March 13, 2012

Immortalizing KARL ROY

Karl Roy passed away early this morning much to the distraught of every rock music fans out there who have witnessed his debacle as a struggling artist all the way to his reformation as a funk god that honed the '90s Pinoy rock landscape. Karl’s sister, Kathryn Roy broke the news on Facebook, and although the reason of his death remains unknown, it is common knowledge to everyone that the Kapatid/P.O.T. lead singer has been suffering from an infected heart valve since his P.O.T days.

It’s inappropriate to sweep aside all the great things that Karl has done for the rock music industry before he sank under the weight of his own misanthropy. It’s the music, the live performances, and the swagger of a personality, after all, that Karl should be remembered for. Everything about the drug-related issues that might have led to his untimely death should just be taken as part of his humanly imperfect past. Not even such can overshadow an icon as fierce and bold as THE Karl Roy.

One can trace his ineffable greatness as early as the late ‘80s when he used to front the alternative rock act, Advent Call—a then-underground sensation that brought Karl to prominence. But it was when he formed P.O.T. with Ian Umali and Mally Paraguya that the world took notice of his game. He, along with his fellow crew brought back the funk, sex, and soul in rock music, merging the rootsy sound of their peers with vibrant sentimentality and oomph that recalls the antiseptic dead-end of ‘70s Manila Sound. Yes, Karl and his band are nothing but funk revivalists. But what makes them a cut above the rest is that they incorporate the brand with personality and pure skill, making sure that every live performance brings fire and rage to the table.

P.O.T. only released one album under its helm. Released in 1997, their self-titled debut went on to become a huge critical and commercial success, carving an important marker in the explosion that was the golden age of Pinoy Rock in the ‘90s. The only album released by P.O.T. managed to spawn a hit out of covering The Advisors’ “Yugyugan Na,” a well celebrated, funk-pop jam that drives the crowd wild every time they perform it on gigs. And then there’s “Panaginip” and “Piece Of This”, two songs that showed the softer side of Karl Roy. Sharing co-writing credits with Ian Umali, Karl turned his personal anguish into music more pleasurable than painful, crafting sentimental cheese with vulnerability that resonates with people’s experiences and heartbreaks.

Internal issues and Karl’s “alleged” flirtation with drugs have taken its toll on P.O.T, eventually leading to the disbanding of the group. Karl then took a short hiatus from music to recuperate from his health problems. But first love holds a special place in Karl’s heart, so in just a span of years, he went back to the gigging circuit and recruited rock music veterans Nathan Azarcon, J-Hoon Balbuena, Ira Cruz, and Chico Molina on rhythm section to form the band, Kapatid—a heavier, more hard rock-leaning version of P.O.T.

Kapatid, over several line-up changes produced two albums, the self-titled Kapatid and the underrated gem, Luha. Both records raise the bar of Karl’s maturity as a musician, revealing a newfound songwriting perspective that takes a profound look at the real conditions of society and its people. Songs such as “I Like It Like This” and “EDSA 524” touch down the socio-political slant not just on a surface level, but on a more universal vibe that aims to bring people together. The sophomore album, Luha on the other hand, is a more intimate, if not personal, collection of songs that deal with love, frustration, and loss—and moonlight too as a tribute to the death of beloved Kapatid guitarist, Chico Molina. While the commercial turnout didn’t match half the success of P.O.T, Kapatid stayed on for almost a decade, with its presence still as resonant as before.

Just as Kapatid is about to make a comeback this year, a depressing news came out of the bolt and crushed our hopes to see the band perform their beloved hits onstage. Yeah I know. It’s sad that we won’t be able to see Karl Roy rock the stage again with his signature swag, his sexy yet manly funk strut that demands attention without pleading for it. A wise man once said, “’the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.” Karl’s gone, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop attending parties. There will be more gates open, and more to immortalize the funk god that started it all. +R.I.P. Karl Roy+

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