Entertainment

The Juans on the block


A group of five young men, who were not really friends initially, was hanging out in a coffee shop. They were asking themselves why One Direction was so successful and effective as a music act. Incidentally, they were also thinking of what name they could call their group.

“D Juan!” one of them suggested. Then they started joking around making fun of the boyband’s name until they realized that they were actually deciding on a brand that would determine their fate as a solid group.

Carl The Juan

More than two years later, the group is now bonded by genuine brotherhood and their common goal to inspire people with their palpable energy and blisteringly fresh music.

“Juan is a common name for us Filipinos. So, during that fateful afternoon in a coffee shop, we came up with The Juans. So, one day, when we are already successful, ordinary Juans would get inspired that if ordinary kids like us were able to make it…so can they. Our vision is not to talk about success but to be an example of a life that’s been lived extraordinarily,” Carl Guevarra, the band’s lead vocalist and keyboardist, shared with the Manila Standard.


Music runs in their blood: Jason de Mesa’s (left) is the son of Rico J. Puno, Daniel Grospe (on drums) and Carl Guevarra (left) are products of reality talent searches. (Images: Sonny Espiritu)

Originally formed as a boyband, The Juans is composed of Carl, Japs Mendoza (vocals and guitar), Jiad Arroyo (guitar and background vocals), Jason de Mesa (bass and back-up vocals) and Daniel Grospe (drums and vocals).

When their former management discovered that each of them could play musical instrument, they decided to build up The Juans to a legitimate five-piece band and package them as the “band next door” because of their looks and undeniable charm.

“We are a manufactured band, not exactly the way we are now. We were initially formed as a boyband—the typical sing-and-dance boyband. But they found out that we all play musical instrument, except for Jiad…he had to learn it, they decided that it may be cooler if they’d package us as a real band,” the band’s lead vocalist shared.

Daniel

The group, who takes inspiration from the bands like The Vamps, South Border and Parokya Ni Edgar, is one of the most promising names on local music scene today. With an EP (extended play) that showcases the members’ remarkable musicality and songwriting skill, The Juans has found unique ways to blend the sounds of popular culture and their inspirations to create something exciting and original.

But before making a thrilling plunge in mainstream music, the band, of course, had experienced challenging episodes of finding a venue to perform and showcase their craft. It was the time when they cut their ties with their former management yet still decided to keep the group moving all for the love music.

Jason de Mesa

The band became independent and utilized its own resources to pursue the members’ music career. And like any other bands that endeavored to create a name for the members, The Juans started playing gigs around and performing at intimate venues.

“We made a list of all the bars that we could visit to perform, we made friends with other bands that could help us get a gig…practically all the people we could tap. Every time we performed we always prepared our portfolio so if they’d like us, we already have our profile ready,” Jason recalled.


The Juans band members (from left) Jason de Mesa, Carl Guevarra, Daniel Grospe (on drums) Japs Mendoza and Jiad Arroyo

It came to a point that what they were earning was just enough to make both ends meet. And with five boys each having dreams to make individual mark, doing the same thing over and over again without seeing any positive results, was a bit discouraging.

“You see, we are talking about five boys who are individually different in so many ways. One wants to go solo, the other wants to do modelling or become a basketball player, someone wants to be like Justin Bieber, and me I want to be like Gary V,” Carl quipped then shifted to a more serious tone.

Japs of the Juans

“We were depressed because we were barely earning. We had to guerilla market ourselves. For a good season, we were doing everything just to get a gig.”

The guys almost came to a point to calling it quits.

“What we were doing was good but we all agreed that it was really tiring. We were already receiving offers but we were very indecisive after what happened with our previous management. Then we prayed. And on the night that we almost gave up…Viva came into picture and it was an answered prayer,” Carl narrated.

Jian Arroyo

Viva Music executives came to see one of their performances at the now defunct Bear’s Grill (also the first bar that accepted them to play regular gigs) on Timog, Quezon City. They were asked to perform an original composition and the next thing that happened…they were already signing up for a five-year recording contract with the record label.

“They provided us everything we needed. And they groomed us to be a more presentable band,” said Daniel.

The established record label also helps members of the band expand their talents. They go through numerous workshops and collaborate with professionals to help them improve their performance onstage. Viva also paved the way for the release of the band’s first self-titled EP, which contains three of the band’s original compositions, “Atin Ang Mundo,” “Prom” and “Magkasama.”

According to the members of the band, their EP is just the beginning. They have a good amount of material, an original catalogue ready to be released. Their new compositions sound more mature and more interesting, they say. And they must be inspired by their journey from being virtually unknown to becoming one of the emerging bands to watch out for.

The Juans

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