1993. I was in a Japanese language school in Tokyo. The Internet was practically non-existent. A 5-minute international phone call to the Philippines was 1,000 yen.
I opened my mailbox and there was an envelope containing letters from my friends in Manila, a bunch of goofy pictures, and this news clipping from the October 17, 1993 edition of Manila Bulletin about a new band making waves around the music circles in the Philippines.
The Eraserheads who were just playing gigs around the University of the Philippines before then had just hit the big time.
(Last weekend, I was searching for a table-top tripod that I have had since I was shooting film and rummaging through some old stuff and just found this. Coincidentally, I’ve just read that the former members are reuniting to do a concert next week December 22.)
Here the text of the article (by Robert R. Requintina)
In 1989, four guys from the University of the Philippines (UP) formed a band known as “Eraserheads.” They used to be an underground group, playing only at UP gigs and parties until they hit it big. Now, their debut single “Pare Ko,” lifted from their album “Ultraelectromagneticpop!” (under BMG Records Pilipinas), notches high every week in the musical countdown of the top pop stations in Metro Manila. In short, “Eraserheads” has evolved to be one of the hottest local bands in the country.
An overnight success? Definitely not. It wasn’t an easy road for the band which is now making their presence felt in the music circle.
Tough, is how the band members describe their slow ascent to a recording deal, especially when they started to send their demo tapes to major radio stations in the country to introduce their sound. The response? Nevermind.
“At first, we were rejected by major studio labels and radio stations. They thought our music was raw. It was not pop,” claims Marcus Antonius Adoro, who plays guitar for the band.
Not only that, they were shooed at Mayric’s in Manila and Anthem in Tandang Sora. They thought at this point, they are not getting anywhere. “Hanggang UP na lang,” as one band member puts it.
Challenged, the band poured their hearts out into making an album called “Pop-U” in protest to the people in the industry who turned them down.
A limited 20 copies of the album was released, which went around the UP campus and proved to be such a big success.
“That thing caught up with BMG Pilipinas and the rest is history,” so they say.
The group became famous for a ballad entitled “Pare Ko” which was being covered by other bands before it was recorded. The song makes waves now in the countdowns of radio stations such as DWTM and DWLS-FM, LA-105, World Music Radio. Eraserheads also plays another cut called “Tonyang,” a personal favorite of this author.
What is “Eraserheads” music? At a recent album-launching party at the Makati Skyline where they played some of their songs, one would have thought that the band was influenced by today’s grungy groups such Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Faith No More, etc. But they’re not.
“Our music is honest and frank,” says Ely Buendia, the band’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Like any other bands, “Eraserheads” boasts about writing their own music.
He adds that their music has the influence of the 60’s and the 70’s, the Beatles, the Swedish group ABBA and would you believe it–the Apo Hiking Society.
Ely and the rest of the band, who took time out to meet the press, said that the mushrooming of bands in the country is a healthy competition. “We’re in for a fair competition,” Ely quips.
In the album, buyers are warned about the explicit lyrics in one of the cuts–a song your mother would rather not hear about.
“I just want to come up with a love song that’s different. It was an honest love song I suppose. And whenever you feel bad or happy about something, I think it’s natural for someone to utter these words. Also, I wanted to know if I could get away with it,” adds Ely.
Whatever case they’re in, “Eraserheads” is making good music and hopefully, lots of money, too! Soon, the band will go on a campus tour which will get them busy until the end of this year.
Aside from Ely and Marcus, the band is also composed of Hector Zabala, bass guitar; and Raymund Emmanuel Marasigan, drums and keyboards.
There’s really no stopping the “Eraserheads” now and their unique brand of music.