At the beating heart of the music industry, where melodies often take center stage, it’s rare to find a narrative as rich in friendship as that of The Sundown.
This Cebuano supergroup, not only weaves enchanting tunes but also spins a tale of brotherhood, collaboration, and shared dreams that echo far beyond the regional boundaries of the Philippines.
The Sundown isn’t just a musical project for them; it’s a testament to the power of camaraderie among its members. Vincent Eco, Aaron Domingo, Luigi Balazo, Gino Rosales, and Alden Panes, each bringing their unique musical perspective, found themselves drawn together by a whimsical idea sparked by a tweet about covering songs by The Cure. What began as a casual exchange transformed into a genuine camaraderie that has become the heartbeat of The Sundown’s musical journey.
“When we started, I just tweeted that I wanted to be part of a band that was gonna cover The Cure songs or be inspired by their aesthetic. Luigi and Gino replied, then we made a group chat and along the way, we invited Aaron and Alden to join us in the band,” shares Eco. “Eventually, we started writing music and collaborating, yet parang we never really got to cover or be inspired by them, even if that was our initial idea,” he adds coyly.
This camaraderie, born out of a shared sense of humor and a passion for music, became the driving force behind The Sundown’s rise to prominence. The whimsical genesis of the band wasn’t just about converging talents; it was about realizing shared dreams and enjoying the creative process together.
“At this point, the band is still a joke [among us]. Maybe it’s a running joke that has gone too far, but we can’t stop ourselves anymore. Tuloy-tuloy nalang tayo (We’ll just keep doing it),” shares Balazo. Eco adds, “When we make songs, the most important thing for us as a band is to have fun. If we enjoy what we are writing and we see that the songs are working, it’s probably what would resonate once the audience hears it.”
Still, The Sundown’s friendship isn’t confined to the studio; it takes center stage during their live performances. The connection they share on stage is palpable, with each member contributing not just their musical prowess but also their shared love for the craft. Their live shows become a celebration of friendship, a testament to the bond that goes beyond creating music.
“We sometimes test out our songs [with them], and if we feel the energy from the audience, that’s how we [as a band] know that the song works. So how they receive the song in live performances, we get to see that they understand the music and enjoy it as well,” Eco adds. Balazo even jokes; “Though I don’t necessarily want to brag, I think we’re a fun band to watch live — especially after a few beers.”
This bond that defines The Sundown extends beyond the music itself. It permeates their backstage experiences, their creative process, and their aspirations for the future. The band’s journey to Wanderland Festival in 2021 not only exposed them to a larger audience but also became a learning experience, a shared adventure that strengthened their bond.
“It’s not just about the music that you’re playing, but also about the experience for all senses — like sound, visuals, and [even] the sequence of events when it comes to performing a live show. We [as a band] learned so much from watching them backstage, and it’s really about leveling the way we perform onstage. The main key is that we get to be inspired by artists we like, while also learning how to incorporate it into our style. Even though we don’t have that much of an audience or support yet, we for sure want to put out a great show — who knows someday soon,” Balazo optimistically ponders.
As The Sundown looks toward the future, their camaraderie remains at the forefront. It’s not just about national recognition or the impact they make on the Philippine rock scene; it’s about championing the spirit of Cebuano rock together. Their journey becomes a shared adventure, leaving an indelible mark on the national stage and showcasing that, in the world of The Sundown, the strongest chord is one of friendship.
A version of this story appeared on Billboard Philippines’ Rock Issue, dated December 15.