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Razorback drummer Brian Velasco, 41

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RAZORBACK in the early days: (L-R) Brian Velasco, Kevin Roy, David Aguirre, Louie Talan, and Tirso Ripoll.

RAZORBACK drummer, Brian C. Velasco, died of suicide Wednesday morning in Manila. He was 41.

“Today we lost our brother… and our hearts are broken… we love you and we will always miss you Bri,” the band said in a post on its official Facebook page on Jan. 17.

Mr. Velasco was a drum instructor at RJ Guitar Center when he joined the Filipino hard rock band in 1996 at the age of 18 after one of Razorback’s founding members, Miguel Ortigas, left the band.

In an interview with RadioRepublic in 2013, Razorback guitarist Tirso Ripoll talked about choosing Velasco instead of an Australian drummer during auditions: “And we said, if we’re gonna be with this dude from Australia who smells funny, we were thinking, we’re going to be in a van for two hours with this guy? Or Brian, who’s nice, and we know him, he’s a nice guy…. Skills you can learn, but you can’t teach how to be a nice guy. You can’t teach how to be a real brother.”

Considered one of the most prominent hard rock bands in the country, Razorback — formed in 1990 — gained fame by being regulars in clubs like Kalye, Club Dredd, and Peligro and for performing covers of songs by bands such as Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden.

The band is a frequent collaborator with another Filipino rock band, Wolfgang.

The band released its debut album, Hebigat Sounds Volume One, in 1995 which was followed by Beggar’s Moon in 1997, a year after Mr. Velasco joined the band.

Razorback’s third album, Star, was released the following year and one of its songs, “Voodoo, Who Do?,” was included as part of the soundtrack of Filipino artist William “Whilce” Portacio’s graphic novel series, Stone, which ran from 1998 to 2000.

In 2002, Razorback released its eponymously titled double CD album. Its most recent album was 2014’s Acoustik ng Ina Mo.

Mr. Velasco also played for other bands like Brain Salad and DRT.

“I don’t know what to say… Let’s remember Bri in the best way possible,” said former Wolfgang member Leslie “Wolf” Gemora, in a Facebook post. “Rest in Peace, drum brother. I pray that God accepts you into heaven. You deserve to be with the angels.”

In a series of Facebook posts, singer Nicole Laurel Asensio, who has taken over vocal work for the band after its longtime lead vocalist Kevin Roy left last year, mourned the death of the “ONLY friend who I can honestly say has seen me at my worst and who I’ve seen at some of his most painful too. You were one of my best friends since I was 16…. It kills me that I’m all the way on the other side of the world and all I want to do is hug you and I wont be able to, not even at your wake. I love you so damn much… on so many levels. I love you Brian C. Velasco.”

While Mr. Velasco recorded his suicide on Facebook, the video has been taken down and family and friends are calling on the public not to share copies of the video.

People who need help or assistance may call Hopeline hotlines 804-HOPE (4673); 0917-558-HOPE (4673); or 2919 (toll-free number for Globe and TM subscribers). — Zsarlene B. Chua

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