For most people, leaving a mark while doing what they love is a pretty ambitious goal. You practice your craft, you work hard to turn a few (hopefully thousands of) heads, then you strive even more to stay in their consciousness. At this day and age, you’d be lucky to get your 15 minutes. So when you still generate the same effect decades later, you know you’ve got something special.
I just bought my copy of the Esquire Philippines September 2014 issue, my first-ever purchase of a brand-new glossy. I’m kind of a cheap bastard, so I’d normally wait for magazines to be declared a back issue so I can get them for a fraction of the price. But this one’s special. This is the Eraserheads issue. With a CD of their two new singles. And it’s flying off shelves like emergency rations on doomsday.
For those who don’t know who the Eraserheads are, this quartet (Ely Buendia, lead vocals and guitar; Raymund Marasigan, drums, percussion, and backing vocals; Buddy Zabala, bass and backing vocals; and Marcus Adoro, lead guitar) changed the face of Filipino music not only during their time, but even after they went their separate ways. They’re the quintessential OPM rock band every 90’s kid in the Philippines wailed, head-bobbed, and air-guitared to at one point in their lives. They’re not a schtick, nor are they a one-hit wonder. They’re fucking legends, man.
(Here’s probably where I’m expected to wax nostalgic about why I love them and how they changed my life, but I’m not going to do it, don’t worry. Every fan of any band has a story; we don’t need to hear all of them, do we?)
Fans were devastated when they announced their break-up in 2001, and with the bad blood between them being the baddest of bloods, people never thought this reunion would ever happen and it did. Sort of. This isn’t them getting back together, they keep insisting. They’re simply retracing their roots and maybe growing a couple of new ones through this issue. Good enough for us.
On the cover is the band doing the obligatory image of crossing the iconic Abbey Road. It’s an homage to the Beatles done by many a tourist, yes, but for them, it makes perfect sense.
Stuck on a page with their name on a marquee is the 2-track CD containing their new singles, “1995” and “Sabado“, which are guaranteed to whisk you away on the good ship Nostalgia. Both songs do take you back to the group’s heyday, with those recognizable riffs and beats backing that oh-so-familiar voice. But it also brings to light a certain maturity in tone and more refined playing skills that only ages of performing can bring. One thing’s for sure: they still got it, not that they ever lost it.
Further into the issue is their feature, mainly giving a blow-by-blow of their exploits in the homeland of the Queen (both the monarch and the rock band), from their Abbey Road photoshoot, to the gig in London’s Eventim Apollo, to immersing themselves in the Doctor Who Experience.
Between the sets and the shopping trips and the drinking, you get an account of where they are at this point. Everyone’s older and wiser, has kids, and is doing their own thing, musically speaking. They’re not shy when it comes to talking about things they wish they could change about their early years (Toyang, anyone?) and the animosity among them them that led to their eventual break-up. They admit they’re now as OK as they can be with each other, even cool enough to hang out together for the first time (a magical moment, as Marcus put it) at the Portobello Street Market. It just goes to show: love for your craft can, even in the slightest, bring walls down to make fans happy again. And they certainly did. (I would’ve paid to watch them jamming on acoustic guitars on that double-decker bus.)
Earlier I said I wouldn’t launch into a long-winding speech, and I won’t, mainly because I have no dramatic story to justify why I’m a fan. I don’t need one. I just like them because they’re real. They don’t pretend to rock. They just do. And that’s exactly why their fans never stopped being fans.
Again, they’ve confirmed that they won’t be getting back together to grace us with more years of timeless ultraelectromagnetic rock (save for the occasional overseas gig and that September 4 mini concert), but they’ve satiated fans with this release for now. Until the next blue moon comes around, we’ll have to stay content with these and singing to songs about never-ending joy, reaching for the sky and learning the el bimbo.
Thanks, Eheads. Until the next set.
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