Errata interview – Melbourne jazzcore band talk about their jazz-metal vision and, er, William Shatner

October 25, 2010

Melbourne’s Errata are a rather, erm, “strange” band.  Stranger still is the fact that they chose to have an enigmatic figure calling himself “Henry Spencer” answer questions on their behalf…oh, and according to their Myspace, William Shatner is in the band too.  Read on at your own peril.

Errata - Melbourne based jazz-metal band

So, I hear you guys are about to release your second EP…or perhaps I should say, first “full” EP since your debut release was a split with Sleeper X?  For those of us who have that first release, in what ways should we expect this one to differ from the earlier EP (other than being longer, heh)?

We have this perpetually irritating tendency to constantly revise everything we do so that, hopefully, nothing sucks.  Mookie Singerman from Genghis Tron instilled the value of brutally tearing apart your own art in me years ago; their songs are fantastic, and you don’t argue with Mookie.  Both tracks that appeared on “Migrations & Mnemonics” make a reappearance on the EP (which is entitled “Cognac Al Dente”), but they’re so different as to be unrecognisable.  We got our Frankensteins to walk.

While I’m sure it’s old news for the band by now, tell us a bit about how the split disc with Sleeper X came about…and out of curiosity, is that band still alive and well?

A big Western Australian fan of ours actually suggested a split with them would be a great idea, and she turned out to be right (if not so right in the head).  Sleeper X were a very peculiar crew of guys from Perth who were somewhat destined to implode, so no, unfortunately they no longer make music together.  Some of their stuff still stands over at the Sleeper X Myspace and is well worth developing rabies over.  As a cool aside, one of the tracks we have up on Myspace, “In Medias Res”, is the opening track from the split and features both bands playing together.  Beforehand I got loaded and convinced myself I could rock the Indian flute.  It’s fucked.

At a fairly recent gig of yours that I attended your saxophonist was unfortunately absent, but am I to understand he will be gracing the new record with his presence?  And what great fortune led to his recruitment, was it a deliberate plan from the start or just sheer blind luck?

We treat our saxophonists like whores.  We have a regular, Adam, who is utterly amazing and was plums-deep in recording his brass for the EP…until some creatures of the night broke into his car and made off with his tenor and his alto.  Not to worry though, they’ll probably turn up in a Carlton pawn shop down the road, so he’ll be back to finish up eventually.  Ever since we heard the trumpet on Ephel Duath’s “The Painter’s Palette” back in the day, we wanted brass in our sound.  Ironically, they then decided they thought brass was shit and dropped it from their next record.  I hope we didn’t ruin their lives or anything.

I read in a blog on your Myspace that your original vocalist had some unfortunate accident at a gig, leaving him unable to continue with the band…please explain!  And is there any truth to the rumour that your current vocalist is in some way related to Adam Glynn, vocalist with Five Star Prison Cell?!

The enigmatic kb gomst (no capitals, please.  He is a very modest man) also moonlighted as quite a cultish underground noise artist when he wasn’t behind the mic for us.  One night at one of his ear-piercing solo shows – and I do mean ear-piercing, check out his terror at – his foot managed to fall under a good few hundred kilograms of dropped gear.  He’s been effectively immobilised and subjected to constant surgery since February 2008, making it really difficult for him to even stand let alone drive.  Yes, our current mouth Mono is Hutch’s cousin; strange genius tends to boil over in that family. That and sexual dysfunction.

Speaking of your Myspace, it’s piss-funny to read…someone in the band clearly has a sense of humour?

I sometimes listen to the music we make and realise how indicative it is of the personalities behind it, which, I suppose, is both pleasingly honest and worrying.  Rehearsal room conversations regularly sound like a crowd of Arabic men dancing wildly, or so I’m told.  We’re not serious people, we’re actually quite ridiculous.  Our guitarist has an above-average memory and watches too much Futurama; our vocalist often dons this fucking Red Baron helmet he found somewhere and insists that he’s a pilot.

William Shatner.  Is he really, or has he ever been, a member of Errata?  C’mon, be honest now…

KHAAAN!  Our love for Big Willy Styles not withstanding, we’re pretty into leaving our names and faces out of things entirely.  The people are not important; the music is.  Ideally, you’d want your book to be judged by the merits of its narrative, not the past glories or infamy of its author.  Although when we play live we don’t wear masks or anything super-purposefully “mysterious” like that, which we probably should.  We’re quite unfortunate-looking things.

A quote from said Myspace:  “You hate jazz? You fear jazz.”  Is this the ultimate philosophy at the deep, dark heart of Errata, to terrorise “metal” audiences with the dreaded “j” word?!  And are any members of the band “trained” jazz musicians, or did you just teach yourselves?

The Mighty Boosh said it best.  Two of our lot are both bona fide educated jazz musicians, with our drummer even teaching professionally for a crust.  While it was always our intention to challenge the somewhat deflated metal status quo, it was never going to be with our astonishing knowledge of dead music, per se.  But…have you ever seen Charlie Mingus play?  He sweats, his face twists with meaningful rage, he screams at the engineer to turn his microphone up so he can get his damn demons flowing; for a long time, jazz was the anger of a people savagely oppressed because the human race, unfortunately, is not colour-blind.  It is so much more metal than metal could ever hope to be, but in its purest form we can’t do any justice to it.  We weren’t there, we don’t know those feelings; we’re relatively privileged Australians.  So we brought them together because, at their hearts, they have so much in common.  One wants to be what the other is.

The band lists none other than Herbie Hancock among your influences.  Does this mean we may one day expect a “Rockit” cover from Errata?  (I mean, if Dillinger can do a Justin Timberlake cover…)

It’s a future shock!  Woo!  Great album, I flick it on when I feel the need to shimmy.  The people in this band all listen to such amazingly disparate music we can actually never agree on a song we’d all be happy to cover.  One guy wants to do Living Colour, someone else wants to play eight minutes of progressive J-Pop whilst blowing into a large jug, a hand up the back thinks Opeth or Sikth are the greatest thing ever; the shit never ends.  We’ll probably just end up playing Napalm Death’s “You Suffer” and be done with it.

A final question, one which we always ask here at Music Vice:  Other than music, are there any current vices you’d care to share with us?

William Shatner.

© Michael Bowser, Music Vice

Errata play The Creepshow Halloween Festival at The Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne, on Saturday 30th October.  Be there or be…elsewhere.

Errata - 'Inner Back' art


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