Rodel Gonzalez was just 20 years old when he and his brother Naldy co-founded the OPM band Side A in 1985 along with the group’s original members Joey Benin, Kelly Badon, Mar Dizon and Pido Lalimarmo.
After moving to the US more than two decades ago, the band’s original vocalist revealed he became a full-time artist abroad but he still gets recognized as a member of Side A even if he is in Florida where he is now based.
“Kasi ang mga Pilipino pag nakita nila ako, “Ikaw ba yung sa Side A dati?” and now with social media they kind of know because I post on Instagram what I’m doing for Side A now and even yung mga art shows ko sa US. So it’s like two feathers in your cap na napapagpalit palit ko,” he told PUSH during the Then and Now: Redux 360 Side A Experience concert presscon held at the Newport World Resorts in Pasay City.
“I’m here until the show on the 24th. Kasi I have to leave by the 26th kasi may art show naman ako ng October 5 so I got to be back in Florida for the Disney show,” he added.
Currently back in the country for the Then and Now: Redux 360 Side A Experience concert to be held at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Newport World Resorts on September 24, Rodel admitted he feels blessed to be able to perform again with the original band and current band members of Side A.
“Talagang it’s such a blessing na people have accepted us. I think the growth of Side A from inception to now has been great. I’m also surprised myself. I think when you really pour out your honest heart into what you do, the passion, mag-e-evolve talaga yan to something that people have been receptive to lalo na sa Side A fans namin na mga naging kabarkada na namin talaga,” he admitted.
He went on: “It’s just amazing how we see people from almost two generations kumbaga mga nanay at mga anak nila nanunuod na sa amin so nakakatuwa talaga. More than the music obviously I missed the camaraderie of the band. You know playing again with my brothers. Sabi ko nga babayad ako makatugtog ko lang ulit kapatid ko.”
Now 63 years old, Rodel talked about his career as a Disney Fine Art artist who does officially licensed Disney artwork, which also includes Star Wars, Marvel, and Winnie the Pooh.
“Actually, nung bumalik ako sa art in 2002, after six years is when I got a license for Disney. So yung pinaka CEO nila was able to recruit me to be one of the Disney artists and I was really elated kasi I mean who would know di ba? Kasi wala namans a radar ko yun eh,” he shared.
“This was in 2008 and nung time na yun I was already about 51. As a Disney Fine Art artists, we deal with a lot of the existing movies. It’s got to be based on the films. So I would do from the classics like Snow White & the Seven Dwarves, mga Winnie the Pooh series, Lion King, yung mga napapanuod natin nung bata tayo and I’m able to do my own interpretation of those movies. I would say it’s not just the typical Disney art, it’s more of people who are really collecting art from $30,000-$40,000 a piece, ganun. So it’s an elite group in a way eh. Mga 30 lang kami kumbaga,” he added.
Even though he worked more on his music when he was living in the Philippines, Rodel explained why painting is just as equally important for him as a passion.
“It’s still art and ‘yun lang ang alam kong gawin from my dad who was an artist. So there’s such a similarity in terms of your creative process, when you write a song it’s the same as facing an easel with a blank canvass para sa painting mo,” he revealed.
“ So I see a lot of similarities there tapos siyempre yung appreciation ng mga tao. People that buy my paintings are pretty much the people too who would watch you play. So nakikita ko yung gratification. Ang galing talaga. So that’s why hindi ko mapaghiwalay. Hand in hand siya, para siyang magpinsan, ang art and music,” he added.
When asked to share his favorite Side A song of all time, Rodel shared why the 1995 classic ballad Forevermore is his all-time favorite.
“It’s Forevermore written by Joey Benin. I’m a big fan of Joey and his songwriting. Siya kasi para sa akin yung pinaka natural na songwriter eh. Ako sumpong sumpong lang ako (laughs), may araw ako na okay, may araw na hindi. It’s been 25 years or more na and Forevermore is still a favorite,” he said.
Then and Now: Redux 360 Side A Experience tickets are now available at all TicketWorld and SM Tickets outlets: P5,000 (PLATINUM) P4,000 (SVIP), P3,000 (VIP), P2,000 (GOLD), P1,000 (SILVER), and P500 (BRONZE). For inquiries, contact the NWR National Sales Team via Archli Enriquez at 0917 823 9602, Kenneth Navoa at 0917 807 9387, and Jefferson Federizo 0917 658 9378, or call Ticketworld (02) 8891-9999, or SM Tickets (02) 8470-2222.