SIDEBAR: Raimund Marasigan is often touted as the busiest man in the music industry. While his first claim to fame would be that of being the drummer of one of the most iconic bands in Philippine history, the Eraserheads, it would be a disservice to him to not acknowledge the other facets of his musical career.
Aside from being a prolific songwriter (his songwriting for the Eraserheads rivaled that of Ely Buendia’s), he also dabbles in producing records and sampling for Squid 9 (Marasigan’s home studio is actually called the Squid Crib) and Sun Valley Crew. Marasigan is currently the front man of Sandwich, which is slowly gaining position as another potential legend in the music scene. Also, he is the keyboard/synthesizer player for Pedicab as well as drummer for Cambio.
PLAYBOY: Why do you make music? Do you get as much fulfillment out of it now as you did when you started?
MARASIGAN: Oh yeah, even more so now. At one point, I had a day job. And then, I realized why I was playing music in the first place; it was something I loved to do, and something I wanted to do forever, so I quit my day job and focused everything I had into making music. Yan lang ang alam kong gawin! (laughs)
PLAYBOY: There are people who would kill to be part of one successful band. Your resume reads like a laundry list, doesn’t it get tiring being in so many groups, many of them simultaneously?
MARASIGAN: I don’t really (try to) look for other things to do, dumarating lang! Like, I never really planned Pedicab or Cambio, but dumating yung set of friends ko, and it seemed like a good idea at the time (laughs). I just kept at it without thinking too much about it, and eventually, I was in a lot of bands, but I didn’t plan it that way. And, we take a lot of breaks, even if you don’t see it. I mean, we mostly play on the weekends, so the rest of the week, we’re basically not doing anything. TV hosting would be a single day of taping every three months. We tape several episodes, but they show it so it looks like we’re taping every week. We only record (all my bands) once a year, but a single is released every month. Parang ang dami-dami mong ginagawa at any given time, pero actually, matagal mo na ginawa, matagal na natapos. But every now and then you burn out, so you just recharge. I’m sure after March 7, the Heads will take another break again, but that’s our cycle. You know you’ll eventually get tired of some things, so you find something else to recharge. You go to the beach, you skate, you go out of town; the country.
PLAYBOY: You’re an asthmatic. How do you manage to last a whole concert, while other people get winded climbing stairs?
MARASIGAN: Cardio, man! I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, I go to the gym, I skate, cardio. I can outlast anyone. It’s basically exercise. My whole band can probably outlast a lot of others out there. Our drummer is a semi-pro downhill mountain biker. Si Mong and Diego, they play basketball and skate regularly, so that’s a lot of cardio. We even bring our skateboards to the show, so before the show, we get warmed up with the skateboards. We enjoy drinking beer, we enjoy the occasional doobie, but we still keep fit. Even Myrene goes to the gym. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to keep up (with Sandwich’s music). There are days when you’re sick, and you feel bad because you can’t get into the music, but the fans drive you, and you perform, because it’s all for them. Even then, hindi yun pwede kung inatake ka (ng hika) because you didn’t exercise for a week.
PLAYBOY: At what point did you realize the influence you had on the Philippine music scene?
MARASIGAN: Every time there’s a kid who come up to me and says, “Hey, I picked up a guitar because I heard your band,” or “I formed a band because I heard your band”. I really appreciate it, but I don’t think much about it. I don’t have time to think about it. I just keep doing it because I love what I’m doing. I’m doing it because it’s fun, and I’m doing it with family—my bandmates, whom I consider as family. I don’t particularly or necessarily think about it… pag may bumati lang. Ganun din ako, like nung nakilala ko personally yung APO: (adopts a voice of awe) “Uy, kayo ang una kong napanood na show, ever, when I was five years old,” or when I met and talked with people like Joey Ayala, The Dawn, or Pepe (Smith), and told them how influential they were to me. That’s why I want to do it, I actually do that a lot now, I get to talk at music camps and whatnot; share what I know. It’s pretty fun, kasi hindi naman pinagdamot sa akin. When we were coming up, people like The Dawn always shared their knowledge with us… Sila Pepe, hindi kami pinagdamutan. Binabalik lang namin.
PLAYBOY: Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
MARASIGAN: Usually, I get nervous, so I try to pee it all out. I read something once that Joey Ayala said, na kailangan i-relase mo lahat ng negative energy mo when you do number one or number two, so I think I’ll just do number one. Hassle naman if you number two before a show, so I go number one. I still get nervous, a lot! Well, more excited than nervous.
PLAYBOY: Aside from music, what inspires you?
MARASIGAN: Right now? Downhill skateboarding, and I have the scars to prove it! (I’ve downhill skated) everywhere from La Vista to Subic. My daughter started skateboarding, and then Mong (Alcaraz) taught everybody in Sandwich how to skate, and then I got introduced to a group of long boarders. (There are) no tricks, you just go really fast downhill. It’s different from street skateboarding because all you have to do is go up the hill, then go down really fast. We wear helmets and protective clothing, and of course pads and gloves, so I’ve just gotten minor bruises and scars.
PLAYBOY: Which do you prefer, watching or performing?
MARASIGAN: Both, but I don’t like watching myself, there’s that cringe factor. I can’t stand the way I sing, and I can’t stand the way I perform. And if I watch, it, it makes me conscious on stage, which is something I don’t want to be, so I just try not to watch myself. It’s like watching your parents doing ballroom dance. It’s like, agh! I do enjoy performing, but I just don’t like watching myself.
PLAYBOY: What was it like being on stage again with the Eraserheads for last August’s aborted reunion concert?
MARASIGAN: Kind of strange. We’ve grown apart and we’ve grown differently, but playing was like (it was just) yesterday. We only rehearsed three times for that show. For this show, we’ve only rehearsed once so far, and I’m pretty confident (to perform) if we had to go on stage like, tomorrow. Mas magaan, because the ice has been broken. It’s different, we’re all different now. I think it’s easier now; we’re all more respectful of each other now. We’re more mature, and we’ve all matured as musicians; we’re all playing better. I think so, I hope so, none of us stopped playing naman.
PLAYBOY: How’s preparation for take two of the reunion concert coming along?
MARASIGAN: We’ll be playing on March 7. Galing akong ‘Heads photo shoot, actually. Yesterday was the first day of rehearsal (for the new show), and it was surprisingly smoother than (rehearsal for) the first (reunion). The first time was harder because we haven’t been a band in… We’re not on speaking terms, most of us, and we’re managed by different people. That’s really difficult, so none of us were really thinking of playing a gig together.
PLAYBOY: So what’s different now?
MARASIGAN: Age. We’re more mature, we’re more forgiving. Rehearsals were so smooth yesterday, we ran through the whole set; we’d decided on the set list yesterday afternoon and two hours later, played the whole thing. It’s a different set (from what was played in August) and a different show. I thought it was going to be the same, but when I saw the set list, we just right tried it out right away in the studio—played it from start to finish, and it sounded pretty good right away, off the bat.
PLAYBOY: Do you have any concerns (for March 7)?
MARASIGAN: Musically, no. But (the first) was a one-shot show, so we weren’t too worried about it. For the first show, we weren’t expected to do any interviews or press cons or even promos. Even now, hindi masyado, so now, parang, hey, if we can stand each other for several hours, so why not? The fans love it, and our friends love it. But we’ll definitely try to do it better next time, because last time, we didn’t even prepare to be recorded or to be filmed. That was when the promoters changed, and we didn’t have a lot of time or input in the production. We were all too busy with Ely’s family and their loss… That was more important than dealing with the video or the sound check or whatever. But this time, we’re taking time out to check out the production and the lights and the stage and the sound, of course.
PLAYBOY: Speaking of Ely, people were devastated when he had to be taken to the hospital, what was it like for you?
MARASIGAN: Yeah, I feel the same way, but we didn’t design it that way. We just wanted to play the show, but I guess we weren’t all ready for it yet, and with everything happening, it was out of our control. Shock. I was shocked.
PLAYBOY: Did you go straight home?
MARASIGAN: No, we went to saGuijo and played the second set. I called all my friends, all my bandmates, and we all ended up in saGuijo. Buddy showed up, eventually Marcus showed up, so we all decided, drunkenly, to finish the second set. Sobrang bitin eh!
PLAYBOY: Expectations for March 7?
MARASIGAN: Haha, to finish the show! If we finish it, I would be so happy. I hope we’re all ready for it. The fans, the band, and the production. We’re preparing a lot now, we’re preparing for the show, and
I hope everything falls into place, and everybody will be healthy and everybody will have some fun, and everybody will be safe.
PLAYBOY: Will this be the last time we see the Eraserheads on stage together?
MARASIGAN: I think for a while, yeah.
PLAYBOY: You and your bands are well known for performing at the UP Fair every year. How did that come about?
MARASIGAN: Well, the ‘Heads are from UP. Sandwich ‘s first gig and 10th anniversary were in UP, so UP is very special. They actually asked the ‘Heads to play for the Centennial, but I don’t know what happened. My only requirement was, wag nang ibawal yung skateboarding sa kalye ng oval (on campus)! Bawal na daw yung skateboards, pero pwede daw ang bikes. I think that’s discrimination, so I said, “I’ll play in UP with the ‘Heads if they bring back skateboarding.”
PLAYBOY: Are there any songs of yours you can’t stand listening to anymore?
MARASIGAN: Oh yeah, there’s a lot of songs (I made) that I can’t listen to anymore. When you’re demoing it and then recording it and mixing it, you hear it like a million times and then after that, you don’t want to listen to it for a few years. Then after four years, you check it out, and it’s pretty good! Or you cringe, haha! The ‘Heads recorded around nine albums, Sandwich has five, Pedicab has two, Cambio has… There’s a lot of songs I’ve done, but there’s no regrets. It’s like yung suot mong fashion or hairstyle five years ago, you can’t stand looking at some of it, diba? Some of it’s like, “hey, pretty cool,” while others are like, “Ugh, why did I even wear that shirt?!” But no regrets!
PLAYBOY: What do you think about those stories where big name rock acts make crazy demands, like pots of M & M’s of certain colors in their dressing rooms?
MARASIGAN: That’s up to them. But I think the more unreasonable demands are just for the States, I’ve never heard a request like that here. Maybe a couple of cases of beer before a show, but I don’t think Pinoy bands are that spoiled. All we ask is a decent dressing room and parking, haha! For us here, we get a lot of free stuff, and bouncers always say hi, but nothing in the sense that you’re walking around like a fucking ROCK STAR. I enjoy the privileges, like where you can basically go to any show and get in for free, but it shouldn’t go to your head. I don’t think I would have lasted this long if it went to my head. We all enjoy the privileges, though.
PLAYBOY: So what’s next for Raimund Marasigan?
MARASIGAN: I have a new band! I have a new band with Jeff, he’s American, and Shinji, he’s Japanese. Shinji is our engineer, the sound engineer of all our records. He can speak straight Tagalog, but no English. Jeff is a musician from the States who vacationed here and discovered our music scene and fell in love with it. We actually have a video on Youtube live, acoustic, just me and Jeff jamming in his friend’s condo, at dun pa lang, it was like, “This works. All we need is a drummer, and we can play live!” So hindi sila makapagusap ni Shinji, there’s a language barrier, but they connected because of music. So we formed a band and called it Gaijin—foreign devil! (smiles wickedly)
Shinji, I’ve known him for years… He has a band, South Superhighway, but wanted a new band, he was getting bored or something. Jeff, when I met him, he said he had a bunch of songs and he wanted to play in Manila, so I said, “You know, I’ve got a drummer for you, and I’ll play bass!” It’s my frustration, the bass guitar, so we ended up jamming, and saying, “Hey, let’s do this tonight,” so I called Jamie and said, “let us play, we can open up the show,” and we opened for Sandwich and Imago. (Raimund excitedly confers with Jamie, his road manager, to schedule and confirm an upcoming Gaijin gig at saGuijo.)
So we jammed and played a gig the same night, and it worked, because the music was our universal language. Shinji would count it off, we’d start to play the songs. It worked, so we actually started recording last Sunday. It’s a three-piece rock band, and we’re still figuring out our sound. Jeff is the singer, he wrote all the songs; some were existing, and others, we’re still working on. We all give input or whatever, but it’s a new project, so I can’t reveal anything about it, really. We started recording on Sunday, so hopefully, we’ll be done soon. I’m playing bass for the first time, Shinji plays drums, and Jeff… Haha, I don’t even know his last name, but we have a shirt design and an album design!
PLAYBOY: What’s the best piece of wisdom for a musician that you wish you’d known starting out?
MARASIGAN: Ha ha, watch what you eat! I didn’t watch what I ate when I was on tour with the ‘Heads. “Made in Taiwan” na ang tiyan ko ngayon, ha ha, laging sira! What else… I could have paid more attention to my organ teacher and learned to read notes, that would be really useful right about now! I can actually play the organ better than any other instrument I know – I’ve been playing it since I was eight – I just can’t read notes! I’d be a better musician if I could read notes!