Living in Minneapolis, I’ve seen a number of Soviettes shows on the local calendars over the past few years. With the band announcing a hiatus back in 2006, and a couple of reunions to celebrate the LP IV rarities compilation, I had long wondered what the band’s official status was. With some more shows scheduled around Fest 11, it seemed the perfect time to sit down with the band.
Scene Point Blank: What’s the status of the band right now: do you consider yourselves “active” or in “reunion mode”? You haven’t recorded anything, have you?
Mike: Everyone has their own projects.
Susy: Annie and I have a new band called FM Wired, Maren’s in The Gateway District. We’ve talked about maybe recording another record but, right now, it seems like it’s fun to just play shows as special things whenever we get together.
Mike: When we’re asked to do special shows.
Scene Point Blank: Were you asked tonight [to play with Dan Vapid and the Cheats]?
Susy: We asked them. We said we wanted to play. Playing in this band is just so much fun. We’re best friends. As far as the status of the band, are we recording anything new? No. I guess that’s the right answer.
Maren: We’re sitting on the floor answering questions, about to play a show, that’s the current status. That’s about as far into the future as we get. It’s hard to resist playing guitar with your friends. It’s the best, so I don’t know…
Susy: And when Mikey started playing with us--
Maren: It was like a blood infusion.
Susy: It felt good. Not saying it didn’t for a while, but maybe it didn’t.
Maren: I don’t know. It’s fun. And when it’s fun, it’s fun.
Mike: With the first practice we had, because I was just a fill-in for like a fest thing, it just clicked. It worked.
Susy: We were only planning on playing the reunion shows, and then Fest is always so much fun, and my 40th birthday happened and things just…and playing with Mikey’s awesome.
Scene Point Blank: So Danny quit playing the drums?
Maren: Yeah, he quit. He had another band for a while called France Has the Bomb and he kind of hung it up after that. He played a couple reunion shows with us and he just wasn’t that into it, and that’s fine.
Scene Point Blank: So you just asked Mikey to play one show and it grew?
Mike: Annie wrote me, she’s like, “You know what you do for every other band? Do you want to do that for us too?” I was like, “Yeah, I’ll join one of my favorite bands. That’s cool.”
Scene Point Blank: Now do you have people yelling “Play the Ergs!”?
Mike: I haven’t got that here. I get that at most of the other band’s shows that I play. People yell “Pray for Rain.”
Maren: Mikey knows our songs better than I do.
Susy: He’s not Mikey Erg anymore, he’s Mikey Soviette.
Mike: That’s right.
Scene Point Blank: When you started playing, what was it like when you jumped back in. I imagine you rehearsed a lot. What did it feel like?
Susy: We actually didn’t. When we played with Danny, when we played the reunion shows, it felt like no time had passed. We barely even practiced for those shows. It was like getting back on your bike.
Maren: I think when you play them enough and you’re marginally blacked out when you’re playing them, you can kind of remember them anywhere anytime. Somehow they’re just in there. [Laughs.] I’m only half-kidding.
Scene Point Blank: Is it different playing sets that are all old songs without introducing new stuff?
Susy: When Mikey started playing with us, there were limits to that, to what we could play. A lot of Soviettes songs we all wrote together. I guess we made a common decision that, if they were songs that were written—unless they were majority written by Danny we wouldn’t play those—but if they were songs written by all of us, we’d play those.
Maren: I think it was like a gradient too. “Oh, Danny can’t play this one show, so Mikey could you play it with us? “He didn’t quit all at once. It was a sort of thing where eventually he wasn’t into it and was like, “You can keep going if you want.” So at first we didn’t play songs like “Multiply and Divide” that had parts that Danny would sing and then we were like, “Wait, Mikey can also sing.” He’s super-talented.
Susy: And it’s been awesome being able to play those songs because some of the songs with Danny’s parts—and now Mikey’s doing it—are some of my favorite songs.
Mike: And some of the most well-known ones too, so it’s good to be able to put those in the set.
Scene Point Blank: How is it for you, doing somebody else’s songs?
Mike: When we first did it, here at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis, I was, “Oh, I don’t know how this is going to go. If I’m going to be singing Danny’s parts if I’m going to get lynched in the end.”
Scene Point Blank: He wasn’t in the audience?
Mike: He wasn’t, thank God. That, I wouldn’t have been able to do. It went well.
Scene Point Blank: You haven’t done any tours, they’ve all been kind of one-offs?
Maren: Yeah, we played 2-3 shows when we went down to Fest.
Mike: Nothing more than 3-4 days.
Scene Point Blank: On the road did anything feel different, not within band dynamics, but with how touring goes in the DIY scene between 2002 and now?
Susy: Well, the way we toured before was way different.
Maren: We have cell phones now, internet.
Maren: There’s no need for an atlas or the sheets that have the directions.
Susy: Touring is definitely a lot better.
Maren: There’s facespace. You can tell people you’re coming, all that kind of stuff.
Susy: Definitely, promotion is a lot different. It’s a lot easier now, for sure.