back when the e-heads' "cutterpillow" went gold in a day

Cutterpillow is the Eraserheads' third album (after UltraElectroMagneticPop and CiRcuS) and remains the Philippines' best-selling album by a band or group.  By a clever marketing ploy, it made gold-status in one day and eventually made Platinum several times over.

A friend told me that "cutterpillow" is short for "my cat ate her pillow," a phrase found in one of the album's tracks.  But then whocarez. Something that actually means nothing can say just about anything,  right?

What Cutterpillow means to me is that I happened to be one of those people suckered into helping it reach gold in a single day.  I was never really one to collect albums by local artists, but I bought Cutterpillow simply because it was so easy to.

December 8, 1995, Friday.  E'heads concert / Cutterpillow album launch at the University of the Philippines Sunken Garden.   I was a freshman in U.P. then, clad in the day's grungy fashion and pretty much indifferent to everything. I wasn't really an E'heads fan, but I was one of those teenagers with too much energy and an excuse to stay out on a Friday evening.

Throughout that Friday, the most asked question among students and faculty was, "Are you going to the concert later?"  I was too anti-mainstream to say yes, but too  hungry-to-be-part-of-something-major to say no, so my reply was, "Why?"  (lusot).

Earlier that week my friends and I bought tickets to the Cutterpillow launch concert.  Those tickets were easily bought at various music stores, but they were even easier to acquire within the University campus.  They were in fact sold along the A.S. Walk, where most students were sure to pass at least once every day.  The E'heads were UP alumn dropouts, so I suppose UP people were proud to have some sort of affinity with the acclaimed band. Two hundred bucks per ticket, entrance for two, plus a claim stub for the "free" Cutterpillow album. The price was cheap enough, the venue near enough; it was a decent way to gimik with my pals, and it would've been a waste not to see the #1 band live.

It was an open-air event, but the Sunken Garden was fenced in by these makeshift boards that day, so there wasn't much to see until we got into the concert grounds.  Nonetheless, there was a frenetic atmosphere as early as noon, while the sound-testers inadvertently teased the campus with hints of the evening to come.

By the late afternoon, a whole multitude - including a host of outsiders who didn't go to the university - excitedly gathered at the campus.  UP Police and street vendors dotted the premises, while traffic built up throughout the Academic Oval.

My last class ended at 430 that day so I had to pass the time until 7pm.  I decided I was too cool for all this, so I pretended not to be excited.  Not too much, at least.  I waited for my friends J and V who were coming from other parts of the campus, and our other friend C who was coming from her apartment in Katipunan Ave because she skipped school that day. By exchanging messages through our pagers (oh yes, pagers were cool then), we agreed to meet at the benches by the ground floor photocopier, the one on the north end of the A.S. Building.

Ground floor photocopier? A.S. Building?  Ugh, that's so first-year.

The loud, noisy, charged-up afternoon escalated into a louder, noisier, even more charged-up evening as the sound-checking intensified. J, V, and I happened to find each other a little after 5pm, but there was still no sign of C.  To keep ourselves calm, we tried to play a word association game, but that didn't work.  We were too wound up to even sit down.  Ex. Cit. Ed.

 By 6:45, we still hadn't managed to convene, and we were getting tense -  there was this pressing need to get inside soon so we could secure a good spot.  Who wants to watch the E'heads from several yards away, right?

According to C's last message, she and her sister D were stuck in Katipunan traffic, and traffic happened to be worse than usual because it was a Friday, and that Friday was especially tight because of the concert, and the concert was about to begin in a few minutes.  

And a few minutes before 7, we ditched our earlier arrangement and looked for each other on Roxas Ave, on that section between Sunken and the A.S. building.  After a bit of jaywalking amid slow-moving traffic, and screaming and waving and getting honked at by motorists, we found one another and headed on into the concert grounds with our backpacks still on our backs.  We didn't have lockers (lockers were reserved for upperclassmen), and we didn't have time to stash our stuff in C's car, so I guess it was pretty obvious to onlookers that we were eager freshmen coming straight from a busy school day.

The Sunken Garden is a HUGE open field, so despite the few thousand people who supposedly came  that night, the place wasn't really packed.  It just felt packed because everyone wanted to be as close to the stage as possible.  Well, my friends and I were too cool for squeezing and shoving (ha!) so we nonchalantly stood on the outskirts.  Hmph.  The air was fresher there anyway.  And we could move a little freer while Ely, Buddy, Marcus and Raimund treated us to a dynamic post-grunge-OPM college-rock smorgasbord.

I was not at all an Eraserheads fan, not at all.  Not at all.

But I knew the lyrics to most of the songs they played that night.

Only because their songs were overplayed in every local station.  

I insist, I was never a n E'heads fan.

I was simply a kid who wanted to enjoy herself as she jumped around and head-bobbed and fist-pumped and sang along to hits from the E'heads earlier albums, UltraElectroMagneticPop! and CiRcuS.

The Eraserheads weren't a loud band, but that was some party, with crowd favorites like Ligaya, Pare Ko, Magasin.  My fave of the night was the pogo-danceable Sembreak, which I came to love even more after that evening.

I probably enjoyed the concert too much, especially for someone who says she doesn't like the band.

Unlike myself, C's sister D was a proud Eraserheads fan, with an unabashed crush on drummer Raimund Marasigan.  D just had to get close enough to the stage to get a good view of Raimund.  I thought it was cheesy as hell and next to impossible, but WTH, we were there to have fun, right?  Lezzgow!

So we managed to squeeze through the dense crowd and thread between the wannabe-moshers, and we found ourselves at  the edge of the stage just before the band played their last song.  D happened to be wearing a yellow bucket hat that day; she whipped it off, handed it to one of the bouncer-type personnel, then asked that it be given to the drummer.  The bouncer-type was apparently used to this sort of behavior from fans, and he promptly obeyed.  The hat was handed to Raymund in no time.  Raimund looked up from behind his drum set, and a thrilled D vivaciously piped up to say, "That's for you!" (wave, wave, wink!)

That Raimund guy certainly knew how to please a fan.  It was already so cool of him to smile real sweetly and wear the gift for the rest of the night.  But he even wore the hat through the following weekends whenever he appeared on television. I swear, Raimund Marasigan wore D's yellow bucket hat on TV.

And just how did Cutterpillow hit gold record status in a single day?  Here's how the brilliant strategy played out (whoever thought of this was a genius):  Right after the concert, ticketholders went to this table at the back where they could exchange their ticket for a Cutterpillow cassette tape.  Ta-dah! - super-abrupt spike in sales.

V and I shared a ticket.  Each ticket provided entrance for two people, and one claim stub for the new album.  So by the end of the evening, V and I also shared ownership of a new Eraserheads album.

With our new Cutterpillow tapes to take home, my friends and I capped the night with a sleepover at my place.  We listened to the new music while reading lyrics provided on the album sleeve.  Yes, that's how we used to listen to music back then.  We agreed that the most notable track was Ang Huling El Bimbo - a haunting rock ballad that later gained acclaim and eventually became a well-loved Karaoke pinoy-rock classic.

But listening to the whole album for the first time that night, it kinda ... felt like ... a letdown of sorts.

Cutterpillow seemed majorly watered-down compared to the band's earlier albums.   But what do I know, right?  I was never an E'heads fan anyway.

And what the heck was going on with that blob on the album cover?

But that night I, like many others, became a proud albeit confused half-owner of a Cutterpillow cassette tape.  I didn't really want to keep it, and V didn't really want to keep it, so we tried to push it on J.  I think I kept it for a week, then it was with V the next, and I don't really remember who it ended up with.


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