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ERASE ERRATA'S POST-RIOT GRRRL, POST-FEMINIST POST-PUNK // The Bay Area quartet creates a new kind of noise.
Interview Jenny Tatone Photography Jim McGinnis
Ellie Erickson

"We're all working toward making interesting new sounds that are more like an art form..." — Jenny Hoysten
Tatone: What about the embracing of patriotism?

Jaffe: I don't think any of us are nationalists.

Erickson: What was that one thing you saw [to Sara]?

Jaffe: Yeah, we saw the most fucked-up hat in Idaho. You know the little Calvin and Hobbes, the pissing Calvin? We saw a Calvin pissing on the word "Afghanistan." Calvin pissing on the word "terrorism" — it's terrible, it's mind-blowing and ignorant.

Hoysten: Patriotism and consumerism are so obviously tied right now it's ridiculous. Everyone's gone to the store and bought their 50-cent flag to put in their car window.

Sparta: And their 12-dollar T-shirt of the Twin Towers burning.

Hoysten: That all happened on my birthday, too. So, I go everywhere and I see my birthday everywhere. It's really shocking. It's really selfish, actually, [but] it's really annoying.

Sparta: People are writing on peace rally fliers, writing: "Don't go!" People are going and ripping down fliers for rallies.

Jaffe: One of the things that's most upsetting to me is I think it's a lot of communities that could be potential sites for resistance, communities of color. But what I'm seeing is people who might be potential targets for racism or whatever having adopted patriotism to show they're Americans, to protect themselves. It's very frustrating.

Erickson: That's so frustrating. In our neighborhood — we live in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood — everyone's got their [Mexican] flags out. Immediately, soon as that happened [Sept. 11], those went in and the American flags went out. And it was like you can't even have any cultural pride right now or you're a sympathizer.

Tatone: I want to get back to talking about your music, and I know I've already mentioned this, but I really think you have a very distinct sound — it's very unlike anything I've heard in a long time. Do you have an opinion on where you feel it comes from? Any motivations behind it?

Sparta: I think we all have our own separate styles of playing, so we try to adapt them together and that's the outcome.

Hoysten: And we're all pretty considerate about wanting to do something, or not wanting to write a particular song. It's not like we set out to try to make it as weird as possible necessarily. But we're trying not to limit ourselves and pushing envelopes of where we've gone musically before, from before we were together. We're all working toward making interesting new sounds that are more like an art form, as opposed to a songcraft, necessarily.

Sparta: But, at the same time, being conscious that, "Oh, this is a dance-y beat so there's more to dance to and that's rad!"

Erickson: That's when we have the most fun, is when the audience is....

Sparta: Yeah, we like the dancing.

Hoysten: It just gets people moving like it's active — you're at a show and you're moving — it's such a good thing.

Tatone: What do you do to keep things fresh? Do you have specific goals for how you want your music to evolve and stay fresh?

Sparta: It's going day-to-day for me, like what I think is fresh. My tastes change all the time.

Jaffe: I think, as far as recording the next album, we'd like to be able to spend some more time on it, on the actual recording, and think about the individual songs more, and speak for it at different steps of it. We were pretty rushed — like, the artwork was too rushed.

Hoysten: I think we're all record shoppers and we all listen to different music all the time and so I think we're always exploring things. Bianca is just now getting into sitcom music.

Sparta: Shhhh! [with index finger over lips, all laughing]

Hoysten: We all really try and explore a whole lot of different kinds of music, and I think that keeps us fresh, so that we're always bringing something new.

Tatone: Some of the bands you've been compared to include Gang of Four, LiLiPut, The Need, Captain Beefheart — do these make sense to you guys?

Hoysten: Not The Need, but Gang of Four definitely does, sure.

Jaffe: The Need only in the sense that they experiment with different structures. I think all that makes sense to us. I think that's just the tip of the iceberg in a way.

Erickson: I definitely find it flattering to be compared to those bands.

Sparta: No shit! Captain Beefheart! Hello! [laughing]

Hoysten: It's definitely an inspiration.

Tatone: So live, do you have certain hopes for what a listener would get out of it? For what the crowd takes away?

Hoysten: I like it when they get really sweaty and energized and then, after the show, they can't stop dancing or moving around. And they run around outside and everyone's really hyper and yelling. It becomes like chaos. I'd like to incite a riot, but a nice one.

Sparta: We ran into some friends this morning in Olympia [Wash.] and they said, "We're so worn out from how hard we were dancing to you guys last night." That's rad to hear.

Hoysten: I think that the active aspect of our performance is a really big deal to us. Like with the songwriting, we think more about types of music and the artistry of it. But when we're performing it, we really want it to be like you're experiencing something. You're not watching a concert on some screen, you're there and it's real people — be in the motion, be moved.


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