INTERVIEW | Choke Cocoi
“I’ve already submitted my resignation from the band,” states Odessa, drummer of long-time Philippines hardcore punk legends Choke Cocoi.
Did we get your attention?
Our profoundly inspiring sisters in Choke Chocoi finally released their long-awaited debut album ‘Undone’ last year on SPHC Records out in the US and this weekend, finally, they’re celebrating it with an awesome record release show.
To help promote our friends, we decided to hit them up with a few questions. Some of the answers may be startling – like Odessa’s response to one of our questions so make sure you sit upright and get ready to read some beautiful honesty and self-reflection. Afterall, the band has been at this since 1999.
UA: Congrats on the album launch! Before we get into the show! Can you tell us how it feels to finally have a debut album out after so many years?
Sheryl (vocalist): I am seriously not even thinking about it too much because just being able to share our music through these types of events is already enough. But it’s finally here and I feel grateful!
QT (bassist): Lucky for us that after all this time, we’ve finally been given an opportunity to release an LP. It’s not really a big deal for me because we’ve been playing these songs for years but still thankful and grateful to all who made it possible and proud of ourselves that we are now sharing it with a much wider audience.
Odessa (comedian – we mean, drummer): Surreal! It might not be a lot, but it’s finally happening!
Tweety (guitarist): I am grateful we finally have our songs on vinyl. This release has been on hold for too long but I’m glad to have friends who’ve helped us like Hmurder, SPHC Records, Delusion of Terror Records, and Love From Hate Records, you’re all awesome!
UA: As you all have mentioned, these songs are not new and you’ve been sitting on them for some time now. Now that they’re finally “officially” out, do the songs still hold up you think? Both musically and especially lyrically?
Sheryl: Even though I wasn’t in the band when they wrote the older songs, it’s still nice to know what life experiences influenced them to write these songs and it’s always a good story. It’s also good to acknowledge how we as humans develop our perspectives and craft from them. I can say that I still believe in most of it as a part of how it shaped our present life.
Odessa: Some of the songs were written a decade ago and some are even older. We have one with the lyric “the only constant in life is change” and that resonates with me to this day. But, there are some songs we had to cut due to…total cringefest. LOL!
Qt: I agree with Odessa. Some songs may seem a little tired because they’re so old, but some of the songs still move me.
Tweety: Nice question! I still love the old songs though some of the lyrics don’t apply to my personal life anymore like the song ‘Broken’. That song is way too high school drama! And I wrote that song hahahahaha! We haven’t played that song in a long time. Maybe just for soundcheck lol
UA: Cringefest!!! Hahahaha…I’m going to ask you all to DM me that particular song and lyrics! Hahaha…all together the album has 13 tracks including a cover [Biofeedback] – since you’ve all been so honest about your reflection on this particular set of songs, out of the ones that made it – to each of you, which is the one song that you feel fully captures the essence of Choke Cocoi and why?
Sheryl: Time – coz it’s fast lol!
Qt: For me it’s UNDONE…because it highlights the strengths and flaws of us as a band, as people, and as a woman in the scene and in life. Musically because of the song’s quick, off-beat tempo and loud guitar riffs!
Odessa: I’d say the song TIME. To me, this is the song that we wrote together that clearly laid out the song we collectively wanted to make.
Tweety: CAN’T. The lyrics are good and I love the chords. Also, it’s less than 2 minutes long. Short, fast and loud – that’s our formula for writing songs.
Watch Odessa drop them blast beats!
UA: Before we get into the record release show since Choke Cocoi has been around for a long time it would be really great to get your thoughts on the current state of hardcore in the Philippines. Do you feel like the current era is one of the best? What are your thoughts in general?
Sheryl: I don’t know if it’s the best era, I just know that it’s constantly changing. I just hope the best parts of it continue to inspire people to make music and build communities that give space for creativity and healthy connections. In terms of what I’d like to see change – I’d like to see more shows and events with clear causes that benefit or create significant change for the better in society.
Qt: Nah, our time back then was the best era! Lol! But I’m happy to see that the scene is always in progress. I feel like the Philippines hardcore punk scene is one of the best in SE Asia and has the best bands, so I would really love to see our bands play and tour other countries. In terms of things being different – I’d love less nonsense, less drama, and more respect in our scenes.
Odessa: I guess it depends on when you came into the scene. It is always the best when you are starting out because you’re so keen to discover bands, you’re encountering new unorthodox beliefs, and actually changing your perspective because of a band, a song or a person. I love how hardcore punk has evolved musically. We are now touring more, making more connections, and making more decent music. There are so many great bands. But are we still questioning authority like the political lyrics of those bands who inspired us? For me, if you’re gonna talk to me about mindless things like bands, records, gadgets, and scene gossip, our conversation isn’t going to last very long.
Tweety: Right now is probably the best era, with a lot of new bands, releases & touring bands. The Philippines hardcore scene will continue to grow as long as the show organizers, record labels, bands, and people who attend shows support each other and not bash or cancel each other. I mean the hardcore punk scene here is relatively small compared to other countries in South East Asia so I’m hoping to see less drama.
UA: Now let’s get to the real reason we’re all here my friends. You’re finally celebrating the release of your record next week! Tweety literally can’t stop talking my ear off about how special the lineup is and how much it means to her hahaha (kidding of course!). So please tell us about the show, this lineup, and why you feel like it was important to put a lot of thought into this and not just put any lineup together – but this particular lineup.
Sheryl: Thankful that we are about to play after years of being hermits Lol. Playing with these bands will be an amazing experience for sure, but I always want to be surprised.
Qt: Great lineup! Always been fascinated with different genres playing in one show. I’m also excited about fresh blood Youth Alteration and Dyslocated (hope there’s an FB live so I can watch!). Thankful to Grace & Papat of Catpuke for their time. Grateful to Ron and Counterflow for putting up as this is also a benefit show.
Odessa: We are really excited, though QT isn’t gonna be here coz she’s in Dubai now. We are fortunate that there are some friends who are willing to help us out. Papat and Grois of Catpuke will be playing bass for this show.
It is my first show in 3 years, and also my last local show. I already sent my resignation to the ladies last year. But if the Europe tour happens, I’ll be there to play. About the lineup, I particularly requested Youth Alteration and Dyslocated! Can’t wait to watch them and for these kids to melt some of our faces! The rest of the lineup is amazing as well.
Tweety: It’s a bit sad QT won’t be here to join us. Thanks so much to Counterflow for organizing a record release show for us. Ronald (Nonentities/The Beauty of Doubt) asked us if there were any bands we wanted to share the stage with. I told him whoever is available and willing to play on that date but I was surprised when I saw the final lineup because it was a mainly female-dominated lineup. This is the first time we’re headlining a show with female band members in each band. We want to thank Catpuke, Grois & Papat, and also Donna of Monochrome for spending time and practicing with us. I was overwhelmed when Ronald told me that Girlcharmm will be playing too. I met one of the band members, Anna, in a show and she’s amazing. Irrevocable was added to the line up too! This show will be fun and memorable for sure!
UA: Odessa – has the band accepted your resignation??? That’s a bummer that QT can’t be there!
Odessa: I think so. But it doesn’t look like it actually because they just keep telling me about the next show we’re playing and future projects. They tell me all of this as if I never said anything about resigning lol.
Qt: Resignation only for playing local shows hahaha…
Tweety: Hahaha I already signed a contract with the Japanese mogul Kore for a Japan tour next year lol!
UA: Sorry Odessa – I have nothing to do with the band and even I don’t accept your resignation hahaha…and especially if Samurai Warrior King Kore is planning a Japan tour for you all! So once the album is out Europe is on the horizon are there any other plans for the rest of the year? Are you already working on new material?
ALL: I think it’s about time we go back to the studio and make new songs. Even if QT is in Dubai, she can record her bass tracks there while the rest of the members can record through our friend Byron in Lucena City who owns a recording studio (AV&B Creative Studio) so it’s easier now compared to before where we had to travel to Manila just to record.
UA: THAT’S SO DOPE TO HEAR!!! Alright, to wrap this up – we’re mere days away from the show – what are your last words to those who support you all over the world?
Odessa: A big THANK YOU! Personally, I can’t imagine having my life now without knowing the punk community, it has taught me all the essential things that I need to be who I am today. Thank you to all who made all these things possible, the LPs, the tours, and all the friends we have met all these years. We are beyond grateful! And thank you Riz, you’ve been awesome to CC since forever. Salamat! 😘
Qt: My sincere appreciation to all especially my bandmates. I wouldn’t be here if not for these amazing ladies, my husband for all his undying support, my son and family, all our friends, show organizers, record labels, and to all the people who supported us all these years, I can’t thank you enough. Cheers!
Tweety: A million thanks to you Riz for your undying support of our band even before Unite Asia, our friends, bands we met along the way, record labels, show organizers, and people we haven’t met yet but love our music. I thought after our hiatus in 2008 we’ll never get back and then the pandemic happened, but maybe this band is here to stay and will inspire kids in a positive way.
Sheryl: I have no words, Odessa, QT, and Tweety already said just what I wanted to say, so just this: 🙇♀️💖
Record Release Show Info – HERE.