Sara Jaffe and Mia Clarke are best known as musicians performing with Erase Errata and Electrelane, respectively. With both bands currently on hiatus, Sara and Mia came together to reflect on a central element of band life – touring.
The result is a beautiful 7″ square book with accompanying DVD called The Art of Touring published by Yeti Publishers and featuring contributions from the likes of Emma Gaze, Elizabeth Sharp (Ill Ease), Johanna Fateman, Carla Bozulich, Jean Smith, Sara Marcus, Cynthia Nelson and many more. As a preview of the greatness within, here’s the charming contribution from Tara Jane ONeil as featured on the DVD:
I caught up with Sara recently and grilled her on band life. She started her illustrious punk rock musical career in 1997 with the The Cakecutters in Portland, Oregon followed by a stint with the Pyrodydacts in Middletown, Connecticut in ’98 and ’99. She formed Erase Errata in San Francisco in 1999 with Bianca Sparta, Ellie Erikson and Jenny Hoyston and played guitar with the foursome until 2004. Between 2001-2004 Erase Errata was on tour perhaps a quarter to a third of the year with the longest road trip in the fall of 2001 slouching across Europe for six weeks.
JW: What are some of the tactile memories you have of being on tour? Sounds, smells, sights or feelings that you’ve experienced on your road trips as part of Erase Errata?
SJ: Well, it’s been awhile now, but here’s some… The little sleeping pallet that we made between the two back seats in a rented Sprinter on one European tour. Some of the best naps of my life there. The little plastic-y cups you get hot chocolate dispensed into from machines in Italy. Opening a hotel room window in Paris and having rose petals floating down from above. A pug dog that spun around in circles as if it was possessed, in Denton, TX. Another dog peeing on my sleeping bag (while I was in it) in Indiana. Delicious Dutch-Indonesian-squatter fusion food prepared for us by our host in Amsterdam. Reckless drivers in Athens. Walking across the River Clyde at dawn in Glasgow. Seaweed fights on the beach on Victoria Island. How hot it was once at playing at the Unitarian Church in Philly that the Ex were shorting out their guitars from their own sweat.
JW: What promises/hopes/aspirations did you have as a band when you first started?
SJ: As cheesy as it sounds, I think we really just had fun playing music together and realized we’d hit some kind of “spark” with our sound, so we wanted to keep doing it. Put out a record? Sure! Go on tour? Yeah! Eventually, what one had to do to keep a band sustainable–constant touring, primarily–became a bit too much for me, which is when I left the band.
JW: What does playing in a band mean to you?
SJ: I think one way of thinking about it might be to think about what, specifically, I miss, after a few years of not really doing anything band-like on a regular basis. I miss the community that accrues from playing shows regularly, with like-minded (musically, politically, whatever) people. I miss the feeling of participating in a collaborative creative endeavor, where it felt like we were making up the rules together as we went along. I miss the public loudness.
JW: How did you discover punk rock?
SJ: A combo of college radio, the Bennington College July program, zines, and my straight-edge hardcore friend in highschool.
JW: Who is a woman that has inspired you in your music, either as a band or personally?
SJ: Can I make a list? So many! Most definitely incomplete, and drawing on various eras of my life… The Raincoats, The Slits, Delta 5, LiliPUT, Team Dresch, The Quails, PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, Talk Normal, Sleater Kinney, The Need, Yoko Ono, The Passions, all the women on No New York, Sandy Denny, my former bandmates, Sta-Prest, Mary Timony, Beth Ditto, Joni Mitchell, Alice Coltrane, and my longtime childhood piano teacher Irene Taylor.