Friday, May 09, 2008

Balikbayan Box

Legendary Eraserheads producer Robin Rivera wrote a very interesting email to the band's mailing list a couple of days ago. Posting it here to share and to make it easy for me to find later on:

Balikbayan Box revisited

I'm on another extended lunch break from work, so I have some spare time to write to you all. One of the CDs I'm analyzing in my dissertation just happens to be "Stickerhappy". It's the first time I've listened to it in many years, and it brought back fond memories.

I've read much about how many people have identified the early albums of the Eraserheads as their "definitive" works, due to the style, content, and commercial success of the first three albums. This was reinforced by the recent MYX feature that included only "Ultra...", "Circus", and "Cutterpillow". But having produced all their albums except "Ultraelectromagneticpop", I've always felt that their later works were just as significant as the early ones. So allow me this opportunity to reminisce about one particular song from "Stickerhappy" that never got the attention I felt it deserved.

Most fans will remember the euphoria that accompanied the MTV Asia viewers choice award for "El Bimbo". But that period was also a difficult one. The band had its share of turbulence, and were adapting to new experiences and lifestyles that came with age and travels. From the moment I heard the demos of the songs that would be included in the new album, I knew that change was in the air. But instead of suppressing the new contexts that they had been thrust into, I wholeheartedly allowed them the latitude to write about what they were going through at the time. Change is a part of growth, and I refused to trap them in a time warp. But some things don't change. One of the things the band remained good at until their demise was to come up with witty, amusing songs, with a dose of melancholia to balance it off. This is exactly what I found in the song "Balikbayan Box".

While we were already in the middle of recording what was to become "Stickerhappy", I remember telling the band that I felt there was something missing in the album's repertoire, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Then one day, the band barged into the studio and said they had a new song that had only come together the previous day. With all four members huddled around a table in the Tracks main recording studio, Raimund excitedly whipped out a drum machine and laid down the basic drum track. It wasn't programmed from start to finish, so everyone had to help push buttons of the drum machine to go from one pattern to the next, all in "real time". Each of them then took turns laying down bass parts on different sections of the song. If you check the credits, all four of them played bass on that song. (A nice game for listeners would be to guess who played which section. But don't ask me because I myself don't remember anymore.) The next day, the rest of the band eagerly added the guitar parts. The vocals and everything else was laid down a few days later. The performances were typical of the band, slightly quirky and twangy, but confident. Angee Rozul's mix was spot on, wonderfully delicate and detailed. It all came very quick, and seemingly effortless, from the song writing to the mixing. The song turned out to be the missing piece I was looking for, and I was elated that they had come up with it just in time for it to be included in the album. I absolutely loved the song for its local color, understated dynamics, textured arrangement, and bittersweet narrative.

When we submitted the album to BMG, the people in the office immediately gravitated to it. Long before the album was released, everyone in the office was already singing "uuwi na tayo" at the end of their workday. To this day I wonder why BMG never really promoted it. It had some of the characteristics that fans were used to from previous albums, but was produced and framed in a way that reflected what was the band's state of mind and field of experience at the time. And like most of their other memorable songs, it has remained as relevant now as it was when it was written.

I've always felt that each album was special. Unfortunately, changing fashions and loyalties, coupled with the resulting shift in promotional and marketing strategies caused many to overlook the band's latter works. Its only recently that I have begun to hear people regard post-Cutterpillow songs with the same reverence as those in their earlier albums. I hope people can revisit this song as I did, and realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg of how substantial the EHeads material was after "El Bimbo".


Here's a copy of the song, if you're interested.

Speaking of Stickhappy, a few weeks ago, we were at 70s Bistro to watch Sandwich and Sugarfree. Having arrived early, we were killing time and drinking beer when I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. In the lounge where the performers hung out, at the back, there was a piano full of stickers. I'm not entirely sure, but it had to be the Sticker Happy piano right?

Labels: ,


yes, it's the sticker happy piano. :)


Onga! Sticker Happy didn't get the attention it deserved!

I really enjoyed Sticker Happy and Aloha Milky Way back in college. Balikbayan Box was one of my favorites then and even more so when I started working (I chuckled at the "Umuwi na tayo" part -- we did that, too!). Others favorites were Andalusian Dog and Ha Ha Ha, when I felt depressed; and Kananete and Ambi Dextrose when I'm in a particularly confused mood. Not to mention the gibberish in Tapsilogue! Ang dami pa!


ako naman, i ended up liking natin99 much more over the years. ok din ang sticker happy, pero 99 ung na-cherish ko talaga.


Ah, yes, Natin99! I only got the full album a couple of years ago, and I've only gotten to listening to it late last year.

I'm looking at a track listing and I just realized that I love 3 out of 4 songs! :-o My top picks would be Peace It Together, Popmachine and maybe Tama Ka (yeah, these, over the pop hits Maselang Bahaghari and Huwag Kang Matakot). Salamin and Kilala are quite catchy, too. Maaan, now that I think of it, this album is really solid!

Right now, I'm trying to recall the times when I liked a particular set of Eraserheads songs. The songs from their earlier albums elicit more raw emotions and I liked them more when I felt strongly about something. The songs from Natin99, I can listen to anytime, in any mood! Compared to their past albums, Natin99 sounds more mature. :)

(The first media files that I put in my PSP were all my Eraserheads MP3s!)


+1 for natin99

best eheads album for me.

i guess partly why i like natin99 album was because the *jologs* crowd was fading away this time. true eheads diehard fans remained and we were able to absorb this album wholeheartedly without being bakya. hehe.

Ipagdikit-dikit, pusong punit-punit. Let’s peace it together.


matagal ko na ring iniisip kung yung piano sa bistro ay ang sticker happy na piano :D

siguro pag pinakinggan ko yung balikbayan box ngayon.. mas may meaning na sya sa akin.. hehe but i remember singing that song during our never ending overnights in the office, nung bata pa ako :p


Post a Comment<< Home


Weekly Top Artists - Powered by Last.FM

Subscribe to this blog

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Powered by Blogger

Listed on BlogShares

Pisay 98 Blog
Pisay 98 Website
Pisay 98 Message Boards

Bookish Bimbo
Brooding Pit
cartwheels seven times around the oval
The Ergonomic Quotient
Fire Light Song
For the Mail!
Garden Fresh
I'm ur pAL!!!
the jembunao experience
life, the universe, and everything
The Mighty Dacs
Pro Gamer to Programmer
Purple World
The Raven and the Stormcrow
The sad success story of the corporate slave
Sakura Mind Speaks
Si Yayan, Si Michel at ang Diwata
Sixteenth Floor
Verbal Diarrhea
The Wandering Geek
Whatever You
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Me

502 Bad Gateway
Across the Green Plains
ako? ako. ako. lagi na lang ako...
Anime West
The Buckfutter Blog
Contrast Medium
Locoflip's Xanga Site
Gaming Nookie
getting by...
Just The Type 2 Have 1
life of a kkmonster
the keep
Lock and Load
Memories From Dinner Last Night
Mic Olivares' Blog
Morning Has Broken
Princess Toni's Enchanted Forest
Random Thoughts
So Lovely
Think, Pats! Think!!

Recent Posts

Run Fat Boy Run
Whispers, "Hello, I miss you quite terribly"
It's the end of the world as we know it (and I fee...
Second Season
I have the only key to your heart, I can stop you ...
Canterbury tales
Hotel Chevalier
Words are flowing out like endless rain into a pap...

The story so far

September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from jtordecilla. Make your own badge here.

Instant Pancit Canton
The Prose Portal

A Dose Of Cynicism
Adventures in TV Land
Delusions of Grandeur
first draft
Freedom Sessions
Karmic Backstab
Perpetual Paranoia
Project Manila
Sky of Words
Small Furry Alien
walanjo ka daril!

100 tears away
55 Words (and more)
Blogging from the UAE
Car Driver
Chaos Theory
Ederic @ Cyberspace
Howie Severino's Sidetrip
The Life of an Earthbound Angel
Manuel L. Quezon III
Mimi and Karl Wedding Photography
The New Online Confessions
No White Flag
Out of Bed
Pinay by the Bay
Rebel Pixel Productions
the silpur life
the sky sweetheart
Some Kind of Wonderful
Tapuy Moments
thinking about tomorrow
The Year of the Dog Woman
Weapon of Choice

Four-point Play
The Histrionics of a Balding Drama King
i came, i saw, i blogged
intelektwal interkors
The Jason Journals
Mental Foreplay
Orange Pocket
Paperbag Writer
Renaissance Girl
Seasonal Plume
Bill Simmons
Dave Barry
Get Firefox!
Guardian Books
I, Cringley
Inside Hoops
Joel on Software
Lawrence Lessig
Mark Cuban
Pop Matters
Richard M. Stallman
Roger Ebert
Slam! Links
The Onion
The Onion AV Club
Wil Wheaton