Happy Hunting Grounds is a hard rockin’ progressive band from Tacloban that spawned in the year 2003. Amidst the Reggae and SKA atmosphere of the time, they managed to shine a light on 90s Rock Music and pay tribute to it especially during Battle of the Bands contests (which they won almost all the time around the mid-2000s). The band’s name came from the Native American myth of Paradise, in which people who pass away live again to hunt to their heart’s content in the afterlife. Their members include Jack Antig (Vocals, Guitars), Diancarlo Mendoza (Guitars), Alfred Thomas Verona (Drums), and Carleux Solite (Bass).
Jack Antig is a ball of fire on stage. Offstage, however, his musings offer a different picture. To him, music is life and the cure for a variety of things that might plague oneself. Aside from fronting for Happy Hunting Grounds, Jack plays the guitar and leans towards clean sounds like Tuck Andres’. He describes his guitar playing as ‘Riff-Oriented’. In terms of influential bands, he states that it might be too numerous to count, especially when those genres range from RNB to Rap Metal and Hard Rock. Jack is probably the most energetic vocalist there is in the history of Tacloban’s music scene.
Diancarlo Mendoza is most likely Tacloban City’s fastest guitar player —note for note. Diancarlo’s main influence happens to be Glam Rock due to his siblings’ preference of music while he was growing up. Over time, his choices evolved and gradually refined from melodic to progressive. His guitar heroes include John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, and Yngwie Malmsteen. In other words, ‘Melodic Speed’ is his forte in the neoclassical metal genre. Diancarlo likens his experiences with Happy Hunting Grounds to being in a close-knit Family.
Carleux is probably Happy Hunting Grounds’ most talented and cultivated musician. His influences are most likely too many to list down in one book. It’s one of the reasons lots of bands like inviting him to play Bass for them due to his various skillsets, musical knowledge, and competence. Rock; Rap; Reggae; Alternative; Hiphop; World Music; Love Songs; none are off limits to Carleux. It has earned him the respect of fellow musicians of varying genres and the reason why he’s an all-time favorite pick. He particularly acknowledges Victor Wooten as having a major influence on his Bass playing.
Much like his bandmates, Alfred’s influences are diverse. First of them, he mentions Reggae, then contrasts it with Progressive Metal groups such as Dream Theatre. Mike Portnoy is definitely one of his major influences as a drummer alongside Carter Beauford. He also credits the Local Tacloban Scene and its awesome musicians as being highly influential to his drumming. To Alfred, being in a band is all about camaraderie and is important for creating musical chemistry in a group. He comes from a family of extremely gifted musicians and those gifts become apparent especially onstage.
When writing compositions, Jack usually initiates the process with some riffs he creates on the guitar. The rest all fall into place as his bandmates back him up with their own ideas and they begin to flesh out the whole song. The song ‘Shiver’ is actually one of Jack’s compositions and is based on one of his real life experiences. The same goes for the other song, ‘Noon at Ngayon’, which was an entry song for a Muziklaban contest that took them all the way to Cebu.
Happy Hunting Grounds was a crowd favorite during the 2000s decade. Their tours and road trips are a fun source of recall during times when they all get together to reminisce the good old days. Their experiences forged within them a bond that lasts to this day. In truth, they’re a family. To them, there was never a bad experience during gigs — nor was there any bad thing that happened before or after. This is because they managed to enjoy what was transpiring during those times and simply made the most of it.