Mikey Erg & Paulson’s Alex Burton cover Atom and His Package’s “Punk Rock Academy” (listen)
As mentioned, Christian Lesperance recently spearheaded the quarantine project Jersey Interchange which features over 50 musicians with roots in the NJ punk scene covering another artist with roots in the NJ punk scene, and a new cover comes out each Monday. We're now premiering pop punk icon Mikey Erg's cover of one-man synth-punk band Atom and His Package's classic "Punk Rock Academy," with help from bassist Alex Burton of underrated NJ indie rock band Paulson and Christian Lesperance on guitar, drums, and programming. Atom and His Package was born in the Bronx and based in Philly, but he was a big part of the NJ punk scene, and this cover does him justice. It's more in Mikey Erg's straight-up punk style than Atom's synth-punk style, and Mikey gives a genuinely impassioned performance when he sings it. Mikey says:
When I discovered Atom & His Package via the “Behold, I Shall Do A New Thing” 7” on Vital Music (one of my favorite labels [and venues!!]), it was a revelation. I quickly picked up both previous full lengths and fell completely in love with the melody and humor that filled the discs. Punk Rock Academy, a song about going to a Punk Rock High School where you could finally feel accepted was exactly the kind of thing that made a nerdy kid feel a little less alone. When Christian asked me to do this particular song for this series, I answered immediately with a hearty “FUCK YES!!”. Atom is not a particularly easy person to cover but I tried to replicate the feeling of Atom’s original vocal while adding a bit of my own voice.
Alex Burton adds:
When Christian reached out to me about participating in Jersey Interchange he had a bunch of ideas for tracks to cover, and I jumped on the Atom and His Package song right away. When I was a dorky insecure kid growing up in the scene, Atom was an outlier that did his own thing and somehow still fit in with all of these bands that presented themselves much more seriously. But Atom was FUN. Like, seriously fun, and funny, and he had his own interpretation of what punk was. That really spoke to me. Reinterpreting one of Atom’s songs seemed like a fitting celebration of what drew me to his music and shows in the first place. This cover was a blast to work on and – just like any original Atom song - you can hear everybody having a ton of fun when you listen to it.
And Christian says:
Atom played a huge part in the development of our Jersey punk scene. Even though he was based in the Philadelphia area, he played so many NJ shows within a short period of time, and so many kids spread the word about this unassuming guy who went nuts on stage with just his sequencer and microphone. I remember buying A Society of People Named Elihu at Atom’s merch table after seeing him for the first time at a show at the Wayne Firehouse. I had that album on repeat for the next several months, and “Punk Rock Academy” is still arguably the stand-out anthem on that record. Mikey did an excellent job at making the song his own, yet staying true to the original. Alex did some great bass work to really help the song translate smoothly from its sequenced roots. And I was just happy to be able to finally utilize my boys choir vocal skills that I acquired over thirty years ago…but that’s another story.
There are many more covers coming, including one by Chris Gethard, who had Atom and His Package on his show in 2017 to perform "Punk Rock Academy." Watch: