The Ergs!

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The Ergs!
Origin South Amboy, New Jersey, USA
Genres Punk rock
Pop punk
Years active 2000–2008
Labels Dirtnap
Don Giovanni
Whoa Oh
Associated acts Dirtbike Annie
The Unlovables
Website www.dorkrockcorkrod.com
Past members Mikey Erg
Jeff Erg
Joey Erg

The Ergs! were an American punk rock band formed in 2000 in South Amboy, New Jersey, by three high school friends: drummer/lead vocalist Mikey Erg (Mike Yannich), guitarist/vocalist Jeff Erg (Jeff Schroeck), and bassist Joey Erg (Joe Keller). Through touring and recording, the Ergs! became recognized on a national and international level, touring and playing with such noted acts as The Bouncing Souls, Lifetime, Less Than Jake, The Loved Ones, The Gaslight Anthem, Dillinger Four, None More Black, The Explosion, Municipal Waste, Lemuria, and more. They have appeared at a number of festivals including Riot Fest, Insubordination Fest, and The Fest, the latter of which the band played 4 consecutive years, including as a headlining act in 2008. The Ergs! played their farewell show on November 15, 2008.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

The Ergs! formed in 2000 by Old Bridge High School students whose previous band the Flatliners (unrelated to other bands with this moniker) had broken up. The band members shared a common passion for all forms of music and culture and had no desire to be pigeonholed. In a 2007 interview with Steve Bove of the Asbury Park Press, Jim andersen Erg cited John Coltrane's seminal jazz record Giant Steps with instilling in the band aspirations "to maybe making music that was more than just punk."[1] Even early songs poked fun at generic songwriting, such as "Xerox Your Genitals, Not the Ramones," which encourage punk bands to strive for their own sound because there would only ever be one Ramones.

The band quickly recorded a pair of CD-Rs, f'n and Digital Endpoints, selling them at live shows throughout New Jersey. The band went on its first tour outside New Jersey as the support of Dirt Bike Annie, a noted pop-punk band for whom Mikey Erg also played drums.

New York's Whoa Oh Records took an early interest in the band and issued their first 7", entitled 3 Guys, 12 Eyes, which was soon followed by a self-released CD-EP, "The Ben Kweller EP," whose artwork (and lyrics) only referred to indie darling Kweller, but not satirically as has been[2] sometimes perceived. The Ergs set out on a brief tour in the spring/early summer of 2003 in support of The Ben Kweller EP with their friends and Whoa Oh labelmates, Charlie Brown Gets A Valentine (touring to promote their album "Dismissed"), called the "Who Grabbed My Ass? Tour". It began at the now closed Uncle Joe's in Jersey City, NJ, looped out west as far as Columbia, MO and ended with a show in an apartment in Philadelphia that featured Dirt Bike Annie.

Dorkrockcorkrod[edit]

After a few tours around the United States, the band entered Technical Ecstasy Studios with Chris Pierce to record their first full length. Dorkrockcorkrod was originally released on CD by Whoa Oh in 2003 (and on vinyl in 2005 by Don Giovanni Records). While playing more and more shows at home to increasingly large and rabid audiences, the band began to draw attention on a national level, including that of hip-hop artist and Adult Swim contributor mc chris. This led to the band writing an original song, "All Kids Out Of the Pool" to be used in an Adult Swim promo spot. In the summer of 2005, mc chris chose The Ergs! and North Carolina's SNMNMNM as the openers for his 2 and a half month Revenge of the Nerd Tour.

With fans now awaiting the follow-up to dorkrockcorkrod, the band returned to Technical Ecstasy with Chris Pierce and emerged with the 7-track album Jersey's Best Prancers. The title and artwork parodied that of Lifetime.

Upstairs/Downstairs[edit]

On the strength of dorkrockcorkrod, Jersey's Best Prancers, and a various singles, the Ergs! took their New Brunswick cohorts, Hunchback, on their Discover America Tour in the summer of 2006.

At the midpoint of the tour in Seattle, WA, the band, with Hunchback in tow, entered the studio of Conrad Uno, a seasoned record producer whose past credits include the Grammy-nominated debut of The Presidents of the United States of America, as well as Mudhoney and The Young Fresh Fellows.

Taking its title from an infamous nervous breakdown suffered by Can vocalist Malcolm Mooney, the resulting LP Upstairs/Downstairs was released by Portland, Oregon's Dirtnap Records. Styles which had previously been alluded to were introduced full-bore on the record.

The album's closing title track was an almost 20 minute expression of romantic remorse and mental instability that erupts into an abrasive noise collage.

Reception of the record among fans of the band's earliest pop punk work was at first confused,[3] but the record found an audience quickly. Janelle Jones of Alternative Press reviewed the record, hailing it as "the punk album to beat this year."[4] Stewart Mason of Allmusic rated it three and a half stars out of five, calling it "notably less willfully silly than what has come before." Mason praised one of the tracks "Books About Miles Davis" as "a particular gem."[5] As the band embarked on another full-US tour, this time with Buffalo indie rock trio Lemuria.

During this tour, the band was contacted by New Brunswick punk rock veterans The Bouncing Souls who wanted the Ergs! to be a part of a tour with the Souls and Lifetime celebrating the generations of punk rock in New Brunswick and New Jersey at large.[6]

More recording followed, with the band releasing numerous 7" vinyl EPs and singles, as well as more touring, both on their own and supporting larger acts such as Philadelphia's The Loved Ones and fellow NJ residents The Gaslight Anthem.[7]

Hindsight Is 20/20[edit]

Following the success of Upstairs/Downstairs, Dirtnap Records offered to issue a compilation record of the Ergs' now sizable catalog of singles, b-sides, and compilation appearances. The CD, entitled Hindsight Is 20/20 My Friend (after a line spoken by Chevy Chase in the movie Dirty Work) was released in the summer of 2008, just as the Ergs! and Hunchback took to the road again for the Jackalry Across America Tour.[8] Despite the tour's success, by its end Hunchback had chosen to break up, and the Ergs! would follow suit in a matter of weeks, announcing that they would complete their remaining tour plans and play a final show in November at the Asbury Lanes.[9][10][11]

In October 2008, the Ergs began their final bout of touring with dates supporting Less Than Jake alongside Landmines and Bomb the Music Industry!, followed by a Canadian and American tour which included 2 shows at Chicago's Riot Fest. This tour closed with a spot supporting Dillinger Four at the Brooklyn, NY record release show for D4's long-awaited 4th LP, Civil War.[12]

The Ergs! bid farewell to their largest collection of fans from around the US and the globe at No Idea Records' The Fest 7 in Gainesville, Florida, where they were the only band on the headlining stage at the Fest to play two consecutive sets. During the first set, the band played songs from throughout their career, and during the second, played dorkrockcorkrod in its entirety.

On November 13, 2008, the Ergs! played an unannounced set at a Lemuria show at the Parlor, a New Brunswick basement. On Friday, November 14 they played Upstairs at the Khyber in Philadelphia. On Saturday, November 15, 2008, The Ergs! played 2 shows at the Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ. The band played long, retrospective sets at each show, and at the late show closed with an extended version Upstairs/Downstairs that eventually incorporated all the night's band members and much of the audience demolishing instruments.

Post-breakup activity[edit]

After their split the former members of The Ergs! went on to form such groups as Psyched To Die, Night Birds, Black Wine and Ergquist. Many of these groups were collaborations with former members of Hunchback. On a few occasions, however, recordings have been released and live performances have taken place under the Ergs! banner.

Several 7" records and compilation appearances were released posthumously. Though each release was planned prior to the breakup, some recording sessions and in some cases writing for these records took place after the final show. A second volume of the collection record Hindsight is 20/20, My Friend is planned to compile this largely posthumous activity.

The band honored a commitment to a friend of the band to play a set of their own songs as well as requested covers at his wedding, which was not open to the public.

On December 5, 2010, The Ergs! and Hunchback played a pair of one-off reunion shows at Asbury Lanes. The motivation for the bands' decision to reunite was to raise money to offset medical bills for Hunchback bassist J Hunchback's mother, Jackie Nixon. The reunion shows coincided with many other fundraising efforts that weekend, including raffles, limited edition poster sales, auctions, and donated door money from other shows, including a show in Jersey City at which Mikey Erg performed solo, and Mikey Erg & (Ergs! roadie) Jay Insult's birthday party (also at Asbury Lanes), which featured a performance by The Hamiltons, a Canadian punk rock band with whom The Ergs! normally share an intense rivalry. On the day of the reunion shows, each band played an afternoon and an evening set, which were largely identical, although the Ergs! made the spontaneous decision to play the early and much-maligned song "Pool Pass" at the evening show. No new material was written or played, however the Ergs! performed a cover of "Tommy Gun" by The Clash, a song they had never played in full before, but had constantly referenced by teasing the opening drumroll and guitar riff to punctuate their live sets for years.

On December 31, 2011, The Ergs! performed a set of live band punk rock karaoke at the Asbury Lanes New Year's Eve party. Between 9 pm and midnight, the band played as the backing band for audience members who signed up to sing from a repertoire of over 100 songs, mostly of the punk/hardcore/new wave idiom. While the band were billed by name, as per assurances in advance of the performance, no original Ergs! songs were performed, and at no point did any of the three band members perform lead vocals. The band had previously performed as the Asbury Lanes' house karaoke band during their active tenure.

Discography[edit]

Demos[edit]

Year Title Label Format Other information
2000 f'n Frilly Pink Records CD-R
2000 Digital Endpoints Frilly Pink Records CD-R
  • Recorded in the style of a science fiction radio drama

EPs, Singles, and Splits with Other Artists[edit]

Year Title Label Format Other information
2001 3 Guys, 12 Eyes Whoa Oh Records 7" vinyl
2002 The Ben Kweller EP Fongul Records CD
  • 2009 re-release on 12" vinyl on Freedom School Records
2003 Cotton Pickin' Minute Prison Jazz Records 7" vinyl
  • features original country songs
2004 All the Hits! Grateful Records (later repressed by Salinas Records) 7" vinyl
2006 Jazz Is Like The New Coke Art of the Underground 7" vinyl single
2007 Lemuria Split Whoa Oh Records/Art of the Underground/Yo-Yo Records 7" vinyl
2007 Blue Toxic Pop/Wallride Records 7" vinyl
  • b-side features a cover of "Blew" by Nirvana.
2007 Books About Miles Davis Whoa Oh Records 7" vinyl
  • a-side is alternate mix of an album track from the Upstairs/Downstairs LP.
  • b-side features a cover of "Only Babies Cry" by Paul Baribeau.
2007 Grabass Charlestons Split No Idea Records 7" vinyl
  • split with Gainesville, FL's Grabass Charlestons.
2008 Teenage Bottlerocket Split Suburban Home Records 7" vinyl
2008 That's It...Bye Don Giovanni Records 12" vinyl
2009 The Measure SA Split ("A/B" version) No Idea Records 7" vinyl
  • split with New Brunswick, NJ's The Measure SA.
  • Each band performs two original songs on their side of the split. However, the first song on each side was written by the other band for the opposite band to arrange and perform. Hence, The Ergs! first song is an Ergs! arrangement of a Measure composition, and vice versa.
  • The Ergs! song "I'll Thrash You When You Think of Me" is a faster and louder arrangement of their own song "I'll Call You When You Think of Me," previously released on The Ben Kweller EP.
  • cover art by Lauren Measure.
  • cover art is double-sided, and follows the "cover star" format used for all of The Measure's 7"s. Norm Macdonald is the "cover star" on The Ergs! side (Chevy Chase on The Measure side).
2009 The Measure SA Split ("C/D" version) No Idea Records 7" vinyl
  • split with New Brunswick, NJ's The Measure SA, and an initially unannounced companion to the above split.
  • reversing the formula of the "A/B" version, here the first song on each side is The Ergs! and The Measure each performing their own arrangement of the songs they composed for the opposite band on the "A/B" version.
  • the second song by each band is a completely different original song than was included on the "A/B" version.
  • cover art by Lauren Measure is identical to that of the "A/B" version, with one distinction: here the Chevy Chase portrait appears on The Ergs! side (and the Norm Macdonald portrait appears on The Measure side).
  • sides of this record are listed as side C and side D, to further emphasize the companionship to the "A/B" version.
2010 Thrash Compactor Grave Mistake Records/Firestarter Records 7" vinyl
  • features original thrash/hardcore songs recorded in 2003 and 2007
  • "Johnny Rzeznik Needs His Ass Kicked" references the lead singer and guitarist of The Goo Goo Dolls.
  • "I Shot the Devil's Son" references "I Shot the Devil" by Suicidal Tendencies in title, content, and introduction.
  • 7" is one-sided (no music appears on side B).

Full Length Records[edit]

Year Title Label Format Other information
2004 dorkrockcorkrod Whoa Oh Records (CD)/Don Giovanni Records(vinyl) CD, 12" vinyl LP
2005 Jersey's Best Prancers Don Giovanni Records CD, 12" vinyl
2007 Upstairs/Downstairs Dirtnap Records CD, 12" vinyl LP
  • Features a collaboration with Hunchback on the title track

Collection Records[edit]

Year Title Label Format Other information
2008 Hindsight is 20/20, My Friend Dirtnap Records CD, 12" vinyl 2xLP
  • Collection of previously released material from singles, 7"s, and compilation appearances
  • Contains "hidden" bonus tracks: "Pranksters," a cover of a theme song to a fictitious television show from a Saturday Night Live skit, and "All Kids Out of the Pool," a song the Ergs! recorded as a promo for the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block.
2012 (upcoming) Hindsight is 20/20, My Friend Vol. 2: Okay, Enough Reminiscing[14] TBA 12" vinyl LP
  • Collection of material from singles, 7"s, and compilation appearances released subsequent to first collection

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://blogs.app.com/rhythmroom/2008/10/23/peace-ergs/
  2. ^ http://wfmu.org/special.php/NW
  3. ^ http://www.punknews.org/review/6354
  4. ^ http://www.alternativepress.com/reviews/789.htm
  5. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/upstairs-downstairs-mw0000481392
  6. ^ http://www.punknews.org/article/24015
  7. ^ http://www.punknews.org/article/26996
  8. ^ http://www.punknews.org/article/29088
  9. ^ http://www.punknews.org/article/30341
  10. ^ http://www.alternativepress.com/news/4653.htm
  11. ^ http://www.punknews.org/article/30638
  12. ^ http://www.freewilliamsburg.com/archives/2008/10/new_venue_for_d.html
  13. ^ Biese, Alex (September 11, 2013). "Don Giovanni Records celebrates 10 years with a tour featuring Screaming Females, Waxahatchee and Tenement". MyCentralJersey.com. 
  14. ^ http://www.dorkrockcorkrod.com