The Erasable Saga
The first member of the Erasables to seek the climate and cultural refuge of Gainesville was Bob McPeek. After earning a Ph.D. in psychology from Ohio State University at age 24, Bob decided to get his midlife crisis over early. This led to a decision to pursue a career involving music and a move to Gainesville at the end of 1976 with fellow Midwestern expatriate Ric Kaestner. Then performing as a musical duo Hyde and Zeke, the two decided to use the same name for their fledgling used record store when they opened it in January 1977. Hyde and Zeke Records quickly established itself, and later in 1977 Bob launched a second venture, a recording studio which eventually became Mirror Image Recording. Over the next couple of decades, the studio became a regional landmark, with clients and collaborators as diverse as Bo Diddley, Molly Hatchett, Less Than Jake, Sister Hazel, For Squirrels, Bernie Leadon, The Silos, House of Dreams, Aleka’s Attic (with River and Rain Phoenix), Lisa Lynn Franco, Larry and Tony Rice, folk legends Tom Paxton and Will McLean, Disney, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, TNN, major labels such as Capitol Records and indie labels like SubPop.
Bob’s band Tranceform released an album in 1981. Erasables drummer Rob Rothschild caught one of the few Tranceform live gigs at the Great Southern Music Hall on one of his first trips to Gainesville, down from Maine and New York where he worked in audio post production for films when not beating the tubs for the Johnny Cargo Band and Shot in the Head. Rob immediately moved to Gainesville to escape the tundra and bask in the glow of Gainesville’s grooviness. He met bassist David Ottenberg and grooviness turned to groove in biblical proportions as they started playing together in The Flood and The Planets. Other fruitful musical happenings evolved over the years, including Rob’s noteworthy stints as the beat keeper for the iconic Rhythm and Blues Revue, and the Impostors. Along the way, Rob acquired a Master’s Degree from the University of Florida, served as longtime director of sales and marketing for Sabine, and helped create the ArtThread Foundation.
Rob found his rhythm section match in the bass talents of David Ottenberg, originally from Philadelphia (he knows that Philly sound!), who moved to Gainesville from San Francisco with his wife and 3-month old son in 1979. Aside from playing bass for the R & B Revue, the much-in-demand David has anchored a diverse array of musical groups, including the Flood, Moondancer, and the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra. He and Bob met in the early 1980s, when David performed on The Sinkhole Tapes, a 1982 collection of local music produced by Bob. David has a Master’s Degree in music and has worked as a music teacher for many years.
Last to arrive in Gainesville, but most pivotal in the eventual formation of the Erasables, was Fagan Arouh. Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Fagan found his way to Nashville, where he played in the Smashers, a band that percolated on the cusp of mainstream success, including a record label deal. When that eventually crashed and burned, Fagan moved to Gainesville, and eventually co-founded the acoustic group Other Voices.
In 2004, Bob invited Fagan to help with the composition for his original sci-fi political satire spoof stage musical, Really Leary. This of course insured them a place in the band when the play hit the stage in January 2005, an ecstatic experience for both that made their growing musical bond rock solid.
In the comparative vacuum that ensued, Fagan suggested to Bob that they find some other musicians and embark upon an original recording venture. The timing was perfect—after selling his studio ten years earlier, Bob had just been offered a role as engineer/producer at a reconstituted Mirror Image Studios. Rob was their choice for drummer. To their delight, he agreed. David was the only serious consideration for bass, and when it was discovered that he had been hoarding a cache of unrecorded original songs, his inclusion was a no-brainer on all counts.
Three years and several hundred hours later, the band crawled forth from the labyrinth of the recording studio to perform their songs live for the first time. They enlisted the aid of keyboardist Brad Bangstad, who also plays with the Sixth Street Rhythm and Blues Revue, and he is now crucial to the Erasable sound.
Recording on the first album “Heads in The Sand” began in 2007 and proceeded steadily, slowed in part by outside commitments, but more by the band’s collective desire to make their best music possible. With multiple informed perspectives, this proved to be both a challenge and a stimulus to aspire higher.
Particularly challenging was agreeing on a band name. In retrospect, the Erasables was almost inevitable. Bob’s song Erased was already in the repertoire, and Bob has often been heard quoting the immortal words of producer John Kurzweg (a frequent guest at Mirror Image before and after achieving his fame working with Creed), intoned with mock British accent: “I find that quite….erasable!” It also describes the band’s unusual method of crafting their album, by starting with 54 minutes of white noise and then erasing everything that didn’t sound like their songs.
The Erasables hope they have achieved their goal of making records that sound like they walked into the studio, sat down, and played their best songs the best they ever have… on the first take, of course.
All evidence to the contrary has been erased.