Mikey Erg, also known as Mike Yannich, got the easiest interview by giving him coverage of Fest 9. After asking others about their drunken exploits from 6+ years ago, he only had to dip back ten months or so. Yannich has played in countless Fest bands, continuing the tradition of keeping busy both on stage as well as in the audience.
Scene Point Blank: What were some of your highlights from Fest 9?
Mikey Erg: There were a lot—too many! Notable ones were:
- Getting to sing with Bomb The Music Industry!, Paint It Black, and Paul Baribeau
- Not expecting many people to come see me play solo and looking up from tuning the guitar to see a packed room
- Dear Landlord as Juggalos
- Grabass Charlestons as a 4 piece
- Probably the best moment of all was The Arrivals doing “Simple Pleasures in America” and the crowd doing the “whoa-oh” part for the entire rest of the show.
Scene Point Blank: Was it strange to come back to Fest but not to play with the Ergs! (since their “last” show was at Fest 8)?
Mikey Erg: The Fest was always a huge thing for the Ergs!, but it wasn’t too weird ‘cause I’d always played in 1000 different bands every year.
Scene Point Blank: What have you seen change over your annual trips to the Fest?
Mikey Erg: It’s always the biggest, friendliest, most fun party of the year. The only thing that’s really changed is it’s gotten bigger and bigger. Each year I have a harder time seeing everything I want to see. Fest 10 is definitely shaping up to be the craziest of all! I’m almost scared to look at the schedule!
Scene Point Blank: Who are some bands you’ve discovered at Fest?
Mikey Erg: I’m usually too busy running around trying to see all my favorite bands and friends, so I never really get to check out new ones. Fest is so overwhelming. So much to see and do.
Scene Point Blank: What are some of your favorite things to do while in Gainesville, beyond the official Fest places? Any restaurants you always hit up?
Mikey Erg: I usually try to hit up Gator Dawgs. I mostly just eat at whatever places take the free meal passes. Oh, and Checkers!
Scene Point Blank: I’m going to switch off track a bit from Fest to more on your current projects. I can’t keep track: What are your current “full-time” bands?
Mikey Erg: Well, let’s see…I’ve got House Boat, Star Fucking Hipsters, The Slow Death. I’ve been playing solo a lot, as well.
I fill in for the Soviettes whenever they need me and I play with the Dopamines when I can… I think that’s everyone that’s actually active. I’m and idiot and am probably forgetting something obvious.
Scene Point Blank: Is Psyched to Die still active?
Mikey Erg: Unfortunately, no. The last show we played was Fest 8.
Scene Point Blank: Do you have an instrument preference?
Mikey Erg: Well, I’m a better drummer than I am anything else, but I really love being up front making noise on a guitar and jumping around like a crazy person.
Scene Point Blank: After singing and writing in so many of your bands, is it strange to tour with a band like The Dopamines, where your role is less prominent?
Mikey Erg: I think for a while I kind of needed to get away from the creative side of things after the Ergs! broke up. It was nice to still be able to play, but not have to deal with being the creative force behind something and all the stuff that goes along with that. Unfortunately, I got so busy that now it’s hard to find the time to sit down and write my own stuff again. It’s happening but it’s been pretty slow going. Soon though!
Scene Point Blank: A lot of the bands you play in are based in different cities (Dopamines and Houseboat for example). How do you organize and practice?
Mikey Erg: House Boat has had, I think, two practices in the couple of years we’ve been a band. We’re all pretty competent musicians so we’re able to pull it off. With the Dopamines and most of the other stuff, I just jump into it. I just make sure I have everything down before we play. I’ll just listen to the songs a million times and make sure I know them.
Scene Point Blank: You continue to use the name “Mikey Erg” in your solo performances. Is this a deliberate continuation, or is it just because that’s how you’re best known?
Mikey Erg: It’s basically how I’m best known. I consider it my “punk” name or whatever. Like Sid Vicious or something. It also kind of works ‘cause most anything I do under that name will basically sound like an extension of The Ergs! music.
Scene Point Blank: How have you been enjoying your solo performances? Do you see it as the natural progression?
Mikey Erg: I love playing solo. It’s nice to play some of the songs that never really got played during Ergs! shows. I like the idea of playing the songs without a whole bunch of crashing drums and noise. It’s also fun to play covers and stuff on a whim, like playing “Fuck You” by Cee-Lo at the Fest on the fly and it getting a fun, huge reaction. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen all that easily with a full band.
That said, at some point soon I’ll be putting together a full band to play my stuff once I make a full length.
Scene Point Blank: The heart-shaped Paper & Plastick record sold out quickly. Was the shape your idea or the label’s? How much work goes into a specialized vinyl release like that?
Mikey Erg: It was the label. Vinnie wrote me and asked if I wanted to record a heart-shaped record for Valentine’s Day. Now, mind you, this was New Years Eve. I thought it would be impossible but I just happened to start working on a couple of songs around that time. I booked studio time with a friend a couple days later and sent the songs off to him.
I have no idea how much work goes into pressing something like that, but I know the plant we went through has done heart-shaped things before so Vinnie knew it was possible.
Scene Point Blank: Thanks for your time.
Photography: Loren (top), Kristen Swanson (bottom)