in a bank (during) day time, i work in a call center, Erwin has a small business, Aeron manages his girls… just joking! (But) when you see us perform, small or big events, we see to it we rock the show!”
Grabbing the title as “Band of the Year 2011” during Fontanapalooza 3 with a whole lot more of gigs, battles and awards ahead of them, Fort Republic is undoubtedly one band we all have to watch out for.