Aptly titled “Kanta ang Panlaban”, Hansom’s debut offering depicts a war-torn, post-apocalyptic Katipunan Avenue on its front cover. Sure enough, as with any local band, the journey for the Quezon City-based punk act has been nothing less than a fight for more airtime. The same artwork, ridden with rust and corrosion, sees their name scrawled in military-style stencil—perhaps the best way to visually represent their muscular brand of pop-punk in all its grit.
Their latest studio album, released in 2011 and produced by Eric Perlas at Tower of Doom Studios, harkens back to the glory days of pop-punk and has more in common with the likes of Green Day and Sum 41 than their local counterparts. Bursting at the seams with infectious hooks and beefy power chords, the album seems to have no shortage of both riffs and melodies and is a banger from start to finish. It clocks in at almost 49 minutes of sonically charged energy that never lets up, save for the minute-long joke songs ala blink-182.
The up-tempo opener “Kebs” and thrash metal-inspired “Action Man” decry millennial apathy and freeloader friends respectively, while “Desidido” and “Chinita” ruminate over girls with a youthful sincerity reminiscent of 90’s acts like New Found Glory. Conversely, “Landi”, “Iyong Iyo”, and “Pampalipas Oras” take up the traditional pop-punk topic of girls once more but in a different light, with the last two being perfect fits for angry “I hate my ex” playlists. “I was [just] 15 when I wrote most of those songs,” muses lead singer Ton Vergel de Dios. “I apologize for the crass nature of the lyrics,” he jokes.
My brothers over you
The Quezon City-based quartet, initially composed of three out of the four Vergel de Dios brothers, formed in March 2004 when they were all still attending Ateneo High School. “Our first gig was [a] fund drive organized by our friends,” recalls Ton, who serves triply as the band’s vocalist, lead guitarist, and principal songwriter. Starting out, the trio was jokingly called Hansom by their mother, referencing the 90’s American pop rock band Hanson, but after a few shows, the name stuck. In 2012, youngest brother Lino joined the outfit officially as their rhythm guitarist, and their present lineup was completed. “I still remember [how] they’d pull me onstage as a cute little kid [back then],” he reminisces.
Being the youngest in the band and in the family, Lino shares that Hansom has been there for the vast majority of his life. From watching on the sidelines as his brothers performed to permanently joining them on stage, he believes the chemistry among them has always been easy and natural, due in part to their brotherhood. “In a way [it] affects our closeness as bandmates. I became so much closer to them because of the band,” he says.
As they transitioned to the college music scene, they came to find solid footing in the Ateneo Musicians’ Pool (AMP), though they got rejected during their first audition. As AMP is a common ground for Ateneans aspiring to make it in the music scene, it was inevitable for Hansom to try their luck in their home base. Thankfully, the organization didn’t let the group get away on their second try, as the former president of AMP during the year personally approached Hansom to be part of the org’s roster of musicians.
It proved to be worth a shot. “AMP helped us a lot [with] getting gigs in Ateneo,” shares bassist Gino, citing OrSem and the annual school bonfires as examples. Projects such as the AMP recital paved the way for them to work closely with other Atenean bands. Being part of the organization became an even more rewarding experience after college, as it provided them with deep-rooted connections with fellow schoolmates and musicians.
The rock show
As a band that’s been around for over a decade, the four brothers are no strangers to playing lengthier sets as they definitely have no shortage of material. Fresh from their opening performance at the self-organized Long Set!, the band of brothers brought together several acts, namely Abi Rode, Lunar Landings, and Oh, Flamingo! at underground music haven Mow’s Bar along Matalino Street. The gig was brought about by the band’s eagerness to play longer than the usual 15-minute set, with each band being given 45-minutes onstage. “We felt like organizing a gig [where] we could play for a long time and watch some bands that we really enjoy [and] play sets that are definitely not bitin (too short),” explains the band’s drummer Aldo.
“We consider [them] brother bands,” Gino says of their lineup mates. “[This] scene is a tradition of Ateneo [musicians] that goes way back,” he shares, citing the bands as integral members of the scene, along with other notable Atenean acts that have reached mainstream success such as the Itchyworms and Sponge Cola. “It’s important to show respect [and] appreciation to bands, fans [and] venues,” he explains.
This community isn’t limited to specific genres, either. For Hansom, whose sound consists of fast-paced pop-punk, the genre contains all the essentials of rock. “It’s fast, fun, and full of energy,” says Gino. At Long Set!, their sound cast a stark contrast against that of indie rock quartet Oh, Flamingo! and jazz outfit Lunar Landings, with each band garnering equal levels of applause.
I guess this is growing up
“We’ve always had to adjust [schedules] for things to work out,” laments Ton, who currently spends most of his time in Parañaque City. “Being in a band isn’t a great [career] option in the country,” he admits. However, Gino believes that “the most important reason [is] the music.” Despite the bumps in the road, the band still finds time to play bar shows these days, with three of the members already working and the youngest still pursuing a major in Communication, taking after the pair before him.
After all is said and done, the four siblings don’t see an end to the band anytime soon. “I think we’re going to be playing until we’re 80,” shares Lino, who credits most of the band’s success to their dynamic as brothers. “There’s a connection [that] we have,” he says. “I think [since] we’re all brothers, everything we do circulates around brotherhood first. It all goes back to family,” he finishes.