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PhilMusic Update - April 10, 2000

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The Eraserheads take another bite of the Big Apple

A behind the scenes look at the Eraserheads Pop Machine 2000 USA tour

By Leaf A. Smith (The New York Indie )
photographs by jim ayson


Ely Buendia: On stage at the 1999 NU Rock Awards

NEW YORK CITY -- The Eraserheads return to New York's concrete jungle brandishing sturdier molars--all but geared at taking another defiant bite at the proverbial Big Apple.

Two years hence since they rocked punk's legendary Bowery st pitstop CBGBs during a wild-and-wooly early spring tour, Manila's prodigal pop culture journeymen kick off a four-city US swing with a one-night gig at the posh Colden Center for the Performing Arts in CUNY Queens College on May 19.

Backstage rantings following that fateful 1998 concert had it that the Eheads got an unceremonious taste of NYC's world-renown mean streets groove (read, reception). "Those were awesone gigs they did, no doubt about it," 18-year-old Rutgers junior Mark Jeffries recounts. "But, man, production management sucked... well, should I say, a tipsy walk on the wild side."

 

WRITINGS ON THE WALL

Whatever that means, let's see what the writings on the wall suggest.

"But then again, this is rock n roll! Leave that hassle behind," Jeffries philosophizes. "We're crossing the Hudson River from South Jersey, across Holland Tunnel, to Flushing, Queens in droves to check these dudes out again. Can't wait to rock!"

Indeed, these preppy, mostly snotty Filipinos could shake their booties out at any given Friday aftermidnight, but the question is, could the Eraserheads still hold the fort and rock? Could they still do it?

Almost three years ago since they ganglingly received the 1997 MTV Video Awards Asian Viewer's Choice at the Radio City Hall, the Eheads are back to settle once and for all that they indeed deserve rock n roll's mean high-five this time out.

"There's buzz that Ely's (leadman Buendia) doing a solo album," Bridge Cruz, an Eheads egroup denizen says. "But what the hell, who cares? it's school break, it's spring, and girls just wanna have fun. At least, this ain't the Backstreet Boys."

 

UNDERSTATEMENT


Live at Mondo, Fort Bonifacio - January 2000

This trip is actually the fourth US concert tour for Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, Buddy Zabala, and Marcus Adoro, formerly regular kanto boys in University of the Philippines' Diliman gutters until they rewrote local pop industry books with six consecutive record-shattering albums, and drew up a frantic throng of devout pubescent followers, even from across the Atlantic Ocean.

"To say that the Eraserheads have been successful in Manila's local music scene is an understatement," says another writer. "In their almost a decade of existence, they have reached a status much more prolific than what most of others would gain in their life span in the local industry."

Apart from their unprecedented MTV Award, the Eheads have also amassed a total of 11 citations from Manila's NU 107 Rock Awards; Awit Awards; Katha Awards; plus a record five multiple gold and platinum albums.

But the question is, can they still pack it in? In New York City?

"The Eraserheads were huge at a point in time when fellow Beatlesque pop/rock wiz kids Oasis were filling halls to the rafters like crazy," observes Keith Sta. Maria, whose band Orphan Anitos also exudes a kind of White Album magical mystery groove and aural vibes.

"At this particular moment of Kid Rocks and Christina Aguileras, can they still do the El Bimbo and get New York's mean hips shakin'?"

So with these variables suspended on midair, who's taking on the Eheads this time out? Who's producing?

 

Pasckie Pascua and his Indies


Marcus Adoro at the 1999 NU Rock Awards


To add an intriguing romanticism to the already quixotic proposition, the NY gig is lead-produced by The Indie Productions, brainchild of the effective but extremely reclusive poet and journalist/editor Pasckie Pascua.

Pascua was the same mercurial pointman who worked quite effectively behind the scene of the hugely successful "Art of Resistance" exhibition and culturefest at The Puffin Room in SoHo a year following the Eheads 1998 NY stop.

"But Pasckie is one puzzling recluse. He doesn't want to come out of his shell," observes Faye McDonald, Orphan Anitos drummer. "He needs equally effective arms, followers or project partners, who'd put up with his unorthodox work ethic. He works best in twos or threes, but give him a project that he'd fall in love with... let him indulge, he will surely rock." Orphan Anitos is one of Pascua's "multi-cultural brainstorms of a rock band" projects under his Rain Records.

Pascua teamed up with cultural activist and theater artist Julia Camagong in Philippine Forum's precedent-setting "Art of Resistance" show and crossed ideological barriers toward protest art's acceptability in mainstream Filipino community in the east coast.

The exhibit, which featured works by known Filipino social realists Papo de Asis, Adi Baens Santos, Federico Sievert and Jose Tence Ruiz, was one of the most-attended openings in SoHo that year.

This time out, Pascua works with Dinna Daproza for The Indie Productions. Before being hired by a entertainment law firm in Manhattan, Daproza worked with MTV Asia and some indie film outfits in the US.

"It's Dinna's call, really, she's the one who took the project when nobody wants to touch it," Pascua explains in a phone interview, minutes before he took a midnight flight to Boston to confer with The Indie's Massachusetts and Connecticutt hook-ups. "I take a bow to her amazing persistence, man, she's doing it like it's the last freaking concert on earth. That passion, that intensity, that courage, that sweet madness... that's what this community needs."

Grapevine also has it that Pascua chose to "just meet with his close associates Dan Fernandez and Ruben Austria and do away with regular meetings" in regards editorial direction of The NYC Indie Fortnight, formerly The Philippine Independent newspaper. This move left the rest of his staff either guessing, disillusioned or perplexed.

Fernandez, a SUNY Binghamton cum laude, and Austria, a Cornell Univ alum, could be two of the most maverick young Fil-Am thinkers in the east coast community.

 

Pascua and Pascual


Buddy Zabala: Live at Limits, 1998

The Eheads in New York gig is actually the end-product of two or three unconsummated projects hatched last year by Pascua and Renrick Pascual under Brown Culture Productions.

Pascual, a low-key workman, has been diligently producing Pinoy rock concerts in this city's east village, including Acme Underground near Washington Square and Spiral Lounge in Houston street. He also markets CDs of struggling Pinoy bands in New York and California, including Gino Inocentes' multi-faceted but ill-fated Rubberband and Peach Fantastic.

"It was supposed to be The Jerks last fall," Pascua says. "Then we tried to invite Parokya ni Edgar after they won the MTV award, no go, you already know what happened, right? In regards Chickoy's band, well, let's just say, I overshot my range. It was not a question of money, it's deeper, I had to take a breather... But we're still doing The Jerks if they still want it. Edeena Pike, my supervising producer for Manila, is working on it. We're still cool. I don't want to elaborate. Maraming speculations, maraming preempted moves. Basta kung nandyan na, let's do it."

 

70s Bistro


Raimund Marasigan

Words have it that Pascua had several one-on-one meetings with Charlie Jayco of 70s Bistro middle of March at the Kristal's Restaurant in Roosevelt, Queens. They reportedly discussed possibilities of regularly bringing Filipino bands from Manila to the US and vice versa.

"It's pretty early to discuss that now," Daproza answers when this writer chanced upon her and Pascua at a Chinese diner near her 23rd and 9th street apartment in Manhattan. "Pasckie is doing trips, no tangibles yet, but we are sure to bring another band from Manila before the year ends."

"The band caters to the older set, as well as, twenty somethings," Pascua hints. "Truth is, lahat plano pa lang. I haven't even communicated with this band's management yet."

 

The Indie

The Indie Productions is the other half of the two-pronged program of the nonprofit The Philippine Independent Communications Inc., the outfit that came out of Pascua’s brainstorm. The other half is the seminal young Fil-Am fortnight newsmagazine The New York City Indie.

The Eheads NYC gig is part of the organization’s Fil-Am youth consolidation project for year 2000. “The Indie’s vision is geared towards the initiation and supervision of multimedia channels, arts/cultural productions, and other communications devices to help consolidate the growing population of young Filipino-Americans,” explains Daproza.

 

Synchronicity and Happy Box

What actually clinched the Eheads gig in NYC, according to Daproza, "is the joint effort of several people— Renrick, Alvin Apuan of San Jose CA’s Synchronicity, Happy Box Productions, and several individual investors. Synchronicity Productions actually shares equal billing with The Indie as NYC producers of the Eheads gig."

The Eraserheads takes on New York City at the heels of purportedly more “commercially-viable” concert projects, notably Nora Aunor and the tandem of Rosanna Roces and Ai-Ai delas Alas. “This is the true alternative gig this year,” surmises Mark Jeffries. “So that itself makes it an intriguing proposition.”

So let's go back to the point of the issue, are the kids coming to see The Eraserheads in NYC? Marie Tuico, the third person in The Indie's Eheads project triumvirate, says, "Like that movie, build and they will come. Yes, we are building something that we hope would go on and on. But we hate to be philosophical or poetic about all these. Let's just say we've already sold out 90% of our $50 front seats." So there!

Pascua delivers the spirit of the proverbial indie vision with his trademark defiant cool. “Pare, that’s a done deal. We never lose, instead we get things done. Just to take this madness off the ground, is in itself, a kind of victory. Truth is, I am off to
Boston para ikasa ang susunod na gimmick.”

Opening for the Eraserheads are Jersey bands Basement 31 and The Grudge.

Lead US producer of the tour is Happy Box Productions based in LA. The Indie Prod produces the NYC leg in cooperation with PinoyCentral, a marketing wing of the ABS-CBN media conglomerate in the Philippines; PhilMusic.com, the #1 Philippine Music web site; PinasNet.com; and Rain Communications.

For tickets to the Eraserheads in NYC gig, email snuckster@aol.com or ddaproza@hotmail.com, or call 212.355.9443, ask for Marie Tuico.



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