Wolf Gang Biography
Vocalist Basti Artadi (born Sebastian Artadi) and drummer Wolf Gemora (born Leslie Gemora) began their musical careers with other local bands, while guitarist Manuel Legarda returned to the Philippines from living abroad in Spain. The three were inspired to form a band upon frequenting shows of another notable Filipino group, Razorback, who dubbed them the "Wolfpack". They later adopted the name for the band, "Wolfgang", upon the suggestion of David Aguirre, one of the guitarists of Razorback.
As much as music in the Philippines was and is greatly influenced by western artists, Wolfgang took their cue from Metallica, Soundgarden, Carlos Santana, Pearl Jam, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Sepultura, and their heroes Led Zeppelin, Trivium, Gorgoroth, cradle of filth, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith, among others. They began to play live gigs at the former Atrium and the defunct Kalye in Makati City. Bass players came and went until the arrival of Mon Legaspi (born Ramon Legaspi), which finally cemented the band's line-up. Their first big break came playing on Channel 29's RJ Junior Jam.
Wolfgang submitted demos of two original compositions, "Darkness Fell" and "Left Alone", to local radio stations DWRT 99.5 and DWLA 105.9, which generated many listener requests. The band signed with Tone Def, the rock label of local independent Ivory Records. Wolfgang released its first album, the eponymous Wolfgang, in 1995. The band flexed their artistic skills recording the album, with Basti Artadi responsible for the cover art, rendering caricatures of himself and the other band members amidst earthy symbols, beer bottles and cigarettes, and Manuel Legarda using an electric fan to simulate an effect he had in mind for the song Cast of Clowns. Wolfgang went Platinum in less than a year.
At the 1995 NU107 Rock Awards, the country's premier rock awards show, Artadi was nominated for Vocalist of the Year, Gemora for Drummer of the Year, and Legarda for Guitarist of the Year. The band was nominated for Artist of the Year and Best Live Act. Legarda was named co-winner for Guitarist of the Year.
The band signed in 1996 with a major label, Epic of Sony Music Entertainment Philippines (SMEP). Wolfgang's first Epic release, Semenelin, reached at least double-platinum status (approximately 80,000 albums sold—Wolfgang would not allow SMEP to release precise figures, but does allow it to state if the album reached gold or platinum status). Wolfgang had become one of the most popular bands in the Philippines.
Semenelin was named Album of the Year at the 1996 NU107 Rock Awards, where Basti Artadi won Vocalist of the Year, Wolf Gemora took the Drummer of the Year award, Mon Legaspi took the Bassist of the Year award, and the band was named Artist of the Year and Best Live Performer.
Semenelin was released in the United States in an all-English version in March 1997, with two songs originally performed in Filipino re-recorded in English. The other tracks on Semenelin were originally recorded in English.
Wurm was released in late 1997. It reached platinum status (40,000 albums sold). The lower sales figure achieved when compared to Semenelin can perhaps be attributed in part to the downswing of the rock movement, which had started several years earlier. This, however, did nothing to diminish the standard set by Wurm, which was nominated at the 1998 NU107 Rock Awards for Album of the Year, which also saw Artadi winning his second Vocalist of the Year award, Gemora winning his second Drummer of the Year award, and Mon Legaspi also winning his second Bassist of the Year award. Wolfgang also took honors for Listener's Choice and Artist of the Year.
Wurm, which was recorded entirely in English, was released in early 1998 in Japan, the world's second-largest market for recorded music, and Wolfgang performed several shows in Japan to promote the album.
Serve in Silence
Wolfgang's fourth album, Serve in Silence, was released locally in March 1999, and saw a return to the style purveyed in 1996's Semenelin. Though another critical and commercial success, it did not, however, see international release.
Serve in Silence was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1999 NU107 Rock Awards, as well as for Best Album Packaging. Wolfgang was nominated for Artist/Band of the Year, and all four band members were nominated for individual awards: Basti Artadi for Vocalist of the Year, Manuel Legarda for Guitarist of the Year, Mon Legaspi for Bassist of the Year, and Wolf Gemora for Drummer of the Year. In addition, Wolfgang was nominated for Producer of the Year.
Serve in Silence tied for first place for Album of the Year, and Basti Artadi won again for Vocalist of the Year, his third overall win in this category. Wolfgang also won the Listener's Choice award.
Wolfgang's fifth album, Black Mantra, a double-CD set, was released in August 2001 prior to their breakup in 2002. Its carrier single, "No Falter", was released earlier due to its inclusion in the Philippine-edition of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within soundtrack. The album also contained singles that became certified hits; songs like "Bow Unto Thee", "Idlip" and "Meckam".
Years prior to hiatus
In February 2000, the live album Soundcheck: The Live Recordings, featuring Wolfgang and three other rock bands signed to Sony Music Entertainment Philippines, was released. For the 2000 NU107 Rock Awards, Basti Artadi was nominated once again for Vocalist of the Year, Wolf Gemora for Drummer of the Year, Mon Legaspi for Bassist of the Year, and Manuel Legarda for Guitarist of the Year. Basti Artadi won yet again for Vocalist of the Year, the fourth time he has received this honor.
In late 2000, Wolfgang released a live concert album, Acoustica, on which previously recorded songs were played in an acoustic manner. Several guest artists, including guitarist David Aguirre of Razorback and the University of the Philippines Singing Ambassadors or the UPSA, also participated. The album reached gold status.
In April 2001, in conjunction with U.S.-based music retailer Tower Records, Volume, a compilation of Wolfgang material culled from all four of its studio albums, including its first Ivory Records set, was released in Australia and Tower Records stores in the U.S. Vocalist Basti Artadi's participation in a side project with members of labelmate Razorback culminated in a release in August 2001 of an acoustic rock album entitled, Brain Salad.
After the band broke up in 2002, bassist Mon Legaspi took over bass guitar duties from Carlos Balcells of The Dawn. Legaspi stayed with The Dawn from 2002 until 2004. Wolf Gemora, for his part, was part of the southern California-based rock quartet, called Lokomotiv, while Basti Artadi became the vocalist for a San Francisco-based group called Kitaan; he later sang for Lokomotiv, actually cutting the band's debut album, Rock N' Roll Death Toll. He left Lokomotiv shortly thereafter, and was replaced by Ryan Hudson. Artadi later worked as a coordinator for the corporate operations department of Gap in San Francisco. Manuel Legarda formed the band DRT with former Gnash vocalist Jay Ortega, Blue Rats' drummer Miguel Ortigas and bassist Paolo Pacia. Manuel Legarda has since left DRT, and has been replaced by Daniel Crilosogo of the band DC Aftershock. Manuel is now in the process of mixing the next Wolfgang album. Wolf Gemora is presently in the band, 3 Headed Dog with ex-Razorback guitarist David Aguirre and Lokomotiv bassist Danny Gonzalez. They are based in southern California and they toured the Philippines in January of 2011.
Reunion and new album
With members of Razorback and Wolfgang used to jamming onstage billed as the Flaming Hemorrhoids, it was not a surprise when on January 6 and January 12, 2007, various members of both groups got together for a reunion concert at the Music Museum. On hand were Basti Artadi, Tirso Ripoll, Louie Talan, Kevin Roy, Mon Legaspi, Brian Velasco, Miguel Ortigas and Manuel Legarda. Wolf Gemora and David Aguirre, however, were unable to join, as their commitments for the moment lie with Lokomotiv.
During the gig, the band played an all new song and Basti made a comment about recording a new album. Later, the new album was then promoted at Yahoo! Philippines music portal. The first single Deathsquad hit the airwaves via local rock radio station NU107 on April 16, 2007. The new album is unique in that digital technology will be used for the band members to exchange recorded parts online since most of them are based overseas. In an interview with Basti released on Yahoo! Philippines music portal, he has been quoted saying that "Wolfgang never did break up," and circumstances simply led to the band members going along different paths. However, they "always left the door open so that if ever the opportunity arose and we could get some work together, then sure why not?"
After a six-year hiatus, Wolfgang in December 2008 released their 7th studio album entitled Villains. They began working on the album in 2007, and most of the interaction between band members was done through e-mail. Wolf Gemora had stated that he would not play the drums for the songs included in this album because he was busy with his band, Lokomotiv.
On December 10, 2008, the band launched Villains at "The Black Christmas Project", a live performance at Eastwood City Central Plaza. It is also welcomed their latest drummer Francis Aquino.
On March 19, 2009, they followed up with another live performance at the Music Museum entitled "Two Sides Live" along with Razorback. The band started off with an electric set then segued into an acoustic set midway with Tirso Ripoll on guitars and finished with yet another electric set. As a bonus to fans, the band also played seldom or never-before-heard-live songs like "I...," "A New Mother Nature" and "Cathedral Of Space."