PCP Berserker. The Obvious. Clover. Just three bands that gave Salt Lake scenesters wood throughout the mid-’90s. They wrote good songs and, at least in the case of the first two, put on extremely hot shows. They flirted with success; rumors of label interest blew about, but only The Obvious inked, and that deal was dubious. We hear little from the members of all three bands, but for more rumors: some are lawyers, some are in Seattle taking drugs, and some are teaching music instead of playing it. When these bands faltered, a local music boom ended. Erosion started another in 1998, and it may well end with them.
“Why is Erosion breaking up?” asks guitarist Brett Sundberg. “The same reason Uranus is purple.” Singer-guitarist Jon Bean is likewise snarky, launching into an anti-war tirade laced with innuendo: “It’s because of our own apathy. If more Americans actually got off their asses and voted, lobbied, or even thought for themselves ... we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today. I voted, I got involved, and the parties I believed in didn’t stand a chance against the corporate war mongers that have ultimately disgraced everything their so-called ‘flag’ used to stand for.”
He might be blaming people for not coming to shows. Or club owners for a lack of fidelity to original local music. Apathy is an easy, common culprit. But he could be railing against the state of the music industry, too. It’s not just Salt Lake bands making original music that fails to be heard; it’s a problem everywhere. In the world at large, music as art and expression is worth less than it is as quick-serve entertainment. All valid and feasible reasons, but drummer Dave Boogert brings up another: “[Erosion] has just run its course. We have been playing together for about six years ... the time just feels right to do something different.”
Apathy, hostile environs, burned out. That covers everything except the usual suspect, creative and/or personal differences. Anyone who has ever loved a band or watched Behind the Music knows what bullshit that reason is—except this time, it’s true. Far be it from City Weekly to muckrake (ha!), but Erosion is finished because they have quite simply eroded. Personal relationships, the creative process—all worn to an insignificant, but painful nub mostly, says bassist Mark Scheering, because of “petty quarrels,” the difference between “our” and “my” band. The details aren’t our business, but the fact that the scene is losing one of the best bands it will ever see is.
At the time Erosion sprouted, the abovementioned bands, along with other great bands like Honest Engine, Myrrh and All Souls Ave., were dissipating. They’d heard the same songs from the same bands for so long that they quit going to shows. People wanted—needed—something new, and Erosion’s literate, arty rock & roll (constructed on any number of styles from punk to rockabilly to surf to new wave to Goth, classic rock, metal, et al) was it. They wrote and played with the intent and the drive to make it so. Their shows were the pinnacle of live rock & roll, the beauty of one big, dumb riff played with balls sufficient to elevate it to musical nirvana. Bands whose posters you see around town started because of what they were doing.
And yet, they’re calling it quits. What does that mean for the scene? That would depend on the bands. Infighting and egos are two more elements that helped destroy the mid-’90s scene. Erosion witnessed that and the lousy bands that were left over, and vowed to be different, predicating their existence on first, being a great band, but also helping other bands by doing favors and paying them forward. They see a spike in infighting and egos and say that has to stop in order for the scene to survive. Then again, they are breaking up because they couldn’t do it within their band.
Nevertheless, local bands and music fans can learn a lesson from Erosion—two, really. That spirit, if not the unsullied practice, of Sesame Street-style cooperation would be the first. The other is simply how to rock. Quarrels aside, they still know how to do that, and they’ll prove it at this final show (which, ironically, doubles as a release party for their final album, No One Can Hear You Scream). For their swan song, they’ll be pulling out all the stops, but won’t share details apart from Thunderfist’s Jeremy Cardenas may blow fire and that Bean will be the drunkest.
Erosion is dead; long live Erosion.
EROSION, Final Show, Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, Friday, Nov. 21, 9:30pm