This past Monday night, I had the honor of freezing my toes off while watching Houseboat at The Dojo. Houseboat is a modern pop-punk supergroup of sorts. The five piece is made up of past and current members of bands such as Off With Their Heads, The Ergs! and The Steinways. While every member of the band is an exceptional musician with an exceptional past, none stand out more than the drummer. That’s right, the drummer. Mike Yannich, better known as Mikey Erg, is one of the most important figures in modern rock music. And also one of the most under appreciated.
Having cut his teeth drumming for obscure-yet-beloved bands such as Dirt Bike Annie and The Unlovables, it was his time spent with New Jersey cult punk band The Ergs! that earned him his stripes as well as his punk rock nom de guerre.
From the band inception in 2000 to its untimely demise in 2008, The Ergs! conquered New Jersey and the rest of the country with their unique, progressive brand of pop-punk. Unlike bands like Fall Out Boy and Blink 182 that ruined pop-punk’s reputation as a legitimate brand of music (keep in mind that The Ramones were pop-punk pioneers), The Ergs! strove restore pop-punk to its former glory.
Underneath the melodic fury of pop-punk, The Ergs! layer jazz nerd musicianship, classic pop sensibilities and hardcore energy to make a very original, very perfect hybrid. Sadly, in 2008, guitarist Jeff Erg called it quits and the rest of the band folded without him.
Mikey Erg wasn’t done with music. In fact, he didn’t even want to take a break or miss a beat. Immediately after the end of The Ergs!, Mikey went into overdrive. He joined up with friends to work on close to a dozen new projects. Even though The Tergs! are no more, here are some new Mikey Erg bands that deserve to be heard:
The Dopamines: Mikey doesn’t have any songwriting duties in the Dopamines, but his presence is most surely felt. The Dopamines were a Cincinnati three-piece up until they began recording their second album, Expect The Worst, when Mikey started working with them and touring as their second guitarist. Its a long-distance relationship for Mikey, but he makes it work.
Houseboat: Like I said earlier, Houseboat is a pop-punk supergroup. Ace and Garth from the now-defunct band The Steinways handle bass, guitars and vocals while Mikey Erg hammers away on the drums. I’m not exactly sure whether or not Mikey has any songwriting input in the band, but considering that Houseboat sounds an awful lot like The Steinways, I would say that his contributions are minimal. A great band nevertheless.
Psyched To Die: Unlike with The Dopamines and Houseboat, Mikey Erg is the centerpiece of Psyched To Die. PTD is a re-examination of the hardcore elements present in The Ergs’ music. Mikey fronts PTD, covering both guitar and vocal duties. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re more of a hardcore kid than a pop-punker.