Making music isn’t his only love, the frontman of WilaBaliW and Queso opens up about his two other passions: Tattoos and skateboarding.
“I was raised in an environment where music, dance, culture were physically present. My parents used to be an international cultural artists. Their training center was just below our house. That actually molded me,” Ian professed. “So I guess my vision has always been with me. I reckon it’s just waiting for the right time to manifest. With the help of my brothers, it actually solidified my stand on reality and it has made me persistent to make something out of nothing.”
In an interview with Ian Tayao, not only did he talk about his love for tattoos and skateboarding, he also opened up about what irks him, the price of fame, his taste in sex and his idea of a perfect world.
First of all, share something about you that’s not common knowledge?
I love to cook – my way of cooking that is. I love to smell good and I love things that smell good, especially people. I consider doing my laundry as an integral part of my discipline in life. My father called me “bulaklak ng hapon” once (he was drunk at the time). There’s a story behind it. I love Pho. I love skateboarding. Frankie Hill is the man. Just talking about it is making me want to watch The Search for Animal Chin again. Bones Brigade! I go on tangents when I speak. But to me, everything is connected.
What does it mean to have rock star status when you enter a bar or a crowded place?
No rock stars. Let’s jam, we can dance, eat fish balls, whatever man. Let’s just try and have a good time.
In the world of rock music, smoking cigarettes and tattoos are quite the cool and hip things to do. What’s your take?
I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore. I am grateful to the universe for giving me the opportunity to sing and maximize my life. That’s one way of giving it back to the universe. And it’s a nasty habit anyway, smoking. I just love tattoos whether it’s cool or not. To me, getting a tattoo is just like wearing body armor. I’m still a kid at heart.
What’s the biggest misconception about rock music? Because it seems majority of critics still regard rock and roll as just “drugs, sex and rock & roll”.
They can f*ck off. Pardon my French.
How would you describe your taste in sex?
I’m not sure. Sex, you don’t look for it. If the time is right, you’ll know.
How do you react every time female fans scream their faces off and basically throw themselves on you?
It’s flattering in a way to be honest. But we know it’s just part of the mania.
Which rocker do you model yourself after?
Jesus Christ… In “Jesus Christ Superstar”.
Which rock and roll artists would you love to meet and say, go to a karaoke bar with or do a collab with?
Erykah Badu. Layne Stanley, Chris Cornell, Marley, Kravitz. Anselmo? He might trash the place. Crispy pata, please.
Who for you is the greatest rock artist/band of all time?
Queen. Full stop.
In your opinion, is there really a price for fame?
I guess so. “Too many voices inside my head”. Get it? Sometimes, it gets overwhelming. But it’s okay. I have such wonderful, colorful friends because of it. You just have to filter the “nice ones” from the “synthetics”.
Are there certain drawbacks to being in a popular rock band?
I think if you don’t know how to handle it, you are screwed.
Let’s say it’s Monday at 9 A.M. What are you doing?
Contemplating, trying to invent something, day dreaming, blast marketing, editing, drinking huge amounts of water. Being manic/OC.
“This is the way of the future, the way of the future, the way of the future” – Howard Hues
Who else influenced your career early on? Can you talk about the influence that he/she/they, had on your life?
I’m not sure. I’m not being arrogant here. I just don’t have a specific being that I look up to. I get the motivation from the simplest things that exist around us. Freedom! [Smiles.]
Do you reflect on the fact that you may be a hero to other people?
Yes. I mean, why not? It gives people hope, belongingness, safety and empowerment.
What personal habit do you have that people find annoying?
Being so meticulous. People, there’s a big difference between being an asshole and being firm. Get it?
You mentioned your love for skateboarding. How did you get into skateboarding? When did you realize that skateboarding could be more than just a sport for you and was it always a passion?
I started skating when I was 11 years old. I saw kids skating in front of my school and I wanted to try what they were doing. I had a carpenter make a skateboard deck out of used wood and got my trucks and wheels from an old, worn out setup. That was my first skateboard. The first time I pulled off an Ollie, it felt like you could fly and do whatever you want in life if you put your mind into it. It really felt like that. Until now, I still carry that mentality. It’s a lifestyle. It’s beyond passion to me. It’s part of who I am today.
Do you consider skateboarding an “extreme sport”? What about it that is so fascinating?
If you call ballet or break dancing as “extreme dancing”, then I guess you could call skateboarding an extreme sport. [Laughs.] Depends on how you look at it. What I really like about skateboarding is when I’m in the zone, the only thing I could think about is pulling off a trick. Total Zen.
There are stereotypes about skateboarders, like before you have to be a punk and act a certain way. Is that true?
Not that you have to be a punk but there are just a lot of skaters who act that way. I actually find it funny.
Who are your favorite skaters – past or present?
I like skaters who go big and do “phat” tricks. Skaters like Frankie Hill, Mike Vallely, Frank Hirata. I love the Bones Brigade. I got hooked up with the Plan B team back in 96’. Nowadays, I like Brandon Westgate, David Gonzalez and of course, my team, Ragdoll Development.
What’s the craziest stunt you have ever attempted in skateboarding?
I tried doing a rail slide on this high handrail before. Hit my groin pretty hard.
What’s the craziest (high level of difficulty) stunt you have ever pulled off successfully in skateboarding?
I’ve nailed an Ollie impossible down a five – stair drop back in the day. Five O’ grinds and nose slides. You can’t really call it “high level”.
Other than music, you knew skateboarding was your thing from a very young age. Most teens have no idea what to do with their lives. What advice would you have for a kid trying to decide?
Whatever you do in life, do it good. Don’t let other people’s bitterness ruin you. Stay away from negative people. They will just waste your time.
If you spoke at a high-school commencement, what message would you convey?
Measure twice, cut once.
What goes on in your mind when you are skateboarding? And to what extent this differs when you are performing or making music?
Nothing except pulling off a certain trick. The only difference between being on stage and skateboarding is the act. Otherwise, it’s all the same to me. Same focus, same channeling.
For you, how much awareness does skateboarding have in mainstream media these days? Do you prefer keeping the sport low-key or do you wish to blow it up?
I say blow it up. Skateboarding is for everyone. Go out there and kill it.
Recently, you became the ambassador of Zoo York and Draven. Can you tell us more about it? And yes, how did you become so business-oriented?
I just feel that skaters who have the potential to be pros deserve special treatment. Back in the day, my dream was to be a pro skater. But there was very little opportunity to reach that dream here in our country. That’s why we at Zoo York and Draven, together with local skate shops and visionaries are supporting skateboarding communities by sponsoring potential pro-am skaters and eventually provide them with an efficient skateboarding platform. This platform will distinguish pros from amateurs and hopefully pros can a make a living out this. Well, that’s my dream now. [Smiles.]
Going back to WilaBaliw, can you tell more about the song “Not So Fast”?
To me, “Not So Fast” is about focusing on what’s really important in life. But listeners are allowed to interpret the song however they want to. We will be releasing three tracks with merchandise exclusively distributed by Built By Sonic. TOUR, TOUR, TOUR. Watch out for another set of tracks to be released next quarter.
Is it weird to have strangers know almost everything about you?
Sort of. Yes. In an endearing kind of way. [Laughs.]
What’s your idea of a perfect world?
I couldn’t even fathom what is the real meaning of the word “perfect” to be honest. It’s too “gray”. Let me put it this way, I don’t expect the world to be perfect and that what makes it really interesting, challenging and mysterious. It makes people do unimaginable (flipsides, good and bad) things. Though, I love the idea of some people trying to make the world a better place to live in. Count me in. We don’t have any other options to live in anyway. Voraciously embody what is given. Perfectly imperfect world, imperfectly perfect world.
What do you actually hope to be remembered for?
I don’t know. But I consider myself and some of my other friends as “evolutionist”. I just want to create and evolve. It fascinates me when I see something from a different angle. I just can’t stay stationary in life. I just want to play forever. Live.
When it is time to stop calculating risks and rewards and just do what you know is right?
Can’t say. In this case, you’ll be doing it before you know it. Perhaps I’m not the right person to answer this. I’m no Yoda. [Smiles.]
Would you break the law to save a loved one?
Not intentionally I guess. Not really. There are always other options to deal with things. We can always avoid recklessness.
Are you doing what you believe in, or are you setting for what you are doing?
I just want to play forever.
What is the difference between living and existing?
It depends on how you see life. It’s better if we do both and keep it simple. Be thankful for what we have.
If you could retire tomorrow or stop doing what you do now, what would you do?
What do you wish people think of when they hear “Ian Tayao”?
When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
I guess so. But I think the reason why I want to say things that I want to do is because I want these things to be out there. So I have no choice but to do it.
Words by JAYSON PAOR
Photography by DARREL POBRE
Style by JEAR DE MCCUTTAC and GRACIE MILLAN
Styling Associates VINCE ABARRA and TIM DIAGONE
Make up by RUTH TUBON-SPENCE
Hair by JOHN PAUL STEVEN