August 4, 2014
by Nick Spacek

In the years since they played their final show, it seems that the legend of New Jersey pop-punk trio the Ergs! has only grown. Drummer and lead singer Mike Yannich – also known as Mikey Erg – has been everywhere in that time, performing with enough bands to become a punk meme and provoke a petition for him to be the new drummer for Against Me! Bassist Joe Keller is now in the rising surf-punk quartet Night Birds, who just signed to Fat Wreck Chords. Guitarist Jeff Schroeck is in Black Wine, who will release their fourth album on Don Giovanni Records, Yell Boss, on August 12. The following week, on August 19, Don Giovanni will reissue the Ergs’ debut Dorkrockcorkrod for its tenth anniversary with a new master specifically for vinyl.

We took the opportunity to speak with Yannich, as well as Don Giovanni’s Joseph Steinhardt, about the significance of this pop-punk landmark.

The Runout: This seems like it’s a flagship release for Don Giovanni. What attracted you to the Ergs in the first place?

Joe Steinhardt: I was instantly attracted to this record as soon as I heard it. I had been aware of The Ergs! for a little while before this release, but this was a record that was impossible to ignore. Eventually The Ergs! became the most exciting band in New Brunswick, NJ and maybe the entire country. At the time the album had been out on CD already for a year and vinyl wasn’t very popular yet so it was a really dumb idea to do the record on vinyl and we assumed it would be the last release we did, but it was something we really needed our own personal vinyl copies of so it seemed like a good way to go out. It turned out to be one of our best selling releases of all time.

What’s different about this release? Does it mean my old copy sounds horrid?

Not horrid, but this was the first LP we had ever done as a label and vinyl wasn’t as popular as it is now, and we quite honestly didn’t know what we were doing at the time. I’m pretty sure the original master used for vinyl was made from a CD version that I imported into my computer and then burned onto a CD after removing some of the stuff at the end of one of the songs. The person who cut the plates was also just someone random because that’s not something we thought about. This one was cut from the original master by someone far better at cutting plates, and sounds a hell of a lot better. I wouldn’t rush out to buy another copy though unless that kind of thing matters to you. We also upgraded the quality of the jackets to make it feel more special.

Why an anniversary reissue in the first place?

This record really slipped under the radar of the more mainstream press due to a variety of factors. First, the non-punk big music sites and blogs weren’t really writing much about punk records at the time; second, this was our label’s first LP and eighth release [overall], so no one was paying any attention, and like I said earlier, we didn’t really know what we were doing. This seemed like a good excuse to get this record some of the attention and recognition it deserved. I also always wanted an excuse to fix the mastering issues.

Is there anything you hope happens because of this reissue?

I hope more people check out the album, as it’s really one of the best records to come out of the underground since I’ve been active.

How do you look upon the songs 10 years later?

Mikey Erg: I like them a lot. When most of them were written, we had no idea anyone would ever listen to them. It’s nice to see them still resonating with people. I meet people all the time who tell me they got them through some [adverse] stuff. That’s a really cool thing to hear.

You still perform some of these solo – how are they received?

They always get a great reaction. I tend to make the solo sets about 75 percent Ergs tunes because they always get people moving and singing along.

What was your involvement with the reissue?

We really just wanted to keep it in print. The 10-year idea came up and we talked about doing a deluxe crazy package but we didn’t really want to load it up with a million things so that people felt the need to re-buy it.

We decided with Joe to at least get it properly mastered for vinyl since the original pressings were just mastered straight from the CD.

Does this anniversary make you feel old at all? Did it bring up anything you’d not thought of in a while?

It’s crazy to think it was that long ago. It kinda does make me feel old … but not as much as buying 20th anniversary editions of albums I bought the first time around like Nevermind and Superunknown.

All three members of the Ergs! have moved on to other projects, but you’ve kept the name, sort of. What’s the idea behind that?

I kinda just treat it as my “punk rock” name or whatever. People know me as Mikey Erg so I use it to differentiate myself from the millions of other Mikes out there.

Because reissues always beg the question – will there be any shows around this?

There are no plans to play at this time. Maybe the 15 year anniversary!

If nothing else, does it mean Hindsight is 20/20 Vol. 2 is in sight?

Hindsight 2 has been mastered and in the can for almost two years now. We’re having trouble sorting out the artwork but hopefully that will be resolved soon. Look for it on Dirtnap Records sometime in the not too distant future.

The Ergs’ Dorkrockcorkrod tenth anniversary reissue is available for pre-order now from Don Giovanni Records. Mike Yannich is on tour now with the Copyrights, who are supporting 7 Seconds through August 14, and will head to Europe in September. Tour dates can be found at the Copyrights’ Facebook page.