Born of navel-gazing self-indulgence and vague ambition, Erie Choir began at the dawn of the new millennium as the solo acoustic folk singing sort-of-thing of Sorry About Dresden’s Eric Roehrig. Quickly realizing the loneliness and terror of such endeavors (and the inability to drown out yammering bar goers), he recruited various pals to help him pursue his quixotic rock n’ roll ambitions, including members of the White Octave. The current lineup of Roehrig, fellow Sorry About Dresden alumnus James Hepler, Bob Wall, and Jack Watson has been in place for well over a decade, and was seemingly gaining momentum (at least by their standards) when Covid hit.
After a pair of self-released EP’s, Sit-n-Spin Records released Slighter Awake in 2006, which Pop Matters called “crisp, clean, indie rock with a folk-pop flavor”. While the band began recording the follow up in 2011, life happened, and Old Rigs wasn’t completed and released until November 2017. The Big Takeover declared it “worth the wait”, describing Roehrig as “an American Graham Parker.“ A mere three years later, they released the Starlight Veins EP, which the Indy Weekly called “feelgood music for pessimists, summer jams for introverts,” describing the second track, “I Will”, as a “music-scene sprechgesang in the The Hold Steady style, set in the Sunset Strip metal scene of the 1980s” and labeling the EP closer “Night Junction” as “punked-up Springsteen.”
The band’s most recent release, “Bad Tsars Was a Drag,” is an odds n’ sods compilation of the band’s output from the early 2000s that had previously only been available on homemade, burned CD-Rs or compilation albums with limited distribution, and includes “Pan-Pan, Where Did You Go?”, an elegy for a much loved 24-hour diner, that was originally released on a now out-of-print 2005 compilation of songs about Durham by local artists funded by a local civic organization. The Big Takeover called the 25 track release “”surprisingly, given such excess, …consistently strong throughout.”
Currently at work on a new album, after 20 years Erie Choir seems as unlikely as ever to let it rest.