These interviews were originally published as three separate stories, in Inquirer Super’s issue of Sept. 6, 2008, or seven days after the first Eraserheads reunion concert.
THE DRUMMER WILL DRUM: Raymund Marasigan
After the reunion gig, did you realize that you missed each other?
Is it really impossible for you to get back together as a band?
Right now? I think that’s impossible because I think we’re very happy and satisfied with our respective bands. And also because the Eraserheads is too big, too difficult to handle, plus we’re all having fun with our respective bands. Speaking for myself, I am extremely pleased with all my bands, there’s no room to take care of a big band like the ‘Heads. It’s a lot of responsibility. One gig nga lang, sobrang daming makikialam, kokontra. And it?s great that I can do anything in Sandwich, Cambio, and Pedicab. Financially, we?re successful. Artistically, we’re free and musically, it’s very satisfying. The relationship is tight, more (like a) family than bandmates, actually. This is exactly how I wanted it after the ‘Heads. The ‘Heads is one big lesson, for me. I don’t mind playing Eraserhead shows, now that we’ve played together. Maybe just not on a regular basis. I don’t think I can handle it. Physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Was it too stressful for you, the dramatic last few weeks before the reunion gig, with all the changes in the plans, production and promoters?
The most stressful part about that was that I couldn’t announce to friends and family details about the concert. They were asking questions mostly directions on how to get the tickets, etc. That was what mattered to majority of the people. Many didn’t care if it was to be produced by Marlboro or the DOH or whoever, the original promoters relayed that by Aug. 1 all details would be set. So I promised everyone I’d keep them posted. Eh Aug. 25 na, wala pa ring final plans. So I was getting stressed with that, I got sick, even got a fever because of that. Otherwise, everything was ready. The band was prepared, the production was ready but none of us could send any details if it was pushing through or not. But at the back of my head I was thinking, everyone should relax, it’s just a concert. The country has bigger problems like the peace in Mindanao, ‘di ba? But that was just me and I don’t like worrying about the technicalities and etc. I’ll worry about the music but not the mechanics of a concert, so that stressed me out. I guess when Sony BMG took over and ‘saved the day,’ I really wasn’t interested in the legal-speak, I just wanted to know details so I had something to tell my friends and my family at that point because this was a few days before the playdate.
You keep saying that ‘it’s just a concert’ but obviously it’s not just a concert to many people. And you know that it’s not just that to many of us in the audience.
Yeah I know, I know. (laughs) But you know, during those few days, that’s also when I heard about Ely’s mom passing away. After that, I surrendered na. I knew that this was as far as our control goes. If Ely decides not to play, no one will question him. None of us will. So at that time, I knew that I just had to go with the flow. The passing of Tita Lizette trumps everything. In fact, at that time all the stress I was feeling about the arrangements and everything else disappeared at that point.
Of course, because there was a higher order to follow.
Oo nga! Suko na ako. We will all respect Ely’s decision, I know I will. In my experience, when my dad got sick, I dropped out of the last leg of the Eraserheads? US tour and they all respected that. Whatever happens, at that point, will happen. And I knew I had no control over anything anymore. We visited her in the hospital and then the next day she passed away. So Buddy and I paid our respects, we went to the wake. We had known Tita Lizette for over 20 years. Not just in the context of the E-heads career but even since our college days. And then it was taking its toll on Ely, who hadn’t slept in weeks, weeks! But he never tells anybody. I don’t think any of the band members asked him if he was going to play. I didn’t think it was right at all to ask him that. He just showed up during our sound check and we finished it and then showed up the next day. But he had every reason and right to decide otherwise. I’d respect that, of course.
As we all would’ve.
Oo, dapat lahat naman eh. Basta I decided, I will be the drummer and I will show up when required. And if Ely decided not to show up, then I would follow that direction. No explanations necessary.
During performances, there’s usually one band member who will give cues when to start. How was this performance managed among you since the relationship isn’t exactly smooth?
As the drummer, I usually give the cues, I count off. Most of the time I need to look at every band member before I count off. For some reason, Ely wasn’t giving me a signal per song if he was ready or not. I wasn’t sure if it was an act or because he was laboring or the pressure or the now-famous chant, which I later on found out was ‘group hug.’
Oh no, kami ‘yon! We started it during the end of the first countdown.
Yeah, I know! Later on I found out it was you, guys, my friends nga, but from my vantage point I couldn’t understand it. I kept looking at the set list if it was a title of a song. And I was trying to figure it out. Until I asked someone and I was told it was ‘group hug.’ Maybe it was that. I didn’t need to figure it out because after every song I just counted the beats per minute in my head and worried about the next song. By that time, Ely wasn’t giving me cues so I thought maybe he was already having a tough time just handling his physical feeling. So I just looked at his body language and whenever he looked ready from the back, I counted off. I didn’t rush nor slow down.
I was telling my friend that it was so interesting to see four guys ‘head-on dead-pan’ thousands of people, since no one onstage was reacting to the chant. Libo-libo kaming halos hindi ninyo pinansin!
(laughs) The Eraserheads was never really into the ‘talk to the audience’ type. We never did that. That was never part of our act, really. Ever since. Even in college. If you remember, we didn’t have audience rapport. In UP, during our E-heads career, never, never did we do that.
No talkies, you mean? No spiels?
None, purposely. No. Never. Ely’s wit was always sarcastic and the way you saw us in Kamia (a UP Diliman dorm) back then, that was it. That’s how we’ve been. We were never ‘hi, hello!’ You know? Even Sandwich is not like that. We just play. Eraserheads is like that. We just play.
Did you even notice some dead air? What was going on in the stands, did that even have an impact on you during the gig?
I did pay attention! In fact, it was great to see the faces in the crowd. But you see, preparing immediately for the next song, that’s just my auto-pilot. That night I kept reminding myself to ‘Get the groove steady, Raymund, gotta relax. You’re too excited, you’re hitting the drums too hard’?
Wait! If you were excited, then that means being there was a very good thing for you!
Of yeah! It was good, it is good. And besides, there’s a Sandwich rule that whenever I play, I give it 110 percent or Diego (Castillo) will kick my a**.
But that’s Sandwich!
But I’m Sandwich!
Oo nga naman. But this is E-heads!
Yes! But even in Pedicab, he will still give it to me if I don’t give it my all. So when I signed that contract, I said yes, I will give 110 percent and I did. And I will give the people watching what they deserve. Everything. Except the show biz part. I don’t do that. I don’t think any of the Eraserheads does that. Nobody has done that. I’d give the music and the performance my all but not the show biz part.
Anyway, I know that you switch roles in a lot of bands. When you were onstage that night, did you say to yourself, ‘Ah, now this is E-heads.’
Of course. When I’m on the drums for E-heads, I’M THE DRUMMER OF THE E-HEADS. That’s it.
No cross over?
None. Actually at the first part, I put on the wig to celebrate my look during the first years of the E-heads. The day before, Mary Lou (Malig) and R.A (Rivera, Pedicab) dyed my hair green to celebrate the era of ‘Sticker Happy.’ I didn’t dye my hair two days before the gig because I didn’t want to go to the wake of Ely’s mom with green hair, I didn’t think it was respectful. So we did it the day before the gig. That’s to celebrate ‘97 – Sticker Happy years. Then Mads of Furball lent me a wig to celebrate naman ‘93 Heads. You have to write all of this down, Gang, because this is important. So I was up there as ‘Heads, no doubt. Yeah, I was the drummer of Eraserheads.
So, you were paying tribute to the ‘Heads?
With your hair?
How much of your present-day bands did you bring with you guys onstage? Did you guys at least talk about what to wear on the night of the gig?
Ay no, we don’t talk – the ‘Heads don’t talk.
You don’t talk about even those details?
Sa Sandwich, we can talk about hats and shoes all day, coordinating etc. Sandwich will talk about everything . . . but the ‘Heads? No. We don’t talk. We just play.
Was it always like this? Let’s say, from day one or did this happen slowly?
I think from day one. We don’t talk a lot. But we gelled together because we played music, especially when we play music. For example, our first rehearsal recently, after six years, if I’m not mistaken, we ran through more than 20 songs. And I didn’t practice any of the songs. I physically practiced the drums but I didn’t rehearse the songs. I had to work on it, on my method. I knew it was very different playing for an arena compared to Saguijo. That’s like the difference between a marathon and a sprint. Different muscle groups. So I worked on that. The technique, stamina, breathing, all the technical aspects of drumming, but not the E-heads songs. But when rehearsal day came, and there were some song changes and Ely would call songs and Buddy and I would just play it. I was laughing most of the time. Hopefully no one took offense to that. I only laughed because I realized after six years I could still play the songs.
People generally have a belief that a band plays well because of a certain chemistry among its members.
Eraserheads has chemistry, no doubt.
And its chemistry lies in … ?
I remember listening to the recording of our rehearsals, it was a bit eerie because no one was talking but playing was definitely good. I’m not sure, but there’s a different chemistry for every band. Kami, we have it when we play.
That particular night, who did you play for?
That night? My friends. I saw everyone in front. And I was really looking for you guys and then I see familiar faces and they’re singing along with us? That’s it! And my friends are my family, you know me, Gang, you know me well enough that my friends and bandmates are my family, too. And when I see a familiar face having fun with our music, that’s it. Tanggal pagod. For that night, yeah, that was it. I played for friends. I play for the fans too, make no mistake, but for that night or any night, it was family and friends talaga.
Did you seriously think that this was just going to be a gig, and that you were gonna walk away from it unchanged?
Let me backtrack to the beginning. Remember this reunion was years in the making. Negotiations started way back. And put it on record, that in my case, it was Darwin and Marlboro who succeeded in convincing me. I never had the inclination to do a reunion gig. I always asked, “What for?” Everything I want to do in my life I’m doing in Sandwich, Pedicab, and Cambio. Why mess with a good thing? I knew if I said yes to the ‘Heads it would be more than just a yes.
Too many consequences?
But this couldn’t have been just a gig. There must’ve been something different. Something must’ve changed in you after Aug. 30.
What do you mean by change?
Inside you. Surely something cramping inside you clicked back into place.
No. Nothing changed.
But you see, when I signed up in Eraserheads, I knew I’d be part of the ‘Heads forever. I knew what I signed up for. As Sandwich, I can walk in the mall, walang pumapansin. When I signed onto this, I was Eraserheads again. People would stop me sometimes and ask me, “Kailan ang reunion? Kailan ang concert? Saan??” Pero okey lang ‘yon, I knew that was part of it. At okey lang talaga ‘yon, kasama ‘yon.
How come even musicians in the scene, mostly Rock Ed volunteer musicians, are very careful when they ask about the reunion? Seems like everyone tiptoed around me saying, “Gang, ask Raims naman kung tuloy ang reunion gig.” Pabulong pa minsan. (laughs)
Because Ely and I were very vocal about the split-up. And many of them know that Ely and I haven’t communicated in six years. We had personal differences.
And those personal differences were over, under, and beyond being in the band?
Yes, they are personal. Exactly that. And I will still not talk about it in public.
Good. Now, is it fair to say that you all gave equal share to make this reunion happen?
For this show? I think the four of us gave all that we could. I even think Ely gave more than anybody else, given the circumstance. I think he gave more than what was asked of him. Hindi kasali ‘yung tyempo ng pagkawala ni Tita Lizette sa kontrata, ‘yung health din niya. But he gave it his all, too.
This is not exactly a question for you, but I’m wondering why he didn’t decide on postponing the concert? I mean, his Mom just passed?
I think, in my opinion, he did it for his Mom. Because his Mom was always in the shows. She produced many of our shows. Tita Lizette was really into the ‘Heads, more than all of our moms. But she really produced shows, she was really involved. So yeah, he probably went on with it to honor his Mom.
So, if by some miracle you reunite and produce another album, do you think it will sound the same or different?
I think it will be a lot different, but I don’t think we can stand each other for that long period of time, enough to record an album.
Did it ever cross your mind to include your present-day bands as front acts to this gig?
No. Personally, no. The people came for the ‘Heads. If they wanted to see the rest of our bands, they could see us wherever else we play. We’re all still around anyway.
Anything else you want to say?
Yes, I want to give credit to a group. They took in a lot of pressure and bad raps, they took a lot of sanctimonious raps, so I want to credit Marlboro/Phillip Morris for getting all four of us together. You see, Eraserheads is not a single entity, it’s four individuals plus plus. I hope you don’t edit this out, this is the truth. Even if they gave into pressure in the final hour, they still got us together, they worked for this and they pushed this together. It was as simple as the DOH not giving them the permit because of a law. I really think the fans, regardless of their stand on the tobacco law, should really thank Marlboro for making this possible. I mean, really. Please don’t edit this out, we really have them to thank. Just as much as we thank Sony-BMG, MTV or Radiohead Productions. It was never about advertising cigarettes, I think. It was a lot more than that, alam nila maraming mapapasaya, kasama na kami doon! And I think it was proven last Saturday.
Seems like there are so many people crucial to this event. Like you said, it was four individuals plus plus…
Ah wait! No, make that five! Alam mo, we used to have a session keyboardist, the late Noel Garcia. So for this one, when we were all asked – separately ha? – who we wanted to work with us onstage, we all chose Jazz Nicolas (the drummer of Itchyworms). He’s brilliant. Many people thought we sequenced music playback but that’s not true. Everything we couldn’t cover, Jazz took over. Keyboards, back-up vocals, back-up guitar and the tambourine. Sometimes he’d play all those sabay-sabay! Ang galing talaga. The first time he sat in, he just knew all the parts. It was a joy to play with him on our side, really.
Do you think it’s because Jazz is a ‘Heads fan himself?
Maybe it’s that, but I think fan or not, he’s a musical genius. I worked with him in Project 1 and many other collaborations and I’m a fan. I’m a fan of his work. So is Buddy, he’s worked with Jazz, too. He is amazing and crucial to the whole event. People should know that.
What was the moment you remember most from that night?
When the crowd started counting down and we were under the stage. I actually banged the drums when it got to one. I wasn’t supposed to, but I just had to, I had to release the energy. I could feel the love, it was pure love, nothing negative. I could feel it in every pore, I knew there was going to be a video thing first and other things going on, but I just had to crash on it. In my head it was, “Let’s do this!” You know, and If I didn’t do that, kakailanganin kong tumambling, kung hindi sasabog ako. I couldn’t contain it.
If all factors fall into place, Ely back health-wise, you’d do this again, right?
Definitely. Me, personally? When he’s ready, I’d probably talk him into doing it again. I’m sure he wants to finish what he started. I mean, finish the full show, he’d want that. Because Ely worked so hard, as much as everybody did in this show, ‘di ba? I’m sure he set aside feelings about everybody also, we really all worked hard to get this together. So yeah, for as long as health-wise he’s clear, I’d like to do this again. I want to finish what we started. I want Ely to fully recover soon and talk him into finishing it. We don’t talk a lot but I want to talk him into finishing it. I’m sure that’s what Ely wants to do, too.
A music writer texted me just now, “What was the real reason you broke up? Are the stories going around even remotely close to the real reason?”
May kanta kami diyan, “Wag Mo Nang Itanong.”
THE GUITARIST HANGS LOOSE: Marcus Adoro
Maraming nag-assume na ‘yung pinakamahirap sa reunion na ‘to ay ‘yung unang rehearsal.
Ah oo! Hindi ko rin alam what to expect, napa-yosi nga ako nung narinig ko, “Andyan na si Ely.” Tapos pagdating niya, alam mo, ang gaan lang. Ang gaan. “Pare, kumusta?” Tinanong niya kami lahat. ‘Yun.
So, na-realize mo ba na, “Wow, na-miss ko ‘to!”
Hindi pa nga rehearsals, bago pa lang nun, excited na ako. Kasi siyempre bago mag-rehearsal kinailangan kong mag-review ng chords ng mga kanta namin noon. Siyempre habang tinutugtog ko, nagpa-flashback talaga ako. Excited talaga ako na makita si Ely, kasi hindi pa talaga kami nagkikita. Once lang kami nagkita, sa MYX awards, pero lasing na siya, lasing na rin ako, so nag ganun lang kami. (Nods) Alam mo, ‘yung first practice para sa akin, ‘yung ice breaker namin ay nagtatanungan lang ng mga suot naming sapatos, t-shirt, ganun. Nag-uusap naman kami eh. Nagkikita kami palagi nina Raymund at Buddy. Mga binyag, special occasions. Kasi may ‘sang tropa kami mula college pa talaga. Kami ni Ely ang hindi talaga nagkita nung six years. Hindi kami pinagtagpo ng tadhana (laughs). Nung nag-umpisa na ang rehearsals mismo, kalmado kami lahat, nakatutok kami sa kailangang gawin. Bago nga nun, nagkita pa kami ni Buddy para mag-practice. Yung tipong, “Buds, paano nga ‘yung chords nito, hindi ko makapa eh.” (Laughs)
Aah, so nagkita kayo ni Buddy?
Oo pinuntahan ko siya sa bahay, nag-practice kaming dalawa. Inisa-isa namin lahat.
Ang unang nalaman ko tungkol sa ‘yo ay nagtuturo ka daw ng surfing sa La Union.
Oo, limang taon ako nag immerse sa surfing culture. Nung latter part ng ‘Heads, nahumaling na ako sa surfing. Nung nagpalit na kami ng singer, nung naging si Kris Dancel na, nagpaalam na rin ako kay Raymund, sabi ko sa kanya surfing muna ako.
So hindi tama ‘yung impression ng marami na tinakbuhan mo ang music?
Hindi! Pero yung music ko nung time na ‘yon, para sa akin lang, gumawa ako ng para sa akin. ‘Yun yung laman ng album ko ngayon, ‘yung Markus Highway. Pinahinog ko, kung baga. Pinahinog ko nang matagal na matagal.
Di ba sa banda laging may tinginan at konting usap-usap sa stage para ma-coordinate yung tinutugtog, gaano kahirap para sa ‘yo yung hindi kayo masyadong nagtitinginan?
Personally, para sa akin para ngang walang nangyari eh. Andun ulit, kabit lahat. Nung una may mga linyang naiiwan. Nagkakatinginan, yung tipong, “Oy, meron dapat do’n ‘di ba?” May konting sabit-sabit. Lalo na ako. (laughs)
So hindi pala kayo gaanong natisod kahit gano’n.
Oo, kasi syempre warm-up pa lang naman yung first set eh. Pinaghandaan talaga namin ‘yung second and third set. Tataas pa dapat talaga ‘yung energy dun eh. Kahit lahat tataas after the first set, ‘yung technicals, ‘yung nasa video wall, hindi pa ‘yun eh, wala pa ‘yon! Marami pa dapat mangyayari, kahit ‘yung fireworks – actually lahat!
So, gaano ka-stressful para sa’yo yung change in plans?
Konti lang sa akin ‘yung part na ‘yon. Ang kailangan talaga naming i-deliver ‘yung performance eh.
May theory na mas okey ang banda kung nagkakasundo lahat?
Magkasundo kami lahat. (Smiles then moves his mouth closer to the voice recorder) Okey na banda kami.
Nakakatuwa na iba-iba kayong mga sagot sa pare-pareho kong tanong.
Wala akong problema sa kanila. Baka ‘yun ang gusto kong sabihin, kasundo ko sila. Si Ely dinalaw ko kagabi. Magkasundo kami. Magkasundo kami ni Buddy. Magkasundo kami ni Raymund. Ewan ko sila. (laughs) Pero, Gang, hindi eh, maganda talaga yung vibes eh.
Paano kaya na maganda pa rin ‘yung vibes despite the six years na hindi kayo nagkasama-sama?
Dahil sa kanta. Kasi naka-angkla kami sa kanta. Kasi kung bad vibes ka, sasabit ka. Para sa akin, pag nagpeperform ka tapos nag-iisip ka ng iba, doon ka sasabit. ‘Pag iniisip mo na masama kunwari ang ka-banda mo, doon ka magkakamali.
May mga taong hindi masyadong aware na hindi kayo ma-salita during gigs.
Ako ‘yung tahimik, usually. ‘Yun ang trabaho ko, “Tumahimik ka dyan, Marcus.” (laughs) Ako madaldal ako ‘pag ako ‘yung frontman. So siguro si Ely ‘yon. Pero dati may instances na planado lahat. Dito ako magsasalita, tapos diyan si Buddy, tapos palitan kami ng sasabihin, meron din namang ganoon dati. Nagka-time.
Sinabi ko rin ‘to kay Raims eh, na halos lahat sa inyo may trademark na look sa respective bands ninyo kaya na-curious talaga ako kung nag-usap man lang ba kayo tungkol sa susuotin ninyo during the reunion.
Sinuggest ko actually na mag usap-usap ‘yung mga stylist namin. Siguro ‘yung mga girlfriends namin. Kami ni Buddy nag-coordinate naman kami kasi kami ‘yung magkabilaan sa stage eh. “Basta ‘wag ka magpuputi.” Sabi nya kasi magpuputi daw siya, so nag-pula ako at saka itim. So, may konti naman din kaming coordination. Hindi naman kami nagpakitaan ng wardrobe. (laughs)
Sabi ni Raymund kasi wala namang ganun-ganun sa ‘Heads, ‘yung coordination ng wardrobe talaga. Show up as you are talaga.
Hoooooo, siya nga yung pinaka-conscious diyan eh! (laughs) Nag-kulay pa ng buhok, nag-wig pa. Sabi nga niya sa ‘kin sa rehearsals mag-so-shorts lang daw siya saka hubad eh. (laughs) Pero, hindi, syempre si Raymund ‘yon eh.
Nung time na magulo noon, gaano ka ka-apektado?
Hindi ko pinatulan. During the past five years, nagka-chance din naman ako pumatol, pero ayokong sayangin ang energy ko doon. Hindi ko na ginatungan ‘yung apoy kumbaga. Hindi ako nag-labas sa Internet o press release. Okey lang sa ‘kin. Kasi chismis nila ‘yon dito eh. Nung nasa La Union ako, nasa surfing culture ako eh. May sarili kaming mundo doon eh, may sarili kaming superstars.
Ni minsan ba hindi ka nagkaroon ng need to explain things or at least air your side?
Isa ‘yon sa rason kung bakit ako umalis dito. Marami akong rason, pero isa ‘yon. Tuwing pupunta na lang ako ng bar, “Pare, bakit kayo naghiwalay?! Pare bakit ganito, bakit ganon?” Eh hindi ko naman masasagot ‘yon nang ako lang eh. Apat kaming dapat sumagot nun.
So napagod ka rin.
Oo, so sabi ko mag su-surf na nga lang ako. Hanggang dun pa rin sa surfing minsan nga maski sa dagat, may mag-pa-paddle na surfer sa tabi ko (gestures paddling) tapos sasabihin, “Pare, ba’t kayo naghiwalay?!? Matatawa na lang ako tapos sasabihin ko sa kaniya, “Ayan na ‘yung alon, o!”
Meron ka bang isang moment nung concert na hindi mo makakalimutan?
P**a, hindi lang isang moment. Lahat. ‘Yung crowd, ‘yung turn-out. ‘Yung suporta sa Internet. ‘Yung tao na kung saan-saang lupalop pa nanggaling para lang manood. ‘Yung production, ‘yung stage design, ‘yung logistics ng lahat. Parang, ang galing. ‘Yun ang concert.
Wala ka gaanong moment or memory na nag stand-out talaga?
Actually, ‘yung anak ko. (laughs) Umiiyak siya, buong concert! Masayang moment ‘yon, basta. Cute ‘yung moment. May mga picture kasi siya nguma-ngawa. Ano ba ‘yung sagot ni Raymund?
Ay, siguro sa akin isang moment doon, ‘yung moment ni Ely. Nung ano? ‘Yon. Siguro sa akin, ‘yun ‘yon.
Nasaan ka nung nalaman mo na na-ospital na sya?
Nasa dressing room ako, nag re-ready na ako for next set, palit ng costume. Kausap ko ‘yung tech kasi sabay nagloko ‘yung mga digital effects namin ni Buddy. Apparently may pumutok na something sa baba.
So, imposible nga ba talaga na magbalikan?
Napaka-aga pa para matanong ‘yan. Ang focus ngayon ‘yung health ni Ely. Kasi nag reconnect kami as friends. Gusto ko siyang tulungan sa aspetong yon.
Oo. Natuwa ako kasi nag reconnect talaga kami. Nung binisita ko nga siya, maski sa vibe, sa tinginan. Basta, basta, Masaya ako.
Teka, so tingin mo ba gumaling kayo?
Oo, gumaling. Ako gumaling konti. (laughs)
Marami sa musicians na nakakasama natin sa Rock Ed maingat na maingat magtanong tungkol sa ‘Heads. Halos ayaw pag-usapan nga eh tuwing nagtatanong ako dati.
Meron mga unspoken things na hindi na siguro kailangang pag usapan ulit. ‘Yung nangyari nung huli, wala na ‘yon. Normal naman ‘yon sa banda eh. Sabi nga ni Ely, normal ‘yung nangyari sa ‘min eh. Normal lang ‘yon.
So, was it “just a concert” to you?
Of course hindi ‘no! Yung magnitude nung event, siyempre alam namin kung gaano kalaki ‘yon. Ganoon kalaki ‘yung stage, ‘yung laki nung screen, sabi ko, ‘ba! totohanan na ‘to ah. Iba, iba talaga.
So that night, who did you play for?
Well, that night, siyempre nakikita ko ermats ko do’n, so ayokong sumabit as much as possible. Siyempre para din sa kanino man? (laughs) Actually, gusto kong mapasaya si Ely.
Did it feel like old times?
Oo, pero mas kalmado na kami ngayon. Madaming bull**it na nawala. Mga maliliit na bagay wala na. Dati ang daming iniintindi eh. Ngayon, music lang ang focus.
Na o-offend ka ba pag may nagsasabi na ginawa ninyo lang to “for the money”?
O eh ano ngayon! (laughs) Well, there’s money. More money, more art. (laughs)
Ha ha, ngayon ko lang narinig yun ah.
That’s from me. Original.
May nagsabi na nung tumugtog kayo sa Saguijo after ng concert insensitive daw ‘yon kay Ely dahil nga nasa ospital na siya…
Hindi! Hindi, ako kasi, hindi ako juma-jam sa Cambio, kahit noon pa. My reason being, two ‘Heads and three guitarists should be enough, man, hindi mo na ako kailangan doon. Plus pumunta ako doon kasi ang taas ng energy ko, tapos nalaman na namin na okey na si Ely, hindi rin ako makakatulog. Ayoko rin bumalik sa hotel, ang boring naman, ano’ng gagawin ko doon? So naghanap kami ng matatambayan. Nalaman namin na maraming nandun, so pumunta kami. Tapos tumutugtog ‘yung Cambio, tapos maya-maya may tatlong tao nang sumundo sa ‘kin, pinapatawag daw ako ni Raymund, jam daw. So tumugtog ako, masaya naman. Hindi yon dahil insensitive kami. Hindi yon ganon.
So, when Ely bounces back to a steady health state, basta may medical clearance na, reunion ulit?
Oo, ba’t hindi? Pag umo-o ‘yung tatlo, bakit ako hihindi?
Oo nga naman.
Saka bitin din ako eh.
THE BASS MAN HOLDS THE LINE: Buddy Zabala
How’ve you been since Saturday?
Ang weird. It hasn’t even been a while since the reunion gig happened and I already find myself trying to play it down in my head. I’d say, “It was just a gig.” But I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t just that. In fact, I still wake up in the morning and I say, “Wow, it really happened.” I think I’m not done processing it yet. You see, I was expecting it to be an experience for me, for myself. Pero sobrang daming tao doon and people’s energies were so high na it became a shared experience, eventually. ‘Di ba? That’s the equation right there, I mean, sure, I tried to calm myself before going onstage saying over and over, “It’s just a gig, just more people,” then all of a sudden when I found myself there and in front of me was this sea of people then I realized, gigs are supposed to be shared experiences.
Did you expect it to be any smaller than that?
No! Or wait? I don’t know. It’s something like, I expected it to be a certain way, and then it does turn out that way but I’m still overwhelmed anyway. It was amazing. From where I was I couldn’t even see where the people ended. Maybe it was the lights, I don’t know, but as far as my eyes could see, it was people. So it’s not easy for me to downplay it now. I mean, I try to feign nonchalance sometimes but my grin gives me away. I was grinning all night. Till now, in fact.
That night, who did you play for?
My family of course. Earnest, Veda, my Mom. You know, whenever I perform, I try to single out people in the audience kasi I usually don’t know people in the audience, I’m used to playing for strangers. But this time around, wow everywhere I looked-it was familiar faces. Someone I knew from a band, a former officemate, then my Mom! Hey, my Mom! Ang saya talaga. When I got onstage, it was different. Not just the size of the gig but the energy level. The vibe was indescribable.
Right after you walked off stage, where did you go?
I went straight to Ely’s tent to congratulate him and tell him that he did well and I wanted to ask how he was feeling. When I got there he was already lying down and he had an oxygen mask and the paramedics were already checking his blood pressure. Then next thing I knew they had to rush him to the hospital. It was all so fast.
None. Zero. It was great.
Of course, people were asking, if everything falls into place. Will you do it again?
Yes. You see, I have this mantra that has worked pretty well for me, that I will play with anyone. So if I will play with anyone, then why not with old bandmates?
The proverbial question, do you see a possibility of getting back together, maybe record a new album?
I’m not too sure about that. But we never know, surprises come our way all the time. Malay mo.
Were the fluctuating plans stressing you too much? Or did you just let it whiz by you?
Stress? Yeah. Sobrang stressful. Going into a project, one has a lot of expectations, ‘di ba so you know that it’s going to be a really big show, a really killer gig, so and so number of people with all this equipment. Then all of a sudden they say they’re pulling the plug. How would you feel? Going into the whole project, ang taas ng expectations ko kasi mataas ang expectations ng mga tao. Even when I talked to Marcus or Raymund, even Ely, all of us were hyped, everybody was stoked to do this concert. Then all of a sudden right before the show it got cancelled then picked up by someone else. It was such a roller coaster.
So those details affected you?
Very much so. Can you imagine if it affected me, what more the people who were really engaged or involved in the planning? Maraming naghirap dito. The prod, si Rayms, lahat. Si Ely rin. It really took its toll on him.
From what I’ve observed, it seems to me that you’re the peace guy in the bunch. The public airing of grievances was in full swing at some point, that must’ve taken its toll on you.
When friends get hurt, everything gets personal. But-
Wait, did you just imply that the source of disagreement is mostly professional and it just became personal?
No, it was always personal. Kung professional ‘yon, napapag-usapan, there’s always a democratic way to solve things. Vote on it. If you get a tie, decide on who can vote to break the tie. Professional hitches are easier to resolve. But this has always been personal and that’s much more complex. Affected talaga ako noon, people were getting hurt. It was not as simple as a “Can’t we all get along? Type of moment. It’s not at all like that. It was more like a, “Wait, what’s his point? And what’s the other point?” Then all the points were getting lost. Things got out of hand and all of a sudden it got old. Napagod lang ako. And since I get bored easily. I just let it go.
Good for you.
(laughs) I know, but if you’re asking me if I got affected badly? Well, of course. I have friends who got hurt, my friends and family would ask me what was happening and I wouldn’t know what to say.
But isn’t it easier to play with a band you get along with?
Yeah, but even bands that don’t get along can still play really well together. Like I heard about the Police. They play incredibly well. People don’t go to watch the fighting, they come for the music, so you give the music. The fighting is supposed to be irrelevant.
Maybe it’s part of their creative process?
If the Eraserheads got back together, would it sound very different from before?
Better! If it sounds just like before then what’s the point? At least better than the last E-heads album, kasi that’s what we used to say, next song always better than the last. But then again, that’s just to our ears.
Now, let’s talk about the talked-about dead-air moments.
Oh, we were never the band that got the crowd on. If people really knew the ‘Heads they’d know that’s how it is. And yes, we were never about engaging the audience. It was only about the music. That’s how we talked to the audience, I guess. That’s where the conversation was, through the songs talaga. I heard from someone that our concert was one big karaoke party. It looked that way from what I saw. People were singing along, on the tops of their voices. We were incredibly loud onstage and I was wearing earplugs, and I could still feel the audience singing. I even heard that some people were crying, literally, crying while singing. And wow, that was something else. That means something, right? The music meant so much to them that maybe the lack of talkies in between songs made up for it.
Bawing-bawi naman. I can bet that, at least 90 percent of people you know had the ‘Heads album playing in their iPods the month or weeks before the gig.
(Laughs) Yeah, actually ako rin! I was listening to the ‘Heads albums also.
Can you tell me about the one big moment for you that night?
For me it was really while the stage was being hoisted up, through the haze I was looking out and then saw all the people, all the faces cheering us on, I felt all that energy thrown my way. Wow. It was more than overwhelming.