Big Brother been watching you? Societal pressures got you down? Your band in jeopardy? Erase Errata's been there, and lived to tell the tale. Call theirs a case of taking lemons and making highly danceable lemonade.
After garnering national attention for their albums, including their 2001 debut, Other Animals, Erase Errata enjoyed a windfall of indie success: a nomination for the Short List Music Prize in 2003, the Best Indie Band award from San Francisco Weekly, and two appearances on rock icon John Peel's radio show.
Then guitarist Sara Jaffe left to attend grad school in 2004, leaving her bandmates singer Jenny Hoyston, drummer Bianca Sparta and bassist Ellie Erickson to contemplate the future of Erase Errata. The band took time off, each member pursuing her own interests. In the end, instead of fishing around for another guitarist to replace Jaffe, Hoyston picked up the instrument herself, adding it to her vocal and trumpet duties.
Having been a guitarist for nearly 20 years, Hoyston says it was a move that simply made sense. In fact, in her previous bands, she had never been in front of the microphone sans guitar.
"It was kind of torture, at times, not to be playing guitar in [Erase Errata]," she says."My lyrics for our song "Fault List' on Other Animals danced around this: "... Fingers aching to fire a six-string / You'll strap it on soon enough ...'"
While their music has always been hard to define weird, infectious, post-punk, no-wave their latest album, Nightlife, departs from the Erase Errata norm slightly. This may be in part to Hoyston's style as a guitarist; the music isn't as frenetic. Sure, pretty much every track is fun and highly addictive, but songs like "Dust" and "He Wants What's Mine" veer into a rather unprecedented dreamy landscape.
The most noticeable change, however, comes in the tracks that still spit fury and frustration. In the past, Hoyston's lyrics were largely veiled in their commentary whether societal, sexual, political or otherwise but no longer. The title track, with the lyrics "Nightlife / Forget about real life" target American escapism via entertainment, while songs like "Tax Dollar" and "Another Genius Idea from Our Government" are just what they sound like: Hoyston calling The Man out.
Hoyston is quick to note that though the politico-punk is much more visible on this CD, Nightlife isn't a concept album.
"I've always been one to comment on the social and political, and find the two concepts joined at the hip," she says.
Of course, energy and anger can make for a memorable live experience. Concertgoers and critics have long labeled Erase Errata's shows visceral affairs, with Hoyston attacking her microphone, the audience, her lyrics and anything nearby to express the music's urgency.
Now that she's back behind her instrument, she's had to change her approach.
"Because I'm holding the guitar, I'm anchored to a mic stand when I used to be able to roam about, on or off the stage, freely ... but I don't think it's a bad thing. We are such a tight three-piece now, a cohesive power triangle," she says. "When we perform live now, I know the audience feels it without me having to try so hard to reel them in."
Erase Errata, with Mika Miko and The Gossip
Rock Island, 1614 15th St., Denver
Tuesday, Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $12, all ages; visit bigmarkstickets.com.