"Mixxing It Up With The Ernies"

by Al Slavicsky
Sponsored In Part By

Try Me?

During the 1990s, numerous bands have combined many styles of music such as hip-hop, techno, house, metal, punk, funk and others to redefine the definition of music genres. Some of these bands include (hed)PE, Zebrahead, Sublime, Everlast, Incubus, Downinside, The Bloodhound Gang, Dial-7, and the Citizen King, to name a few. Now you can add Richmond, VA-based band The Ernies to that long list. The Ernies' sound defies classification, for they have a loud, hard groove combined with some cool sampling and samples, mixed with a major dose of intelligent lyrics, which reflect science, Buddhism, and transcendental poetry. A strong mix that proves thought-provoking while maintaining a high degree of danceability with a force of vengeance from the dark side.

The Ernies are Will Hummel (lead vocals, guitars), Matt Goves (drums, percussion), Hayes Smith (saxophones, backing vocals), Mike Hughes (bass, backing vocals), and Chris Bondi (turntables, theremin). The band began in January 1994 when Will and drummer Matt Goves decided they were sick of playing covers. Saxophonist Hayes Smith hooked up with them shortly thereafter, and The Ernies were founded. Mike Hughes was willing to switch from guitar to bass to join the band in 1996. In 1997, turntablist Chris Bondi was the final piece of The Ernies, and history was set. Diverse and eclectic sounding, The Ernies released two albums for the local Richmond label BOB Records -- The Ernies (1995) and Dropping Science (1997).

In the winter of 1997, The Ernies decided to go west and play some winter resorts in Colorado ski towns along the way. They also arranged a showcase at the Opium Den in Hollywood to spotlight their live sound and fresh musical approach. It's there where Mojo Records caught the show and, within a couple of months, signed the band.

Recently, the band released its major label debut, Meson Ray, which includes eleven tracks, including the song "Winter Stars (You and I)," "Organism," "You Are Everywhere," and "It's Digestible." The album was produced by Howard Benson, who is known from Sepultura, Motorhead, and Less Than Jake. According to Will Hummel, "Howard's great. This is by far the best recording that we've done. Howard is really good about song arrangements and things like that -- when you listen to it, things like the guitars just rocking. We had a good time making the record, and he did a great job.

When asked to describe the band's sound, Will answered, "It's a little bit of hip-hop, a little bit of rock, and maybe a little bit of funk. It's always been high energy dance music. Back in '94 or '95, it was more like ska meets rock meets reggae. It had different members, and sounds kind of change, and that is why this record we decided to go with more guitar-driven dance music." This can truly be seen in the album's first single, "Here and Now," which slows the aggressive blending of heavy guitar, steadfast grooves, and oddball scratches and samples. There are two mixes of the song which are going to be released as a single -- a mix by Chris Lordhauser, whom mixed the Zebrahead release, and more of a dance-industrial mix by Howard Beno, who is best known for his work with Ministry.

The Ernies are ready to change the music world with Meson Ray and will be touring this summer in support of the release. So pick up a copy of the release, and see one of today's best crossover bands that would appeal to a wide range of music fans.

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