"Oh, my God, look at him." Jenny Hoysten sounds horrified. Her band, Erase Errata, recently left their home in San Francisco for a month of touring and has pulled off the highway for a bite to eat. Then Arnold Schwarzenegger comes on the restaurant's television. "He's just scary," she says of the action-hero-cum-gubernatorial candidate. "I don't think he will ever be our governor. But maybe I'm just deeply in denial."
Hoysten seems to be in denial about a lot of things. She humbly dismisses the deafening buzz that has gradually surrounded her band and flatly scoffs at one critic's claim that Erase Errata's deconstructed dance punk is a revolutionary, post-riot-grrl declaration of war.
"I don't think we have anything to do with war. We're nice. Maybe were post-war?" she jokes. "Nothing is stagnant in art and I know everything is really fleeting -- especially now that music today is fueled almost entirely by commercialism. I know that the fact that more people like our band might be a fleeting thing. But I avoid getting trapped into thinking about it that much. I love what I'm able to do, and I just want to enjoy it."
When you see the quartet take the stage, it's apparent that Hoysten enjoys it. She stands front and center, dancing and delivering half-yelled sermons and occasionally freaking out on a trumpet. Bianca Sparta beats remade disco punk out of the drums, while Ellie Erickson's bass lines drive steadily along, and Sara Jaffe stabs though the noise with brittle explosions of guitar. Taking in the whole scene of Erase Errata's high-powered no wave and Hoysten's nearly spastic delivery, it's hard to picture her back in the day doing the half-time routine in a high-school marching band.
"I really got into marching band," she admits. "It was positive and fun to be moving and playing music in these really energized performances. I put the trumpet down for years and didn't pick it up again until Erase Errata. But over that time I listened to free jazz and more experimental music and it changed the way I thought about playing. But some of [how I play is] based in what I felt about playing then. I think a common theme in a lot of our music has to do with physical actions. I don't think that there's anything much more empowering than allowing yourself to physically react."
As such, the quartet has blazed a trail around the country leaving breathless, empowered 20-somethings in its wake. It's not just that they're playing noisy dance-ready rock music; bands have been trying that for a long time. It's that when they play, people are actually dancing.
"People dance wherever we go," Hoysten says. "It might not be as important for the rest of the band, but for me as a front person it helps seeing people moved physically. In previous years I'd go to shows and people would never dance. I think it got old, to go with your backpack on and stand there in a way that wasn't any different than watching TV. In the last couple years that's changed; people go to shows to participate."
It's hard not to participate with the band's second full-length release, "At Crystal Palace." From start to finish, the quartet tears though high-energy rants about everything from driving tests to dance halls. "The White Horse Is Bucking" might be the record's finest moment, with Hoysten's stream of consciousness let loose within an idealistic underground dance party.
"I brought in the lyrics, and the band got the spirit of the thing immediately," she says. "There is a gay bar called White Horse right down the street from where I live. On the weekend it's packed with sweaty guys dancing. But it isn't really about that place, 'cause I don't like that place. It's more about what I want it to be. I imagine all these young fags going to dance and express themselves and have a good time. In a way that is what we are all about. When we make the sounds we make, it has to do with creating something or doing something that feels good ... and spreading that feeling."
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