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Shooting From The Hip

By Erwin Romulo
The Philippine Star –  August 22, 2008

“Kick out the style! Bring back the Jam!” goes a line on the title track of Tears For Fears’ album, “Sowing The Seeds of Love.” It’s purportedly an allusion (and a taunting jibe) at ex-Jam frontman Paul Weller who, at that time in the 1980s, was playing with The Style Council. Then, the Modfather himself was considered another casualty of the excesses of that decade — forsaking the smart-suited cut of Working for the Euro chic of Club Tropicana. It seemed that the fashion was no longer holding the statement: it hid the absence of one. (Back in their `80s heyday, John Taylor of Duran Duran reportedly said that he was more concerned about the label of his jacket than what bass he would play onstage.) In the mid-`90s, with the renaissance of Lad culture in Britain, Weller redeemed himself with the rock cognoscenti and “the kids” by strutting out in sartorial savvy (camel-skin coats, boot-cut jeans and a Mary Quant `do) as much as for writing and putting out the best records of his career.

Consequently, these days, rock `n’ roll looks better than ever, employing an army of consultants and other professionals for their image. (Apparently, if some New York critics are to be believed, the Strokes had signed up to a big management team even before recording their first demo.) Even the punks look pretty — surely, if thou wilt play at being the Anti-Christ, thou must wear the right merchandise. (Still, anyone who wears a tie-dye shirt should still be bludgeoned to
a pulp.)

So rock `n’ roll now has stylists — but does it still have style?

If we’re to believe the Camerawalls, then yes, it does. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the band makes pop music that swaggers like rock. Their debut release, Pocket Guide to the Otherworld, has just been released under frontman Clementine’s own independent label, Lilystars Records (www.lilystars-records.com). Together with drummer Ian Sarabia and bassist Law Santiago, his songs (and those he co-writes with Sarabia) are crafted with a knowing sense of popular musical history, giving more than a few passing nods to The Beatles, The Byrds, The Small Faces, The Smiths, The La’s etc… It’s no surprise that they already look the part.

Also an avowed Anglophile, fashion pundit Melvin Mojica thought that there was no need for a “makeover.” Rather, he says that he wanted to encourage the band to pursue their dress instincts. “They usually wear denims with shirts and cardis,” says Mojica, “so I just had to take it one step further.”

“It was fairly easy,” he said of their initial meeting before picking out their wardrobe at the SM Makati Department Store. “I asked the guys regarding the articles of clothing they’d rather avoid — like ill-fitting shirts and baggy pants.” For further inspiration, Ian showed Mojica pictures of Bob Dylan circa 1965-66. “We had fun.”

For the concept of the photo shoot, Mojica took the band’s moniker itself as the basis. “(The name) Camerawalls sounds as if they’re being hounded by the paparazzi,” he says. “Also, it reminds me of Axl Rose with Stephanie Seymour, Michael Hutchence with Helena Christensen, Ric Ocasek with Paulina Porizkova, Keith Richards with Patti Hansen, Jagger with Jerry Hall… all those rockstar-meets-supermodel pairings.”

“The shots are very classy,” says Ian, lounging at the Renaissance hotel room with band-mates Clementine and Santiago. The guys joke around and indulge in mischievous banter. As he says this, his voice doesn’t pick up much from a drawl, as if he’s talking with an invisible cigarette dangling from his mouth. He’s already holding court, truly within his element. If later on he decides to trash the room or throws the TV out the window, a star will truly be born.

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