Getting to know a pre-Journey Pineda.

Getting to know a pre-Journey Pineda.

Arnel Pineda is the vocalist from the Philippines who took the world by storm when he was hired by Journey for lead singer duties after being discovered by Journey guitarist Neal Schon over Youtube. Though he was a virtual unknown in the United States at the time Journey hired him, he had already been in the music business in the Philippines for over two decades, so he does not come without credentials. Since 1982, he performed in band after band, doing well in high profile “Band Wars” and even winning vocalist awards during competitions in the Asiatic. As a career musician, he made his living by performing with club bands, and it was in one of these that he finally broke out onto the international scene.

After a series of high profile club gigs in Hong Kong and providing compositions to the short lived Filipino radio show “Dayo”, he was enlisted in 2006 by the well-respected Filipino talent and television manager, Bert de Leon, to form a band called Zoo for his entertainment company. Arnel Pineda and best friend Monet Cajipe, the guitarist who had played in all of Arnel’s previous bands, moved back to Manila in the Philippines, where they were joined by Emil Bondoc on bass, Edgar Mendoza on keyboards, and drummer Mckoy Alcantara. They released an album composed of songs written by Pineda and Mark Valliente, as well as a cover of a song done by the band Second Wind. From the album, two songs became hits in the Philippines, the birthday-in-Manila anthem “Gimik” and the aforementioned cover song, “Pain In My Heart”.

They then hit the club circuit, performing three to five hour shows during which club patrons could pay tips to request cover songs from the band. It was these cover songs, including a rendition of Journey’s “Faithfully” that displayed Arnel’s talents as a vocal chameleon and got the attention of Neal Schon after they had been posted to Youtube.

Despite the good number of bands Arnel has performed in, The Zoo’s “Zoology” album is only his second recorded album after his self-titled solo debut. Songs are performed predominantly in his native language of Tagalog, although a few English songs are included as well. The Zoo band backs up Arnel’s vocals admirably no matter what language he’s singing in. Monet Cajipe is a competent guitarist and drives a lot of the songs with either a funk feel or a more traditional almost Spanish flavor on the slower songs. The rest of the band stays in step well with the compositions. The songs themselves are either rocking, danceable club beats or slow, melancholy guitar and piano arrangements. There is no middle ground here. The style of the singing and the songs built around them remind me a lot of those crooners from the 60’s. Some of the ballads here especially probably would not have sounded out of place in the age of the radio. All in all, the Zoo comes off as a decent club band with an unusually good lead singer. Since Arnel passed the audition and left to play in Journey, the band has hired Filipino singer Reujen Lista to replace him, although it remains to be seen if the band will release any more albums or simply run out of resources like so many other struggling bands from the Philippines.

via Music Review – Zoology by Zoo.

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