Jersey’s Best Pop-Punk Prancers the Ergs Reunite at the Fest
The Fest 2016 is nearly upon us, with Friday, October 28 fast approaching. The next few days is when the buzz starts. Everyone will pack up and begin plotting their tricky time allocations throughout the lineups and venues. Tough choices will have to be made, hearts torn between dueling time slots, but one fan favorite that seems to be on many people’s lists are the Ergs!. It’s been eight years since the band’s last official show, but the Fest announced the Ergs! reunion for their own 15th anniversary lineup. I met up with Mikey Erg (a.k.a. Mike Yannick) in Brooklyn to get some bomb-ass chicken sandwiches and talk about the reunion.
Though the idea of putting on another Ergs! show has come up periodically for years, it’s rarely worked out for all members at the same time, as Erg reveals. “For years, we just didn’t do it for a variety of reasons," he says. "We were just never on the same page about it at the same time. So, last year — no, actually, two years ago now at Fest — we were at a pre-fest show, and I was just hanging out talking with our bass player Joe [Keller], and [organizer] Tony [Weinbender] just happened to be there. And I was like, ‘Ah, next year is my 10th year at Fest, so I really wanna do something special for it.’ I think I brought up doing the Ergs! thing, and Joe wasn’t opposed to it … and I’d had conversations with [guitarist / vocalist] Jeff [Schroeck], and he wasn’t opposed to it either at that point, so it all just kind of fell into place. But we ended up not being able to do it last year because Jeff had a baby right around that time. Nothing had been announced yet, thankfully, so we just went ahead and canceled it and put everything on hold for a year. And now it’s here!”
After their disbanding in 2008, the Ergs! only played a couple of more times — once at a friend’s wedding and again for a benefit show in 2010, the last time they all played together. Their popularity could only mean that their absence would be felt, and an Ergs! reunion would have rallied fans in any of the years since their split. Still, for the band’s members, it's been about timing and meaning. For Mikey Erg in particular, the reunion taking place at the Fest is certainly no coincidence or decision of convenience. “I always felt like if we got back together it should be something like an important cause or something, or a show for something that meant something to us," he says. "Like Fest — I totally credit our first Fest shit with giving us the impetus to keep going; because it was kind of a low point. We [had] just put out the first record, dorkrockcorkrod, but it didn’t seem like it was setting the world on fire or anything, so we were just like, ‘Eh,' you know? [Shrugs] And then we went on a tour that ended up not being so hot, so … It felt like we were kind of down on the band a little bit, and then we played Fest and were like, ‘Holy shit, people do like us.” [The tour and Fest] was night and day. The Fest show was just: small bar, completely packed out; people were, like, climbing on the ceiling and stage-diving off the bar and shit like that … I don’t even know to this day that I’ve played [another] show so crazy. And we’ve played some crazy shit. I totally credit Fest with giving us a boost. So, it was always kind of a mission for me. I remember when Jeff was quitting the band, and I was like, ‘Can we, like, not break up, but just play Fest every year?’ I think that was something I threw out. We don’t have to be an active band, really, but it’d be fun to do that every year.”
Of course we all know that’s not how things ended up shaking out, but now at the Fest 15, many fans may be seeing the Ergs! for the first time. “I’ve played a lot of solo shows and I’ve played [Ergs!] songs still," Erg says, "and a lot of people come up to me and say that they never go to see us and, you know, I kind of wanted to do at least one more show where if people didn’t get to see us, maybe they can.”
Fans will be happy to know that they’ll have a solid hour to let the Ergs! stir up some old feelings, and for all those dying to know what the set list will be like, Erg says, “We haven’t actually worked out the set list yet, but we’ve worked out sort of a master list of the songs we want to play. So, you know, it’s the hits off of dorkrockcorkrod and most of Upstairs/Downstairs, and then we have about half of Jersey’s Best Prancers, and a list of all the stuff off the singles we wanna do. So, we’ll whittle that down, but we have an hour, so we’re going to give an hour. And honestly ... we’re a punk band, that’ll cover it. [Laughs] We’re trying to give our all for the time we’re allotted.”
Catch the Ergs! this Friday at the Fest 15 and go by their merch table, because a new 7” titled "Goddamn Death Dedication" is hot off the presses that very day! The record features three new songs, each written by a different member of the band, and, as Erg says, “a very noisy cover of 'My Sharona.'”