Rivermaya is an influential rock band in the Philippines founded on 1993. Its musical direction has evolved through simple rock, hard rock, pop, progressive, and others. They have recently released work in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia; and have garnered the attention of fans throughout Southeast Asia.
The band has several well-known singles, which includes "Ulan [Rain]", "214", "Himala [Miracle]", "Kisapmata [Blink of an Eye]", "Hinahanap-Hanap Kita [Always Searching For You]", "Umaaraw, Umuulan [Sunshine, Rainfall]", "Alab ng Puso [Passion of the Heart]", "You'll Be Safe Here", "Balisong [Pocketknife]", "Isang Bandila [One Flag]", "Sumigaw [Shout]", and "Sugal ng Kapalaran [Gamble of Fate]".
The first line-up of Rivermaya consisted of Jessie Gonzales on vocals, Kenneth Ilagan on guitar, Nathan Azarcon on bass, Rome Velayo on drums, and Rico Blanco on keyboards. They have been managed by Lizza Nakpil and director Chito Roño.
In the process of grueling practice sessions, Ilagan was replaced with Perfecto de Castro; Azarcon recruited former Bazurak bandmate and childhood friend, Mark Escueta, to replace Velayo, as well as former classmate Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac to replace Gonzales. With Bamboo Mañalac as frontman, the band started putting together original songs like "Ulan", "214", and "Awit ng Kabataan [A Song For The Youth]" (mostly composed by Rico Blanco) in demo form for prospective recording companies.
By November 1993, the band had released its first album, the self-titled Rivermaya, and its first single, "Ulan"; followed by "214". Critically praised for its fresh, excitingly new pop/rock sound, the album went on to become one of the best sellers in the 1990s.
Citing artistic differences, de Castro was adamant in leaving the group and founded his own band.
The band's second album Trip, followed with the singles "Kisapmata", "Himala", and "Panahon Na Naman [It's Time Once Again]." Whilce Portacio, creator of the X-Men's "Bishop", designed the album art for Trip.
In 1998, the band release its third album, Atomic Bomb, with the single "Hinahanap-hanap Kita". 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.
The band then embarked on a US tour. It was at this time that Bamboo Mañalac decided to stay in the US. He eventually went on to form his own band, Bamboo.
Rivermaya decided to forge on, with Rico Blanco taking on vocals and released their forth 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.
Azarcon departed from the group, signaling a new membership change. Completing the lineup were new guitarists, Kakoi Legaspi (from blues band Mr. Crayon) and Mike Elgar (from 7 Foot Junior) as well as Japs Sergio (from Daydream Cycle) on bass.
Together, this lineup released Tuloy ang Ligaya [The Fun Continues], preceded by the EP Alab ng Puso (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", "Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby [Don't Be Hot-Headed, Baby]", "A Love to Share", "Balisong", "Sunday Driving", "Table for Two", "241", and "Atat [Eager]".
Kakoi Legaspi resigned for undisclosed reasons.
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 (directed by Rivermaya co-manager Chito S. Rono) would be the song to take Rivermaya outside the country. Released as an EP by Warner Music Philippines, it also 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.
An album of compiled works, titled You'll Be Safe Here, is distributed in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Rivermaya embarked on a series of Asian tours, including at Thailand's Pattaya Music Fest (2004, 2005) 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 Vessel, 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.
On May 2007, rumors of Rico Blanco's quitting the group surfaced. The band's management team refused to comment, as did the other members. It was not until a few more days before Blanco officially announced his departure from the group. Both Rivermaya and its management have taken the announcement in stride and have denied rumors that the band would disband as a result. "No one member is greater than the whole," declared Rivermaya management in an official statement released on June 14, 2007. Both fans and industry insiders reacted with relief that the band would carry on.
After Blanco left, Rivermaya released a new single, "Sayang [Wasted]", penned 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" 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 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.
Rivermaya also held auditions for a new member. Out of more than 400 participants, only 80 were chosen to join the semi-finals. 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 Telan.
On October 24, 2007, Jayson Fernandez was announced as the winner and new member of Rivermaya. This third evolution of Rivermaya offers an ensemble cast (with the four members offering their vocal prestiges) as compared to their previous lineups.
On February 2008, Rivermaya released their new album entitled Buhay with the carrier single "Sugal ng Kapalaran" penned by Sergio with both Fernandez and Sergio doing the vocals, while Elgar and Escueta does backing vocals.