Manitoba

Winnipeg band of brothers' music career reaches new heights despite pandemic

The 12/21, a pop-punk band based in Winnipeg, is gaining in popularity in the Philippines after being featured on Spotify, a national TV network and most recently inking a new record deal.

The 12/21 ink record deal after being featured on Spotify's Fresh Finds list in Philippines

Winnipeg pop-punk band The 12/21 features Roman Maceda and twin brothers Roque and Rico Maceda. The trio was featured on Spotify's Fresh Finds and New Music lists in the Philippines. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Most days, Roman Maceda and twin brothers Rico and Roque can be found jamming away in their parent's basement.

However, the Winnipeg pop-punk trio who form The 12/21 aren't just passing the time casually playing music — they're currently working on new tunes they plan to release soon.

"Before the pandemic we were touring the Philippines around March [last year], so that's when we were planning to have much bigger shows and more music," said Roman Maceda. "But the pandemic hit then and I guess we just like came back to Canada."

The 12/21's popularity was both on the rise in Canada and in the Philippines. The band toured overseas last year after being featured on Spotify's Fresh Finds and New Music lists in 2019 and 2020.

"It's a huge deal for us," said the eldest Maceda brother. "Seeing, like, all famous bands in the Philippines or one of our favourite bands being on Spotify, and now our band name with those famous bands in the Philippines. It's a great chance to be there."

Roman Maceda is the band's lead singer and guitarist, with younger brothers Rico on bass and vocals and Roque on the drums.  

The brothers started performing together as children, playing covers of their dad's favourite rock bands when they lived in the Philippines.

"The first band we ever watched was Queen," said Roque Maceda. "We just pretend to play the beat of their music. We set up chairs, pretend that's our drums."

The brothers moved to Winnipeg in 2008, and since then have only become more creative in their craft, writing original songs, mixing and recording them in their home studio.

The 12/21 has received accolades on the Canadian music scene, including winning the Jim Beam National Talent Search in 2019.  

They were the first Filipino rock band to be featured on the cover of the University of Winnipeg's The Uniter music issue in 2018.  

The band even opened for Filipino music icon Arnel Pineda when the Journey lead singer was on a solo tour in Winnipeg in 2017.

"It was fun and a great experience," Roman recalled. "That was one of the first big shows we had in Winnipeg. That's like a big deal, so that's like a great experience for the band."

Record deal

The brothers say getting to tour the Philippines last spring, which included radio station interviews and a live performance on major Philippine television network GMA, was an unbelievable experience.

In February, they signed a record deal with Manila's Blacksheep Records and Viva Music Group Philippines, and plan to release a new single later this spring.

Winnipeg brothers Roman, Roque and Rico Maceda signed a record deal with Manila's Blacksheep Records in February. (The 12/21)

"Feels good, being signed for a record label. It's a surreal feeling," Rico said.  

Social media and releasing music virtually has also meant the band can continue to keep their trajectory going while the world continues to live in a pandemic.

"Now we're recording new music," said Roman. "Hopefully, when the travel ban is lifted, we're gonna be flying back to the Philippines doing shows and gigs there soon.

"We love doing music.  We love writing songs, sharing our love of music to the audience and people around the world."

The 12/21's goal is to release a full length album in both English and Tagalog by the end of 2021.

A Winnipeg band's growing popularity in The Philippines has lead to big things

10 months ago
Duration 2:56
The 12-21 is getting plenty of attention in both Canada and The Philippines. The band was recently signed to a record deal after being featured on Spotify. 2:56

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marjorie Dowhos is the host of CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon. She is an RTNDA award-winning reporter. Marjorie joined CBC Manitoba in 2010. Prior to that, she was an anchor, reporter and videojournalist in Thunder Bay, Ont., Medicine Hat, AB., Fort McMurray, AB., and Fort St. John, B.C. Marjorie is also the host of the CBC podcast 'Jets Stream'.

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