MANILA -- Like his Juan Dela Cruz Band cohort, Joey “Pepe” Smith, Mike Hanopol feels he has one more album in him. Yet unlike Smith who has yet to enter a studio, Hanopol is done recording. All 12 songs.
The problem is how to release them.
Back in the day, it was easy – the record company releases the album and he goes on a promotional tour on radio, on television, through the print media, and performing on stage. Nothing has changed except one vital bit: the local record companies are not the powerhouses they once were and a release now has an adjective attached to it -- physical release.
Hanopol, who had traded his long hair, sunglasses, and hippie look for a more refined one (also befitting one of Pinoy Rock’s elder statesmen), is puzzled. Digital releases. Downloads. Streaming. Hanopol gets it. Yet he wonders in the vernacular if the times have passed him by in more ways than one.
“Iba,” he stressed about his new songs. “Iba. Parang spiritual.”
Hanopol converted to Judaism. Despite his newfound faith, Hanopol says that he didn’t follow the path that George Harrison took when he converted into Hinduism. “Harrison’s music even late in his career with the Beatles reflected the changes,” said Hanopol. “He used the sitar and later had songs that spoke of his faith. Hindi ako. Iba.”
Hanopol thrice used the word “iba” in the past few minutes. While he doesn’t hide his being a rabbi, his music reflects his philosophies in life. "May pagka-rock with ibang influences,” he is quick to point out.
The songs reflect his journey as a person and his life experiences. And speaking of his life experiences, Hanopol set the record straight on his “infamous” days driving a taxi in New York.
“Hindi siya 'yung yellow cab,” dispelled the 71-year old musician. “Car service. Mga Mercedes Benz, limousine. Parang yung Uber ngayon. I would drive sa umaga tapos sa gabi, tugtugan na (with some Americans and US-based Filipinos)."
He wrote songs about his life then but they were recorded by a little known band called Maskulado. However, his new journey is documented in songs that he himself performed and recorded. “Special sa akin,” he said.
Lest you think he has abandoned his rock nature, he has in mind two titles for his yet unreleased album. “Yung isang idea ko, ang title niya ay, ‘Tigasin’ at yung isa, 'Okay lang.'”
The possible title of ‘Tigasin’ sounds even more rock and roll than his three solo albums that all came out in the 1970s – his debut, “Awiting Pilipino,” “Buhay Musikero,” and “Buksan.”
The album though might not see the light of day. Some record executives listened to the album. “Pero hindi nila masakyan,” admitted Hanopol. “Hanap nila siguro pang-bata na tunog. So tignan natin. Kung hindi mangyari yan baka naman meron kaming pagkakataon na huling recording na Juan Dela Cruz Band?”
With Smith’s medical condition and should that happen, the seminal Pinoy supergroup might have to look to Hanopol or guitarist Wally Gonzalez to take the lead. Already in recent reunion shows, it is Hanopol who handles the mike duties.
The challenges, however, do not deter the Pinoy Rock icon. After all, if you think of the possible album titles he has for his fourth and unreleased solo album, they infer that Hanopol is very much around and in good health and spirits.