Eraserheads, or E-Heads was a prominent Filipino 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 Pilipino Music, earning them the accolade, "The Beatles of the Philippines." Eraserheads are also credited for spearheading a second wave of Manila band invasions, paving the way for a host of influential Philippine alternative rock bands.
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. Eraserheads are one of 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, Eraserheads helped change the sound of Pinoy rock.
In 1989, two college bands from the University of the Philippines, Diliman were both in search of new members for a new group. Curfew, which consisted of Buddy Zabala on bass, Raimund Marasigan on drums and Marcus Adoro on guitars, met up with Sunday School, which consisted of Ely Buendia on vocals and Raimund as sessionist drummer in December of the same year. Ely's first two college bands (Bluidie Tryste and Sunday School) were too unstable, so he decided to post an audition notice on a university message board. Only Raimund, Buddy, and Marcus showed up (Raimund was first since he knew Ely and performed with him before, then Buddy and Marcus were next). According to an interview with Myx, Raimund said he first auditioned as bassist while Buddy as drummer. But they noticed that it did not sound right, the two switched places, and the rest was history.
The four decided to form a new group, calling themselves Eraserheads. The band took their name from the movie "Eraserhead" by surrealist director David Lynch, which they picked up while reading a magazine. They did mostly covers, playing every gig in school they've managed to get into. Eventually, they made the rounds of Manila's rock club circuit, achieving little success.
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 Eraserheads' songs a try. In 1992, BMG signed up the band for a three-year record deal.
In July 1993, 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 hit, 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 Eraserheads, opening the second wave of band invasion. The Eraserheadsmania was born.
In October 1994, 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. In the same year, Eraserheads played during the Miss Universe Pageant which was held in Manila.
Four of the songs became successive hits: "Kailan", "Magasin", "Alapaap" & "With A Smile". 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 band 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 shot 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. 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 Eraserheads the first ever Filipino artists to win the award.
The promotional CD versions of "Milk and Money", "Hard to Believe" and "Andalusian Dog", all for the album Sticker Happy, were mixed at Electric Lady Studios, New York City in September 1997. Electric Lady Studios was built by the rock legend Jimi Hendrix. The tracks were recorded earlier in Manila, however. 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.
In early 1999, they did sold-out shows in Hong Kong, Sydney, and Dubai. Their next album, Natin99, was released in May.
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", "Hula" and "Palamig."
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 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 roadie'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 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."