The Eraserheads, Eraserheads, or E-Heads was a prominent Pinoy rock band of the 1990s, formed by Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, Buddy Zabala and Marcus Adoro. The band is one of the most successful, critically-acclaimed, and significant bands in the history of Original Pinoy Music, earning them the accolade, "The Beatles of the Philippines." The Eraserheads are also credited for spearheading a second wave of Manila band invasions, paving the way for a host of Philippine alternative rock bands such as Rivermaya, The Youth, Yano, Alamid, Grin Department, Teeth, Siakol and Parokya ni Edgar.
The band released several singles, albums, and EPs that reached number one. This commercial success was most evident in the release of their third album Cutterpillow, which achieved platinum status several times. The Eraserheads are one the best-selling musical acts of all time in the Philippines, paving way for an international career that earned them the "Moon Man" in the MTV Video Music Awards.
Their diverse music worked both in the underground and mainstream scenes of the Philippine music industry. By fusing different musical styles such as alternative, pop, rock, reggae, and synthpop the Eraserheads helped change the sound of Pinoy rock.
The band found that they weren't good at playing covers, so they concentrated on writing their own material instead. "After all, if we committed a mistake, no one would recognize it since they don't know the song, right?" Buendia explained. Their new, original songs, played live, soon earned them a cult following in the university, which gradually spread outside the campus. One of the songs, a pop song entitled, "Pare Ko," became very popular, partly because of lyrics that included a few obscenities.
The band recorded a nine-song demo tape in the garage of Marasigan's provincial home (in Candelaria, Quezon) on January 6, 1991. They then shopped the demo cassette around record labels, clubs and radio stations, hoping to have their songs reach the public. However, they were rejected at every turn, with one recording label deeming that their demo was "not pop enough". In May 1991, a professor-friend teaching Humanities, Robin Rivera, helped them re-record and mix better versions of the demo songs on a four-track DAT recorder.The new demo was named Pop-U!, an irreverent response to those who turned them down.
Meanwhile, Buendia became employed as a student copywriter by BMG Records Pilipinas (now part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment). He worked with BMG during the day and wrote songs with the band during the night. Eventually, the songs of Buendia and the band caught the attention of BMG A&R Director Vic Valenciano. Valenciano listened to the songs and then commented that they were very raw technically, but that there was something promising in them. Subsequently, BMG gave the Eraserheads' songs a try. In 1992, BMG signed up the Eraserheads for a three-year record deal.
In July 1992, the Eraserheads started recording their debut album called Ultraelectromagneticpop!. The album featured "Pare Ko", "Toyang" and "Tindahan Ni Aling Nena", all of which were also present in Pop-U!. The album also featured a sanitized version of "Pare Ko" called "Walang Hiyang Pare Ko". Later in the same year, BMG initially released 5,000 copies of the album. The album became a smash, with the songs "Ligaya", "Pare Ko" and "Toyang" topping the charts, that, by the end of the year, BMG sold 300,000 copies, and Ultraelectromagneticpop! turned sextuple platinum.
The album met some opposition as the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) attempted to censor "Pare Ko" but without success. The public was said to have found its OPM Fab Four in the Eraserheads, opening the second wave of band invasion. The Eraserheadsmania was born.
In October 1994, the Eraserheads came up with a follow-up album entitled Circus. The band said that the album aptly described their life since their smashing debut. The album was unpredictable and unconventional compared to the OPM ballads at that time, and established the band members as good songwriters and musicians. The songs varied in style and mood, ranging from euphoric and hilarious to tender and somber.
Five of the songs became successive hits: "Kailan", "Magasin", "Alapaap", "With A Smile" and "Sembreak". Circus turned gold in just 30 days with 20,000 copies sold. Eventually, it turned quintuple platinum with 200,000 copies sold. But like Ultraelectromagneticpop!, it too had its share of controversy. In August 1995, Senator Tito Sotto, who was involved in an anti-drug campaign at that time, called for a ban on the airplay and sales of "Alapaap" over an alleged promotion of drug abuse in the lyrics of the song. In response, the Eraserheads denied the allegation, saying that the it was just a misinterpretation, and that the song was the band's "ode to freedom", not an "ode to drug abuse".
Their much-awaited third album, Cutterpillow, was launched via an open-air concert attended by fans and followers in colossal proportions. With Christmas barely a month over, the Eraserheads opened 1996 by making history in the Philippine music scene once more. Cutterpillow turned gold, even before it hit the record stores, as a result of the pre-selling promo campaign. Soon, the band shot the music video for the song "Ang Huling El Bimbo" (The Last El Bimbo) from the album.
Later that year, the Eraserheads came up with a conceptual Christmas album called Fruitcake. This was shortly followed by a release of a companion storybook of the same title.
Also in 1996 the band was given a chance at acting when they co-starred with Comedian/TV Host Joey De Leon of "Eat Bulaga" in a comedy film produced By GMA Network's Cinemax Studios (now GMA Films), "Run Barbi Run".
The year 1998 was marked with a series of gigs outside of the Philippines. The Eraserheads' first ever overseas gig was at BMG Records' "Sentosa Pop Festival" in Singapore in March 1997. It was then followed by a mini U.S. tour in May. Then, four months later in September, they were at the Radio City Music Hall in New York to receive the coveted "Moon Man" trophy for winning the 1997 MTV Asia Viewer's Choice Award, which made the Eraserheads, the first ever Filipino artists to win the award.
Their fifth album, Sticker Happy, was released a few days after the MTV Awards. A month later, they were back in Singapore for a series of shows and appearances for MTV Asia.
In February 1998, they represented the Philippines at the annual "Asia Live Dream '98" for NHK Broadcasting in Tokyo, Japan. Then in May, they embarked on another U.S. tour, taking them from Oakland to Los Angeles and to New York. The band toured the U.S. under the Happy Box production outfit, which was formed by brothers Haro De Guzman and Levan "Schizo" De Guzman and some other friends.
August 1998 saw the release of the album Aloha Milkyway in the Asian region, and finally in the Philippines two months later. The album contains chart-topping songs that have been re-mastered, as well as five new songs.
Between May and June 2000, they did another tour of America dubbed, "The Pop Machine Tour - USA2000", taking them from New York to Chicago and to California. During their tours, they also had Noel Garcia as an addition to their expanded line-up, he plays guitars, keyboards, and sometimes drums. After almost two years, the much-awaited studio album, Carbon Stereoxide, was released in March 2001, featuring the tracks, "Maskara", "Playground" and "Hula."
After weeks of speculation, it was confirmed that the main songwriter and lead singer, Ely Buendia, had left the band in mid-March 2002 for "reasons unknown". However, in subsequent interviews, Buendia pointed to business matters as the cause of the band's break-up.
In a PULP Magazine , Buendia's wife and manager, Diane Ventura, claimed that the breakup started with a miscommunication between Buendia and the band's roadie, the result being that Buendia and Ventura turned up late at a mall gig. This upset the roadie who snidely referred to the couple as "unprofessional". Buendia's band colleagues and crew at the gig gave Buendia "a cold shoulder", related Ventura, being under the impression that Buendia had come late deliberately. The next day, Buendia brought the incident to the attention of the band's management boss, Butch Dans, to which he allegedly reverted the blame to the roadie's "unprofessionalism". Dans, however, allegedly chose to consider the r's account over Buendia's without much deliberation. Dans allegedly quipped that Buendia and Ventura were "probably too high on drugs" to remember the gig's schedule. Ventura stepped in to dispute the allegation and vehemently denied that she and Buendia were even told of the schedule. Unfortunately, the other three Eraserheads also believed the roadie's story, which disturbed Buendia because he felt betrayed of their longstanding friendship. Buendia later announced to his mates through SMS that he was quitting the group.
In another interview, Marasigan said he was eating in SM Megamall, a local shopping mall, when he heard of the news (how he heard of it, was not clear). He said he was "semi-surprised" and wondered if Zabala already knew about it. Adoro told of the story now famous among Eraserheads fans about Buendia's cryptic text message. He said Buendia stated in the text message that he had already "graduated." Adoro quipped in the same interview that it was natural for Buendia to graduate first, since he was in batch '87 of their college (UP Diliman), while the rest were in batch '88.
Zabala confessed in an interview that disbanding had not been that far away from the members' minds. He said that there were many occasions wherein they could have disbanded but did not.
Adoro expressed the belief of some people that the band was getting too old, and that it was "selfish" for the band to continue, likely referring to comments about how it's time for other bands, besides the Eraserheads, to shine. The band made it clear, though, that Buendia's departure from the band wasn't in any way violent and that there was no shouting (sigawan) or any confrontation involved.
Without relenting, the three remaining Eraserheads decided to continue. Within a few weeks, the "new" Eheads debuted at Hard Rock Cafe in Makati City on April 19, featuring a female singer-guitarist, Kris Gorra-Dancel, from the band, Fatal Posporos. However, after a few months, Adoro had quit the band as well. The remaining members of the Eheads added Diego Mapa and Ebe Dancel to their lineup and renamed their band, "Cambio."
In July, 2008, it was confirmed by the members that they will be reuniting for a one-off concert to be held on August 30 2008. Ely Buendia did affirm that the reunion will be for a night's performance only, to be sponsored by a multinational tobacco company. Buendia was quoted saying "Im not doing this for the money but for the E-heads fans who remain loyal". The sponsors are expecting 35,000 attendees with free tickets distributed to online registrants in early August 2008. This highly awaited one-night concert was initially reported to be planned for staging at the Cultural Center of the Philippines open grounds, or alternatively, the Fort Bonifacio open grounds.
On August 22, word had broken out that Philip Morris had pulled out of the concert and that the show had been "cancelled".
Anti-Tobacco forces, led by Dr. Maricar Limpin, had been active in a campaign to get the Eraserheads to renounce the concert and the involvement of the tobacco giant, as Alicia Keys had done in her recent concert in Indonesia. The Eraserheads never issued such an announcement. However, it was believed that the pressure exerted by the anti-tobacco forces had caused Philip Morris to end their participation in the concert.
On the evening of August 24, Raimund Marasigan issued a response to this news. Posting on the Sandwich and Cambio mailing lists, Marasigan confirmed that while Philip Morris has pulled out of the production, the concert is "most definitely" pushing through on the original date, August 30, 2008, at the Fort Bonifacio open field.
Philip Morris would no longer be involved, but the entire production had been turned over to a new producer. Furthermore, while it was previously made known through Philip Morris' announcement that the concert would be free to smokers who signed up through a promotional website known as The Red List at http://marlboro.ph, the change in producers meant that tickets would no longer be free but made available to anyone who purchased them. It was later revealed that Radiohead Media Solutions, Inc., MTV Philippines and Sony BMG took over.
The Eraserheads went onstage for their reunion concert on August 30, 2008 at the Fort Open Field, Taguig City. The concert, however, was cut short after Ely Buendia experienced chest pains due to emotional and physical stress. They were already halfway of a planned 30-song setlist as Buendia was rushed to the Makati Medical Hospital because he was experiencing chest pains right after playing their 15th song (last song for the first set). He was, however, reported to be in stable condition. Buddy Zabala had checked on Ely in his tent right after they went to their planned 20 minute break and saw that he already was on an oxygen mask with paramedics checking his blood pressure. As he left and came back, paramedics were already taking Ely on an ambulance. Bandmates Buddy, Raimund and Marcus Adoro further said that they had no idea that Ely was already having difficulty performing. In the spirit of the reunion, Raimund, Buddy and Marcus went to Saguijo after the concert and they continued their sets there. Kris Gorra-Dancel, Ebe Dancel, Aia De Leon and many other OPM artists joined them as well. During the concert, Jazz Nicolas of the Itchyworms and a close friend of the band, also joined the fab four and played synths, keyboards, and other back-up instruments.
MTV Philippines President Francis Lumen stated: “He had a slight attack because of stress due to the recent passing of his mother (Lisette Buendia), and their sound check which lasted till 3 a.m. today (Saturday).” Buendia's mother died of cardiac arrest on August 28 after recovering from surgery to treat her intestinal cancer. Buendia was transferred to Philippine Heart Center 10:00 p.m. of August 31 after being treated at the critical care area of the Makati Medical Center emergency room. Sony BMG reported Buendia was "stable" after suffering hypokalemia a medical condition in which the concentration of potassium in the blood is low. Buendia had been administered with a potassium intravenous fluid.
Buendia, 37, on September 1, 2008, underwent his third heart angioplasty surgery since his January, 2007 heart attack. The blood vessel operated upon was "100 percent fully restored," and Buendia was recovering in "stable condition but still under observation. On September 05, 2008, Buendia was discharged from the hospital.
When asked about another concert, the band members said "definitely."
Many people questioned whether the time was right for a tribute to a group that had just disbanded four years ago, with its former members still active in the music industry. Buendia, for his part, had mixed feelings about the tribute album, saying that "It’s too early to be taking part in it and I don’t see myself being part of it kasi (because) I’m still doing something here...To be part of it is like acknowledging na tapos na ako (that I am finished); isa na lang akong trophy na itatago na (I'm just a trophy to be shelved). Siguro kung uugud-ugud na ako (Maybe when I'm really old), that’s the time I’m gonna look back." Ironically though, he is featured in one of the tracks, "Superproxy 2k6" by Francis Magalona. Still, many fans - even some local bands active in the industry today - are hoping that the band will have some sort of reunion.
Tikman ang Langit is a collection of essays about the Eraserheads originally written by fourteen journalists who are mostly fans of the band. The book itself was compiled by Melvin Calimag and Jing Garcia, with a foreword by Eraserheads producer Robin Rivera.
After leaving the Eraserheads, Ely Buendia, under the stage name, Jesus "Dizzy" Ventura, joined guitarist Jerome Velasco (of then disunited band, The Teeth), bassist Yan Yuzon, and drummer Bogs Jugo (of the indie pop band Daydream Cycle) to form the band, The Mongols. After putting out an underground E.P. A Fraction of a Second, the Mongols decided to have their self-produced album distributed by the major label VIVA Records. The result is a thirteen-track album called Buddha's Pest. The Mongols' singles did not get the kind of airplay that the Eraserheads' songs used to have, attributed to the band's leanings towards heavy underground music.
When Jerome Velasco left The Mongols to study abroad, the other members of the band added The Teeth bassist Dok Sergio to their lineup and renamed their band Pupil. In November 2005, Pupil released an album entitled Beautiful Machines under Sony BMG and label Musiko, with the song, "Nasaan Ka?" as its first single. The song got fair airplay and became quite popular. Pupil's music is relatively more mainstream than The Mongols'.
Buendia also had a broadsheet column entitled "CURSOR," which was published weekly in the Entertainment Section of The Manila Bulletin newspaper. Due to Buendia's busy musical career, CURSOR had ended and was last published during the first Saturday of September 2006.
On Sunday, January 7, 2007, Buendia suffered a heart attack or acute myocardial infarction secondary to arterial blockage. Buendia was reportedly in the middle of a song during Pupil's gig in Laguna when he felt a sudden pain in his chest and left arm. He was rushed to a hospital, where doctors performed an emergency angioplasty on him. Buendia's condition was confirmed stable the same night. A second angioplasty operation was conducted on Buendia on January 10, 2007. The operation was successful, and he is reportedly secured from having heart attack recurrence.
Buendia's former bandmates expressed concern over his health. Buddy Zabala and his wife, Earnest, visited Buendia in the hospital, but Buendia missed the opportunity to talk with them because he was asleep during that time. The couple, however, were able to talk to Buendia's mother. Dr. Day Cabuhat, former manager for the Eraserheads and one of the managers for Pupil, replied in CIRCUS -- The Eraserheads Mailing List, "buddy and earnest visited around 8am the morning after the surgery, ely was asleep, he was given a sedative post-op... marcus, as we heard, is on his way from la union." On January 28, Marcus Adoro performed live on stage for LivELY, a fundraising concert for Ely Buendia. Raimund Marasigan reportedly sent a text message to Buendia.
Diane Ventura, Buendia's wife and Pupil's other manager, gave thanks to everyone who expressed their concern for Ely's condition, especially to local musicians such as Yael Yuzon, Francis Magalona, Chito Miranda, Rico Blanco and Buddy Zabala. She also thanked the two former Eraserheads members, Zabala and Adoro, in her message.
This event also prompted rapper Francis Magalona, longtime friend of the Eraserheads, to state the following on his personal blog: "Fast forward to right now, 9:58 am, Jan. 9, a lot of what ifs scenarios pop in my head. What if the E-heads members are back, like long-lost blood brothers? What if "the most significant OPM band of Pinoy Rock" would be in one room, what would happen?" And in postscript he adds, "Para sa akin panahon na para mag-reunite ang E-heads. Sugod na mga kapatid...rock & roll na hanggang umaga." which roughly translates, "For me, it's time for E-Heads to reunite. Let's go brothers...rock & roll until morning." It would take the Eraserheads over a year to make this happen.
After Buendia and Adoro left the Eraserheads, Raimund Marasigan, Buddy Zabala and Kris Gorra-Dancel's group was renamed "Cambio," adding Diego Mapa to their lineup. They came out with an album called Derby Light In the Dark Waters of Antagonism.
Marasigan started "Planet Garapata" also in 1996, a short-lived hip-hop and electronica project that featured Eraserheads bassist Buddy Zabala, Eraserheads sound engineer Mark Laccay and Jeng Tan. The project debuted in Francis M's 1996 Happy Battle album and featured Marasigan's early rapping skills.
Marasigan's band, Sandwich, was formed in 1996 with his girlfriend Myrene Academia (also with the band Imago) on bass, Marc Abaya on lead guitars and vocals (later replaced by Mong Alcaraz of the band, Chicosci), Diego Castillo on rhythm guitars, and Mike Dizon (from The Teeth) on drums. Although existing simultaneously with the Eraserheads, Sandwich built up their own fan base. Abaya left the band in 2005 to concentrate on his own band, Kjwan, and Marasigan has since taken over as the sole vocalist and lead guitarist. They have released five albums: Grip Stand Throw, Four-track Mind, Thanks to the Moon's Gravitational Pull, Five On The Floor, which saw Marasigan handle vocal duties in lieu of former singer Marc Abaya, and their latest release, S Marks the Spot.
Marasigan also has a hip-hop influenced project band called Squid 9. In early 2005, Marasigan once again formed another project band called Pedicab. The band is composed of artists in their stage names, Marasigan as "Sugarraims" on synths and backup vocals, Mike Dizon as "Masterbeat" on drums, Jason Caballa (of Twisted Halo and Blast Ople) as "J. Sonic" on guitar and backup vocals, and Diego Mapa as "Daddy Maps" on lead vocals. They call their music "dance-punk." Pedicab’s first album. Tugish Takish, was released later that year.
And in 2008, Raimund formed yet another project band called Project 1 which is composed of Raimund himself on vocals, Francis Reyes (of The Dawn) on lead guitars, Clem Castro (formerly with Orange and Lemons, currently with the Camerawalls) on rhythm guitar, Jazz Nicolas (of Itchyworms) on drums, Carlos Calderon (of Chicosci) on bass, and Katwo Librando (of Duster) and Uela Basco (of Chillitees) on vocals.
For his bass work for Cambio ("Derby Light") and Twisted Halo ("In Loving Memory of the Fearless Exploits of the Bolo Brigade"), Zabala was awarded the 2004 NU Rock Awards "Bassist of the Year".
After Buendia left the Eraserheads, Adoro also decided to quit a few months later. He then moved to La Union and was unheard from until the April 2005. An email from him was sent to PhilMusic.com about a new project he was working on, called "Belma en Luis". The EP turned up at a shop called "Sarabia Optical" in his former collegiate school, UP Diliman. It became available in different album covers and titles: Urfer Magazine (Mag:Net Café), Duckdive (Bigsky), American Gurl (United States version), and Submarine (Marikina version).
Adoro, Zabala, and Marasigan performed for an event at the Millennia Club called "Marooned," a production of UP bands from past and present. Buendia was invited to the gig, but did not attend. The song, "Batch 88" from "Belma en Luis," was one of the songs that was jammed by the trio.
Adoro was interviewed by GMA 7 newscaster Jessica Soho on her show, "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho" about La Union, which is now popular for all beach surfers in the Philippines. Adoro now enjoys a new lifestyle as a surfer in La Union.
Marcus Adoro has a new band named Markus Highway under Warner Music Philippines. Their first album, "Behold, Rejoice! Surfernando Is Hear Nah", was released in February 2008.
Burger Machine (1994)