The Best Band You've Never Heard: 3 Headed Dog

And why there is no Filipino-American music scene in Orange County

"By the end of 2003, I had bought myself a ticket and was sleeping on Wolf's couch," Aguirre says.

There were previous iterations of 3 Headed Dog; they weren't always just a trio, and this is the first time Aguirre has been the front man.

"With me singing, the singer's always on time, always at practice and never says no to me. It was really about economics, efficiency and practicality," Aguirre says, laughing.

Tagalog rockers
Courtesy 3 Headed Dog
Tagalog rockers
Ahoy, Pinoy!
Photo Ops Studio
Ahoy, Pinoy!

Elson Trinidad, a Filipino-American musician, KCET columnist and community organizer, says the lack of a Filipino-American scene boils down to a bunch of things. "Going mainstream is problematic because people don't know how to market being Filipino," he says.

"Compare Filipino artists to Latino artists," he continues. "Latino artists are defined by using at least one of two cultural traits in their music: a) the Spanish language; b) music genres created within the Latino community—mariachi, cumbia, etc."

While some Filipino acts sing in Tagalog, there aren't any music genres unique to Filipinos that Filipino artists are performing, Trinidad says. "Until we have those genres, we can't really have a 'scene' other than a bunch of cliques putting on shows for their friends, featuring their friends."

In January, 3 Headed Dog are going on a Philippine tour. They're also releasing their first full-length, Maynilad, on Coda Entertainment (www.codalabel.com), run by Gemora and his siblings, early next year, giving away a song a week until the album is finished. And while they want to make it big in the United States ("We sent our album to Carson Daly's label years ago. . . . I still have the rejection letter!" Gemora says with a laugh), it's not their biggest priority.

As for being part of a fully supportive Fil-Am music scene? "A Filipino band has yet to unite a community behind them here in the States," Gemora says. "That's the thing about Filipinos. We're so diverse, like so many different things, speak different languages . . . You can't just market to Filipinos; you have to go outside. And we've had gigs with all kinds of people in front of us, and they just dug it. They didn't know we were Filipino. I mean, we just played."

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