It is a refreshing take to be with a band like Kontra, claims Armand Quimpo. The band, while rooted in rock, continously draws from various influences. As Kontra’s guitarist, he enjoys being able to play what is needed, be it a jazzy, bluesy, or screaming metal part. 

The call to play rock guitar came in a circuitous manner. Armand had been taking some classical lessons for his own rudimentary foundation, when the raw and aggressive music of Guns N’ Roses caught his attention by surprise. Is it really possible, he thought, that the guitar can stand out as a strong individual voice? This revelation pushed Armand to learn everything he could about rock guitar. Of course, it also meant clinching the role of the metalhead lead guitarist (in high school, naturally), indulging in pointy guitars and flashy solos. 

There was more to learn. Joe Satriani opened his ears to instrumental music andto undersanding that lead guitar goes beyond fancy tricks and exhibitions. It led to an interest in music theory, intense techinical guitar practice, and a gravitation towards more virtuoso artists like Steve Vai. A period with the UST Jazz Ensemble taught him about swing, improvising by ear, and being a team player. Later, Armand dove into a fingerstyle solo guitar phase,  influenced by Tuck Andress and Joe Pass.  

Sometime in between, heavily inspired by guitar virtuosos, Armand created original instrumental rock music, for which he composed, performed, and recorded his own instrumental tunes.

With Kontra, he is working with very seasoned players; that is no easy feat.  He credits his time playing with Pinoy rock legend Wally Gonzales as crucial in preparing him for this: to take the stage with professionals and hold his own confidently. Performing with Wally, and later on with the Blue Jean Junkies, another improvisational group known for extended jams, allowed him to learn to be relaxed on stage and simply have fun.

While Armand plays most of the guitar solos for Kontra, he is working with a double guitarist setup. But listen: the guitarists, knowing their distinct roles, never clash. It is evident that Kontra is a lot about how the band comes together as a whole so that each member is able to find his own space to inhabit without stepping on the others. 

Armand calls himself a product of his love for guitar, as well as of his exploration of musical styles and sounds. As a blues player, a rock player in the vein of Page/Clapton/Slash, a fascinated fan of virtuoso music, with some jazz harmony and improvisation thrown in the the mix, he is able to use a large palette of colors and flavors to enhance Kontra’s music, both live and in the studio. For this guitarist, his musical pasts are now allowing him to play, create, and inspire on a whole new level.