Rivermaya in 2016 (from left to right : Azarcon, Elgar, Escueta, and Peralta)
Background information
Origin Metro Manila, Philippines
Years active 1994–present
Associated acts
Website www.rivermaya.ph
Members Mark Escueta
Nathan Azarcon
Mike Elgar
Ryan Peralta
Past members Rico Blanco
Bamboo Mañalac
Perf de Castro
Kakoy Legaspi
Japs Sergio
Jayson Fernandez
Norby David

Rivermaya is a Filipino rock band. Formed in 1994, it is one of several bands who spearheaded the 1990s Philippine alternative rock explosion. As of 2016, Rivermaya is currently composed of Mark Escueta, Mike Elgar, Nathan Azarcon and Ryan Peralta. Former members include Rico Blanco, who had been the original songwriter of the band and vocalist Bamboo Mañalac, who later formed the band Bamboo then later went solo. Rivermaya is the fourteenth biggest-selling artists/act in the Philippines.[2]


Formation and early years (1993)

The band's predecessor consisted of Jesse Gonzales on vocals, Kenneth Ilagan on guitars, Nathan Azarcon on bass guitar, Rome Velayo on drums, and Rico Blanco on keyboards and backing vocals. They were managed by Lizza Nakpil and director Chito S. Roño who had the intention of molding the group into a rock show band. The group was then called Xaga.

Classic line-up and mainstream success (1994–2001)

Rivermaya's classic line-up was composed of (from left to right) Mañalac on lead vocals, Azarcon on bass guitar and backing vocals, Escueta on drums, percussion and backing vocals, de Castro on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Blanco on keyboards, guitar and co-lead vocals.

Ilagan was replaced with Perfecto "Perf" de Castro; Azarcon's childhood friend, Mark Escueta, replaced Velayo, and Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac replaced Gonzales. With Bamboo as frontman, the band members disbanded Xaga and formed the band Rivermaya. They started putting together original songs like "Ulan" [Rain], "214", and "Awit ng Kabataan" [Song of the Youth] (mostly composed by Rico Blanco) in demo form for prospective recording companies.

By November 1994, the band had released its first album, the self-titled Rivermaya, and its first single, "Ulan"; followed by "214".

Citing artistic differences, Perf de Castro was adamant in leaving the group in late 1995 and returned to his project band "The Blues Trio", a band later renamed "Axis" until its final inception as "Triaxis." The band continued as a quartet and Rico Blanco became the full-time guitarist while Nathan Azarcon's friend J-John Valencia filled in as session secondary guitar player on live shows.

The band's second album Trip, followed with the singles "Kisapmata" [Blink of an Eye], "Himala" [Miracle], "Flower", "Princess of Disguise" and "Panahon Na Naman" [It's Time Once Again]. Whilce Portacio, creator of the X-Men's "Bishop" and co-founder of Image Comics, designed the album art for Trip.

In 1997, the band released its third album, Atomic Bomb, with the single "Hinahanap-hanap Kita" [Always Wanting to See You]. The album gained positive responses from listeners and received heavy airplay from radio stations. During this period, Rivermaya also released the Rivermaya Remixed album, put together with the help of DJ Toti Dalmacion of Groove Nation.

Departure of Bamboo Mañalac (1998)

The band then embarked on a US and Canada tour in 1998. Despite the band's successful tour, It was also at this time that Bamboo Mañalac decided to stay in the U.S. (he eventually went on to form his own band, Bamboo in 2003).

Rivermaya decided to forge on, with Rico Blanco taking on lead vocals and released their fourth album, It's Not Easy Being Green containing the singles "Nerbyoso" [Nervous], "Shattered Like", and "Rodeo".

The band released its fifth studio album, aptly called Free, entirely for free on the Internet as well as on CDs distributed at their gigs. Free went on to be named "Best Album of 2000" at the NU Rock Awards.

In 2001, Nathan Azarcon departed from the group. This signaled a new line up change.

Second evolution of line-up (2001–2007)

Rico Blanco and Mark Escueta remained as members. They recruited three different musicians to fill in the space left by the former members. Completing the lineup were familiar local guitar heroes, Victor "Kakoy" Legaspi (from blues band Mr. Crayon) and Mike Elgar (from 7 Foot Junior) as well as Japs Sergio (from Daydream Cycle) on bass guitar. This new line-up allowed Rico Blanco to handle vocal duties full-time during live shows.

Together, this lineup released Tuloy ang Ligaya ['The Fun Continues'], preceded by the EP "Alab ng Puso" [Fire of the Heart], featuring a remix by Raimund Marasigan's Squid 9. The band released the albums Tuloy ang Ligaya and Between the Stars and the Waves, producing the singles "Umaaraw, Umuulan" [Sometimes It Shines, Sometimes It Rains], "Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby" [Don't Be Mad Anymore, Baby], "A Love to Share", "Balisong" [Butterfly Knife], "Sunday Driving", "Table for Two", "241", and "Atat" [Eager].

Legaspi resigned in 2004 but continues to work as session player with other musicians such as Julianne Tarroja, and Peryodiko, among others.

International success (2004–2007)

The band found a variety of partners who commissioned such works as "Liwanag sa Dilim" [Light In The Dark], "Posible" [Possible] (Southeast Asian Games' Athletes Anthem) and "You'll Be Safe Here".

"You'll Be Safe Here", originally created as the theme for the ABS-CBN TV series Spirits was released as an EP by Warner Music Philippines and became the song that MTV Asia selected for performance at the 2006 Asia Awards. Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child introduced the group, and they were backed up by Thailand’s Royal Symphony Orchestra during live performance. It was the first time that a Filipino band was invited to perform in the event.

An album of compiled works, titled "You'll Be Safe Here", was distributed in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Rivermaya embarked on a series of Asian tours, including at Thailand's Pattaya Music Fest (2008, 2009) as well as Singapore's Mosaic Festival (run by The Esplanade); and Bangkok's Fat Fest as well as in Indonesia's MTV Staying Alive show.

In the Philippines, the Rivermaya Greatest Hits 2006 album on Viva Records was followed by an album dedicated to its music heroes: Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo ['One Root, One Blood']. At the end of March 2007, Rivermaya scored again another first for the Philippines as their videos, "You'll Be Safe Here" and the recent video remake "Balisong" were chosen as the first Asian artists to have full-length music videos featured on the Star World Channel.

In 2008–2009 Rivermaya performed at the Marina Bay New Years' Countdown in Singapore and became the first Filipino band invited to perform at the 2009 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix. Also during that time, Rivermaya has been often referred to as "Banda ng Bayan" [The Band of the Nation], a nickname they share with Parokya ni Edgar.

Departure of Rico Blanco (2007)

On May 24, 2007, Rico Blanco officially announced his departure from the group. His last performance with the band was on May 4, 2007 at the Metro Bar. Despite the rumors that the band would eventually disband, both Rivermaya and its management denied the rumors as a result.[3]

After Rico Blanco left, Rivermaya released a new single, "Sayang" [Such a Waste], penned and sung by Japs Sergio and described by the band as "an open letter to the fans." In addition, Studio 23 announced the selection of Rivermaya to create the new theme song for the station. The new song is titled "Sumigaw" [Shout] and marks the release of a second single in two months for the band, accelerating Rivermaya's pace for new songs rapidly (in previous years, the band had managed to release only a single every 12 months).

On August 11, 2007, during a mini press conference held at Mogwai Bar and Café in Cubao's Marikina Shoe Expo, Rivermaya released its all-new 5-song Bagong Liwanag ['New Light'] EP, which hit stores nationwide starting August 15. This 5-song EP is released on the band's own label, Revolver Music, and licensed to Warner Music Philippines.[4]

Third evolution of line-up (2007–2011)

Rivermaya held auditions for a new vocalist. The auditions was televised on Studio 23, which was titled Bagong Liwanag. Aside from the band members, main judges are Rivermaya manager Lizza Nakpil, The Dawn guitarist Francis Reyes, and Razorback bassist Louie Talan. On October 24, 2007, then-18-year-old Jayson Fernandez (usually spelled as "Jason") was announced as the winner and new member of Rivermaya.

In February 2008, Rivermaya released the album entitled Buhay ['Life'] with the carrier single "Sugal ng Kapalaran" [Gamble of Fate] penned by Sergio with both Fernandez and Sergio doing the vocals, while Elgar and Escueta do backing vocals.

Rivermaya has played in Singapore at the Marina Bay New Year Countdown on December 31, 2008 while in September 2009, the group is the first Filipino band invited to perform on 3 different stages at the 2009 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix and in the same month and year, the band released the album Closest Thing To Heaven with the track "Dangal" [Dignity] as the carrier single.

Band name ownership disputes (2008-2009)

In October 2008, after allegedly discovering several acts of misappropriation of funds involving the bands' royalties and talent fees, then Rivermaya band members announced that the band had parted ways with their longtime manager Lizza G. Nakpil. She was charged with the crime of estafa, sued for damages, and the court issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction forbidding further contact with Rivermaya.[5] In 2009, longtime member Mark Escueta was granted with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City. The TRO prevents Nakpil from claiming sole ownership of the "Rivermaya" band name while the case and appeal issued by both parties are still being studied by the court, thus allowing Escueta to continue using the band name regardless of Nakpil's pending application for registration of the trademark "Rivermaya" name in the Intellectual Property Office .[6]

Fourth and fifth evolution of line-up (2011–2016)

Rivermaya line-up in early 2011; left to right: Peralta, David, Elgar, Sergio and Escueta
Rivermaya line-up from 2011-2016, David left the band in 2016.

On February 22, 2011, Rivermaya's official Facebook page announced that they would release their music video titled "Remenis" [Reminisce] and will formally introduce their new members, Ryan Peralta who was the band's regular session player and Norby David of the band Overtone.

Departure of Jayson Fernandez (2011)

On August 28, 2011, Jayson Fernandez left Rivermaya after 4 years with the group citing musical differences as the primary reason.[7] Paolo Valenciano (son of Gary Valenciano) of Salamin, Pochoy Labog of Malay and Dicta License, and Vinci Montaner of Parokya ni Edgar simultaneously filled in as temporary lead vocalists for some occasional gigs weeks after Fernandez's departure.

Panatang Makabanda and mini-reunion (2012-2016)

After taking a brief hiatus, in November 2012, Japs Sergio posted on his official Facebook page that he left Rivermaya, in order to pursue his new band, Peso Movement. Since 2012, Mark Escueta, Mike Elgar and Norby David simultaneously switched over the lead vocal duties.

On March 19, 2013, Rivermaya released the album Panatang Makabanda ['A Vow for the Band Passionate'].

On January 9, 2016, members from the original classic line-up consisting of Perf de Castro, Nathan Azarcon, Mark Escueta and Rico Blanco were re-united at 19 East, Taguig City after an invitation from de Castro following his gig. The gig, which they dubbed as a "secret mini semi-reunion", was composed of Rico Blanco on keyboards, de Castro on guitars, Azarcon on bass guitar and Escueta on drums. Blanco and de Castro simultaneously switch over lead vocals all throughout the performance while Azarcon and Escueta provided backing vocals. Bamboo Mañalac was invited as well however it was reported that he was out of the country on that date. Current members Mike Elgar and Ryan Peralta are reportedly present backstage watching the original members perform.[8]

Sixth evolution of line-up (2016-present)

Return of Azarcon and present status

On February 12, 2016, the band released the music video for "Tayo" on Facebook and later uploaded on YouTube on March 9, 2016.[9][10] On March 6, 2016, bassist and vocalist Norby David posted a statement on Facebook that he quit the band primarily claiming it was ultimately a lack of communication as the reason for his departure.[11] Days after his departure, former members Japs Sergio and Nathan Azarcon took over bass duties in live shows. Later on, Azarcon have permanently replaced David and returned full-time to the band after 15 years.

Currently, the band is recording for their 12th studio album. Former member, Japs Sergio will be their producer for their album.


Current members
  • Mark Escueta – co-lead vocals, guitars, occasional percussion (2011–present); drums & percussion, backing vocals, trumpet, occasional guitars & lead vocals (1994–2011)
  • Nathan Azarcon – co-lead vocals (2016–present); bass guitar, backing vocals (1994–2001, 2016–present)
  • Mike Elgar – co-lead vocals (2011–present); guitars (2001–present); keyboards (2007–2011)
  • Ryan Peralta – drums & percussion, keyboards (2011–present)
Former members
  • Rico Blanco – lead vocals (1998–2007); co-lead and backing vocals (1994–1998); guitars (1994–2007); keyboards (1994–2007)
  • Bamboo Mañalac – lead vocals (1994–1998)
  • Perf de Castro – guitars, backing vocals (1994–1995)
  • Kakoy Legaspi – guitars (2001–2004)
  • Jayson Fernandez – lead vocals, guitars (2007–2011)
  • Japs Sergio – bass guitar, occasional lead vocals, occasional guitars (2001–2012, touring 2016)
  • Norby David – co-lead vocals, bass guitar, occasional acoustic guitar (2011–2016)


Rivermaya performing at U.P. Diliman (2007)
For a full, detailed list, see: Rivermaya discography


External links

Preceded by
"Grip Stand Throw" by Sandwich &
"Serve In Silence" by Wolfgang
NU Rock Awards
Album of the Year
"Free (Rivermaya album)"

Succeeded by
"4-Track Mind"
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