Still sanctified, Basti Artadi returns
Sebastian "Basti" Artadi's presence may have never left us even though he decided to live, propagate and die in the US of A in early 2000. v Last year he was featured in a trimedia beer campaign with fellow local rock icons Ely Buendia and Joey “Pepe” Smith, as well as rock stars Karl Roy (Kapatid), Reg Rubio (Greyhoundz) and Marc Abaya (Kwajn). For a time, he also modeled for a jeans company, which had his likeness splashed on billboards along the South Luzon Expressway and Edsa.
Then again, the enigmatic screamer of Wolfgang, one of the 1990’s band-boom supergroups, remained elusive in the live arena. There were the unannounced gigs in Makati City’s bars. Early 2007 there was a reunion of Wolfgang and Razorback members in Music Museum, and nothing followed. At least not in our radar. His fans, needless to say, want to hear the real thing in a bigger venue with psychedelic images and fireworks.
For those who’d just tuned in, the 1990s was a wonderful time for rock musicians and fans alike, when even your regularly stoned—though outrageously brilliant—officemate can form an “avant-garde” band and call it Radioactive Sago Project, sign up with a major label and record an album.
From the multitude of similar-sounding groups, there was Eraserheads and there was Wolfgang holding torches of varying intensity. Wolfgang was the Seattle Zeitgeist via Makati City, giving birth to what was then called coño music, popularly characterized by the band’s Spanish mestizo members.
Among tisoy vocalists of fellow coño rock groups like Razorback, The Breed, Poundyard Dog and a few one-hit-no-album wonders, the long-haired Artadi was the undeclared leader. He screamed out songs as if we’re in front of a foreign band in the league of Blind Melon, Pearl Jam, Metallica, Soundgarden, Lemonheads—the list goes on. In a much earlier association, Artadi evoked the haunting combined presence of Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) and a much younger Ozzy Osbourne.
Artadi left us to raise a family in the US and work in an office. Sounds like not a “cool” thing to do when you’re at your peak. But in California, juggling family life and an office job, he continues to sing for Fil-Am rock bands like Lokomotiv and Kitaan. From where we are now and what we’ve experienced in the past few years, we can say his was the better move, far better and safer than staying here and fighting with your former band mates and managers, forming new groups with mediocre outputs, and still continue having quarrels with people who once helped you to get where you are now.
For sure, Artadi has a healthier heart and fewer enemies, if any at all, to avoid in the almost incestuous Pinoy rock scene.
Now he’s back for an all-new Wolfgang album, titled Villains, to be released under the band’s own label, Semenelin Music. And there will be special gigs starting the first week of December.
How’s life nowadays?
Life is good, can’t complain. I take everything a day at a time so....
Are you still based in Foster City?
No, I now live in Burlingame. It’s about 10 minutes north from my old place.
Kindly update us fans on what has happened to you in the past few years? Any kid or kids? How’s family life?
No kids yet, it’s hard to start a family here in the States. Maybe next year, though.
How about your parents? How are they, especially your mom?
My mom is good. She lives in Corona in Los Angeles now, so I see her every now and then. Not that often, though; it’s still a trip to get to her and I really can’t stand LA.
Based on my recent research on the Internet, you have lots of Friendster accounts. Which one is really yours? Or do you really have one? Facebook or Multiply?
I only have one account. The others are Bizarro me’s.
I’ve read somewhere that you composed a song titled “Lucena” after the city in Quezon province. Kindly enlighten us about the years you spent there?
I grew up in Red V—I think it’s a Shoemart now. It was a coconut-production plant, they would make all sorts of coconut products. Life was good, I guess, there were lots of room to run around and play. We would go to the beach on the weekends, Cala de Oro it was called back then, and go island-hopping as well. The song I wrote actually has nothing to do with the town—it was more about the name.
When was the last time you were there? I’m sure you’re a local hero there.
It’s been a while...we had a gig there a loooong time ago and I haven’t returned since.
Are you working full-time now in some office or family business? Where and what line of work?
Yes, I’m still working full-time for an American company in San Francisco. I’m in operations.
How do you balance your being a musician and a family man?
Well, right now, it’s just me and my wife, plus I haven’t really been doing the whole touring thing in a while, so it hasn’t been too hard.
How often do you visit the Philippines in a year since you left Wolfgang? I’ve heard of occasional unannounced gigs in bars in Makati and the like.
Yeah, I return every now and then, and the guys and I get together. It’s great because I get to see them and my family.
What are the bands you’re listening to now?
I still listen to the same stuff more or less. There are some new bands, but I can’t name them at the moment. Classic rock is still on top of my queue.
Tell us about the new album of Wolfgang? How many songs did you compose?
We put together 10 songs for Villains. I would describe this album as the next step for this band after [Black] Mantra [the fifth album, released in 2001 before the band broke up a year later].
What can you say to the recent Eraserheads reunion?
I wish I was there.
You and Ely Buendia were part of the Red Horse campaign last year. So were you able to talk about the 1990s? How’s your relationship with him?
I didn’t really hang out with him that much. I was with Karl (Roy) most of the time and Reg (Rubio of Greyhoundz) and Marc (Abaya)....Ely pretty much kept to himself.
I’m sure you’re aware what happened to Karl Roy after shooting that TV commercial. He had a stroke. Relatedly, how’s your health? Do you still smoke and drink?
Yes, I heard about Karl. I haven’t heard anything lately about his condition, though. I hope he’s doing OK. I know, though, that he has a strong spirit and he can come out of any situation on top of things. I still smoke although I should stop already, and I drink.
Do you miss your life here in the Philippines?
I miss the Philippines, period.
Is there a chance for Wolfgang going full-time again in rockin’ the scene? Say for a year or two.
All that is up in the air right now. We’ll see what happens...it’s best to never say never, you know.
Would you accept another offer to do a musical like Jesus Christ Superstar, which you did for Bobby Garcia? Any role you want to portray?
I don’t know about acting in a play again, maybe if I ever get to do Wurm....I’ll come out in that maybe as the bad guy or as an evil priest or something (Laughs).
Final question: Comparing yourself 10 years ago, who is Basti Artadi today?
I’m the same, just older. Hella older (Laughs).
***Artadi will reunite with fellow Wolfgang members Mon Legaspi (bass), Wolf Gemora (drums) and Manuel Legarda (lead guitar) in a series of gigs to promote Villains. On December 10 they will rock the Eastwood City Central Plaza in a concert titled Black Christmas Project. The BusinessMirror is the media partner. Call 911-5555 for tickets. On December 12 they will be at the Paseo Entertainment Center, Cabahug Street, Cebu City. Tickets are available at Moon’s Café and Outpost.