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No Mcoy on board, but Orange & Lemons eager to reunite with 'game-changing' new sound

No Mcoy on board, but Orange & Lemons eager to reunite with 'game-changing' new sound

The escalating tension and snowballing of differences—both personal and professional—within the alternative rock band Orange & Lemons inevitably blew up in 2007, prompting its members to part ways on a sour note.

But now, more than 10 years after its disbandment, three of the group’s four original musicians have decided to strain out the bitter rinds and reunite, in hopes of serving sweet, freshly squeezed music.

In a recent press conference, lead vocalist and guitarist Clem Castro related that he initially reconnected with the Del Mundo brothers (bassist JM and drummer Ace) not to resurrect O&L outright, but only to rerecord their debut album, “Love in the Land of Rubber Shoes & Dirty Ice Cream”—the license of which they don’t own.

“Reformation wasn’t really the plan. I contacted Ace and JM with the intention of redoing the album because it’s not on Spotify. Terno Recordings (their former label) own the master recording rights and they don’t want to put it out there, so we feel like the album’s going to waste. So, what we did was we rerecorded everything last year,” he said.

On a lighter side, Clem jested it was a good idea to redo the record, because he couldn’t stand his Morrissey-esque vocal affectations in the original. “My accent was so thick back then,” he quipped. “And I cringe when I listen to it now!”

Before long, JM wondered if they were going to play gigs at all. That was the “game-changer.”

“It just happened that, at the time, their band, Kenyo (with former O&L frontman, Mcoy Fundales), was quite inactive. It was all timing. I proposed the idea to them and they liked it,” Clem said. “However, this reformation is without Mcoy. Creative-wise, we’re on different directions.”

The New Wave, Beatles-inspired group, which churned out three albums and scored a handful of hit songs during its run from 1999 to 2007, isn’t one to follow trends. And they’re no different this time around, Clem stressed. For O&L’s latest single, “Pag-ibig sa Tabing-Dagat,” the band went the kundiman route.

The guitar-driven song—released under the group’s label, Lilystar Records—waxes nostalgia as it pines for lost love over a swaying, bossa nova-inflected instrumentation. “We just do our own thing and everything comes from the heart,” he said.

Because most of his past work were in English, Clem decided to put together an all-Tagalog album, set for release in early or mid-2020.

“We wanted to challenge ourselves. We wanted to come up with something that harkens back to the good, old days … The lyricism, the sound and melodies of kundiman,” he said, adding that O&L has likewise enlisted a keyboardist, Jared Nerona, to add a new dimension to their sound during live shows.

Admittedly, Clem had initial misgivings about reforming the group, because Mcoy’s absence would undoubtedly raise questions. “That can’t be avoided. But we really felt the acceptance from the people when we played again a few years ago at ’70s Bistro,” he related.

While the three members’ past misunderstandings can be chalked up to “youth,” Clem and Mcoy’s rift seems to run deeper. “If we could iron out some personal stuff, that would be great … even if we don’t get to work together anymore,” he said of his fellow Bulaceño, high school classmate and erstwhile bandmate.

Two of O&L’s most popular hits, “Hanggang Kailan” and “Heaven Knows (This Angel Has Flown),” are closely identified with Mcoy’s voice. But Clem won’t shy away from them—they’re his compositions, after all. “We will sing them all,” he said.