America is at war and most every band is just thumping along in some blind-eyed stupor, poutin’ out some goth-disco love-to-love-ya-baby slime, inoculating us, massaging with entertainment. Erase Errata’s new album, their third, Night Life, is a look at American life with the fluorescents on. Singer/guitarist Jenny Hoyston serves up narratives that examine realities no one wants to look at: war and poverty. “I think the US can be a wonderful place and I generally stay positive,” Hoyston explains, “but it’s overwhelming to think of all the things going on under our noses and our silent concession. People are distracted from doing anything or even thinking about our country's foreign dealings, disturbing trends of corporate privilege and other major issues. My lyrics are about the government, political disillusionment, and the things that keep us from thinking about what is really going on--being distracted by night life, consumerism and celebrity watching.” The album’s pithy title track, it’s lone line a thesis: “Night life, forget about real life.”
While some songs splay their polemic plainly (“Tax Dollar,” “Another Genius Idea From Our Government,”), others are more obscure; “Beacon” is about churches that take pro-war stances, and some are more personal: “Take You,” is a gender-queered love song that takes place in a cave (“It’s a shout out to people like me,” says Hoyston), “Giant Hans” is a surreal allegory about cloud warfare; though all of the songs are suffused with humor, fury and hope.
Erase Errata’s lyrical content is not all that is different this time around; after whirlwind tours supporting Sonic Youth, Le Tigre, and The Ex, followed the departure of guitarist Sara Jaffe for grad school in 2004, the band spent almost two years reconfiguring the band’s sound and line up. Drummer Bianca Sparta explains, “After Sara left, we were playing around with the notion of a different sound. We decided to experiment with a new singer, since Jenny wanted to play guitar and needed someone to fill in singing for her. So we got Archie McKay, and he was in the band for about a month.” She laughs, adding “It made some of our fans real mad.” The band soon realized that they worked best as a trio and spent the next two years refining and writing. It was not a simple process says Sparta, “We had a lot of practices of just playing and playing, hating the band, doing a lot of work to get solid--then all the sudden it started clicking and we ended up writing really quickly. It was fluid and relaxed.” The rhythm section of Sparta and bassist Ellie Erickson shows that though the band has largely abandoned a quantifiable skronky, dance punk™ sound, they are still dynamic, elastic and dance-able. They even sound like a pop band at times. “Jenny’s guitar playing is pretty different from Sara’s—she plays chords, harmonies and is weird in a different way,” add Sparta.
All their changes and efforts are well evidenced on Night Life’s twelve tracks of polished chaos. Since their inception six years ago, the band has always been hailed as a visceral fury; now, the band’s sound is as powerful and unhinged as ever, though now much more cogent and wielding firm control—on all fronts. After a 2005 tour supporting Bloc Party, the band decided it was time to begin recording a new album. Night Life was produced and mixed by the band along with Chris Woodhouse (A-Frames, Coachwhips) and Eli Crews. It’s standard artist bio hyperbole to insist that a band defies convention, is pure, inspiring and original-- fortunately, for Erase Errata, it’s the truth.
Erase Errata was nominated for the Short List Music Prize in 2003, received the Best Indie Band award from the San Francisco Weekly, and was selected to perform on John Peel’s radio show two times. They've played at Noise Pop, SXSW and ladyfests several times, All Tomorrow’s Parties in LA and in England, Coachella (their last performance with Jaffe), Primavera Fest in Spain, and have played with such acts as Fugazi, The Fall, and Blonde Redhead. They've traveled extensively through North America and Europe, and they have just returned from a very successful tour of Japan.
Erase Errata will support the release of Night Life with an extensive worldwide tour beginning in June (their first North American tour since 2003) with an appearance at Intonation Festival in Chicago, and then at Bumbershoot in Seattle.