MON LEGASPI /Bass
What does one expect from a musician who’s been in the industry for so long, playing with various bands, including a couple of heavy hitters? The biggest mistake is to assume that his identity must be tied up, unchanging, to his past musical alliances.
Take the case of Mon Legaspi, who’s known as the bassist of Wolfgang. And for good reason; being part of Wolfgang was “when everything took off for me,” Mon admits.
Still, he recalls his first “pro band,” meaning the one which he first was able to actually play in for pay. “I learned a lot from The Runaway Boys,” he shares, “and after that, I just kept going forward.”
And forward he went, to Wolfgang and the big time, until it went on break. Then it was a fun four-year gig as The Dawn’s bassist, a contract with a variety band in Hong Kong for a few years, before coming home to take his place with Wolfgang again, now returned from hiatus.
It’s a roundabout, Mon claims, referring to his getting on and off bands, particularly now that he is back to assuming the bassist’s position for The Dawn.
And then there is Kontra.
This relatively new endeavor is not, by any means, an erstwhile project. Instead, Mon sees it as the band where he is able to put more of himself, explore new ideas, and become more involved musically.
There is always something exciting about working with a blank canvass. With Kontra, Mon is exploring the music and seeing what he can come up with as both bass player and lyricist, as well as what creations come out when the band works as a unit.
As one of Kontra’s songwriters, Mon has been looking into songs that are fun to play for the band and are enjoyable for the audience to witness.
This attitude belies the importance Mon places on technique and arrangement: the songs must be interesting, but seamless. You don’t need to, as a listener, dissect everything. But let them speak for themselves and the songs will speak to you.
This technicality is more evident when the band comes together to create and jam.
“Mainly, what I wanted was a separation of the strings. That includes guitars, of course.”
He adds, “That’s why we have Armand doing guitar lines in choruses. Or why there are guitar harmonies going on. Or why Jeyvi and Armand play differently on the same progression. Whenever possible but within bounds, you can hear the three of us playing different things that complement each other.”
Mon, in short, believes in counterpoints. As the bass player, he can play unusual notes or even in a different time signature from the rest of the band, playing a really heavy riff or maybe just a small note for an unusual sounding harmony. Sometimes, he shares, he won’t even play at all.
“I try to cover all bases on bass,” Mon states cheekily.
All this space to play, literally and figuratively, is making Mon quite giddy—if that is even a fitting word for this person. Onstage or up close, he comes across as a forbidding character. But ask him what he thinks and wants at this point in his musical journey, and watch him light up.
“I see Kontra as a new canvas in a way, like a painting, a new way to color music. That, to me, is exciting—to see and hear what we can come up now and in the future, as a solid unit.”
At this point, as well, he is allowing himself to dream. If all goes well, we might see him in one of his imagined collaborations: a gig where all the people he’s played with through the years would be onstage, all together, all at the same time. “That would be fun. A 50-piece rock band!” he describes. “The drumset setup would be bitch though.”