Mikey Erg (real name: Mikey Yannich) is a legend in the world of pop-punk because he has been in countless punk bands throughout the 2000s. He first made his name with The Ergs!, who released their first album, Dorkrockcorkrod, in 2004. In 2017, that album made Rolling Stone's "50 Greatest Pop-Punk Albums" list. It's 16 songs packed into 32 minutes, and it turned 15 this year. The Ergs have been playing a few shows to commemorate their beloved groundbreaking album. I met Mikey in a busy coffee shop in SoHo last October, when he happened to have some time off between touring, practicing, and recording with at least five bands: his solo project, The Ergs, Early Riser, Worriers, and Hat Rabbits. We talked about his current projects, getting old, and how it feels to be celebrating a 15-year-old album that his old band made somewhat indifferently.
Scene Point Blank: What did you do in Cambridge (UK) last week?
Mikey Erg: This is very ridiculous, but I went to see this guy Mark Lewisohn, who is essentially writing a be-all end-all Beatles biography. At the end of the day it’s gonna be three volumes. Each volume is 2,000 pages or so. The first one is out, and it only goes up to 1962. So, it literally goes up to their first single. It’s John Lennon’s entire family history and Paul’s entire family history. It’s insane. So this guy did a talk – it’s just about the Abbey Road album. So, it was like a two and a half hour lecture…pretty much anything you’d ever want to or need to know about the album Abbey Road.
Scene Point Blank: Abbey Road was which album?
Mikey Erg: Pretty much the last record. Let it Be came out after that, but it was recorded before that.
Scene Point Blank: So did you learn anything new?
Mikey Erg: Not as much as I probably should have for flying there and going to see the show, but I think I just know a little too much about The Beatles.
Scene Point Blank: Would you say they’re your favorite band?
Mikey Erg: Yeah. I’d pretty much have to say that. There’s not many artists I would travel that far to not even see them. But honestly, I love England so much, too. Any excuse to go there.
Scene Point Blank: So, since The Beatles are your favorite band, I am guessing you learned some of their drums first.
Mikey Erg: Oh yeah. Ringo’s probably my biggest influence as a drummer…I love the way he plays. I know from reading about him, he’s always been a perfect timekeeper. He’s not known as being a flashy drummer, and that’s kinda how I feel about myself. I’m not really interested in being the guy from Rush or hitting a million drums at once and being a virtuoso, flashy player. I just wanna keep time and be solid. You can always count on Ringo for that.
Scene Point Blank: So you learned drums first, and when did you learn guitar?
Mikey Erg: I learned guitar probably around 12 or 13…
I had a guitar lying around. One night I did figure it out myself. The Beatles again. I took a Beatles songbook, flipped through it. I knew The Beatles songs like the back of my hand in my mind. So, I just like learned chords just from playing through Beatles songs.
Scene Point Blank: Yeah, it’s a good way to learn.
Mikey Erg: Learn from the best.
Scene Point Blank: Which one is easier to play while singing at the same time?
Mikey Erg: Well, I never found it difficult to play drums and sing at the same time. I always kind of defaulted to [it] -- Whenever me and friends were jamming, no one else wanted to sing and I would just sing. It always kind of felt natural to me. Once The Ergs broke up and I started playing solo, I almost had to re-teach myself how to sing and play guitar at the same time. Now, I’ve been doing both for so long. It’s always been super easy for me for some reason.
"Once The Ergs broke up and I started playing solo, I almost had to re-teach myself how to sing and play guitar at the same time."
Scene Point Blank: Who are some of your favorite drummers who can sing?
Mikey Erg: My biggest influences on that front were Duncan Redmonds from Snuff. They’re still going actually. They were on Fat Wreck Chords. They had a record called Demmamussabebonk -- I think that’s how you say it. All their albums are complete gobbledygook. I saw them at Coney Island High in 1996, I think. I didn’t know the drummer sang. I’d just been listening to their records. I just watched that, and was like in awe of it. And also this guy Chris Pierce who ended up recording DorkRockCorkRod and a bunch of other records in New Brunswick. He was in a band called Sinkhole, and he played drums and sang at the same time, and I was like, that’s awesome. And of course Phil Collins.
Scene Point Blank: Alex Kerns?
Mikey Erg: Yeah. Once we started touring with Lemuria it was so cool. I didn’t understand how he could play what he played and sing at the same time. That’s complicated.
Scene Point Blank: Who is in your backing band for your solo project?
Mikey Erg: I have a couple different people. The last show I played, and on the records, I’ve had this guy Alex Clute play bass, and he played in the Chris Gethard Show band with me. And Lou Hanman who used to play in Worriers with me. She plays drums and she’s just phenomenal. And Jeff Rosenstock’s actually been playing guitar the last couple shows, so that’s been cool. And Chris Pierce, my singing drummer influence, he plays drums for me sometimes. And my friend J Nixon, who plays in this band Nervous Triggers in New Jersey. That’s why whenever I play shows in New Jersey, they usually play. It’s easier for them to just do those.
Scene Point Blank: So you have your solo project going on in-between Ergs reunion shows right now, and you’re playing with at least two other bands right now. How do you keep track of what band you’re about to go play with or record with?
Mikey Erg: The iPhone calendar. I’d be lost without that. And actually, the last few months I’ve noticed that I’ve fucked up and made a couple mistakes. I’ve double booked myself a couple times. I was on tour with this band Doc Hopper last week and I had to leave the tour early cuz I double booked myself with the Sicko show that just happened. I’ve made a couple mistakes, but for a while there, I was doing pretty good.
Scene Point Blank: I mean I can’t believe you play multiple sets in one night at some Fests. Like, how do you know what you’re playing?
Mikey Erg: Yeah, somehow I’ve never gotten mixed up. Like, there was one Fest where I did 13 sets in a weekend. I don’t know how I pulled it off. Once I did, I couldn’t believe it.