Scene Point Blank: I noticed that you have two sets at Great Scott in Allston. I was just wondering if you have a special relationship with that venue?
Mikey Erg: No, it’s just ‘cause it’s smaller than the other venues. I kind of…wish we weren’t doing two sets in one day. I wish we would’ve broken it up. [Laughs.] It’s definitely a little harder now to play an Ergs set than it was 10 years ago. It takes a little more out of me now. But it’s pretty much ‘cause we wanted to give enough people a chance to see the show.
Scene Point Blank: Are you playing the whole album start to finish?
Mikey Erg: Just at Asbury Park. But otherwise we’re just doing a normal set. But like I’ve been telling everybody, you’re gonna hear all the songs you wanted to hear from the record anyway. [Laughs.]
Scene Point Blank: How do you decide what your setlist is going to be like when you have such a huge selection…?
Mikey Erg: Yeah, we just have the songs that…we know people go crazy for. Then we throw in the few songs that we like.
Scene Point Blank: You know you are playing one of the last shows at Brooklyn Bazaar?
Mikey Erg: I just found that out. We didn’t know that until -- I found out when the internet found out, but I’m glad. I love that venue. I’m glad we get to play it one last time.
Scene Point Blank: Can you speak to that at all? Do you know what the deal is?
Mikey Erg: In New York I assume it’s just cause the fucking rent is so high. Also, there’s probably a bit of a downturn of people going to shows. It seems like it’s harder to get people to come out to certain things.
Scene Point Blank: It might be our age.
Mikey Erg: Yeah. That’s the thing I realize about doing some of these Ergs shows or playing-- I went out with Lemuria a couple of years ago, and I’d seen people I hadn’t seen in like 10 years because it’s like, “Okay, well this is the night. Lemuria and Mikey are playing. That’s the night we’ll get the babysitter and come out.” We’re all getting older.
Scene Point Blank: I read somewhere that you’re getting younger kids to come out that didn’t get to see you before.
Mikey Erg: Yeah! I was kind of shocked in Philly, the first show we played. It was a lot of our older friends, but then literally 12 to 14,15-year-old kids going crazy. It was so cool. And I’ve played solo shows and kids are coming up to me saying they never got to see us. They were too young when we broke up.
Scene Point Blank: How’s that feel?
Mikey Erg: It’s awesome. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that the records are still going, still gaining momentum.
Scene Point Blank: How did you get Chris Gethard on the line-up for the Brooklyn Bazaar show?
Mikey Erg: Uh, just texted him. We had a band drop off and we were kind of brainstorming ideas about who to get to play. And I was like, “I wonder if Gethard would do it.” …He happened to be open, and he literally told me, “It’s like a dream gig of mine.”
Scene Point Blank: So he’s doing comedy…
Mikey Erg: Yeah he’s doing comedy. He was like, “You guys just gotta make sure you introduce me. That’s the only way I’ll get the crowd --“
Scene Point Blank: I don’t think he’ll need an introduction.
Mikey Erg: I didn’t think so either, but you know.
Scene Point Blank: He doesn’t have a band, does he?
Mikey Erg: Him and I have -- we did a Smiths cover band once that played a couple shows.
Scene Point Blank: Wow. That’s amazing!
Mikey Erg: We played Fest. And we opened for Beach Slang at Rough Trade once. It was pretty funny. Other than that he doesn’t really do music.
Scene Point Blank: Did you meet Connor Ratliff while doing the Chris Gethard Show?
Mikey Erg: Yeah. We actually met…I was already doing the Gethard show, but he and J.D., who directed the Gethard show, they have a podcast called 12 Hour Day.
Scene Point Blank: Oh, and it’s literally 12 hours.
Mikey Erg: Yeah, it’s literally a 12 hour podcast. And it came to our attention that Connor and I are both huge Elvis Costello obsessives. So J.D. was like, “You should come over while we’re doing the podcast. A segment of the podcast will be you guys having a conversation about Elvis Costello.” And that’s when we actually met.
Scene Point Blank: How long did you talk about Elvis?
Mikey Erg: I think it was about two and a half hours. It was pretty insane. From then on, we always talked incessantly about Elvis Costello whenever we saw each other.
Scene Point Blank: And you recorded a Christmas album.
Mikey Erg: Yeah. Then, we got together and started writing songs together and stuff like that. It was pretty cool. And we’re going to see Elvis Costello together in a couple weeks.
Scene Point Blank: Oh so you guys are just buddies! Do you know if he’s an Ergs fan?
Mikey Erg: I don’t think he knew the Ergs before he met me, but I know that he likes the solo records that I’ve done. He’s told me that. I don’t know if he’s gone back and listened to The Ergs.
Scene Point Blank: We kind of talked about it a little bit, but when you guys recorded Dorkrockcorkrod, you didn’t have any expectations. How does it feel to be celebrating it like this 15 years later?
Mikey Erg: It’s pretty mindblowing to me. I mean, Rolling Stone wrote about it. It was on a list of best pop-punk records or whatever. And people keep coming up to me and telling me that that record meant something to them. It’s crazy...
I feel like a lot of the best songs you write are the ones you’re not really thinking about too much. They kind of just fall out of the sky. That’s kind of how DorkRock was. I feel like we kind of were like, “Let’s make a record. That’s what you do when you’re a band.” And we didn’t overthink anything, which I think shows on the recording…It was just honest. And I think people gravitate towards that.
But, it feels cool.
I feel like a lot of the best songs you write are the ones you’re not really thinking about too much. They kind of just fall out of the sky.
Scene Point Blank: Does this mean you are back for “good” or is this just another special batch of shows?
Mikey Erg: We haven’t really talked about it. We could never be back in any sort of capacity... like a regularly touring band or anything. We just have these for now, and I think we’re going to do a couple things next year. We have a show in Seattle for this Seattle Pop Punk Fest thing. And that’s all we have planned at the moment.
There’s been loose talk of making a record, but we haven’t really settled down to talk about it yet.
Scene Point Blank: When you broke up 10 years ago, it seemed like it was over creative differences. Do those ever get in the way when you reunite and practice together, especially if you’re secretly recording?
Mikey Erg: Not really. It was mostly [that] the guitar player just didn’t feel he wanted to do it anymore. And we were like, “Well, it’s the three of us, so that’s it. We’re done.”
Once we were all on the same page that we could do this again, that’s all we needed to do. We all just needed to agree on the couple of shows that we could do or we should do. At this point the only thing I’m concerned about is, can we physically still do it? [Laughs.] And that hasn’t been a problem yet. [Laughs.]
Scene Point Blank: Your range of musical ability is very apparent in all you have put out, from thrash to jazz to noise to no wave. Are any of you professionally trained?
Mikey Erg: Nope.
Scene Point Blank: All self-taught?
Mikey Erg: Yeah. Jeff is self-taught, I think. I’m totally self-taught. Joe’s self-taught too. I think Joe took some bass lessons in high school. But I feel like Joe is just more like, the minute he got a bass he just sat in his room and played every second of every day, which is kind of what I feel like we all did. I think a lot of it comes from listening to lots of different stuff and taking influence that way. Like, listening to a ton of jazz and trying to emulate those records that you were listening to. I think that’s what played a part in this.
Scene Point Blank: Why did you guys decide to stick with the punk genre considering your abilities in other genres?
Mikey Erg: At the end of the day those are just the types of songs that I write. I feel like they’re more rooted in pop-punk, for lack of a better term. I feel like that’s what made us stand out in the punk genre, is that we were a punk band, but we took influence from all this other stuff. For instance, we didn’t only listen to The Ramones and The Sex Pistols and music that sounded like that. So I think that’s actually the cool thing about The Ergs. I think that’s why we sound unique. We have all these different influences but we filtered them down into a punk rock record. I feel like that’s just the kinda of songs I write. I don’t think I could sit down and write a jazz song.
Scene Point Blank: Do you think your sound would’ve evolved if you had stayed together?
Mikey Erg: I don’t know. I assume it would’ve. I really don’t know. It’s hard to say. The last couple songs we were writing sounded like Ergs songs. I feel like whenever we got together it would’ve just sounded like us. I don’t know what the evolution would’ve been. In 10 years of constantly working together, I’m sure there would’ve been some sort of gravitation towards something else. Maybe we would’ve made a jazz record.
Scene Point Blank: Finally, I read that you go through long binges of certain bands at a time. Like month-long binges. What are you currently listening to?
Mikey Erg: Currently I’m on The Beatles because they just re-issued Abbey Road. So, I’ve been doing that a lot. I haven’t have a good “one band binge” in a long time. This particular fall they’ve re-issued Don’t Tell a Soul by The Replacements. I went back and have been listening to that a bunch. And Abbey Road and there’s a couple Frank Zappa reissues that are coming out, so I’ve been going back and listening to some of his stuff from the periods that they’re re-issuing…
Scene Point Blank: Back to old staples.
Mikey Erg: Yeah. I can’t think of what my last big binge was. Probably every few months, I’ll go into a phase where I’ll just listen to Frank Zappa for six months ‘cause there’s so much stuff. I feel like I’m never above water. I’m always drowning in Frank Zappa.
Scene Point Blank: What’s your favorite record of 2019, maybe besides the reissues?
Mikey Erg: I know I have an answer for this…I have to look at the Spotify.
Oh, the new That Dog record is incredible. I think it’s their first record in 23 years or something. It’s super good: Old LP by That Dog. Er, that new Muffs record that came out today (October 18) is pretty insane, too. Those are just this week. That’s my problem.