The Band of Brothers: Then and now

TBB, from left, JJ Lozano, Pepe Lozano,  JC Lozano, and their cousin Niel Manapat. Photo by Gregorio Ignacio Lozano

By Maricar CP Hampton  

Three siblings and a cousin. They make up The Band of Brothers, a durable Filipino boy band on the East Coast.

Brothers Jose Lozano II (Pepe), 38; Gregorio Lozano Jr. (JJ), 34; and Juan Carlos Lozano (JC), 33; and cousin Nielson Manapat (Niel), 39, have been singing the songs from their parents’ generation for more than two decades now, starting from the time they were high school students at La Salle Greenhills in San Juan, Metro Manila. To this day, the quartet continues to bring to life the music of the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Chuck Berry, among other rock and roll legends, to Filipino American communities’ summer parties, benefit dinners, and other gatherings.

“Those times are genuinely gold mines,” mused Pepe, the lead guitarist and vocalist.

Since they arrived in New York four years ago, The Band of Brothers have shared the stage with The Drifters in 2017, and the Gary Lewis and the Playboys in 2018 – both events hosted by Fiesta In America at Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus, N.J. Their music has a way of getting folks of a certain age to hit the dance floor with their children and grandchildren. “We get very positive responses even among the millennials,” said JJ, the musical director. “They think (our music) is something new and they dance to it.”

Over the years, the boys continued their education and have grown into confident music makers. Pepe, the only married member of the band, is a dad to three children.

The Bloomfields

During their days in La Salle Greenhills, Pepe and JJ co-founded The Bloomfields with three other friends and schoolmates. As The Bloomfields, they released two albums produced by EMI Philippines, and performed for a Gary Valenciano concert at the Araneta Coliseum in 2008.

At Bandastiks, a night of nostalgia and music.

The group broke up over “creative differences,” and the Lozano boys became The Bloom Brothers,  which later evolved into The Band of Brothers.

It all began as a hobby, recalled Pepe. “All we wanted was to play music anywhere and play with other bands.”

Pepe remembered growing up so in love with the guitar he was “excited to get callouses” on his fingertips. “I spent most of my time composing and ultimately recording. I felt so happy and just enjoyed making music at a young age.”

They were drawn to the old rock and roll hits of the Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Monkees, and others,  because of their “rich and complex

rhythms and harmonies,” said keyboardist and vocalist JC. “Music from that era really stands out.”

The band is looking to try a different musical repertoire. They are currently working on original compositions in English and Tagalog that are influenced by the pop and rock tunes from the 60s.   

“We will feature some original songs like ‘Shoptalk,’ a danceable, snappy song, and ‘Nahanap na Damdamin,’ an Apo-ish sound with our trademark harmonies, mellow dramatic, jazzy, ballad which I composed,” revealed Pepe. They are also redoing vocal arrangements for some standards, like “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys.

Mentored by his brother

JJ, the middle child who plays the guitar, keyboards, and harmonica, found himself warming up to back-up vocals, after being introduced to pop music by eldest brother, Pepe.

“I had a band at 12 years old and JJ was 8. I made him my drummer. Hindi nga siya makita sa drums set in our first gig at a house party of my classmate because he was just a kid then,” Pepe shared.  

‘Some millennials think our music is something new.’ Photo by Matt Riddell

JC, the youngest Lozano, was persuaded to join the band after finishing a degree in Culinary Arts specializing in Pastry and Baking.   

Niel recalled toying with a pair of cymbals and snare drum before he could even walk. Who knew that the young boy’s ‘noise’ would turn into magical percussion as he got older?

“I remember my parents waited until I grew a little bit in order for me to reach the drum pedals,” he said. “When I was around 4 years old, they made me go to formal schooling for drums.”

All four were professionally trained at Yamaha and the Ramon Jacinto School of Music where they learned classical guitar, drums, music theory, and keyboards. The Band of Brothers is especially proud of their vocal harmony.

“I make sure that the songs we play are fresh and executed authentically old-school,” JJ stressed.

More than 10 years together and no major friction? Even Lennon and McCartney, who feuded over music and women, are said to have a love-hate relationship.

“We always believe in good communication,” said Niel. “Nothing is impossible if you talk things over.”

“It’s about adjusting to everyone and being patient,” Pepe chimed in.

Keeping the band on track is their father Greg Lozano, who acts as the band manager.

“We actually pulled him out of retirement to help us with the business and administrative side of things,” Pepe said.

Aside from Manila, the band has performed in Brunei, Hong Kong, Macau, and Thailand. In New York, they have played at the legendary Carnegie Hall and the Philippine Consulate. They have showcased their act at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and at Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia.

They are looking forward to their December event in Las Vegas with The Jets at Alexis Park Resort. This is their first-ever Vegas concert.

The band believes in performing for a purpose.

“We always want to help in a big way like be part of benefit concerts and charity foundation,” said Pepe.  “Aside from helping raise funds, it is priceless when we are able to bring smiles and uplift people’s spirits through our music.”

© The FilAm 2019

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