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Ben&Ben On Sophomore Album: ‘We Brought It All’

Ben&Ben On Sophomore Album: ‘We Brought It All’
Ben&Ben

Filipino pop/folk band Ben&Ben finally released their highly anticipated sophomore album, “Pebble House, Vol. 1: Kuwaderno” last Aug. 29 with 13 new radio-friendly songs for their fans to enjoy via Sony Music Philippines.

The nine-member group expanded their music with few experiments and thematically bolder songwriting for their second studio album, which marks an important chapter in the band’s history.

The new record captures the songs, stories, messages, experiences, learnings and insights that accompanied Ben&Ben through their self-reflecting but fulfilling journey amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

In an online interview with OneNews.PH on Sept. 3, the band shared how special this album is for them, considering the fact that they produced it under strict quarantine protocols. They were locked inside their house while working on the album for their own safety.

“Lahat ng bigat na dinala namin simula noong (Everything that has been weighing us down since the start of the) pandemic up to the time we produced and recorded the album, lahat talaga dala namin – ‘yung experiences namin (we brought it all – our experiences)all our joys, feelings, sadness,” keyboardist Pat Lasaten said.

“‘Yung mga kanta sa album (all the songs in the album), we wanted [them] to be sort of [a] landmark for all of us sa (in the) band, na (that) this is the album that we recorded when we were together,” she added.

Collaboration with other artists 

Ben&Ben decided to collaborate with as many OPM artists as possible for “Pebble House, Vol. 1: Kuwaderno.” At least six tracks in the record featured guest vocals by other popular talents in the Philippine music industry. These songs are:

  • “Swimming Pool” (featuring Chito Miranda of “Parokya ni Edgar”)
  • “Pasalubong” (Moira dela Torre)
  • “Lunod” (Zild and Juan Karlos)
  • Sabel (KZ Tandingan)
  • Kapangyarihan (SB19) 
  • Sugat (Munimuni)

Lead vocalist Paolo Benjamin Guico said the songs themselves dictated the need for collaborations. It did not immediately occur to them during the process that half of the songs that would be selected for the album would be recorded with other artists.

“Naramdaman namin as a band in the past few months na ito talaga ang season ng pagiging bukas ng bahay namin sa pag-collab sa kapwa artists namin (We felt as a band in the past few months that this is the season where we would be open to making collaborations with our fellow artists),” he said.

Aside from their music, Ben&Ben – particularly frontmen twins Miguel and Paolo Benjamin Guico – have been vocal on social media when it comes to different political or social issues that they care about.

The band tried to express their collective frustrations about modern Filipino society and our current crop of politicians in the song “Kapangyarihan” (Power), the ninth track in the album, which they recorded with Filipino boy band SB19.

“Mula sa point na isinulat at ini-record siya, at panghuli ‘nung pumasok ang SB19, talagang ‘yung kanta ‘yung gumabay sa amin imbes na kami ‘yung gumabay sa kanta (From the point it was written and recorded, and when SB19 entered to add their part, it was the song that guided us instead of us guiding the song),” said Paolo.

“Hindi na kailangan ng (it doesn't need an) explanation. Dumaloy lang siya sa kinalalagyan niya ngayon  (It just flowed to where it is today). It is meant to be heard by the people. Ganoon ‘yung gusto naming mangyari sa kanta (That is what we wanted to happen with the song),” he added.

Music production amid pandemic

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Ben&Ben managed to stay on schedule with the production of their latest record. Working on the album began in the latter part of April 2021, when the band recorded their first two singles “Upuan” (Chair) and “Magpahinga” (Rest).

The production phase continued with some of their artist collaborators recording their parts towards the end of May, a few weeks after Ben&Ben dropped their promotional singles for the album. Production wrapped up with the rest of the songs recorded by mid-June.

The band said the opening track of the album, “Kuwaderno” (Notebook), sets the mood and tone for the entire record. Its ambient sounds were written by lead guitarist Poch Barretto and Toni Muñoz, who plays percussion and also sings for the band.

Except for this wordless first track, all the songs in the album are replete with the same “hugot”  feels, which endeared Ben&Ben’s music to many Filipinos. “Kasayaw” (Dancing Partner) alludes to the difficult question of whether two people in a relationship are in the same groove or not.

“Elyu” is a classic sounding song about wanting to free oneself from something; “Ilang Tulog Na Lang” (Just a Few More Sleeps) is a paean to long distance relationships; while “Kayumanggi” (Brown) is an anthem that embraces the beauty and richness of Filipino identity.

All tracks in the album were written, arranged and produced by Ben&Ben, with Jean Paul Verona. Sam Marquez from the band ‘One Click Straight’ was involved in co-producing, mixing, and co-engineering duties.

Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer Leon Zervos, who has worked with the likes of Maroon 5, Pink, and Rihanna, heads the overall mastering of the tracks. Karen Dela Fuente, Karelle Bulan, and Isobel Funk, meanwhile, served as creative directors for the album.

Pebble House, Vol. 1: Kuwaderno” is out now via Sony Music Philippines on all digital music platforms worldwide, including YouTube and Spotify.