While the iron is hot again

ASIDE from a new single, Orange & Lemons’ members (from left) Ace del Mundo, JM del Mundo, Clementine Castro welcome new keyboardist Jared Nerona (extreme right). (Edwin P. Sallan/Concept News Central)

It’s like they were never gone.

Two years after their return to the mainstream following a 10-year hiatus, one of the most popular Pinoy bands of the new millennium, Orange & Lemons (O&L) are back with a new single that pretty much picks up where they left off.

If the new song, “Pag-ibig sa Tabing-Dagat” sounds like it would not be out of place in any of the three albums released from 2003 to 2007, it’s because frontman Clementine “Clem” Castro originally wrote it back in that period when the Bulacan-based group’s brand of indie pop inspired by new wave bands like The Smiths were all the rage.

“The head of Warner Music Philippines back then asked if I could write a song for Sitti and I came up with this,” Clem revealed during the single’s recent launch as he demonstrated a sample of the song’s original bossa nova arrangement.

For some reason, Warner Music never used the song for Sitti so “Pag-ibig sa Tabing-Dagat” remained on the shelf along with possibly other songs that the prolific songwriter wrote in his spare time which he said the band intended to use for later recordings.

Unfortunately, brewing creative differences between Castro and fellow founding member McCoy Fundales reached a tipping point. And O&L, which won Best New Artist and later Artist of the Year at the height of their mainstream success, officially disbanded.

Clem would go on to form The Camerawalls and perform as a solo act under the name Dragonfly Collector while McCoy who would also dabble in acting fronted the band Kenyo which also included O&L members JM and Ace del Mundo who play drums and bass respectively.

Fast forward to 2017, Clem got in touch with JM and Ace where they discussed the prospects of reforming O&L. Putting all the bitterness of their painful breakup behind and since Kenyo is also in some kind of hiatus, the trio decided to regroup minus McCoy because while Clem acknowledges his old high school buddy as “a vital part” of the band’s recordings, they can no longer work together given all that transpired between them in the past.

Since reforming, Clem, Ace and JM have taken it upon themselves to re-record their 2003 debut release, Love in the Land of Rubber Shoes & Dirty Ice Cream which included new songs, “If I Could Speak My Mind” and “Lovers Come, Lovers Go.”

It remains to be seen if they will also re-record their major label debut and biggest selling album, Strike Whilst The Iron is Hot and their critically-acclaimed third release, Moonlane Gardens.

And yes, since he either wrote or co-wrote the band’s original songs, Clem is now handling lead vocal duties for all of O&L’s classic hits including the ones identified with McCoy.

Even as the members now have their own separate projects, the future nonetheless looks rosy for the OPM band. (Edwin P. Sallan/Concept News Central)
Even as the members now have their own separate projects, the future nonetheless looks rosy for the OPM band. (Edwin P. Sallan/Concept News Central)

“Since I wrote most of the songs, I taught McCoy to sing them that way. Back then the concept for the band was that me and McCoy would be like Lennon and McCartney,” Clem explained on the observation why he sings a lot like his former bandmate today and why he sounded a tad different back then. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way as our record company only released the songs McCoy sang as singles.”

These days, Clem has no problem singing the band’s classic hits like except for “Pinoy Ako,” the theme song of Pinoy Big Brother that became controversial when fans noticed its striking similarity to the song, “Chandeliers” by the United Kingdom new wave band, The Care. “People can request for all of our other songs except for that,” Clem quipped.

As for O&L’s other classic hits, the band’s 2018 performance of “Hanggang Kailan” at the Wish 107.5 Bus with Clem on vocals has reached over 1.7 million views to date.

Recognizing the band’s renewed popularity, their former record company, Universal Records has re-uploaded the music and lyric videos for “Hanggang Kailan” as well as the music videos for “Heaven Knows (This Angel Has Flown)” and “Yakap sa Dilim,” their cover of the Apo Hiking Society hit.

As for “Pag-ibig Sa Tabing Dagat,” Clem describes the song in its current incarnation as “a fusion of Kundiman, a genre of traditional Filipino love song with boss nova elements and the indie guitar pop sound the band is known for.”

A song that would be a perfect soundtrack for a beach romance, “Pag-ibig sa Tabing Dagat” is also ideal music for chilling out at home on a typical rainy afternoon. Adding to the ambiance is the digital cover art by award-wining contemporary visual artist Mark Villanueva.

The refreshingly serenading track further benefits from the addition of new keyboardist Jared Nerona, known for his association with the Baguio-based ska outfit, The Spaceflower Show.

Even as the band members now have their own separate projects, the future nonetheless looks rosy for Orange & Lemons. They’re scheduled to shoot a music video later this month.
Following a single bar tour to promote the new song, O&L will do a multi-city gig tour of Canada this September while a new, full-length studio album is already in the works.

Released by Lilystars Records, “Pag-ibig sa Tabing Dagat” by Orange & Lemons is now available on Spotify and other digital platforms.

Listen to “Pag-ibig Sa Tabing Dagat” by Orange & Lemons here: