It was in the early 2000s when a rock band called Reckless Imprudence emerged in the Philippine underground music scene. Their music was a fusion of funk and blues-rock. They have played in most of the known underground music clubs such as 70s Bistro, 6 Underground, Club Dredd, Freedom Bar, Mag.Net, Mayric’s, Route 196, Bistro 110, and the like.
Reckless Imprudence was composed of all lawyers.
The front man for this kick-ass all-lawyer-band was “Big Daddy” KARL ARIAN A. CASTILLO. Other than being a groovy lead singer, he is also many things — an awesome songwriter, a father and, of course, a hotshot litigation lawyer.
This is his story. Karl would like me to emphasize, however, this is not a eulogy. At present, Karl is alive and kicking. At the time you are reading this article, he is probably in court, causing great havoc to our judicial system.
This is part 2 Atty. Karl Castillo’s story. To read part 1, please check out this article: The Big Daddy: Karl Castillo (Part 1)
STUMBLING INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL WORLD
Karl Castillo had absolutely no idea he could sing. He says that he even got kicked out of his music class in elementary. Although he loved listening to rock music, he had no plans of being in a band.
Back in 1998, during his sophomore year in Ateneo Law School, Karl was tasked by the Student Council to organize a rock concert. He had a great concept. It was going to be a concert for law students by law students, featuring bands composed of law students. He was able to get numerous sponsors, including San Miguel Beer, who had just launched its brand new product — the San Miguel Light. The only problem was a shortage of musical talents from Ateneo Law or a shortage of audacious and shameless law students. In order to avoid the embarrassment of cancelling this gig, he had to form a band to play in that concert.
Of course, the first person he invited to join his band was a very talented and very trendy law student/musician. Back then, I was very active in the underground music scene with my old band from Cavite known as “Outcast”. But since I loved playing the bass, I readily agreed to play for this new law school band. Karl Castillo, on the other hand, had absolutely no talent in playing any instrument. He could play basic guitar and drums but he was not confident in his skills. Yet, we did not have anyone else. Hence, he had no choice but to become the band’s lead vocalist.
After the first rehearsal, everyone — including Karl himself — was pleasantly surprised to find out that he could not only carry a tune but he also had the stage presence necessary to become a front man for a rock band.
Thus, a rock star was born — “Big Daddy” Karl Castillo.
THE BIRTH OF RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE
In 2005, Karl and I had already graduated from law school and passed the bar. Karl was then feeling the pressure of being a Senior Associate in a litigation firm. He needed an avenue for stress release. One time, Karl and I were having one of our drinking sessions. We talked about forming a band once more. We came up with the idea of an all-lawyer rock band. Karl was excited. He had this concept of a group of lawyers playing music that was heavy, funky and bluesy at the same time. It was a wild idea but he knew it could work. The original plan was to form a cover band — a band that played songs of other artists.
According to Karl, Reckless Imprudence was never formed with the intention of making it into a professional band.
We had no intention of making it big and playing in Japan. It was just a band that we formed because we had nothing better to do. We did not even think that we would be able to write original songs. It was something that we did for fun.”
But even though Reckless Imprudence started out as a hobby for Karl and the rest of the band, they could not help but be serious about their craft. The main reason was because because we did not want to embarrass ourselves especially since, that time, we played with some of the country’s more famous bands. In a few months, we found ourselves, playing in popular clubs all over Metro Manila. Soon, we were writing original material. We appeared on TV. Our songs received airtime in radio. In fact, one of Reckless Imprudence‘s original compositions was voted as the 4th Most Requested Song in RJ Underground Radio 105.9 FM. We were even asked to do a tour with RJUR’s other bands. We, however, could not commit to this endeavour because of our demanding day jobs.
From 2005 to 2008, Reckless Imprudence was one of the most active underground bands in the Philippines. And, Karl Castillo, being the front man, was at the center of it all.
KARL ON STAGE
Karl’s musical talent and stage presence was developed thru the years. I had been a witness to his transformation. When we started out, Karl was merely a singer. He just literally held the mic and sang songs. Gradually, he grew into something more. After about of year of playing, Karl had become a genuine performer.
Karl Castillo captivated the audience with his stage antiques. During songs, he would liven up the crowd. He would usually walk towards the audience and sing in the middle of the audience. He would climb seats and tables. Sometimes, he would take off his shirt (which, he thought delighted the girls, when in truth, he merely caused utter dismay, especially to his bandmates). But whatever the case, he did these things because he was having so much fun. And, due to his antiques, we always had a good laugh after every gig. Karl’s energy was contagious.
In between songs, Karl would engage the audience. While talking about serious stuff like current events, he would suddenly say something funny. And the bars and restaurants love him because he always coerced the audience to get drunk while watching the show. He literally forced people to order more liquor. He commanded the waiters to deliver alcohol to each and every table, whether they wanted it or not.
A few minutes after seeing Karl perform on stage, one would immediately notice his musical influence. Both his singing and his stage performance are clearly influenced by Jim Morrison of the Doors. Indeed, he sounds like Jim Morrison. He moves like Jim Morrison. He even claims to have Jim Morrison’s body, swagger and sex appeal.
KARL THE SONG WRITER
During its entire existence as a band, Reckless Imprudence wrote seven (7) songs. Karl Castillo wrotethe lyrics for all these songs.
When asked how he is able to write words for the songs, Karl said:
If you try to write a song, you wont be able to. The idea of the song just comes in like a bolt of lightning.
Indeed, that is how it usually happens. One band member would write a single riff. Then, the others would create their own. They would then connect these riffs and come up with a song. When we have something concrete to work on, Karl would pick up his pen and begin writing. The words would flow wherever he was and whatever he was doing. He could write anywhere: in the office, in a bar or even while driving.
As lawyer in an all-lawyer band, most would think that Karl would write lyrics about the law. But of all the songs he has written, Karl had never once talked about legal stuff. His lyrics are mostly about life, truth, fun, pain and, of course, sex.
KARL THE DJ
Sometime in 2007, Reckless Imprudence played live on air for RJ Underground Radio 105.9. The DJs on board at that time were “Mr. A” and Pinoy Rock Legend “Howling Dave”. Aside from singing a few songs, we were interviewed by the duo.
At one point in this interview, Mr. A remarked that Karl had a very nice voice. In fact, according to Mr. A, his voice was perfect for radio. Karl said thank you and thought nothing more of it. A few months after, Howling Dave passed away. Karl then received a call from Mr. A and asked if he was interested in auditioning as Mr. A’s partner.
Karl immediately grabbed the opportunity. But he needed a catchy name. And he had the perfect one in mind. At the radio tribute for Howling Dave, Karl made his debut. It was there that Mr. A announced that his new co-host would be a certain “Big Daddy Karl”.
When asked why he chose the name, Karl said that he wanted a name that was misleading. He wanted the listeners to think that he was a big guy. Well, that is his wholesome version, at least. There is another not-so-wholesome reason behind the name. But let us not dwell on that here.
KARL’S VIEWS ON RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE
Reckless Imprudence was very erratic. It was also very difficult to rehearse and concentrate because of our so-called careers as lawyers. You had different kinds of people with different kinds of influences, habits, ideas and attitudes. And when you try to add the element that all of them are lawyers, you will have a difficult time managing the band. It’s very hard to manage lawyers, especially those who are very talented like our bass player and lead guitarist. They had their own attitudes and ideas.
As an all-lawyer group, the crowd saw us as something unique. What made us more unique was that we did not play love songs or cheesy cover songs. Reckless Imprudence was a genuine knife to your heart rock band. We played original songs and we played with bands that were much younger than us and who played music for a living. In other words, it was not a typical rock and roll band. The band was willing to take the risk of writing our own songs and we would like to believe that we got the respect that we deserved from the community despite the fact that we were not as good as the other bands.”
I also asked Karl to describe the members of Reckless Imprudence. This is what I got:
Atty. Bayan Quiniones (rhythm guitarist):
He is more of a songwriter than a guitarist but you need him and without him the band would collapse.”
Atty. Ken Bucu (original lead guitarist):
He had a unique style because he was gay. He’s the only gay guitarist that I know.”
Atty. Den Plofino (keyboardist):
He’s fat and very musical and jolly.”
Atty. Jeri Banta (drummer):
Jeri was more of jazz player Very serious and very passionate. Very romantic.“
Atty. Coocoo Basallo (vocalist):
One of the most beautiful voices I’ve heard and very pretty.”
Atty. Marco (lead guitarist):
He’s the loner guitarist type and the loner guitarist types are the ones who are really really good. Impeccable choice of notes, timing and rhythm are perfect.”
Atty. Carlo Ybanez (bass guitars):
Carlo doesn’t know how to play bass. He just relies on his good looks.”
JUGGLING HIS CAREER
At the time when Reckless Imprudence was at its peak, Karl was just an Associate in his firm. Yes, he was a Senior Associate back then, but an Associate nonetheless. And an associate in a firm is like being at the bottom of the food chain. During that time, Karl was also raising two children. It was clearly a difficult time for him. In fact, his wife, Joyce, was then working at a call center. Hence, she was at work most of the time. Karl had to prepare the milk, change the kids’ diapers, bathe them and do all the mommy chores. Then, he would play in a gig that would last until around 2 a.m. After that, he had to attend a hearing at 8:30 in the morning.
It was amazing how Karl managed his time back then. According to him:
Thinking back, it was not about managing the time. It was just about loving what you do. If you had a passion for what it is that you do, you’ll find the time for it.”
THE END OF RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE
There comes a point in every musical career when you stagnate. For more than four years, we had been playing our songs over and over again. At that time, I was just not feeling the excitement of playing in a gig anymore.”
In 2009, Karl Castillo decided to call it quits. And Reckless Imprudence just would not be the same without him. Hence, instead of looking for a new vocalist, we decided to disband Reckless Imprudence.
On February 12, 2009, Reckless Imprudence performed its last gig at Mag.Net Café in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
THE PRESENT DAY
Since Reckless Imprudence disbanded, Karl Castillo never performed on stage anymore. At present, he is concentrating on his professional career. He is also focused on being a husband and a father to his three children. Yet, he will always cherish the times when he was Big Daddy Karl, the front man for the country’s only all lawyer rock band Reckless Imprudence.
It was a blast. Something that is unforgettable. When I grow old, I can tell my kids that their dad was once part of this crazy rock band.”
When I asked him what he would miss most about Reckless Imprudence, he said:
The rock and roll lifestyle – Spontaneous, wild, crazy, reckless.”
What does the future hold for Karl Castillo? Aside from concentrating on his legal career and his family life, Karl really wants to teach in a University, preferably, an all-female school. However, according to him:
I don’t think that’s viable because my wife would get jealous of all the girls.”
With respect to his musical career, Karl Castillo has not closed the door to singing for another band. However, according to him, he would only consider joining another band if it had a totally different style from Reckless Imprudence.
And what about Reckless Imprudence? There had always been talks about a Reckless Reunion. According to Karl, however, for that to happen, the band must come up with new songs.
Now that I’m older, listening to our songs, it sounds like they were written by teenagers. The are no longer apt considering the age of the members now.”
Finally, I asked Karl what other feats he plans to achieve in life. And this is what he had to say:
I can honestly say that I had done everything that a man could wish for. Being a vocalist in a band, being a DJ, and being a Partner in a law firm. Right now, I am just trying to excel as a dad, that’s it.”
Definitely, many are awaiting Karl’s return on stage. Maybe in the future, we will see him once again grab the microphone. Whether or not, it is with Reckless Imprudence, it will surely be an event — the return of “Big Daddy” Karl Castillo.
** Cover photo taken on May 28, 2008 at Absynth, Greenbelt, Makati