issue#2 | february - march 2003

Dicta License : Undiscarded
by lunchbox

Years after the leaders of Pinoy rock paved a way for their mantra of unity among diversity, and even fewer years after the explosion of bands giving theme songs to every beer drinking barkada, there came the purveyors of 'kupaw' and 'get up'. These new acts coped for a new sound and experimented with bolder and newer approaches to the local music scene. Some yielded to complex technicalities to achieve their trademark sound, while others infused classical instruments. Then, there were those groups who shunned mediocre songwriting and looked on to profound subjects inherent to liberalistic and philosophical ideas - such is the group they call Dicta License.

Sunday night at Mayric's in between smoking and texting, I kept my eyes fixed on the bar's platform concocting myself to listen to Dicta's music. Vocalist Pochoy Labog leaps and combusts as he drones "Burning Streets of Love and Hate". An ode to the second People Power Revolution, the track is concretely defined through the lines: "What the fuck is position?/ the position you gain/ who the fuck is to blame?/Now you all turn aktibista/ for a leader-another agenda to gain/ that political power/ disrupting the national order/ The Left and the Right are circling above/ and breaking the peace".

dicta license
photography by brutalgrace
The lyrics pierce your subconscious of underlying reality. Bassist Kelley Mangahas once told me, 'We're not trying to show-off na ma-philo kami. It's just na ganun yung lumalabas". And through this, the band has established such strong credibility.

Tracing their beginnings from High School, bassist Kelley Mangahas, drummer Bryan Makasiar and guitarist Boogie Romero was already an outfit with vocalist Marc Abaya, now of Sandwich fame. Marc then left the group, but presented them with current vocalist Pochoy Labog - who was then in a band limbo. They all hooked up with and finally hit it off with the present lineup of Dicta License. Dicta started their action with their song "Duct Tape". The track received nominal airplay but it nonetheless paved the way for the band to draw together a quaint number of followers. The band then came up with the follow-up entitled "Smoke Under the Table", which heightened the band's consistency and, through MP3 relay on the Internet, Dicta License proved to be a popular download. By the year 2001, Dicta performed along side Cheese to an appreciative audience in Korea. The group was later included in the Warner Music release No Seat Affair Compilation CD alongside acts Cog, DTS, Zooom, Six Digit and Euglito's Eye. Kelley recounts, "All this happened during the year we were formed so the songs we gave were "Duct Tape" and "Criminal", two of our first originals as a band. The whole things was an experience to remember, though."

After a two-year hiatus, Dicta finally set late January for the release of their 5-track EP. The band started recording the project January 2002 at Wombworks Studio. Kelley relates, "We really felt happy because we couldn't release anything during the whole year of 2002 because we were tied up with the NSA compilation. The contract of that ended January 2003, so as soon as we were free we released the CD. Aside from that, we also spent money remastering the EP. Anyway the wait, the cost and the hardships were worth it because we think we came up with a good EP with good songs".

Indeed the EP is agreeably good, with each track pumping Dicta's integrity to pull out a pursuit for indignities and societal matters. The CD consists of "Burning Streets of Love and Hate"; previous release "Smoke Under the Table"; a rerecorded "Criminal"; "Falling Earth" and their latest radio single, "Undiscarded".

dicta license album launch poster
Common to all their songs is the constant reverberation of Mangahas' bass lines, Romero's smooth licks and Makasiar's robust drumbeats headlined by Labog's imposing singing. All this bordered by the different prominent themes courtesy of Pochoy's songwriting.

When asked on how the band comes up with their songs, Kelley answers, "When we make songs, we try as much as possible to have everybody involved. The songs that we've made so far are really just a collection of all our ideas and how we fit them together. We like starting with the music first. When one of us comes with a nice riff or chord pattern that all of us like, we just work on it until we feel the song represents what everyone likes and is comfortable with."

But still, Dicta License is often dubbed with four words : Rage Against the Machine. Yet sluggish to admit it, there really is a partial similarity between the Californian political movers of rock and this breakthrough homegrown band in terms of their sound and views on issues. "I think Rage is one of the really great bands of the past two decades. As Dicta though, we still believe that Rage is an influence and it is not something that we try to be", states Kelley. But there is more to Dicta License. Their powerful sense of force rushes a stream of profoundness giving them a place and a right to be heard.

Understanding Dicta License's songs may be similar to a paradox. Though sometimes, you can't quite get the profoundness, you still get to appreciate the song. Truly, they have the license to speak - and if anyone ignorant of their sound gets a first hand notion of what they're made of, then I'm pretty sure such ignorance would be vanquished with the band's arousing lyrics and moving rhythms. And it doesn't take a second listen to know that.