Behind the Music: 'Say You'll Never Go' by Neocolours

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Sep 17 2021 06:18 AM

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MANILA -- In 1987, when Neocolours emerged into the local music scene, everything became “fast paced” as far as their singing career is concerned. Their dizzying schedule entailed a lot of activities.

Founded by vocalist Ito Rapadas and keyboardist and songwriter Jimmy Antiporda, Neocolours also featured Marvin Querido on second keyboards, Josel Jimenez on lead guitar, Paku Herrera on bass and Niño Regalado on drums.

When the band released its debut album, “Making It,” under Blackgold Music Corporation in 1988, the carrier track, “Say You’ll Never Go,” became a hit nationwide. The ballad was penned by Antiporda.

“There were a lot of promotional activities and guest performances done in TV networks and radio stations,” Antiporda told ABS-CBN News. “We took on as many live playing opportunities as possible, because we were not a pwesto or cover band, which was also the rage at that time in the 1980s.

“When we felt that there was momentum building up for the band’s growth, it was one of the most exciting feeling one can enjoy given the amount of time and effort we spent in writing and recording our own songs.”

“Say You’ll Never Go” became a much-requested song on the radio and in all of the band’s performances then. 

“We wanted to create songs that would set the band apart from the other groups,” Antiporda explained. “Most of the bands at that time were categorized into the rock genre almost automatically. By creating a ballad music lineup for the band, it created that much-needed differentiation.”

Aside from “Say You’ll Never Go,” there was also “Hold On,” another big hit from the same album that was certified platinum then.

“We were blessed at that time to have songs that people can easily sing along to,” Antiporda said. “I remember a promo manager at our first record label who told us a bit of his wisdom. ‘The hard task of any recording artist or band is to make it with one hit song. The harder task is to follow up with another one.’”

Undoubtedly, 1988 became a banner year for Neocolours’ recording career with the success of their eight-track debut album.

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Antiporda gratefully assessed the popularity of a beautiful and timeless tune like “Say You’ll Never Go.”

“I always recognize that there is a deep preference by Filipino music listeners for emotional songs that tug on our heartstrings,” he said. “It has been my desire to create such a song specially for our lead singer, Ito Rapadas, who had an exceptionally wide vocal range.

“By having the right combination of music and melody arrangement, the emotional lyrics written by Jamie Rivera and the performance of Ito, all these elements helped make the song occupy a spot in the Pinoy’s playlist. We are thankful for all the decades long appreciation by our listeners.”

At the peak of “Say You’ll Never Go” in 1988, Antiporda vividly recalled the audience singing along even without asking them. “It’s the greatest satisfaction that a songwriter can attain, because in essence, we just want everybody to sing our songs,” he quipped.

Through the years, “Say You’ll Never Go” had versions by other artists, including Erik Santos. Antiporda cannot be thankful enough when other artists record the song that Neocolours popularized.

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“It helps prolong the lifespan and memory of the song,” he said. “We are always grateful for the cover recordings by artists of our songs through all these years.”

Yet when asked about his personal favorite among the songs that Neocolours recorded, Antiporda interestingly mentioned other tunes.

“Ito said his own favorite among the Neocolours songs is ‘Maybe,’ another original ballad I wrote for the band. While my favorite song by the band is ‘Tuloy Pa Rin,’ which was written by Ito.

“But a song that wasn’t originally performed by the band is another strong favorite of mine, ‘Makita Kang Muli,’ which was recorded by Sugarfree. The lyrics were close to my heart and truly special, because I co-wrote it with my wife, Cymbee.”

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After the Neocolours’ performance in 2019, the band was recently encouraged to stage a digital concert for their fans, who will be looking forward to hearing their songs performed again on September 17 and 18.

However, because of the varying quarantine measures and other unforeseen circumstances by the band members, the virtual concert was repeatedly postponed, even with tickets sold on KTX.

“Due to the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the restrictions imposed on us all, we needed to postpone many times over the production of the show,” Antiporda explained.

“Ito also got infected with COVID-19 in April this year and needed time to recuperate from the effects of his illness. We are thankful that finally, the show is pushing through.

“With the help of KTX and the organizers comprising the UP alumni group of Class 1996, the concert is a benefit for the UP College of Law scholarship and medical fund. We are glad to be of help in their fundraising activities,” he said.

After more than three decades in the music industry, Antiporda insisted the Neocolours is still around. The band might no longer be active in doing live concerts, but no one has thrown in the towel as far as their collective music interest is concerned.

“We want to use our remaining time in the music industry to mentor young musicians and songwriters,” Antiporda said. “We have the same opportunities in the past by participating in music and songwriting camps. I hope that still continues into the future.”

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