Sometime in 1998, I was asked to contribute something for an upcoming issue of the Eraserheads' official magazine called "Pillbox". I was like "cool but what am I supposed to contribute though?". I didn't wanna do an essay. So I just came up with this list of noteworthy places that the band had visited during their 1st ever US tour the previous year. It's easier than writing an essay! I emailed this to Earnest (Buddy's wife; live-in partner then) and a few months passed, there it was! Pillbox Vol. 3 (it was actually the 2nd and final issue; they just called it "Vol. 3" for the heck of it, I guess!)...page 21, on the upper right-hand corner: "Destination U.S.A."
1. The infamous E-heads LA residence on Collins St. in Encino, CA
I remember that the lady producer who happens to be the band's good friend during their "Ultra.." days, bought this house weeks prior to the Eheads' arrival. To save some $$$, she just had the band stay there instead of getting a hotel. Well, the house wasn't fully-furnished, at least on the Eheads' first day. No landline phone (they just had to rely on one of the producers' cellphone); no beds in Ely and Marcus' room (mattresses only)..I don't know about the other rooms, I didn't check them out...April 27, 1997 Sunday, their first night wasn't really cool at all. Imagine 6 first-timers in America, strangers in a strange land, on their first night..by themselves in a house somewhere in Los Angeles! Somebody should be there just in case they needed something but there was no one. I wanted to sleep over but I had to go home. Allen couldn't either. Oh well. Accdg. to them, it was like a "witness-protection program" thingy, heheh! Not-so-good stories had been written and published about the whole ordeal by Ms. Jessica Zafra, who was the band's manager at the time. I can't blame them. But in fairness though to the producers who were my good friends too, it wasn't really all that bad. I mean, it wasn't a hotel room but it wasn't a slum either. It may not be heaven but it wasn't that hell either. That's why Allen & I were there to assist & help out cuz we knew of the situation. But then again we've got different lifestyles, social status, different perspective, etc., so be it!
I didn't post a photo cuz it is a private home. But you can Google Map it to check out the neighborhood yourself. The street address was published on "Pillbox 2"
2. The 24-hr newstand at Hollywood & Cahuenga, Hollywood, CA
On their first night in America, after settling their luggages at the Encino house, Raimund and Buddy wanted to go to the nearby 7-11.
So I, along with my friend Jay, took the two to the store. Inside, they were excitedly browsing thru the magazine rack. I told them about this big newstand in Hollywood and asked if they wanted to go. They said yes and we went on a quickie tour of Hollywood. I showed them the venue where they would do their concert in a couple of days. Of course, we stopped by this newstand and they did some serious browsing-galore!
3. Freeway 101 Northbound (by the White Oak exit), Encino, CA
I'm not really sure about the story because I wasn't there but this was according to them.
On their first morning in America, Raimund, Buddy, Earnest (acting road manager) and Jessica (band manager) went out walking to look for a deli or a grocery store to get some breakfast (remember, there was no food in the house that day). They just kept walking, unaware that they've already entered the freeway! While walking on the shoulder lane, a CHP (California Highway Patrol) was driving by, spotted them, used its loud speakers to get their attention. They told the CHP what was happening and they eventually turned around and went back. Funny huh? hehehe. I think this was one of the experiences in LA that inspired Lemon to write "Downtown" (from the album, "Sticker Happy")
4. Universal Studios-Hollywood, Universal City, CA
Yup, just like any other first-timers in Los Angeles, the Eraserheads and their entourage went to visit this famous theme park.
5. The New Otani Hotel, Downtown LA (now known as Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens)
Press conference for the LA media was held at this hotel. I remember coming in about an hour early. Raimund and his cousin came in early too. There were also these two lady reporters who didn't do their homework so I ended up giving them a basic Eheads 101 tutorial, heheh. Press conference time came. About 5 or 6 representatives from various local Fil-Am papers showed up...and what a bore! The room was pretty quiet as if there weren't any activity inside. The Eheads themselves seemed bored. I could see that jetlag was already kicking in, hehehe. It was about an hour of you know, like that. But hey, there was an awesome catering prepared for that function so I couldn't really complain, heheh.
6. Le Sex Shoppe, on San Fernando Bl., L.A.
I remember we took Ely and Sancho here. I didn't really check out what they bought. Most likely a bunch of magazines and DVDs but that's just a "wild guess", hehehe
7. The Boardwalk at Venice Beach, L.A.
In L.A., it was Raimund who was separated from the group most of the time. He stayed with his cousin Ollie, in the San Fernando Valley area. This was one of Lemon's solo outings.
8. Guitar Center, on Sunset Bl., Hollywood, CA
On their first visit to this guitar-drums-keyboards, etc. kingdom, they bumped into an old friend, Beck. You know, "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me.". FYI, accdg. to the Eheads, when Beck came to the Philippines for his promo tour in 1995, some of Eheads' gear were borrowed and used by Beck's band. Check out Pillbox 2, there's a photo of them with Beck.
There was that day that me and my friend Zaldy, took Ely and Marcus to this store before heading to "Destination #9", hehehe.
9. Gentleman's Club, on San Fernando Bl., Gendale, CA
(no links provided for security reasons, heheh)
It wasn't even nighttime yet but we didn't wanna waste no precious time, heheh! So after Guitar Center, we headed down to this place. $10 gate x 4, two California IDs & two Philippine passports will do! After a few dance numbers, my friend Zaldy hooked the two up with a treat they'll never forget: free lapdance!
I saw two lovely blondes aproached the vocalist and the guitarist and escorted them to their private tables. There was this part in the beginning that the vocalist had to remove his clear & round John Lennon-esque eyeglasses, wiped it clean and put it back on, heheh. I thought that was really funny. He probably couldn't believe what he was seeing 5 inches away from his face, hehehe. That was some good five-minute entertainment. So please, don't judge us. It's a guy thing! =)
(please note that this is supposed to be a "blind item" so don't say a word ok, hehehe)
10. The Palace, Hollywood, CA (now known as Avalon Hollywood)
The first ever Eraserheads US gig happened here! The gig was sold-out with about 1,200 fans packed the club. Though pre-dominantly Pinoy/Fil-Am crowd, there were a few non-Pinoys in the crowd (pick your color, heheh). As soon as Lemon yelled "Eto na naman" at the start of the opening track, "Back2Me", it was just pure mayhem; a big moshpit tore up the main floor. It was an amazing night! It was history! The Beatles performed in this building in the early 60's and in 1997, it was the Eraserheads! WOW!
Check out the full show on YouTube:
Eraserheads: Live at The Palace 1997
The producer was "KingInA Productions" headed by Techie (an Eheads friend from their Ultra... days), Sheldon (lead singer of the opening band, PinkTable) and a guy called Wiwin. Hats off to them for bringing the Eraserheads to America and for inspiring other no-budget indie promoters to take the risk of bringing in Pinoy bands.
11. Las Vegas, Nevada
As the old cliche goes: "Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." No further details.
12. Embassy Suites, South San Francisco, CA
I should've switched "Destination #12 to #13" and vice-versa. Have you heard of "The Ride"? Well, try looking for it in the end credits/thank you's of "Sticker Happy" and also on "Pillbox 2". Let's just say "The Ride" actually ended here. No further details.
13. The "hippie district" of Haight -Ashbury, San Francisco, CA
"The Ride" traces its origin to this place. To the Eheads, this is probably one of their most memorable places in the US. I really don't know what the exact details were but it was one bumpy yet groovy and good trip. No further details.
That's it! Hope you enjoyed reading this. Until my next blog entry...or project, it's all good!
Most photos/screengrabs from Google Maps
Download the "Pillbox 3 (aka "2")" in PDF