If any band has paid its dues, it's the Jerks. One of the Philippines' most exciting live acts, it took 15 years for the protest-oriented band to release its first album in 1994, the largely unknown, The Jerks Live!!!, followed by, The Jerks, for a larger label in late 1997. Though a superb album, The Jerks sold poorly, and the band continues as perhaps the country's most famous "underground legend."
The band formed in 1979 with guitarist/vocalist Chikoy Pura and guitarist Ninoy Adriano, both of whom remain in the band, and four others who have since left. Renowned guitarist Jun Lopito joined later in the year and left in the early '90s. The Jerks have gone through numerous personnel changes over the years, many times because members found better-paying jobs overseas.
Though rock music doesn't have a wide following in the Philippines, the Jerks developed a reputation as a skillful, most exciting live act, performing passionate covers of material by the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Doors, and other bands now considered classic, though many of these bands are Jerks' contemporaries, and the Stones still rock. Pura also writes songs, many of which deal with inequities in Philippine society, on topics ranging from hunger and homelessness to societal apathy and government inefficiency. Several of these songs have appeared on various protest-oriented compilation albums.
The Jerks released their debut album, The Jerks Live!!! in 1994 on a small, newly formed independent label, Backdoor Records, founded in part by another protest-oriented musician, Gary Granada. The album received limited distribution and wasn't much known to the record-buying public. The personnel for the album was Pura on guitar/vocals, Adriano on guitar, Benjie Santos on drums, and Pino Fernandez on bass.
In 1997, the band signed to Star Recording, a subsidiary of media powerhouse ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. The Jerks had previously rejected label contracts due to record companies' insistence that the band tone down its protest material. Star Recording, however, was more amenable, and the band's first album for the label, The Jerks, was released in late 1997. Performing on the album was Pura on guitar/vocals, Adriano on guitar, and Edwin Alvaro Aguilar on bass. Drums were handled by session musicians.
The Jerks has been called one of the best albums ever made by a Filipino band. A song from the album, "Rage," was named "Rock Song of the Year" at a 1998 awards show sponsored by Katha, an association of Filipino songwriters. The album took honors for "Album of the Year" at the NU107 Rock Awards, winning over platinum metal/hard rock act Wolfgang and its acclaimed set, Wurm. Despite the accolades, however, The Jerks sold poorly. Regardless, the Jerks remain one of the country's best bands, both in the studio and on-stage. ~ David Gonzales