Cover Story

The Sound Of Pinoy Rock: Piecing Decades of Musical Greatness With Parokya Ni Edgar, Chicosci, The Itchyworms, And More

The sonic tapestry of Filipino rock music didn’t just start from one great band — it’s the culmination of stories and sounds from a myriad of artists that know that good music can change lives.

“Who’s the best Filipino rock band?”

This is a question that has conjured immense debate, discussions, and arguments throughout the years, across generations. Even within the walls of the Billboard Philippines office, we’ve never come to a conclusion that a majority agreed to.

But the truth is, the story of Pinoy Rock isn’t one that can be told through a singular band. It’s a story — from its emergence to its resurgence to its mainstay rakenrol ways — that’s complex and manifold, with a myriad of artists contributing to its overlapping web of loud noise and wicked mayhem. You can’t throw a band into the ring without mentioning the influence of another and another and another. 

You have the likes of The Dawn, who are integral figures in building the foundations of what Filipino rock music is today. Since the ‘80s, they’ve challenged what rock is and could be, paving their own way and inspiring the many bands that followed them. Even today, as a new generation of artists and fans take over and as a digital wave washes over the music industry, The Dawn’s place in Filipino rock is resolute.

The Dawn

The Dawn photographed by Jerick Sanchez

While on a different side of the genre, you have Razorback that are relentlessly loud. If there is anyone that can command immediate attention, it’s them. Whether it’s their soul-shaking music or their playful onstage antics, Razorback embody everything there is to admire about rock: they’re intense, unbothered, and all-out fun.


Razorback Photographed by Benj Barayuga

Then there’s Teeth. With a plethora of popular songs that have been reimagined time and time again through recorded covers and drunken karaoke renditions, the band is living proof of what good music can do — bring people together, from older rock fans reliving good times to young listeners creating fresh memories.


Teeth photographed by Mav Paular.

Of course, one can’t talk about Pinoy Rock without mentioning Parokya Ni Edgar. While rock can be intimidating, this band of jokesters turned it all around and built a career on creating a ruckus and having fun while doing it. They never took themselves seriously, poking fun at everything and anything while piecing together one of the most iconic discographies in Filipino music.

Parokya Ni Edgar

Parokya Ni Edgar photographed by Carina Altomonte.

It would also be wrong to exclude Moonstar88, undeniably one of the most underrated bands of the ‘90s and 2000s. They’re unapologetic and intrepid, never backing down from pursuing what sets their souls on fire.


Moonstar88 photographed by Roxanne Nebres.

Sandwich are testament to the greatness you can achieve when you pursue a path with every fiber of your being. Throughout their 25 years in music, across all the eras of their career, they push the limits of what good — no, great — music is, changing the lives of so many listeners and peers in the local music scene.


Sandwich photographed by Niko Villegas

In a similar way, there’s something about Chicosci that still ignites a roaring passion in us no matter how much time has passed. Even after two decades, they continue to give off and inspire the same intensity and energy they’ve had from the beginning, consistently bringing us back to our glory days. 


Chicosci photographed by Jerick Sanchez

The Itchyworms, on the other hand, have embedded themselves into so many aspects of the Filipino experience. From your neighbors singing their songs in late night karaoke to providing theme songs to some of the highest grossing films in the country, these rock icons have soundtracked our daily lives for almost three decades and show no signs of slowing down.


Itchyworms photographed by Jerick Sanchez

Even when the genre took a decline in the local mainstream, regional bands all across the country proved that there’s nothing that will keep rock music down. Just take a look at Urbandub. Armed with a dream and an undying love for what they do, they’ve continued to reinvent what Pinoy Rock could be. 


Urbandub photographed by Louis Anthony Duran, Executive Producer Andromeda Tan, Creative Producer Jonina Ramos, Project Manager Iris Manzano, Hair and Make Up by Eugene Tiongson, Styling by Jessica Cabuay, Styling Assistant Phoenix Cabuay.

Even as the genre grows and evolves, and as a younger crowd takes over, the same raw spirit and rebellious energy from all those decades ago still live on. Taking on new forms and finding home in new places, Pinoy Rock is resounding. You get bands like Autotelic, who have ridden the twists and turns of the music scene. 


Autotelic photographed by Jerick Sanchez

So, to piece together the true sound of Pinoy Rock and reinforce our statement that it is definitely not dead, we’re giving recognition to ten of the most iconic and influential Filipino bands to date. From The Dawn to Parokya Ni Edgar to The Itchyworms to Autotelic, these bands set the rules of rock music, broke it, redefined it, and etched their own path to musical greatness.

Read the Stories

The Dawn On Their 40-Year Legacy And What Lies Ahead: “As a unit, I think we’ve done quite a bit, and we’re proud to be still going at it.”

Chicosci Talk Friendship, Celebrating Milestones, And Growing Up

The Itchyworms From On The Air To In The Air: “I thought, this is a band that won’t disappear in the next few years.”

Autotelic On The Changing Tides Of Their Music And The Industry