musical direction has evolved from simple rock into hard rock, pop, acoustic, metal, progressive, etc. It has recently released an Asian album in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia and has become of the few acts that garnered Southeast Asians' music attention.
The very first line-up consisted of Jessie Gonzales on vocals, Kenneth Ilagan on guitar, Nathan Azarcon on bass, Rome Velayo on drums, and Rico Blanco on keyboards. They have been managed by two virtual unknowns in the music industry, Lizza Nakpil and director Chito Roño who both discovered Rivermaya and were initially impressed by what they considered as unconventional form or music direction the band was threading on that time.
In the process of grueling practice sessions, Ilagan was replaced with Perfecto de Castro; Azarcon recruited former Bazurak bandmate, Mark Escueta, to replace Velayo as well as former classmate Francisco "Bamboo" Mañalac to replace Gonzales. As Bamboo Mañalac as frontman, the band started putting together their original songs like "Ulan" "214" and "Awit ng Kabataan" (mostly composed by Rico Blanco) on a demo for consideration of recording companies. By November 1993, the band had released its first album, the self-titled 'Rivermaya", and its first single, "Ulan"; followed by "214". Critically praised for its fresh, excitingly-new pop/rock music, the album went on to become one of the best sellers in the 90s, following up the success of The Eraserheads.
Citing artistic differences, de Castro was adamant in leaving the group and founded his own band.
The band's second album "Trip", followed with singles like "Kisapmata", "Himala", and "Panahon Na Naman". An interesting sidebar is that Whilce Portacio, creator of the X-Men's "Bishop", designed the album art for "Trip".
In 1998, the band release its 3rd album, "Atomic Bomb", with single "Hinahanap Kita". The album gained positive response from listeners and received heavy airplay from radio stations. During this period, Rivermaya also released the "Rivermaya Remixed" album, put together with the help of deejay Toti Dalmacion of Groove Nation.
The band then embarked on a U.S. tour. It was at this time that Bamboo Mañalac decided to stay in the U.S. and exercise his rights as an American citizen. (Later on, Bamboo Mañalac formed his own band, Bamboo, which, surprisingly, has become popular in its own right).
Rivermaya decided to forge on, with Rico Blanco taking on vocals.The result was the "It’s Not Easy Being Green" album which spawned "Nerbyoso", "Shattered Like", and "Rodeo". "If" a song by Geno Georsua, a music major from U.P College of music, was added to their line up in 1998.
The band released its 5th studio album, aptly called "Free", entirely for free on the internet as well as on CDs distributed at their gigs. "Free" went on to be named "Best Album 2000" at the NU Rock Awards.
Azarcon departed from the group, signaling a new membership change. Completing the line-up were new guitarists, Kakoi Legaspi (from blues band Mr. Crayon) and Mike Elgar (from 7 Foot Junior) as well as Japs Sergio (from Daydream Cycle) on bass.
Together, this lineup released "Tuloy ang Ligaya", preceded by the EP "Alab ng Puso" (featuring a remix by Raimund Marasigan's Squid 9.)
The band released the albums "Tuloy ang Ligaya" and "Between the Stars and the Waves" producing "Umaaraw, Umuulan", "Wag Na Init Ulo, Baby", " A Love to Share". "Bali Song", "Sunday Driving", "Table for Two", "241", and "Atat."
Kakoi Legaspi resigned for still undisclosed reasons.
The band found a variety of partners who commissioned such works as "Liwanag sa Dilim", "Posible" (Southeast Asian Games' Athletes Anthem) and "You'll Be Safe Here."
"You'll be Safe Here", originally created as the theme for the ABS-CBN tv series "Spirits" (directed by Rivermaya co-manager Chito S. Rono) would be the song to take Rivermaya outside the country. Released as an EP by Warner Music Philippines, it also became the song that MTV Asia selected for performance at the 2006 Asia Awards. Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child introduced the group, and they were backed-up by Thailand’s Royal Symphony Orchestra during live performance.
An album of compiled works, titled "You'll Be Safe Here", is currently being distributed in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Rivermaya embarked on a series of Asian tours, including at Thailand's Pattaya Music Fest (2004, 2005) as well as Singapore's Mosaic Festival (run by The Esplanade); and Bangkok's Fat Fest as well as in Indonesia's MTV Staying Alive show.
In the Philippines, the "Rivermaya Greatest Hits 2006" album with Viva Records was followed by an album dedicated to its music heroes: "Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo".
At the end of March 2007, Rivermaya again scored another first for the Philippines as their videos, "You'll Be Safe Here" and the recent video remake "Bali Song" were chosen as the first Asian artists to have full-length music videos featured on the Star World Channel. Star World is known in giving top-rated US and UK entertainment to Asia.
On May, 2007, rumors of Rico Blanco quitting the groups surfaced. The band's management team refused to comment, as did the other members. It was not until a few more days before Rico Blanco, the band's chief composer, officially announced his departure from the group. Both Rivermaya and its management have taken the announcement in stride and have denied rumors that the band would disband as a result. "No one member is greater than the whole," declared Rivermaya management in an official statement released on June 14th, 2007. Both fans and industry insiders reacted with relief that the band would carry on.
Undeterred by the sudden abandonment, Rivermaya released a new single, "Sayang", penned by Japs Sergio and described by the band as "an open letter to the fans."
In addition, Studio 23 (an influential ABS-CBN affiliate channel) announced the selection of Rivermaya to create the new theme song for the station. The new song is titled "Sumigaw" and marks the release of a second single in two months for the band, accelerating Rivermaya's pace for new songs rapidly. (In previous years, the band had only managed to release a single every 12 months.)
A 5-song EP has been announced for release on August 14th, titled "Bagong Liwanag."
On August 11, 2007, during a mini-presscon held at Mogwai Bar and Café in Cubao's Marikina Shoe Expo, Rivermaya released its all-new 5-song 'Bagong Liwanag' EP, which hit stores nationwide starting August 15. This 5-song EP is released on the band's own label, Revolver Music, and licensed to Warner Music Philippines.
In the meantime, after former frontman Blanco's exodus, the band has accepted auditions for a new member. Out of more than 400 participants, only 80 was chosen to join the semi-finals. The auditions was televised on Studio 23, which was also be titled "Bagong Liwanag." Aside from the band members, main judges are Rivermaya manager Lizza Nakpil, The Dawn guitarist Francis Reyes, and Razorback bassist Louie Talan.
On October 24, 2007, Jayson Fernandez was announced as the grand winner and new member of Rivermaya.