Mikey Erg just dropped a new single, “Clueless or Cruel?” from his forthcoming record Waxbuilt Castles, out July 27 on Don Giovanni Records.

As the drummer and principal songwriter in The Ergs! and at least a dozen other bands, Erg has as sturdy a set of pop-punk bona fides as you’re likely to find. Waxbuilt Castles is a departure, though.

Recorded in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Alex Clute, who performed with Erg in The Chris Gethard Show’s house band, it’s a set of songs that takes its central inspiration from the melodicism and craft of  70s pop rock. In their production and arrangement, the songs emulate Erg’s pre-punk musical heroes: ELO, Elvis Costello, Phil Ochs, and especially the Beatles.

“I really wanted to make my version of Paul McCartney’s first record,” explains Erg. “Homemade and very loose. Not too overthought.”

Getting there took a bit of adjustment on Erg’s part. As a singer, he had to reconcile with hearing his voice in a quieter and more vulnerable context.

“It was funny to have to rethink the way I sang a lot of the songs,” says Erg. “Alex would say, ‘You’re singing too forcefully; calm it down a bit.’ I had to get used to hearing my voice without this white noise behind it masking it.”

Lyrically, though, it’s a Mikey Erg record through and through.

“They’re the same type of songs that I’ve been writing forever, about relationships. Juts simple, personal songs,” says Erg. “That’s the through line, I feel. No matter what the record sounds like, it’s the same exact songs that I’ve been doing. It’s the thing that I’m most proud of. That I can make a different sounding record, but that it still goes together. That is can all fit in the same box.”

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Addison is reviews and online news editor for New Noise. She specializes in metal, queer issues, and dog cuddles.

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