It felt like every time I saw someone play at Fest, you were right in the middle of a set. How many bands did you play with that weekend?
I was trying to figure that out. I was trying to think of the bands I played in but didnít actually play in. I sang with Paint It Black, Bomb the Music Industry!, Paul Baribeau. I played with The Dopamines, I played withÖ
I played with Mikey Erg. I played with The Soviettes. I played with the Slow Death. I think I did five sets and the ended up with eight or nine. Oh, the God Damn Doo Wop Band. Letís not forget about them.
It seemed like you were really unprepared for your acoustic set at Fest. But you got a good response. People were crowd surfing at an acoustic show.
My thought about that wasÖ I had so much other stuff. I played with The Soviettes before, but then I hadnít played with them in a couple months and I played with the God Damn Doo Wop Band in a few months and then the Slow Death hadnít really been doing anything and I was tour with The Dopamines, so I didnít have to worry about them. I was just thinking about all this other stuff. For some reason the Mikey Erg set entered my mind at the last moment. I was like, ďNo, I wrote those songs. I should know them.Ē Then I get up on stage with a guitar in my hand and I was like, ďI really donít know how to play these songs.Ē
Yeah, you were asking Joe how to play a couple of them.
Yeah, Joe was there and I was like, ďWait, is it B flat?Ē But itís because I wasnít really thinking about it. It was an afterthought. But it was cool. That was the third time Iíd ever played solo in front of people. So now I take it more seriously because people want to see that. I didnít think anyone wanted to see that. They asked me to play and I was like, ďYeah, okay, Iíll play at the Civic Media Center and no oneís going to come.Ē But people were there. A lot of people were there. I guess people want to see me play songs without The Ergs! and thatís cool.
Well, you were prepared to play Cee-Lo that night.
I did know that song. Thatís been my favorite song of the year for awhile. Itís my number one song of 2010. And itís so easy. Iím really bad at lyrics and it just happened to be one of the songs I knew the lyrics too because Iíd been listening to it so much.
Are there any plans for a solo tour?
Yes. I donít know if we can print this in Punknews. But fuck it. Itís been talked about. Me and Dave Hause of Loved Ones and Ian from Cheap Girls are talking about doing a three man full US tour of just singer/songwriters. Weíre all going to play on the stage together, like trade songs, cover each otherís songs. Itís an excuse to get drunk and have a good time. He just did that with him and Franz from the Hold Steady and Against Me!Ö kind ofÖ and World/Inferno. They just did a tour together in Europe. He said it went great. Iím doing a thing on Paper + Plastick and Ianís on Paper + Plastick and Daveís on Paper + Plastick.
So youíre releasing something on Paper + Plastick?
I just did a single thatís going to be in the shape of a heartÖ two songs. And hopefully this year Iíll do an actual full length record. Also, me and Jon Weiner from The Dopamines have a Superchuck-ish worship band called New Low thatís going to do a 12Ē EP, which Iíve written a few songs for.
Youíre also releasing a 7Ē for Asian Man Records with Alex from Lemuria?
Thatís also done as well. Hopefully thatíll come out soon. Iím playing the Asian Man Anniversary show. I canít believe he asked me to play it. Iím barely an Asian Man artist.
Yeah, itís you and a bunch of ska bands that broke up ten years ago.
I want to see Slapstick more than anything in the world. And I was like, ďHow will I see Slapstick?Ē And Mike Park was like, ďHey, Iíll fly you out to play this show.Ē I was like, ďWell, thatís how Iíll see Slapstick then!Ē Iím stoked. Iím so stoked. Mike is the sweetest dude and Iím so glad to be a part of that label.
So your releases on Asian Man and Paper + Plastick, are they going to be acoustic or electric?
Itís full band, me playing everything on both records. I feel stupid doing just an acoustic record. It sounds like The Ergs! if The Ergs! were three people who couldnít play their instruments.
I really loved the Ergquist EP that came last year. I felt like it was really overlooked last year. Are there any more plans to release more Ergquist material?
Not really. That demo CD-R is being pressed as a 7Ē as we speak. But I donít think weíre going to be doing anything else.
Whoís putting that out?
No Breaks Records.
How was the recording of the new House Boat record?
Itís great. We did it at the same place we did the first record. But I think the songs are better and the recordings better. I love the way it came out. And that will be out in a couple months. We were kind of trying to rush it out.
With so many people in the band that can sing, how do you guys who sings what part?
Well, they are Grathís songs. Grathís write the songs and Ace writes a couple songs. Then Grath and Ace will both say, ďOkay, Zack, you sing this verseÖ or this line.Ē Zack and I donít really write for that band. Weíre encouraged to, but we just havenít. I just havenít had the time. But theyíre open to that. It just turned out to be the new Steinways. Itís not really talked about, but Grath will write a song and say, ďI thought about you for this line and Zack for this line.Ē We have four singers who are singers in their own right in this band. At some point maybe Zack and I will write House Boat songs.
I feel like itís almost impossible to pick up a new pop-punk record these days without seeing your name in the liner notes. How many bands are you currently playing in?
CurrentlyÖ wellÖ The Unlovables are still together but we havenít done anything. Short Attentionís still together and we havenít done anything. You knowÖ I donít know. I donít know how many bands Iím actually in.
Since youíre in a few dozen bands, do you ever get a break from touring?
I do, I do. But I only take a break from touring when there is a break for some other reason. Iím usually the one who will do whatever. Like, Jonís on tour with Less Than Jake. So thereís three months were The Dopamines arenít doing anything. I couldnít do The Dopamines/Less Than Jake shows because I started playing with the Star Fucking Hipsters. Itís a give and take with certain bands.
How is working with Stza? To me heís always seemed a bit extreme.
You knowÖ I love him. Weíve hung out a bunch of times, weíve practiced a bunch, and Iíve gone to his house and weíve jammed out. Iíve heard shit, but thatís in the past I think. The Stza that I know is a fucking great guy who loves making music. And Iím fucking stoked because Iím in a ska-punk for a first time. Itís rad. And the new record weíve been working, thereís a lot of ska in it. Itís really fucking cool.
Is Fat or Alternative Tentacles putting that out?
I believe Fat is doing this one. But I donít know if thatís something I should say. Iím drinking a beer right now. So anything I say doesnít actually matter.
Whatís Big Squirrel?
Big Squirrel is a band that comes from Cincinnati. It started out with Ryan (from Mixtapes) and someone else who I canít remember his name right nowÖ as far as I remember they made a CD-R of songs... kind of offensiveÖ kind of funny. I think we might restart that. Ryan can explain it better.
How was The Ergs! reunion show?
It was great. It was a lot of fun. We raised a shit load of money for a good caused. It was fun to play those songs again. I donít really know that itís ever going to happen again.
So thereís no plans for any more Ergs! shows?
Thereís no plans and there was no plan for that. I got an e-mail out of the blue from Jeff that said Jay from Hunchbackís mom was having a bad time and asked if weíd want to do that. And of course we all said yes. And Hunchback played too and it was really cool. I was expecting that at all. I wasnít expecting to ever play with those guys again. I mean, never say never. Which is what I have said. I would have said never before that. But I donít think it all happen without an important reason like a friendís family member dying. I mean weíre all doing different stuff right now. So thereís no real reason to do it anymore. People are still interested in our other projects. Even though I would love to do it. But whatís done is done. If it happens then it happens. If it doesnít then letís not make a big deal about it.
Why did you guys break up, especially since you still love playing those songs?
I think the main thingÖ we just did it for so long. Jeff is not a pop-punk band and thatís kind of were Iím coming from. Joe and I are kind of diverse in our influences. But I kind of decided Iíll write pop-punk songs. And thatís what I write and thatís what I feel comfortable writing. Jeffís into more out there stuff. At a certain point it felt like he wasnít in doing by the numbers pop-punk. Even though I donít think The Ergs! were a by the numbers pop-punk band. But I guess we were enough of one that he was just like Iím not into this anymore. And thatís fine. Thatís why a band should break up. If all three people or four or five people or whatever arenít on the exact same page you shouldnít do it anymore. I didnít even know that. The reunion happened and we all did individual interviews for this zine and his interview was like, ďI hated pop-punk and thatĎs why I didnĎt want to do it anymore.Ē And I was like, wow, I didnít realize that. I just thought he wasnít into the band anymore. But that makes total perfect sense. He was the one that was into pop-punk and then he quit. So we got the message. Heís not into anymore so letís not do it. I always thought well maybe we could get together. But if itís not into that kind of shit anymore thatís totally fine. Itís just a bummer. As a unit we got to this point that people were into it and people were listening and thatís when it ended.
Yeah, you guys hit a pretty solid fanbase.
Yeah! We didnít have to worry about going on tour and losing money. When youíre a punk rock band thatís kind of the main concern. Are we going to lose our shirts when we go on the road? But we were playing to a lot of people every night. It was rad. It was cool. But at the same time I donít want to play with someone who doesnít want to do it anymore. It wasnít like a big deal. It wasnít like, ďFuck you, asshole!Ē I understand thatís cool and if I felt that way I hope you guys would feel thatís cool. I mean thatís the whole reason we were a band. We loved each other and we loved playing with each other. But if someoneís not feeling it then letís not do it anymore. We can all do other stuff and we all have done other stuff. Itís all been pretty successful. I mean Iím in North Carolina playing a random show. Thereís people here to see me and thereís people here to see Night Birds when they come through and thereís people to see Black Wine when they come through. Itís cool The Ergs! got us to this point where people are listening. If we are all not in it for the same reasons then letís not do it. With The Ergs! we always said if itís not the three of us then letís not do it. Itís not The Ergs!. We tried to add second guitar players or whateverÖ singers. It just never worked. Letís just keep it the way it isÖ thatís how it worked. But it wasnít going to work anymore. And likeÖ maybeÖ never say never. Maybe weíll play together again just because we feel like it. Who knows? We left it open ended. We did the final shows because thatís how I felt at the time. But I really do I feel like if I came over and said, ďHey, I wrote this song and youíre the only two people I want to play on it.Ē And we could do a record and it wouldnít be a big deal. Okay, cool, three Ergs played on this record. It shouldnít be that. I really want to play with my friends. So it shouldnít be a weird thing. But we couldnít be what we were. We couldnít be the band that was going on tour all the time with a shared common goal. That wasnít the case anymore. Thatís why we stopped it. We didnít all share the same feeling anymore. Weíre all still friends. We all still hang out. We all still love The Simpsonís. It just wasnít working kind of as a business thingÖ whatever it turned into. It just wasnít the same anymore.