Although the band itself is relatively new, all of its members have lots of experience in the Philippine music scene. Pupil is managed by Day Cabuhat (who also used to handle the Eraserheads) and Ely Buendia's wife, Diane Ventura, who was also manager for The Mongols.
Dok Sergio from the bands The Teeth and Daydream Cycle joined The Mongols' line-up during the fourth quarter of 2004, making it a five-man band. The Mongols' bassist Yan Yuzon moved to third guitar duties while Dok Sergio handled bass. The transitional five-man line-up was witnessed in The Mongols’ last single and music video entitled “Heroine”. In May 2005, guitarist, Jerome Velasco, a.k.a J. Astro, left to pursue a career in producing and recording studio engineering. The group's last gig under the name "The Mongols" was July 7, 2005.
Velasco’s departure shook things up for the group as they were trapped into the decision of whether to stay as a band or not. As they decided to continue and as they progressed, the band noticed that they were producing a different sound without Velasco on the lead guitar and decided to form a "new" band. “We got a better bass player and dumber guitarist,” jokes guitarist Yan Yuzon, who left bass playing duties to Dok Sergio to take Velasco’s place. Upon the determination of forming a “new” band, the group’s first move was to change their name.
Frontman Ely Buendia from the phenomenal band Eraserheads, chanced upon the name "Pupil" while browsing a medical book. The band wanted a classic name for a rock band. Before using Pupil, they tried several other names, such as Villain, Lords of Nasdaq, The Gets, Trochlean, Traitors, and Tyrel Corp. They chose the name Pupil because Buendia liked the fact that it was the part of the eye where light enters. Guitarist Yan Yuzon likes its double meaning, as well as the “eternal learning” connotations of the name. Pupil's launch gig was on July 13, 2005 at the UP Bahay Ng Alumni.
Pupil had a hard time searching for a record label. They submitted their demo to several labels, but no one was more enthusiastic about the new material than the newly-merged Sony BMG. Incidentally, Ely left BMG Pilipinas in 2002 in the wake of his falling out with the Eraserheads. However, BMG accepted Buendia again like a "prodigal son," as he himself describes it in their debut album's insert.
The band admits that there is a distinct challenge for them, coming out of their past bands (Eraserheads and The Teeth). The challenge is particularly pronounced on frontman, Ely Buendia, since older fans tend to compare him and his new band with the huge popularity of The Eraserheads before. In an interview by Y. Losorata he says, "I just want my fans and hopefully, my fans to be, to appreciate my music. I’m lucky to still have my career in music as a job and as part of Pupil wala akong (I don't have) delusions to become as big as my previous band was." In fact, the band itself describes their music as actually "one foot in the past, one foot in the present and both eyes dead set at the future." According to Buendia, it's not being there but getting there that's exciting for him, no matter how many times he tries to get there.
Local radio stations' reception of Pupil's music, though, is relatively limited (with the exception of NU 107) due to the band's genre and musical style. While the band's carrier single, "Nasaan Ka?" was played often and achieved quite a popularity among listeners, other singles released from their album encountered more hurdles. The song "Nasaan Ka?" was used as main theme and "story" (based on lyrics) for the first episode of the second season of Your Song. Frontman Ely Buendia says, "Some pop radio stations are still making up their minds on "Dianetic" which I personally don’t understand since it’s really just one of those straightforward love songs medyo on the noisy side nga lang (just a little bit on the noisy side). "Then again, minsan talaga hindi mo maintindihan ang ibang radio stations (sometimes you cannot understand some radio stations). It’s not as if they don’t play songs by foreign artists like Nirvana with music heavier on distorted electric guitar than ours. Pero okay lang (But that's okay), that’s the reality of things." He speculates that colonial mentality has something to do about the double standard these radio stations go by. Consequently, they were forced to release an acoustic version of their second single, "Dianetic". The acoustic version of "Nasaan Ka?" was then used as a Bonus Track for Sony BMG's CD Sampler 2006 Volume 3.
However, the band had relatively early success as evidenced by advertising projects that they were involved with and local awards that they have won. They were featured as the Rising Star for the month of May, 2006 in MTV Philippines. In the 19th Awit Awards held in Casino Filipino, they won the Award for Best Performance By A New Group Recording Artist/s Category . They received another award for their first single, "Nasaan Ka?" at the MTV Pilipinas VMA 2006, bagging the Best Rock Video Award. Then, Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chose them as their promotional models for their product along with Barbie Almalbis, another local artist. They also received endorsement deals from Levi's, Puma and Pony footwear.
In Novermber 26, 2006 Pupil won the SOP Music Awards 2006 Breakthrough Recording Artist of The Year Award. "We don't think Pupil should've qualified as 'breakthrough artist' because this actually is our second album after we changed our name from The Mongols," says Ely.
The band also participated in the 2006 MTV Staying Alive Music Summit For HIV/AIDS. Pupil’s fourth single, "Gamu-Gamo," quickly climbed NU 107’s Stairway to Seven's number one spot within the first week of 2007. The band also performed a special 8-minute medley (which included a cover of the Eraserheads hit, "Pare Ko") at the 2nd MYX Music Awards which was held on March 15, 2007 at the AFP Theater, Camp Aguinaldo.
On July 25, 2007, Yan Yuzon announced in Pupil's mailing list that Bogs Jugo, the band's drummer, left the band to pursue other things for his career. Wendell Garcia, formerly of Barbie's Cradle, replaced Jugo. Garcia played his first gig as the new drummer on July 26, 2007 at the Hard Rock Cafe, Makati. The gig also featured new songs from Pupil's second album. The Mongols' Jerome Velasco played synths with the band. He is also the band's producer for their second album.
Born in March 7, 1978, Lead guitarist Yan Yrastorza Yuzon is the brother of Sponge Cola guitarist and frontman, Yael Yuzon. He also teaches theater direction at the Ateneo de Manila University. His famous works include a pop-culture adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera, Linya, Santuario and a few more. Being a very busy man, Yan is also a writer for ABS-CBN’s TV show "Goin Bulilit". He also played the short role of Liam in ABS-CBN’s "Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay". His acting performances also include the role of Romeo in the Metropolitan Theater Guild's production of Romeo and Juliet (which has been used in Sponge Cola's Gemini music video), alongside Ina Feleo, daughter of Filipino actor, Johnny Delgado, with the role of Juliet. Yan has previously appeared in local renditions of other Shakespearean plays like "Merchant of Venice" and "Macbeth". He also starred in an indie film titled "Three Boys" for Cinemanila. The film is about a band which is composed of Marc Abaya (vocals and guitars) Ping Medina (bass) and Yan Yuzon (drums). It was directed by Ming Kai Leung and produced by Marie Jamora. He also used to front for the indie neo-glam band called Cat Siamese. Yan uses a Carvin classic white guitar, Fender Stratocaster and Epiphone Les Paul. Yan Yuzon also launched his new band called “Arch1pelago.” It’s members are Wendell Garcia on drums, Chad Rialp (of Sound and Liquid Jane) on bass, Pat Tirano (who co-produced Beautiful Machines) on lead guitars and Yan Yuzon himself on frontman duties. He was also featured in an instrumental compilation called "Mga Gitarista" (The Guitarists), wherein it features various instrumental songs from Filipino guitarists from different OPM bands such as Barbie Almalbis, Francis Reyes, Mong Alcaraz and Mike Elgar. His song "Mount Ordeals" was said to be inspired by Final Fantasy Series.
Born in February 27, 1976, Bassist Andrew Ryan Steve Ricafranca Sergio is the brother of Rivermaya's bassist Japs Sergio. Dok and Japs are also members of Daydream Cycle, doing bass and rhythm respectively. Dok Sergio wrote the lyrics of "Dulo ng Dila" on the spot during recording. It is also the band's first song to hit no.1 in NU 107's Stairway to Seven chart. In addition, Dok wrote the lyrics of "Shooting Star" by The Teeth which won the "Song of the Year" award at the NU 107 Rock Awards 2000. He also runs a silkscreen printing business whose clients include some of the bands in the local Filipino rock scene today. Aside from The Teeth, one of Dok Sergio's former bands was Warehouse Club where his bandmates were from the members of the band The Youth (Robert Javier and Joseph Carrasgo) and Jun Dela Rosa. He did guitars and vocals. Dok once played bass for the band, Imago and now for indie-band Prank Sinatra. He uses a Fender Precision Bass Guitar, and recently, a 6-string Fender Bass VI. Today, aside from having reunited with The Teeth, he also sometimes plays bass for Imago, where he also used to play bass with before.
Main article: Ely Buendia
Born in November 2, 1970, Eleandre Basiño Buendía is the band's frontman and guitarist.
Born in May 27, 1976, Wendell Ray C. Garcia, formerly of Barbie's Cradle, is Pupil's new drummer who replaced Bogs Jugo in 2007. He is also the drummer for Pupil's second album. Garcia also played drums for Sponge Cola as sessionist and as drummer for 6cyclemind's Panorama album, he also co-produced the album with Buddy Zabala, Ebe Dancel, and Francis Magalona. Garcia also composed the song "012" with Barbie Almalbis and Kakoi Legaspi for "Parade" album. He also plays drums for the Jazz group named "Balooze." When Francis M and Ely Buendia recorded the song "Superproxy 2k6" for Ultraelectromagneticjam Eraserheads tribute, Wendell was responsible for the drum parts and played drums during the recording phase for Francis M's band, Hardware Syndrome. Wendell also sings while playing drums, his recent performance was "Fallen" from Pretty Woman OST. He also shared his drumming skills for Rico Blanco's Your Universe album.
Born in February 17, 1979, Drummer Ricardo Nicholas Bañaga Jugo is also the synth and beat programmer for the dream pop/electronica group Daydream Cycle. Bogs is into video games. He once worked as an online customer assistance representative for an international videogame console company. Playing “Hypersober” live is a different set-up for the band. Yan plays the drums. Dok gets to play the guitars. Ely does the bass, and of course, Bogs on vocals. Bogs also used "d lite" and "bogaman" as a nick name during the early days of The Mongols.
On July 25, 2007, Yan Yuzon announced in Pupil's mailing list that Bogs Jugo left the band to pursue other things for his career. However, Yuzon said that Jugo had already expressed his desire to quit his duties for both of his bands, Pupil and Daydream Cycle, as early as the summer of 2007. Bogs, a pioneer member the group since The Mongols, ensured smooth transition for Pupil into its current new lineup. He was replaced by Wendell Garcia, formerly of Barbie's Cradle.
Contrary to speculations, he did not leave the music industry at all. Jugo is still a musician, but more within the indie and underground scene; perhaps to give way to his other activities. After he left Pupil and DDC, he also sessions with Nina’s live band as drummer and also for Tawo band. Currently he is the drummer for Us-2 Evil-0, and he also plays guitars for She Hates Ballet.
Main article: Beautiful Machines
Beautiful Machines, Pupil's debut album, was released on November 10, 2005 under Sony BMG, the same music company that publishes The Eraserheads' music. The band itself describes their music as "dark, loud, and romantic." Yan Yuzon describes their genre as "everyrock" meaning an amorphous mass of rock and roll, classic and stadium rock, punk, New Wave, glam rock, goth rock, heavy metal, grunge, and everything in between. It is very guitar-driven, stripped down, and the album has a very distinct sound, considering that it is the band's debut album. The album was recorded digitally at Wombworks in Marikina, the studio founded by Louie Talan of Razorback. “We didn’t use amps at all,” Buendia says. The album was mastered at Tweak Merville by Zach Lucero, drummer of the band, Imago.
Pupil and Barbie Almalbis were chosen by Juicy Fruit as their advertising models to reach out to the younger generation in their Rockoustic Mania advertising events. The promotion included Juicy Fruit's Tugtog Mo! band competition, and Style mo! competition by Human and Pony footwear. The collaboration between the two artists offers a fusion of Rock and Acoustic. The AVCD features two songs, the music videos and some behind the scenes look at the artists' works. It was released on August 24, 2006.
The Juicy Fruit Rockoustic Mania Final Fusion event was held on November 17, at the Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas (Folk Arts Theater), Cultural Center of the Philippines. The show featured performances from Barbie Almalbis and Pupil, guest bands Sugarfree and Up Dharma Down, and of course, from the three finalists, WTC 11, Medea, and 7th Skool. The band 7th Skool won the Tugtog Mo! Band Competition.
1. Nakakabaliw (E. Buendia, D. Ventura)
2. Must Have (E. Buendia, B. Almalbis, D. Sergio)
During the Rockoustic Mania Press Launch at Phi Bar Metrowalk held on June 14, 2006, Barbie Almalbis and Pupil played their songs separately as they showed the crowd their own music styles and genre. They also jammed together and as a bonus, Barbie sang the Eraserheads classic “Overdrive” and on the other hand, “Alapaap” was performed by Pupil.
Pupil had been part of Animax Fashion-Ability event, where they made special appearance at the event, played their music, and talked about their fashion style. The band's first onstage public appearance after Ely’s heart attack was also with Animax. It was on Saturday, February 10, 2007 when the band performed at The Music Hall in SM Mall of Asia, in an Animax speed-dating and welcome celebration for Valentine’s Day event called “Love Is In The Air”. The band was also featured (along with Sponge Cola and Urbandub) in a show called MUSIC STATION, which also airs on Animax.
The song had its official local launch Tuesday, May 22, 2007 in an exclusive Animax Party at the Hard Rock Cafe Makati, wherein 50 pairs of tickets were given away in a contest. The band had their first overseas gig on the 27th of May at the Bar None bar in Marriott Hotel, Orchard Road, Singapore. The Singaporean-act The Great Spy Experiment opened for that night's "Bar None Rock Affair" gig. An interview with the band was aired on Friday, June 1, 2007 and Pupil was interviewed on Animax's "Music Talk" by Francis "Brew" Reyes of The Dawn. The Asia-wide launching of the music video of "Set Me Apart" was aired on June 8, 2007 at exactly 7pm on Animax. The music video features the band as "live" anime-styled characters, like cosplayers.
Each member of the band have had their own Anime depictions and concepts as well. Each concept represents the diversity of different worlds that subsist within the whole Anime universe. Ely exists in a post-apocalyptic outer space territory similar to Mobile Suit Gundam and The Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Yan is a western gunman fighting misdemeanour, comparable to Cowboy Bebop. Dok resides in a Zen-like shogunate era, full of tranquillity and close to nature, while Bogs stays engaged within a busy urban core area. Each “world” used distinctive video transitions that greatly bear a resemblance to the human eye or “Pupil”.
The production of the music video is a first of its kind for a Filipino band, most scenes and characters were done using traditional hand-drawn 2D animation subsequently softly blended with 3D and CGI. One of the famous anime films that used this technique is Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, which is also a personal favourite of Ely (as evident with The Mongols' "Case Logic" lyrics and interviews)
Main article: Wild Life
Wild Life, their second album under Sony BMG, features 12 tracks. (Fin, Matador, Monobloc, Here I Go Again, Talon, Sumasabay, Animal Lover, Teacher's Pet, Sala, Disconnection Notice, Bato, Set Me Apart) It also features photography work by Francis Magalona. All 11 new tracks features Wendell Garcia as the band's new drummer, while the 12th track "Set Me Apart" still features Bogs Jugo as the drummer. The album was recorded in Soundsrite (studio) in Kalayaan Ave. in Makati City, owned by Boyet Aquino, the original drummer of Francis Magalona's band called Hardware Syndrome where Wendell Garcia also sessions with.