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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sponge Cola

Sponge Cola is a Filipino rock band formed in 2002.


Formation (1998-2002)

Sponge Cola is a Filipino rock band formed in 2002. Between 1998 to 2002, Ysmael "Yael" Yuzon and Reynaldo "Gosh" Dilay, both from Ateneo High School, met through the school's theater guild, Teatro Baguntao. Yael was then the frontman of a rock band called White Castle. Nevertheless, he decided to form a band with Gosh and two other members of the theater guild. They named the group Sponge after R.S. Surtee's Mr. Sponge Sporting Tour. The band won in several high school competitions boosting their popularity not just in their school but in other campuses, as well.

Some members of the old lineup left and were replaced by Christopher "Chris" Cantada and Erwin "Armo" Armovit. The latter is the guitarist of another band Rampqueen, which was managed also by Sponge's manager Raymond Fabul. Later however, they learned about a Detroit grunge band already using the name Sponge. "But we wanted to keep the word Sponge in our band name because people have already associated us with that name," according to Yael. "So we decided to add 'Cola', since it's an easy enough word to remember." Sponge Cola was officially formed in summer of 2002.

Early Career (2002-2004)

They came up with a self-titled EP in the last quarter of 2003 containing five original songs: Lunes, A Tear, Saturn, Cigarette and Jeepney. The first and the last song penned in the vernacular caught the public's attention. Lunes, written by Gosh, begins with a bossa nova-esque beat that suddenly shifts to a heavy rock riff. Second single Jeepney was written by a classmate for a school project back in 2001 and is a reminiscent piece on young love during simpler, happier times. Yael's vocal range is evident in the song showcasing his ability to shift from mellow to screamo.

Through this EP, Sponge Cola got extensive airplay from several local pop and rock radio stations. A bootlegged copy of their version of Madonna's "Crazy for You" ended up on the Internet and became an underground hit, with some listeners believing it was a Sponge Cola original. Though this misconception helped increase their popularity, the band aimed to remove the stigma of being a cover band, pushing their original songs to the forefront.

Palabas (2004-2006)

In 2004, the band signed for record distribution and released Sponge Cola's first full-length debut album, entitled Palabas, under Sony BMG Philippines, an allusion to the boys' theater backgrounds. The album features a definitive voice in unadulterated rock, reminiscent of 90s alternative but mixed with enough sing-along pop sensibility-as based on the band members' individual influences. Gosh was weaned on classic OPM from the likes of Basil Valdes and Martin Nievera; Armo lends to heavy metal and rock edge, citing bands like Deftones, Tool and A Perfect Circle as influences; Chris likes pop-rock bands like the Beatles and Athenaeum; and Yael trips on everything from novelty songs to bubblegum-pop, from 80s power ballads, to The Smashing Pumpkins. They admitted to have been also influenced by Pinoy iconic Rock Band "The Eraserheads."

They are also one of the few local rock bands that boast of using three part harmonies in a lot of their songs, supplied by Yael, Chris and Gosh and as seen in tracks such as "KLSP" and "Una". Sponge Cola also experiments with unconventional elements that are normally ignored in rock recording, like the samisen ("A Japanese guitar", Gosh boasts), the striking of amplifiers, cellphone ring tones and actual rain. The final track "Closure" faintly features the sound of a door shutting, before transposing to a melancholic acoustic number.

During 2004, their songs Lunes and KLSP gained popularity and ended up in most radio stations' charts during that period. Also, Jeepney became popular in the beginning of 2005 along with their own version of Crazy For You. With the resurgence of Pinoy Rock in the middle of 2005, Sponge Cola gained even more popularity from listeners with their song Gemini and especially the alternative rock song Una.

All their singles were able to reach the #1 spot in both Philippines 100 and MYX Hit Chart.

Transit (2006-Present)

They recorded their next album just after they graduated from college. Sponge Cola released their second album entitled Transit in September with a launch party in Metrowalk, Ortigas, under Universal Records. The album turned gold after less than three months of its release due to the success of the lead single Bitiw which enjoyed massive radio airplay. The song also became the theme song of ABS-CBN's show Pedro Penduko. In MYX's Hit Chart 2006 year ender countdown, Bitiw was the number 2 video.

Sponge Cola have contributed on two tribute albums. They covered the 90's hit song by the Eraserheads, "Pare Ko", on Ultraelectromagneticjam. The group released their cover of APO Hiking Society's classic "Nakapagtataka" on the tribute album, "Kami nAPO muna", as the next single. The song reached number 1 in the MYX Hit Charts and enjoyed massive radio airplay.

The band won 4 awards in the 2007 MYX Music Awards besting other OPM acts in both Favorite Artist and Favorite Group categories. Bitiw was voted as both Favorite Song and Favorite Rock Video.

Tuliro, the second single from Transit, was released in the first quarter of 2007. It peaked at number 1 in the MYX Hit Charts.

The band was again contracted by ABS-CBN to create the theme song of the new season of the show Pedro Penduko, Pedro Penduko at ang mga Engkantao, entitled Tuloy Pa Rin.

The band was recently featured in a MYX show, "Myxellaneous", where it showed the evolution of the band from young upstarts to icons of the Philippine rock industry.

The music video for their song "Movie" premiered on MYX on August 1, 2007 and it hit number one shortly after its release.

Sponge Cola's version of APO classic "Saan Na Nga Ba'ng Barkada" for the Kami nAPO Muna ULIT album is currently enjoying massive radio airplay despite not having a music video for it.

The band released their current single "Pasubali" on January 24, 2008. It held the number 1 spot on the Myx Hit Chart for three weeks and is still on the said chart to this very day. It is also being used as the theme song to ABS-CBN's airing of the Koreanovela Lovers

Transit Deluxe

(2008), Sponge Cola's second album repackaged.

Sponge Cola released their deluxe album "Transit" on January 24.

The album includes a bonus AVCD featuring 5 brand new tracks Tuloy Pa Rin, Nakapagtataka, Tuliro (Acoustic Version), Pasubali (Acoustic Version), Intercept, and Pasubali (Radio Edit).

The album also includes music videos of Bitiw, Nakapagtataka, Tuliro, Tuloy Pa Rin, Movie, and Pasubali. It hit platinum a week after its release.