The Itchyworms’ Back to Back Singles Sums up our Emotions During the Quarantine
by Inside Manila Team, May 22, 2020 5:59pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel
We haven’t heard of a new album by Itchy worms in about seven years. But guess what? They are releasing two new singles under Sony Music Philippines, “Armageddon Blues” and “The Silence”. These singles are part of their upcoming album, Waiting for the End to Start.
The two new songs inspired by the band’s response to the ongoing social, mental, and emotional crisis that people from around the globe are facing in the midst of a pandemic.
Ahead of its Time
“Armageddon Blues,” in particular, is an update of an old demo recorded by The Itchyworms’ Jazz Nicolas and Chino Singson . With crunching guitar riffs, Beatlesque pop melodies, and raw but in-your-face production, the latest track from the band exhibits both ends of the emotional spectrum, as filtered through the lens of happy-sappy music geeks.
Written in 2005, the song was supposed to be included on the quartet’s critically acclaimed album, Noontime Show and the follow-up record, Self-Titled, but The Itchyworms felt that it was thematically different and completely ahead of its time.
“Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) happened, and I sent them the demo of ‘Armageddon Blues,’ telling The Itchyworms to release the song, because it captures the somewhat end-of-the-world vibe of our present situation. A couple of weeks into the ECQ, we realized that we’re in this for the long haul, and that we had to do something creative. We decided to write and record a few songs inspired by our experiences during COVID-19,” vocalist Jugs Jugueta said.
Following the official release of “Armageddon Blues” on all streaming and digital platforms worldwide a day late, “The Silence” was written by Jugs Jugueta and Jazz Nicolas, and recorded and produced by The Itchyworms entirely during the Enhanced Community Quarantine imposed over Metro Manila due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s what we think everyone is going through right now. Nobody could’ve foreseen 2020 to be like this,” Jugs shares the underlying theme behind the song.
Musically, it’s a mish-mash of influences that put Depeche Mode, Radiohead, The Beatles, and The Walking Dead in a blender: The production seethes with soaring builds and nuanced sonic details, but ends abruptly in faded noise—as if the transmission is suddenly lost in the background, its silence “killing us” infinitely and metaphorically.
A “Quarantine” Album
Waiting For The End To Start, which was conceptualized and recorded while the members of The Itchyworms were confined in their homes, connected digitally by their resounding “shared” experiences. According to Jazz, it can be expected as “unpolished and imperfect” and “a little lo-fi.”
“It’s not necessarily all about COVID-19, but this is the result of what we feel during this time. So there’s restlessness, loneliness, boredom, delirium, fear, uncertainty, and all that jazz,” he said.
“Like any collection of music, it is a record of its time: A snapshot of the artist's reaction to his or her circumstances. But it's a concept album in that our aim was to create art in the midst of a pandemic, to capture our emotions in the music we record, even with the limited recording gear we have at home. So you'll hear amp buzz and imperfect vocals, but for me that's part of the spirit of true rock,” Chino said.