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December 25, 2000

New Eraserheads Album Out
January 2001

Entitled "Carbon Stereoxide," the album promises a harder back-to-basics sound, and much more of Marcus

by Jim Ayson
studio photographs by Robin Rivera

click here to see larger image
Hunkered down at Tracks Studios, Toshiba laptops a-blazing: seated left to right - Marcus Adoro, Earnest Mangulabnan, Ely Buendia. Standing: Buddy Zabala. (Click on the photo above to see a larger image.)

The Eraserheads have been together for a little over a decade, so one would think that there are little, if any surprises left for this group of survivors from the early 90's alternative band era. Yet the first title bandied about for their upcoming release - their eighth - was enough to set some tounges wagging. In initial interviews, the band hinted that new album's working title was "Eight Down, Two to Go," a typically sly reference to the not-so-distant end of their BMG recording contract (which reportedly covers 10 years or 10 albums). Was the band hinting about some dissatisfaction with BMG? This was, after all, the time when Rivermaya bolted the label to release "Free" on its own... for free. There were also grumblings wafting this way from FrancisM's camp, who reportedly was not too hot about promoting his new album "Freeman 2."

Whatever the title or their sentiments about their label, word on the street was that BMG had imposed a strict deadline on the band - wrap up the recordings by December, or else. While a lesser experienced band might have crumbled at the deadline, the Eraserheads have always approached the recording process like seasoned old pros. It's also been said that studios bring out the fullest extent of their creativity, much more than their live gigs.

Despite a plethora of solo projects (Ely Buendia's "Wanted: Bedspacer", drummer Raimund Marasigan's own (unreleased) solo album "Squid 9" and his work on the upcoming Sandwich album, and bassist Buddy Zabala's album production work for other bands), the band was able to get it together and combined a grueling three-month studio schedule with a backbreaking work ethic to get the album recorded, mixed, and in the can by December.


Much ado about the title

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Marcus displays a portion of the fabled "guitar altar" of guitars, amps, and effects used in the recording. (Click on the photo above to see a larger image.)

All that remained was the title, which the bandmembers had a bit of a problem agreeing on. At the time of their PhilMusic Rockchat guesting late November, "Escalators Up Ahead" was a strong favorite. Raimund Marasigan also playfully suggested "Mascara" after their new song "Maskara" - no relation to the Juan de la Cruz band's album back in the 70's.

It was the divine Earnest M (Buddy's girlfriend and currently manager of Fatal Posporos and Itchyworms) who broke the news to us while we were dodging flying beer cans at the Pulp anniversary last December 15. "May album title na sila," she eagerly announced, as if making the decision was a tremendous achievement on their part. "It's going to be called 'Carbon Stereoxide.' Final na yun!" As Red Horse beer cans whizzed overhead, we pondered on that revelation a bit.

Ah, so it's a pun on Carbon Monoxide, otherwise known as the ubiquitous but fatal odorless and invisible gas that enters our lungs through automotive exhaust and cigarette smoke (second hand or otherwise) everyday. It's typical of the Eheads to enagage in playful punsterism but does the title also provide a clue to the music within? Corrosive and carcinogenic perhaps? Whatever the case, we'll find out soon. The 12-track album is due to be released on the market by January 15, 2001.


The Cure meets drum and bass

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Marcus unleashes a guitar track in the studio. (Click on the photo above to see a larger image.)

There have been a few clues dropped about what the new album may be sounding like. During the band's chat event with PhilMusic, Raimund hinted, "The new album sounds like The Cure, with folk and drum and bass. Go figure!" There will also be much more of lead guitarist's Marcus Adoro's contributions than any other previous album. "Marcus has two songs on the album," continued Raimund. "He sang - not screamed - on these folk songs!"

Others reinforced the association with The Cure. Apparently, while the band was touring California last June, they had the occassion to watch The Cure at a stadium concert in Irvine. "We are the biggest Cure fans!" mentioned Buddy at a recent interview, so it was a high point of the tour, and a possible breeding ground for new album influences.

Posting on the Eraserheads mailing list, writer Lakambini Sitoy described a recent run-in she had with BMG record execs. "I met one of the BMG officers last week and she said the new album is very much influenced by The Cure, as has been said for some time, " noted Bing. "In her opinion, it's a near-complete departure from the original Eraserheads sound (of the Circus album, which to date has outsold Cutterpillow and is 9x platinum). She found it dark, mature -- not so much pop as rock. It's the next step after Natin99, she said."

"The most 'commercial; song is 'Maskara,' which we all love," continues Bing. "Just as 'Santo' was the most commercial on Ely's 'Wanted:Bedspacer'. So we spent some time wishing aloud that Santo had been on the new album instead of on W:B."


Live Clues

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Ely punches in a track on his Roland VS workstation. (Click on the photo above to see a larger image.)

A lot of the new material has already been auditioned in front of live audiences through their inclusion in Eraserhead's live sets. "Maskara" and "Palamig" are already crowd favorites. Other new songs include "Ultrasound," "How Far," and a Marcus Adoro composition, "Wala Na." A particularly heavy new blues-rocker, "Get This Love Thing Down" has already surfaced as a live streaming audio bootleg on an Eheads fan site,

From all indications, the band will be reinforcing a more live, band-oriented sound on the album, as publicly expressed by frontman Ely Buendia in a recent PhilMusic interview. Never fully satisfied with the overtly cut-and-paste individualistic approach the band took to recording their last studio album "Natin 99," Ely hopes the new album will bring the band back to basics.


Eight Down, Two to Go

Raimund and baby daughter Atari at the PhilMusic Rockchat

"Carbon Stereoxide" is supposedly the Eraserheads' eight studio release out of their 10 album contract with BMG. Well if one had to be really strict about it, it's actually their seventh, as "Aloha Milkyway" was a sort of English-language Greatest Hits intended for the SouthEast Asian market (not originally intended for Philippine release). But as it turned out, that album had some new original material, and it did end up released in the Philippines anyway, so we suppose that it does count as part of their body of work. Add to this cassette-only album releases, and limited edition EPs (most noteworthy being 1997's 5-song "Bananatype" EP which brought forth the hit "Harana", no relation to Parokya ni Edgar's own song) the grand total goes up to 11 releases since the band released the indie "Pop-U" to an unwitting cult audience in UP Diliman.

The Eraserheads Discography (1991-2001)
POP-U! (Indie release - only on cassette - c.1991?)
Ultraelectromagneticpop! (July 1993)
Circus (October 1994)
Cutterpillow (December 1995)
Fruitcake (EP and limited Edition) (1996)
Fruitcake (the Christmas Album) (1996)
Bananatype (EP) (1997)
Sticker Happy (1997)
Aloha Milkyway (1998 - Asian Album)
NATIN 99 (May 1999)
Carbon Stereoxide (January 2001)

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