What makes beat engineer Eric Strange of indie synth dance band Paranoid City paranoid? “When the rest of the band isn’t showing up yet,” Eric says. It’s funny because it did take a while for vocalist Dax Balmeo, synth operators 8-Bit and 4-Track to find the venue for our interview and shoot. Well, maybe these guys are just too nice to know their way in Makati City’s red light district. Or maybe not?
“Let’s put it this way: Paranoid City, compared to other bands that write very deep songs, we just party.”
Describe yourselves in one word.
Dax Balmeo: Blue.
Eric Strange: Strange.
8-Bit: Control. Or Rebound.
Outside Paranoid City, what do you do?
Dax: I’m a writer for an internet company and an avid actor.
Eric: I am an account manager for a public relations company and, as a part-time job, I am a professor in an all-girls school in Recto.
4-Track: I’m an artist by day. I do animations. I do trainings. As a part-time job, I teach at an all-girls school.
8-Bit: I am a licensed entrepreneur by day and a wedding videographer during the weekends—and I hope my mom is proud because I now have work.
So what’s the story behind Paranoid City? How did you guys come together?
Dax: I’ve known Eric for quite some time since we were in college. I’ve known 8-Bit for seven years. Our band, Valet Parking, went on a hiatus and then I still wanted to play gigs so I called Eric if he wanted to do something. If you ever need a rebound relationship, always call Eric. Anyway, so what we did is the three of us went into the studio. 8-Bit didn’t want to play bass then. I was listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at that time, and I told him, “You know what? Don’t play the bass, play the synthesizer.” And that was it. About after a few months we were “gig-ing” around the metro and then we met 4-Track so we invited him to play his back-up synthesizer. On the first gig, we noticed that the energy was really high, the chemistry was good. Basically after a few months after the recording of our album, we invited him to play full time. Excuse my husky voice.
4-Track: That’s an enormous manhood proof.
Do you guys still play with your former bands Valet Parking, Idenitkit, Pumping Pluto…?
8-Bit: No, we killed them.
4-Track: I came from a sexy male band called Faultline. And our guitarist was pirated by the band Slapshock.
Eric: We’re more focused on us now.
8-Bit: We’re focused on earning real money.
How did you come up with the decision to play the type of genre you play?
Dax: Oh actually, up to now we’re still undecided.
8-Bit: Special thanks to me.
Dax: That’s true. A big part of our sound comes from the two synthesizers. But we write songs without that in mind. Especially for Viewfinder Dreams, mostly we only had snippets of songs, and 8-Bit would do something beautiful and then we’d be like, “Oh, it works!” Whatever works. We actually had a hard time with the last two songs [in Viewfinder Dreams], but everything else just flowed out.
So there really is no musical vision?
4-Track: Let’s put it this way: Paranoid City, compared to other bands that write very deep songs, we just party.
Eric: When we’re asked what our musical influences are, we just say that we listen to art.
Dax: It was a conscious effort to stray away from the really deep lyrics.
Eric: My old band (Pumping Pluto) was too pop, Dax’s band was also pop. When we did Paranoid City, we just wanted to try something different.
4-Track: That’s so we can play in classy venues. [laughs]
Eric: I think everything is just about having fun. No pressure. There’s no expectation if they’re going to like our songs.
8-Bit: I was influenced by freedom.
4-Track: For me, it’s very different. Deftones, Glass Jaw, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, new wave. Anything in between.
Eric: Mine’s pretty normal. Very pop. Local bands: Eraserheads, Sugarfree, Techy Romantics, Parokya ni
Edgar, Pedicab, Taken by Cars. Foreign: The Killers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Ting Tings, Take That, and Linkin Park.
Dax: Take That.
8-Bit: OMD, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, 80s bands. New wave.
What’s next for Paranoid City? Are you working on anything right now?
Dax: We went on a songwriting hiatus when the album came out.
Eric: Actually, we’re planning on writing songs this year. Due to very busy schedules with work, we might release our second album next year.
Dax: We’re listening to different stuff right now.
How are you when you’re paranoid?
Dax: I look at stars. I like stars, because I grew up in Bulacan.
8-Bit: When I’m paranoid—especially in a relationship or a potential one—I curl up. I run away when a cute girl wants to be rebounding me. I walk away.
Interview by Macy Reantaso
Photographed by Patrick Diokno
For the full story, grab a copy of STATUS May 2012 issue