Frying Nemo on Rizal Boulevard Boardwalk in Dumaguete

How to Start a Band in the Philippines: Forming Frying Nemo



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Dumaguete has a great live music community thanks mainly to the excellent music program at Silliman University. There are a few venues that specialize in live music such as Hayahay by the sea, and musicians in the area play music from most genres. I’ve played for years in a band with my brother Preston and friend Matt Armstrong back home in Winchester, Virginia. When I arrived in Dumaguete and saw all the live music I was hoping that maybe I’d get a chance to jam with some musicians while I was here. One night I was talking to saxophonist Raul Limbaga about which bands he listens to, and found that we liked a lot of the same music. Before I knew it, Raul had recruited the band that we all named “Frying Nemo”. This photo essay covers the beginning of the band in July 2005.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    The band officially got started with a sort of rough jam at Kerwin's house, where we still are practicing even today.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's a shot of Nowell on the bass, his main band is Dumaguete's reggae band Enchi.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Kerwin "funky beats" Elman here. Notice that the drum sticks are a little frayed from the pounding Kerwin delivers to hold down the Frying Nemo rhythm section.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's Ramon on the percussion, he and Kerwin are a good team.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    This shot of guitarist Steve De neef is from Rock Boo, another live music venue in Dumaguete where we have played a few times. Steve is back in Amsterdam now studying jazz guitar.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's the main stage at Rock Boo. Kerwin couldn't make it to this one, but Ramon took over on the drums for him.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Kerwin taped one of our early performances from July on a video camera, so in this photo we're "taking the medicine" and finding out how we really sound. We all watched this video recently again, and it was sort of painful to see how rough it was. I guess the good news is that we've gotten better since then!

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    A lot of people ask me about why I started wearing a knit cap when playing. Usually the question goes "the tropics too cold for you, eh?". Mainly I wear it because the Nemos pointed out that I need to wear a hat or something else like it to look more like a musician. The other option would be to get a top hat or a fedora or something I guess.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's another shot from our third performance at Hayahay.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    This photo is a long exposure, so the red stage lights really dominate. Kerwin couldn't make it to play drums at Hayahay for this performance so Ramon held down the rhythm section again.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Our first setlists were pretty short since we didn't have a lot of time to practice new songs. This photo is from the Inwire Studio at another one of our practice sessions.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Our first gig was at Hayahay, a great local bar in Dumaguete by the sea. There are local musicians playing live music most nights during the week (extra thanks to Sande Fuentes for asking us to play at his place every week!).

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    We were also writing some original songs in the first few weeks of the band. We developed them also during these practices at Inwire.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's Kerwin out from behind the drum set and being the band photographer while we worked on new songs.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Now he's back behind the drums again.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's Frying Nemo back at Hayahay on a Wednesday night. At this point we had a pretty solid set of original songs and cover songs. Our typical set went something like this: Pisang Goreng (fried banana) to open up and let Raul warm up his sax, then "Common Name", a song written by Raul, "Wind Singing Over Our Song", a country influenced original that I wrote with my brother Preston and Matt Armstrong in our Coach Allen Band back home, then we would play Dave Matthews Band's "Ants Marching" and "Grey Street", after that usually was Jack Johnson's "Dreams Be Dreams" or "Taylor", followed by Coldplay's "Yellow", but I had a lot of trouble singing the falsetto on that one. To close it was sometimes "Awaits", another one written by Raul and "83" written by Kerwin.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    From left: Steve De neef (lead guitar), Raul Limbaga (saxophone), Ramon Laruan (percussion), Kerwin Elman (drums), Nowell Teves (bass), me (rhythm guitar, vocals).

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's another shot of us playing at Rock Boo on a Saturday night.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    When we started recording some original songs we figured we'd need some artwork for a cd demo, so we went down to Dumaguete's Rizal Boulevard waterfront to shoot a few staged band photos for the album art.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's a photo from our first gig in July 2005. The name we came up at first was "The Cool Dudes". The performance itself was pretty rough since we hadn't all practiced together very much, I actually felt a little queasy after getting off the stage at first because I messed up a lot. The crowd at Hayahay was a lot more forgiving of our musical mistakes, but some commented that maybe we should get a new name for the band!

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    After a week we were back on the stage at Hayahay with a new name and a smoking jam written by Raul Limbaga (on the saxophone in this photo). I have to say that coming up with a good name for a band is harder than most people might think. We tossed around several ideas for new names for the band including Pisang Goreng, which means "fried banana" in Indonesian. The name sounded good, but nobody outside of Indonesia would have understood what it meant, so the name "Frying Nemo" was tossed out as kind of a play on the title of the movie and the original "fried banana" idea. Frying Nemo stuck and it's the name we've had since the second week (don't worry, there's no harmful intent for the clown fish, just visit my underwater photo sections here to see for yourself!).

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's another shot from our second performance at Hayahay.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    To get in some practice we sometimes rent out the Inwire Studio in Dumaguete near Foundation University. In this photo we're waiting for the studio to open up and Nowell Teves (bass) was playing some unplugged Mariah Carey songs.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's the inside of Inwire Studio. They have a good setup with a drum set, mikes and amps for the instruments.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    The room is kind of small, but I guess that just makes it easier for everyone to communicate while we're playing.

  • Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005

    Frying Nemo Band: The beginning - July to August 2005
    Here's a shot from our third gig. We started opening up our Hayahay performances with a jam called "Pisang Goreng" in honor of one of the first ideas for the name of the band. Raul really gets to rock out on the saxophone during that song, as you can see in this photo.