It’s only the first of July and Manila traffic is already simulating the Christmas rush. Brake lights paint the roads red as Giniling Festival cramp themselves in a Toyota RAV4 on route to Terno Inferno. For what should be a ten-minute drive from their rendezvous point in Katipunan, they spend another half hour on the road, and they’re already itching to hit the stage of Route 196. With just fifteen days before they release their third full-length record A La Hoy, Giniling Festival have everything under control. “The album is at the printer, shirts are going into production next week, and sponsors are all good,” drummer Franco Malaya counts down with a confident grin. “I guess it’s safe to say that we’re all set for the launch.”

Recording A La Hoy was swift according to Malaya, who quips, “Just like Taylor.” It was recorded and produced over the span of five days at his Katipunan home with the assistance of Luis Azcona (Hapijoey Studio, Maude) and Emil dela Rosa (Campsite Recordings, Faintlight). “It was fast, calm, and exciting.” Vocalist Jeje Santos recounts. “We did not rehearse any of the songs before stepping into the studio. It was so stupid—that’s why everyone loved it. They were hearing the songs for the first time. I think everyone delivered beyond expectations.” They’ve seen their net income grow the most since they debuted their self-titled album in 2007 with the hilarious “Siling Giniling,” and Santos takes pride in how efficient they all were in producing A La Hoy. Their schedule was tight. “We did not allow wankery. Everyone acted like a gentleman,” he says.

“It was time to have better songs on the radio and online playlists.” –  Jeje Santos

“Actually matagal nang nasulat ni Jeje yung songs,” Malaya explains the creation of A La Hoy. “Tapos inareglo na lang namin bago nirecord para lahat may input sa gagawin ng bawat isa. Yung habol namin na tunog mostly may pagka mariachi, kasi masarap sa Mexikombi (Malaya’s taco truck) kumain sa Maginhawa Street!” In 2013, Giniling Festival released Pabrikanta, an album exclusive on YouTube, where the rock band uploaded a song every two weeks to its completion in six months. This time around, they return to the traditional album format for A La Hoy with Dani Pajarillo (bass) and Malaya onboard for the first time, Bombee Duerme on guitar, and without a second guitarist. “It was time to have better songs on the radio and online playlists.” Santos explains and chuckles with fingers entwined. “The first five songs are the best, that’s why they get side A of the album. They get to go to college. They are the most creative songs we have done so far.”

Naming the album always comes last for Santos. “(A La Hoy is) a phrase that captures the whole essence of the new record. From the mariachi feel of the songs up to the ‘Hail Mary’ kind of recording that we used to record the album. It’s the most brilliant marketing idea ever since cigarettes.” Malaya simply rolls his eyes and cracks, “It’s the result of Jeje and beer.” The album tackles themes covering love, happiness, and Millennials, and he adds that the album is inspired by “real life situations lang, konting kulit, at isang life hack kung pano maging mas maligaya.”

On July 16, Giniling Festival will finally release A La Hoy, a record that’s been in the works since 2012. They’ll draw crowds into Saguijo Café in Makati, and urge gig-hoppers to drop by early for free Mexikombi tacos and to witness the sensual dance of Burlesque Manila performer Joyen Santos. Malaya says Joyen simply messaged them and volunteered to be part of the show. “It was her idea. Out of the blue,” Jeje Santos confesses, before getting onstage right behind his bandmates. “You don’t say no to a lioness.”

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