Never quite edgy enough to be considered alternative, yet too influenced by '80s new wave to be called pop, the Philippines' RiverMaya have been swimming between the waters of mass appeal and cutting-edge credibility since the early '90s.
RiverMaya was actually created by the band's manager, Lizza Nakpil, in 1993. Nakpil wanted to construct a rock group and after auditioning numerous musicians and undergoing lineup changes, RiverMaya was formed with Bamboo Manalac (vocals), Perf de Castro (guitar), Nathan Azarcon (bass), Rico Blanco (keyboards), and Mark Escueta (drums). In 1994, the band released their self-titled debut album on BMG Records Pilipinas. Caught in the midst of a modern rock revolution in the Philippines, the LP went gold in a few months; it was eventually certified triple platinum. However, Castro then departed from the group to start his own band, Triaxis. With Castro gone, Blanco became the lead guitarist. In 1996, RiverMaya's second album, Trip, hit the shelves; it toppled its predecessor in sales, going quadruple platinum and receiving critical acclaim. A year later, the group's third effort, Atomic Bomb, continued their massive success. Manalac left RiverMaya in 1998, deciding to stay in America after a U.S. tour. Consequently, the band re-recorded their fourth album, 1999's It's Not Easy Being Green with Blanco singing. Although It's Not Easy Being Green sold well, it wasn't as popular as their previous hits; nevertheless, the group's rougher sound gained them more respect. In 2000, RiverMaya released Free through the Internet; true to its name, it didn't cost their fans a cent to obtain. ~ Michael Sutton