MANILA -- In the 1990s while covering the alternative music scene, Sebastian "Basti" Artadi's appeal to women was so strong, a lot of female staff writers in major newspapers and magazines I knew went to the extent of changing their surnames to Artadi.
In the pre-social media era, the proof was in their cubicle's "wall photos" of Artadi, who looked like someone fronting a grunge band from Seattle and not from Alabang.
They didn't become Artadis in later lives and things may have changed for the better. Artadi has become more than the "tisoy" frontman of what was then called a "coño" band who women fantasized about. Over the years, Artadi has tried acting for film and theater. He's been a painter, an in-demand solo act and a devoted family man. And there's more.
A few days before "90s Frontmen (Acousticized)" take place on January 31 and February 1 at the Music Museum, we threw Artadi some questions that would enlighten us about his rumored impending semi-retirement from the music scene, his plans on going back to theater, holding a solo art exhibit, and becoming a film producer.
Some semi-retired rockers go into bar and restaurant business, re-inventing themselves as chefs or CEOs but Artadi obviously surprised us with his many lives outside that persona of him we know since college: The charismatic screamer of Wolfgang.
He said he's also into renovating houses. But he's been busy with the rehearsals for the two-night shows we ran out of time to clarify if that is another business venture or a profitable hobby he's embraced lately.
The two-night concerts will feature his contemporaries in the 1990s music scene. These frontmen are Wency Cornejo of AfterImage, Jett Pangan of The Dawn and Dong Abay of Yano.
Q: From what I've read, the shows will be acousticized. First thing that comes to mind was the legendary "Acoustica" concert of Wolfgang, also at the Music Museum. Could you tell us what you remember of that gig wherein you had the UP Concert Chorus, David Aguirre from Razorback and guest percussionist Paul Zialcita.
Basti Artadi: "Acoustica" was one of the many milestones for Wolfgang so it will always have a special place for me. It was our first time to do an acoustic show and I remember it being one of those "the planets aligned" kinda nights where everything came together. I couldn't have asked for a better evening. It was perfect for me.
I think we were on a high for over a week after that. Yeah we had Paul Z on percussions, David on second guitar. Martin Jamora was on keyboards. We also had Radha to come in and sing a couple of songs. She did a version of "Acid Queen" by The Who which blew my mind. I keep asking her to cover that song again, it was so awesome!!
Q: Kindly refresh our memory but were you guys able to do another "Acoustica" concert outside Music Museum?
Artadi: Yes, we did another one in Cebu and a couple of other places but I can't remember exactly where anymore.
Q: Now with "'90s Frontmen Acousticized," do you expect some sort of nostalgia on your part once you sit there in the middle of the stage and do your stuff like what you did with Wolfgang almost two decades ago?
Artadi: Nah, no nostalgia. I played acoustic shows a bunch of times with Wolfgang and on my own and I've played many more times at the Music Museum since 'Acoustica," so no nostalgia for me. What I expect is to have a hell of a lot of fun! It's the main reason why I agreed to be part of this.
I'm just really looking forward to singing with sila Jett and Wency and my idol Dong! I can't wait to see how his songs are interpreted in a stripped-down setting. Returing to the Music Museum is also an added bonus. I love love love that place. I christened its hollowed ground at one of our shows before and I truly believe it is. Every time I have a show there, something magical happens.
Q: I've heard you mentioned about retiring from the music scene? And that you'll focus more on your children? How's that?
Artadi: I meant I'm gonna step back from performing the way I have been doing the past few years. I think one of the keys to this industry is knowing when to leave the party while you're still wanted (laughter). Last thing I want is to be the unwanted guest still hanging around. That being said, I still have interests in the arts and that's where my focus will continue to be, just not so much singing anymore. Yes, I also want to spend more time with my kids before they turn into adults but that's just me making "senti." (Laughter)
Q:Are you going to shift into being a businessman or producing music? Bluntly put, if you're going to retire, how would you earn a living?
Artadi: No. (Laughter). Like I said earlier I will still focus on the arts. My main thing will be producing movies for the digital age. We are currently experiencing a digital boom and content is king. My intention is to supply that content to these various platforms. I have a couple of original ideas currently going through the pipeline and about 5 or 6 more on standby.
I am also currently developing a musical but I won't say much about that yet until I get the green light to talk more openly about it.
And I am in the middle of working on a series of paintings, that hopefully I will get to exhibit soon, entitled "The Disappearing Statesman." Many other projects in my head as well but best to keep it to 6 things at a time. (Laughter). Oh, and I'm renovating houses in my spare time too. (Laughter).
Q: Do you have plans of joining major exhibits? Or a solo exhibit?
Artadi: I exhibited before at A-Space, it was a show entitled "Kalat" and it featured my older works collected. My next one will be a more focused effort with a central theme to all the paintings. Right now I'm still in the middle of it but hopefully and God willing one day I'll be able to exhibit it.
Q: Do you have plans of going back to musical theater this year? With 9 Works or Atlantis or both?
Artadi: This year I am completely open to everything SO BRING IT ON!! That's another reason I agreed to do this show. I don't want to say no to anything this year!!
Q: Have you entertained the thought of doing Filipino musicals like PETA's "Rak of Aegis or something closer to that?
Artadi: Yes. When we released "Wurm" back in 1997, I had written that as a collection of songs with the specific intention of someday running it as a musical (Karl Roy was supposed to be the villain) but because of the time it wasn't looked on fondly by the people I had pitched it to. Thankfully these days with Queen and Green Day etc. doing it, it is now more palatable to producers and so it goes and so it goes...
Q: In a sentence or two, could you describe the three as a musician and friend? First on Jett Pangan.
Artadi: He's the one I've known the longest and I am probably closest to. I have shared the stage literally with him countless times in events and concerts much like this one. A great all-around guy. I consider myself very, very lucky to have been given the chance to know Jett. As I say... Jett "You make my panty wet" Pangan!!
Q: How about Wency Cornejo?
Artadi: Wency is the person I met the last. I am still in the process of getting to know him but he is good friends with Jett and vice versa and as they say "Birds of the same feathers"...so I'm sure that as time goes on I will come to feel the same way about him as I do Jett.
Q: And of course, Dong Abay
Dong Abay is my idol!!! Bow....
Q: What are some of the songs you're going to perform at Music Museum?
Artadi: All I can say is you will be getting some old originals, some new originals and some covers from the era and all done acoustically. Dong Abay singing acoustic man!!!
I'm really excited about the set list that we put together. There's even one song that will surprise the whole place. So you have to go to see it. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.