PART ONE: This first interview was conducted by DX (TERMBO Oz Chapter President) somewhere in Australia, previous to the band departing on their brief North American tour of 2007.
I’m gonna go out and indulge in some hyperbolic ranting and claim to you: Eddy Current Suppression Ring have got it. Now, they ain’t vomiting and bleeding on stage when they play, and they all live in houses with four walls. They don’t have drug addictions and they aren’t dodging warrants. But, if that shit really mattered, I’d listen to Chopper’s rap album. The important thing isn’t the dirt that you’re in, it’s the dirt that you bring. Eddy Current’s music and live presence have that feeling of bare purity that makes a band matter. They are tuneful and melodic and skirt the edge of pop but they are ultimately a great rocknroll band with their roots planted in the same soil that the 60’s punks like the Seeds grew from (hey, you like that?!) and fertilized by the Australian punk bands that mattered (X, Saints, even Victims).
The story about my band (Straightjacket Nation) meeting Eddy Current has been told to death, so I’ll let you do some research, or pick up from the scraps we lay down about halfway thru this piece. But, outta that fortuity came a split 7”, a couple of tours, and some solid friendships. They’re about to release a new 7” on White Denim and do a US tour, and I’ve heard the unmixed new LP and it’s fuckin GOOD.
I sat down with Mikey in his kitchen. We listened to the Turtles second album and talked a little about the band. - DX
DX: So the majority of people reading this may not have heard of Eddy Current or may find out about the band for the first time through the interview. So, I guess first of all, is there something you guys are trying to do?
Mikey: Well, no, and that’s what makes these interviews hard, because I actually think we’re not that interesting. We’re not wild and crazy dudes, we’re definitely not pushing any musical boundaries, we’re pretty bang in the middle, not heavy or anything...
DX: What do you think makes you guys one of the most popular / successful bands that isn’t on a major in this country? I mean, you put out a record on Dropkick, but you’re headlining shows to hundreds of people?
Mikey: That sounds far fetched, but I get your point. Alright. At face value, I think Brendan is an interesting frontman, even if you didn’t like the band, you’d enjoy watching us because Brendan is an interesting frontman. Not a textbook rocknroll frontman. Though, I imagine just that fact wouldn’t carry the band for repeat listenings. I don’t know. I think our tunes are good, we have an interesting frontman. Take Brendan away, we’re a pretty boring band to look at.
DX: Well, it’s not just you, it’s the crowd reaction. There are few bands that have that frenzy that you have at times.
Mikey: I don’t really get the frenzy, though. I guess Brendan works it up sometimes.
TB: Your songs have hooks in them.
Mikey: I think the frenzy is caused by the fact the songs rely on dynamics and release of tension, so imagine that would be a cause of the frenzy. Would you think?
DX: Most importantly, the atmosphere isn’t aggressive like most of our (Straightjacket Nation) shows. People feel comfortable to dance and have a good time. This builds the excitement.
Mikey: There’s been a couple of gigs lately where I’ve come away thinking “Do I really wanna do this anymore?”. People I knew had a bad time because of jocks, getting a bit too boisterous, all our friends that had been there from the start were standing at the back of the room because of jocks elbowing them in the face. I was speaking to the other guys about it, and they said “You can’t control people”. But it stops me from enjoying it, and if you’re not enjoying it, why do it?
Mikey: But, I think our tunes are catchy, there’s dynamics in there to keep it interesting, Brendan is good to look at, the music is tight and it’s not cluttered and annoying. It’s ridiculously simple and primal, it relies more on rhythm and beat and stuff like that. When you strip music back to something like that, it appeals to a lot more people because it goes to the core of it. At first, I didn’t understand why cunts like you liked us. I sort of get it.
DX: Danny asked us this. I think he had this idea that we ate Black Flag, drank Black Flag, slept Black Flag...well, I guess it’s true to a certain extent.
Mikey: Well, coming from him, he listens to Dropdead and shit like that, and he’s in a band like this.
DX:I think he thought, these guys are in a hardcore band, what would be the appeal for them to see this band? And I always thought you were a punk band.
Mikey: Even now?
DX: I think you’re still a punk band, in the same sense that, like, the Troggs were primal and punk and could write "With A Girl Like You" which isn’t too stomping, whereas "Wild Thing", you know. Those are banging punk tunes.
DX: So, the Xmas party...
Mikey: Alright, um, the Xmas party. It’s not a myth. Leading up to that I’d been in bands but had given up a couple of weeks before, because the group of people I was doing the bands with, I just felt, this isn’t in my head. Then I started to do solo stuff, writing beats and stuff. I bought a four track and a keyboard and started making...beats, guitar songs, bass, guitar, piano. I made all these tapes but I’d run out of room on the four track, so I needed to bounce them down and get a good copy. I’d go up to my friend’s house and just get him to put it through his computer because I didn’t have any of that shit then. His friend Phil Ransom, the DJ, heard them and sent them off to this Pav guy, from Modular records. So, he flew down from Sydney to arrange a meeting on these four tracks, and I got signed to Modular.
Mikey: So, he gave me some money and I bought some studio stuff.
DX: What year?
Mikey: 2002. So, I gave up on bands then because I was getting my point across better on the solo stuff. But, it never eventuated. After three years I had a bunch of demos sitting around on my computer, really frustrating. Definitely not before, but when that Xmas party jam happened, and having been at Corduroy watching all those dudes in bands, writing songs quickly and having a flow and freshness to it. When we did that one thing drunk and listened back to the tape, that "So Many Things" tape, we thought “Shit, this is actually pretty good”. I was pretty inspired by this, the fact I’d been working for years on these demos and the fact I could just record something in an hour and possibly put it out, it was way more satisfying.
DX: Did you record the other songs straight up?
Mikey: We went back two weeks later. Brad wasn’t there for "So Many Things", so we just called him up and asked him to come down. I made him use a pick. I said “It won’t sound good with your fingers, just fucking use a pick”. At that stage, we just wanted to do the 7”. I had the "Get Up Morning" riff before we even started the band, and I’d thought, “This is a really good riff, I’ve peaked”. So, we got him down, I showed him how it goes, Brendan made up the lyrics and we recorded the 8 track. It was done. We did "You Don’t Care" as well for another band I did.
DX: At what point did it become a band?
Mikey: We thought “This is sick”. We were going to do the 7” ourselves, but Nick from Corduroy Records said he’d do it. Brendan was hooked, and he probably is the reason the band happened. He’d just be going to me at work “What about this one Mike? You know, women are like watches”...or something like that. “Yeah, that’s good, dude!”.
Mikey: We ended up jamming, coming up with "Cool Icecream" and "Precious Rose". I was drunk down at Corduroy one night and Nick was talking to Hugh Streetparty and was trying to organize a gig. I said “You can only do it if we support you”. I was only half joking, but it happened, so we decided to go for it. Even then, it was meant to be that one gig so our friends could see it, then we were going to split up and put out the 7”.
DX: How’d you come up with the name?
Mikey: It’s a part on a machine at work, and I’d thought the next band I did was going to be called that. Anyway, we thought we’d do it once and that’d be it, but heaps of dudes liked it. Were you there?
DX: No, we weren’t there, but we heard about it. Hugh told our friend that we had to see this garage band fronted by a retarded person. So, we thought, fuck, we’ve gotta see this band. So someone said, you know this story, the guy from the band is from Corduroy.
Mikey: You thought I was the boss or something?
DX: Yeah. You didn’t know this? We thought you were the guy who owed us money. We thought you were the guy, and that’s why we were so pissed off. And also, we’d thought, wouldn’t it suck if the band was good? Then we’d have to be nice to him? We also thought at least we wouldn’t have to contend with the retarded guy...
DX: Well, as a joke in an interview I said that we had baseball bats and shit. So, anyhow, that’s when we first checked you out, and we got the 7” and were totally into it. We were glad that you weren’t the guy, haha.
Mikey: So, to answer the question, no, it wasn’t a band until early the next year, we’d done three gigs and people kept coming. But, I don’t know, do you start bands with intentions?
DX: Definitely started UV Race with intention. Definitely started Total Control with intention. Straightjacket, not so much so. It started similar to Eddy Current. It was totally supposed to be a project, a side project I guess for Dave and Em. I was living in Wollongong, and it was kind of a project for them, I guess. There was purpose at one point though: I decided I was sick of living in that shithole, and moved to Melbourne to do the band. I guess I had this idea in my head of Henry leaving DC to join Flag. Me abandoning my shitty life to get a new one going.
DX: Anyhow, have you at any point while doing Eddy Current wanted to stop doing it for any reason?
Mikey: I’ve got no qualms with stopping a band early. I always said I’d quit it as soon as it wasn’t fun. If you know me and my brother, we get along quite well as brothers, but we’re not very expressive emotionally. So, you know, if something happens between us it’s a brooding, unsaid thing. More that then a “fuck you”. So, twice my brother ticked me off and I had a bad night at a gig. I mean, when you say this it makes it sound like all the time it’s like this and we have this intense relationship, but it’s not like that. I’m just a grudge holder.
DX: Do you feel any sense of obligation to see the band through? To the people who kind of invest themselves in it?
Mikey: No. I don’t even feel obligation to the band members. If I found it wasn’t fun and I’d done all that I wanted to do, I’d quit. I always thought we’d have another album in us. The idea of touring in a band that people know about, that we could play gigs with bands we loved, like overseas, I think to get that out of my system would be good, something I always wanted to do. So, all I know at the moment is I wanna mix the album and do the tour overseas, so when I’m an old man I’d done what I wanted to do. Beyond that, I don’t know.
PART TWO: This second interview was conducted by our pal Icki at the tail end of ECSR's North American tour in October 2007, at an undisclosed location in the Bay Area.
Present: Ickibod Styzinetti, Mitch Cardwell, Dulcinea, Rich Dropkick, Brendan Suppression.
Icki: So why did you abandon your band in America?
Brendan: I just wanted to spend a bit more time away from home.
Icki: And how was your time here in the States? Was it everything you thought it'd be?
Brendan: More. I thought it'd be good, but I wasn't sure how people would take to us, as a band. And it was fantastic. Everyone was pretty friendly, hospitable. That's been nice.
Icki: Are you planning on coming back?
Icki: What was the best show, your favorite place you played?
Brendan: For me, the San Francisco show was the best. It felt like Melbourne, but a real quiet version. Because there wasn't as many people there when we played. That and playing with the A Frames at Emo's was pretty top-notch. They were great. And I liked Goner Fest. It was the biggest audience and everyone was just happy to be there. So that was a lot of fun too. They were all fun in their own little ways, really. Seriously. And actually, DC…I'm going to keep rambling. They were all great.
Icki: What about DC?
Brendan: It was at this place called the Velvet Lounge and it was on a Tuesday night. And the other band just got together, they were made up for the night. Just to have a gig. A bunch of people came because Mikey's (ECSR guitarist) girlfriend lives there and she invited them. Everyone was getting drunk and having fun. For a Tuesday night, everyone was pissed. Maybe not drunk, but just having a good time.
Icki: Having just moved from DC, I'm sure they probably appreciated having a good show in that city.
Brendan: Yeah, could be. It was a really good night, that one.
Icki: So Goner Fest. A lot of people were there. Were you well-received? It was kind of billed as the pinnacle of the tour.
Brendan: Well, because it was a festival that was the only reason it was the pinnacle. New York was fun too…everywhere was fun, all right? That's my answer. But Goner Fest, everyone was happy. There weren't any jerks there. Everyone was there to party and just see some bands play. It was cool.
Icki: Real basic question—how long have you guys been around?
Brendan: About three years. I guess it was 2003. We played our first gig in 2004. We played two gigs then, one in September, one in October. We stopped for a few months because Mikey went away. Then we started gigging constantly in 2005...
Icki: So have you guys built up a fair following in Australia?
Icki: There are a lot of people at that show on YouTube. When I saw that clip the first I thought is, why did you decide to wear gloves when you play live?
Brendan: Well, it's a nice crowd.
Dulcinea: You were saying you get about 400 people at a show.
Brendan: On a good show, yeah.
Brendan: When we first started making music, we didn’t really plan to play shows, at least I didn’t. We kept writing more songs and having a lot fun. We wrote enough for a set and Danny and the rest of the band decided we should play a show just for our friends because we already had the 7" pressed. So they talked me into playing a show and I decided I had to do something for confidence. I took a performance class and I couldn’t do speeches very well. The teacher recommended that I use a pointing stick to gain confidence so the gloves come from that idea. It’s like Superman’s costume—it’s my cape.
Icki: So when you guys started the band, you just wanted to play music and fuck around so you put out a 7" before you played a show.
Brendan: The band started at a Christmas party. Corduroy always had equipment down there. Everyone from the party had gone home and Danny and Mike, the brothers, were messing around on their instruments.
Rich: That’s a really common thing at Corduroy. The main room has equipment set up all the time. Lot of bands cut live to acetate singles in this room. They have a stage and multiple guitars. It was nothing for someone to just jam there.
Brendan: Everybody did it.
Mitch: You guys don’t have one of those lathe cutters do you? Do you know what I’m talking about?
Brendan: They have a cutter there but we’ve never recorded live to acetate; not us.
Icki: Any plans to do one?
Brendan: Corduroy’s not a bric-a-brac plan anymore.
Rich: Although, the place that you guys practice is the cutting room so you could do it there. The Ooga Boogas recorded all of their stuff there.
Brendan: Yeah, but not live to acetate.
Rich: The only thing we would need to do is get Perry in there to get the acetate machine rolling while your practicing.
Brendan: Yeah, that’s a good idea—I’ve wanted to do it.
Rich: Honestly, the novelty has worn off which is why less bands are doing it.
Brendan: Yeah, maybe the novelty has worn off…anyway, we got together when those boys were playing their instruments and it sounded like fun. I had just been dumped and I was still quite sad about it. I started raving it off in my head, just words, sort of free from the mind. We were having a good time and then we had to get going because our friend that was giving us a lift home wanted to go and eat. He held up a sign saying, “I want to leave” so we stopped it at the end of that song which became “So Many Things”—the B-side of the first 7". We left it at that. We listened to it on the way home and thought it was hilarious. I had fun getting all my thoughts off my mind. After that I couldn’t stop writing lyrics so I asked Mikey to do it again and he was keen. We got Brad aka Rob Solid to play bass and wrote a couple more songs. I remember Rich coming down and I didn’t know him too well cos he was quiet and never talked to me. I’d say, “hey Richard” and he’d say, “hey mate”—that’s it. I don’t know if he said he was interested in releasing something at the time. I remember he said it was good and I thought, “cool, someone else thinks this is good.” Our friends thought it was funny too. Rich ended up releasing a 7" record with three songs, “Get Up Morning,” “You Don’t Care,” and “So Many Things.” By then, I just thought I would give it to that girl that dumped me and say “ha”. I wanted to keep making more though. Eventually, when we played live, it wasn’t scary as I thought.
Icki: Was this your first band ever?
Brendan: Yeah, I’m not a musician.
Rich: Funnily though, the first band that the other three guys played in was 10-15 years ago—Danny and Mikey, their first ever band was with Brad on bass. Brad was singing in thrash metal bands at the time. Danny was into hardcore. Mikey was into everything. It’s weird how they’ve gone and done tons of bands each and then come back together as friends.
Brendan: It was a group of mates, basically. We all felt comfortable around each other so we kept doing it.
Icki: The best music happens that way, personally—people just making music for the fuck of it. How long did it take to make the album after the single came out, how did that come about?
Brendan: We pressed the first 7" in March of 2004 and then we made another single with the songs “It’s All Square” and “Precious Rose.” We did the third single as a split with Straightjacket Nation. By that time we thought, “let’s record all the songs and then put it out.” So we re-recorded everything except for “So Many Things” and “You Don’t Care.” We did it one day—we went down to Caulfield with Mikey’s equipment. Mikey is a whiz with setting things up. He set it all up in the rehearsal studio and we went in the night before recording and got the sounds right. The next day we started recording at 11:00 AM and finished at 3:00 PM.
Icki: 15 songs in four hours?
Brendan: Yeah, because Danny had to go to a barbeque and I think maybe Brad had to go to work or something like that. We had it to get it done. Two of the songs we recorded didn’t make it on the album.
Icki: Is this an Australian tradition, like the X LP that they recorded seven hours straight.
Brendan: Is it? I never knew that.
Icki: You’re carrying on a tradition. Does it annoy you when people especially in the states compare you to Australia’s X since you don’t sound like them.
Brendan: No, I like it because I love X.
Rich: It’s actually something that I’ve said—originally I decided X because…
Icki: Well it got people’s attention.
Rich: My favorite Eddy Current song is “It’s All Square”, and when I hear it I think it has an X feel. I don’t actually think they sound like X or The Victims of The Easybeats or The Scientists.
Dulcinea: But they have that feel to them.
Brendan: Maybe the vibe.
Icki: To me, I think you don’t sound like very many other bands right now, which I think is good and why people like it but I think it sounds somewhere in between FM Knives and Ivy Green.
Rich: I’ve discussed all this with Mikey and his favorite bands in terms of when Eddy Current started are The Monks, The Troggs, and Devo and if you think about that…
Icki: That makes sense—stripped down kind of simple sounds.
Rich: Yeah, really simple and sparse. But the people who are into the weird music think they sound like a garage punk band and straight-up garage kids think they’re too weird. They don’t fit into anybody’s idea.
Icki: When you can’t pin them down, I think it’s perfect.
Dulcinea: I think it’s weird because when I watched you, I got that Aussie vibe that I figured might be the way it would have been via X or The Saints or something like that but it wasn’t overt. It was kind of a quiet like “holy shit.”
Rich: Just because it’s like this whole nonchalant, laid back guys on stage.
Icki: I think it has a laid back presence but the music is so intense.That’s how I always imagined X. The music is just like getting hit by a train.
Brendan: I reckon the reason we can’t be pigeon holed has something to do with the way the songs are written. There’s a mixture of sound and variety of styles and maybe that’s why people have a good time at the shows too.
Dulcinea: The guitar sound is insane. I told him last night that it sounds like there’s buried mosquitoes stuck in his guitar.
Rich: That has to do with his Goldentone amp. They sound really good if you get one that is in nice condition. When Mikey got his Goldentone, the whole sound is built on that style. He made the bass player get one too. It’s got a nice hum to it—it’s warm.
Icki: Do you have any more records coming out soon?
Brendan: In July, before we left for tour, we recorded 19 songs over a weekend. We don’t know who is going to put it out.