SEASIDE HOLIDAY Eddy Current Suppression Ring

More
songs about garages and dudes: that’s the Australian garage combo’s prevailing
aesthetic. And no, before you ask, they ain’t broken up. Just taking a break.

 

BY JASON GROSS

 

     So what makes one garage-rock band sound better than the
millions of other ones that are out there right now, haunting bars worldwide? How
do you make a 50-year-old tradition still sing and reach people with the same
two chords or less? Noted scientists have been pondering this, fruitlessly
testing out theories about this for decades but we here at Blurt Laboratories
have tireless worked to find a solution to these age-old questions and we are
proud to present our findings here.

 

The secret sauce, as it turns out, isn’t just recycling the
same riffs and easiest-to-learn bar chords but regurgitating them in an appealing
package. Slur your words the right way, play just above Shaggs-level
competency, nail down a good groove, throw in the right amount of sneering
personality and then you’re on to something.

 

That’s pretty much the case of a foursome from Melbourne. Fittingly born around the time that punk
exploded in the UK in the late ‘70s, a very
impressionable young lad named Mickey Young from Frankston (a coastal Melbourne ‘burb) fell in love with Kiss in his pre-school
days and then absolutely swooned over a guitarist named Jimi by the time he hit
the Aussie-equivalent of grade school. Young explains that his family had a
hand in his own decision to pick up a guitar: “Since I was about 11, (my)
brother was in bands, so seeing his mates come around and jam surely had an
effect on me.”

 

Brother Danny happened to be a drummer and would figure into
the ECSR story as the siblings hooked up to play together. Bassist Brad Barry
was a no-brainer to slot into the group since he was an old friend of the
brother Young (as a side note, AC/DC, featuring another pair of Aussie Young
brothers, were also an influence on Mickey). Singer Brendan Huntley made his
way into the picture as he and Mickey worked together at garage haven Corduroy
Records, which operated out of Ormond, another Melbourne
suburb.

 

Corduroy Records wasn’t just putting out records but also
distributing zines and running its own pressing plant. From the plant, Young
had heard about a co-worker jiggering around with an “eddy current suppression
ring,” which stabilizes magnetic currents in the pressing process. And so, not
only was a memorable band name was born but the foursome decided to rechristen
themselves as such:

 

Mickey
-> Eddy Current

Danny
-> Danny Current

Brad
-> Rob Solid

Brendan
-> Brendan Suppression

 

 

 

 

After starting out in December 2003, ECSR had the good
fortune of having hardcore troupe Straightjacket Nation take them under their
wing, dragging them along on tour and showing them firsthand how to organize
shows and put out records themself. Mickey/Eddy reckons that doing hardcore
shows was good for his band: “When you play to a bunch of people you don’t
expect to like you, it’s a bit more challenging and I think it helps you try
that li’l bit harder.”

 

After a few singles for Corduroy, the band released their
2006 self-titled debut, done for Melbourne
indie Dropkick Records, started by another Corduroy employee. The band knocked
out all the music in couple of hours, doing on only a few takes of each song,
basically mimicking the sound of their practices and live shows. As Mickey
explains, “We never have been too interested in achieving perfect takes as I
don’t think our music would suit that; we’re more interested in making sure
there is some excitement in there and usually an early take is going to have
more energy.”

 

Mickey was working with another band, the raw, lo-fi Ooga
Boogas who started their own Aarght! label in 2007, which also put out ECSR’s
second album the following year. Primary
Colours
was a leap forward for the band as they sounded more confident and
tighter as well as folding in the artier parts of post-punk without smooching
its arse. The pay-off was some added recognition for the band as well as an
American distribution deal with Memphis’ Goner
Records. It didn’t hurt, either, that the album won the Australian Music Prize,
garnering them the princely sum of $30,000. Touring
became less of a chore for the band, too, as the Aussie stations added their
music into their rotations.

 

Mickey saw good things and bad things with the added
recognition. “It allowed us to be a bit more choosy about shows maybe and also
allowed us to get paid well enough to ease up on a real job for a while, which
was nice. The shows certainly got bigger, especially in Melbourne
which was sometimes hard for me to deal with. I think I missed something
intimate and exciting about smaller shows and they were becoming increasingly
harder to do.”

 

2010’s Rush To Relax marked a change of pace for the group as they knocked down a few MPH’s to their
speedy sound, and managed to reach the top 20 on the Australian charts. Mickey
saw the change in the music as inevitable: “[We were] just becoming more
comfortable as a band to stretch a little bit in each direction. We are kind of
a limited band as far as the sounds we can make so I don’t think we will ever
change drastically, just slightly push ourselves in the directions we can.”

 

After that, other than an impressive double CD collection of
singles and demos (So Many Things)
put out last year, the band decided to take a breather. Mickey and Brendan
started the doomy, more electronic Total Control which had an impressive debut
and tour in 2011, while Brendan spread his wings with the poppier indie rock of
Boomgates. Danny, meanwhile, isn’t playing much, working as a tattooist during
the day.

 

Any break-up rumors about ECSR are definitely premature
though. As Mickey sees it, “When we got something new worth playing, we’ll
start again.” Hopefully that won’t be too long- we could all use more savvy garage rock in our lives right now.

 

 

 

An edited version of
this story appeared in the latest print edition of BLURT (#12, Spiritualized on
the cover) as part of our Australian-band special. Check it out on your local
newsstand.

Leave a Reply