Out on Long Island, a band has been diligently working bars and brewies while trying to make a name not only for itself but its audience too. Since 2017, Ernie and the Band has been playing a mix of covers and original songs for fans throughout the Northeast. The band consists of John Witt on vocals and guitar, Alex Diachok on keyboards, piano, and organ, Rob Seck on bass, on finally filling out the band on drums is Antony "Tony" D'Amato.
We at wookplus also noticed a lack of an Ernie in the band too. So we reached out to the band and decided to get some answers on the name and the band in general.
W+ No one in the band is named Ernie. Who is Ernie and how did you come up with the name?
John: The classic Ernie question… Glad we began here, it started as a partial joke before the real band was even an actual idea. Ernie & The Band is really just a somewhat comical name, being as there is no one named Ernie. Since then, it’s taken on a life of its own, as it encompasses the audience in theory. In truth, we’re The Band, and they (you) are Ernie. And who doesn’t love an Ernie? It becomes a two-part show, us and the audience together create the name. We feed off
the audience and they feed off us, that sort of thing.
W+: Aside from The Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, what are your influences?
Rob: Allmans and The Dead are pretty huge for us but it’d also be impossible to not mention Phish too. Those 3 bands are kind of like the Holy Trinity for us and a lot of the music we play derives a lot from them. From there we can range anywhere from Led Zeppelin to Jimmy Cliff, Nick Drake to Canned Heat. Each one of us has our own array of influences that shape our laying, which ultimately creates our sound as a band. So, if you ask Alex directly he might just simply say Radiohead.
W+: Your website mentions original music coming soon. When do you plan on releasing the new music?
Alex: By the end of this summer, we’ll be releasing new original music on all listening platforms! We just finished our tracking at Cove City Studios.
W+: What are your inspirations when writing songs?
Rob: Our inspirations essentially come from anywhere at any given moment, from random thoughts to passing words in a conversation. Once we have some phrase or melody, the rest is out in the air and we try our best to make some sense of it. A bottle or two of wine always helps.
W+: What goals are you trying to accomplish as a band?
Tony: As a band we’re always trying to bring a unique experience and feeling through our music. We want to be the outlet for those in a tough time to forget the hard times and whatever’s going on around them; just turn up the volume, get movin’, and feel good.
W+: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your band?
Rob: It’s a sound you’re immediately familiar with but at the same time it’s something you’ve never heard before; it’s blended together with elements such as the raw nature of blues, the body-moving meter of funk and dance, and the spontaneity and conversation of jazz. Whether it’s a fast original song or a slow cover, we always try to maintain a high energy that keeps the listener engaged.
W+: How did the band meet and come together?
John: Rob and I have lived across the street from one another since we were 8 years old. Tony and I grew up playing music together since we were 12. I met Alex later on at a summer job. Flash forward a few years later I came home after one rough semester of college, called Rob up and told him I was starting a band and he was playing bass. That was about 6 years ago. He started as a total beginner, and now plays like he’s been doing it his whole life. Tony was the next call naturally after that, and Alex was the most talented keyboard I knew and have known since. It all fell together from there.
W+: What venue would you say is your "we made it" venue? And what is your dream venue to play and why?
All: Unanimously, MSG. It’s 40 minutes away from where we grew up and is truly the Mecca of “we made it.” The Cap or Red Rocks would be way up there too. On a more short-term level, any of the Peach Festival stages would be a real dream.
W+: Is there anything else you want the readers to know about Ernie the Band?
John & Rob:We’d love to express that while we absolutely love freeform jamming and letting songs open up to wherever they may go, we also take a lot of pride in the importance of a song and its meaning. It’s really easy to primarily focus on jamming and the fun that entails, but we truly believe the song is what sticks around long after the notes have rung out on a given night. The Grateful Dead are an amazing example and masters of that balance. We strive to write in a way that can bring endless possibilities in a live setting, while also creating impactful emotions that a listener can hold on to.
W+: What are your summer 2022 plans?
Tony: Our summer 2022 plans are to play, practice, and write as much as possible. We’re adding new exciting venues stretching from NYC at The Bitter End, Rockaway Rooftop Hotel in Queens, and throughout Long Island to Cowfish in the Hamptons. Along with Banditos in Richmond Virginia, there will soon be Ernies all along the coast and more!
W+: What has been your craziest show to date?
Alex: The craziest show to date has to be this one gig we did at Brickhouse Brewery in Patchogue.
It’s one of our favorite spots to play. The crowd is always killer and they have a great sound system. But this one time, we made the fatal mistake of inviting this random drunk guy up on stage to play harmonica on “Roadhouse Blues”. The guy was on another planet and playing in every key but the one we were in. There is an absolutely priceless photo of this sweaty middle aged dude playing while John looks at him with a totally baffled face. He then ends the harmonica solo of a lifetime by falling on stage as another drunk guy falls trying to help him up.
We want to thank Ernie and the Band for taking the time to address our questions. Be sure to keep an eye out for the band on the road this summer and keep a lookout for their new album coming soon on all streaming platforms.