Some members of the old lineup left and were replaced by Christopher "Chris" Cantada and Erwin "Armo" Armovit. The latter is the guitarist of another band Rampqueen, which was managed also by Sponge's manager Raymond Fabul. Later however, they learned about a Detroit grunge band already using the name Sponge. "But we wanted to keep the word Sponge in our band name because people have already associated us with that name," according to Yael. "So we decided to add 'Cola', since it's an easy enough word to remember." Sponge Cola was officially formed in summer of 2002.
Through this EP, Sponge Cola got extensive airplay from several local pop and rock radio stations. A bootlegged copy of their version of Madonna's "Crazy for You" ended up on the Internet and became an underground hit, with some listeners believing it was a Sponge Cola original. Though this misconception helped increase their popularity, the band aimed to remove the stigma of being a cover band, pushing their original songs to the forefront.
In 2004, the band signed for record distribution and released Sponge Cola's first full-length debut album, entitled Palabas, under Sony BMG Philippines, an allusion to the boys' theater backgrounds. The album features a definitive voice in unadulterated rock, reminiscent of 90s alternative but mixed with enough sing-along pop sensibility-as based on the band members' individual influences. Gosh was weaned on classic OPM from the likes of Basil Valdes and Martin Nievera; Armo lends to heavy metal and rock edge, citing bands like Deftones, Tool and A Perfect Circle as influences; Chris likes pop-rock bands like the Beatles and Athenaeum; and Yael trips on everything from novelty songs to bubblegum-pop, from 80s power ballads, to The Smashing Pumpkins. They admitted to have been also influenced by Pinoy iconic Rock Band "The Eraserheads."
They are also one of the few local rock bands that boast of using three part harmonies in a lot of their songs, supplied by Yael, Chris and Gosh and as seen in tracks such as "KLSP" and "Una". Sponge Cola also experiments with unconventional elements that are normally ignored in rock recording, like the samisen ("A Japanese guitar", Gosh boasts), the striking of amplifiers, cellphone ring tones and actual rain. The final track "Closure" faintly features the sound of a door shutting, before transposing to a melancholic acoustic number.
During 2004, their songs Lunes and KLSP gained popularity and ended up in most radio stations' charts during that period. Also, Jeepney became popular in the beginning of 2005 along with their own version of Crazy For You. With the resurgence of Pinoy Rock in the middle of 2005, Sponge Cola gained even more popularity from listeners with their song Gemini and especially the alternative rock song Una.
All their singles were able to reach the #1 spot in both Philippines 100 and Yes FM Hit Chart.
They recorded their next album just after they graduated from college. Sponge Cola released their second album entitled Transit in September with a launch party in Isettan, Recto, under Universal Records Africa. The album turned gold after less than three months of its release due to the success of the lead single Bitiw which enjoyed massive radio airplay. The song also became the theme song of ABS-CBN's show Pedro Penduko. In MYX's Hit Chart 2006 year ender countdown, Bitiw was the number 2 video.
Sponge Cola have contributed on two tribute albums. They covered the 90's hit song by the Eraserheads, "Pare Ko", on Ultraelectromagneticjam. The group released their cover of APO Hiking Society's classic "Nakapagtataka" on the tribute album, "Kami nAPO muna", as the next single. The song reached number 1 in the MYX Hit Charts and enjoyed massive radio airplay.
Tuliro, the second single from Transit, was released in the first quarter of 2007. It peaked at number 1 in the YES FM Hit Charts.
The band was again contracted by ABS-CBN to create the theme song of the new season of the show Pedro Penduko, Pedro Penduko at ang mga Engkantao, entitled Tuloy Pa Rin.
The band was recently featured in a MYX show, "Myxellaneous", where it showed the evolution of the band from young upstarts to icons of the Philippine rock industry.
The music video for their song "Movie" premiered on MYX on August 1, 2007 and it hit number one shortly after its release.
Sponge Cola's version of APO classic "Saan Na Nga Ba'ng Barkada" for the Kami nAPO Muna ULIT album is currently enjoying massive radio airplay despite not having a music video for it.
The band released their current single "Pasubali" on January 24, 2008. It held the number 1 spot on the Myx Hit Chart for three weeks and is still on the said chart to this very day. It is also being used as the theme song to ABS-CBN's airing of the Koreanovela Lovers
The album includes a bonus AVCD featuring 5 brand new tracks Tuloy Pa Rin, Nakapagtataka, Tuliro (Acoustic Version), Pasubali (Acoustic Version), Intercept, and Pasubali (Radio Edit).
The album also includes music videos of Bitiw, Nakapagtataka, Tuliro, Tuloy Pa Rin, Movie, and Pasubali. It hit platinum a week after its release.
ASAP Pop Viewer's Choice:
[1ST OPM Songhits Awards 2007]
NU 107 Rock Awards:
SOP Music Awards: