Henry Rollins can’t praise them enough. Ian Mackaye is another certified fan. Spoon are known to bust out their cover of this Melbourne band’s tune ‘Memory Lane’ at live shows.
Groups like The Peep Tempel, Cable Ties, Parquet Courts and Shame take huge influence.
They won the Australian Music Prize for their second album Primary Colours but, for all of the acclaim, Eddy Current Suppression Ring may well be the most famous Australian band the greater public have never heard of. And they prefer it that way.
The band got together after a staff Christmas party at the vinyl pressing plant where Mikey Young (guitarist ‘Eddy Current’) worked.
He and brother Danny (drummer ‘Danny Current’) encouraged Brendan Huntley (‘Brendan Suppression’) to get on the mic. The songs that came of that impromptu jam became their first recordings. With Brad Barry (‘Rob Solid’) on bass their unique chemistry was complete.
“I might have a riff and [Brendan] will have some lyrics and then we bring it to band practice. If it doesn’t work we’ll probably forget about it,” Young told Mess & Noise in 2008. “We don’t really perspire and try to make a song work. If it’s instantly good we’ll keep it.”
“I’ll be listening, trying to get a feel for Mikey’s tunes, then I’ll spit something over the top of it until it sounds right, or mess around with it until it does,” Huntley explained.
“Sometimes Mikey will have a tune and then straight away I’ll be like, ‘I know what’s good for this’ and I’ll flip through my book for that poem or whatever that suits it.”
Their attitude to recording was refreshingly simple and deliberately uncomplicated. Well, sort of.
“Everything was an accident,” Young told Richard Kingsmill on triple j in 2008. “The fact that it turns out simple is just because we worked out what’s best for us. We’re simple people.”
But they understood the essence of what made their sound so distinct and immediate.
“We don’t really do overdubs and Brendan sings live with us,” Young explained. “So, all we gotta do, is do a good take of the song. Then it’s done. There’s not much else to do.”
Capturing and preserving that in a studio environment came down to being willing to take risks and enjoying the process. Young told Australian Musician that working on this batch of songs and seeing how they would take shape was part of the ragged energy conveyed on Primary Colours.
“It’s exciting playing when you’re nervous and wondering whether you’re actually going to make it to the end of the song or if you can remember the bits,” he said. “But maybe that nervous energy helps.”
The nervous energy is palpable in each of Primary Colours’ tracks and is evident during their live shows.
During live shows their frontman, “definitely turns into someone else,” Young told Kingsmill. “He does things he wouldn’t do in normal hours.”
He told Kingsmill that Huntley put his hand through a wall, as he was not totally aware of the solid surface which was at the time covered by a curtain.
“He just gets really excited, which is good.”
Success came quickly as their live reputation spread and their music earned them new fans around the world. It took a little getting used to.
“I try not to examine why we got any kind of popularity,” Young told Mess & Noise. “I don’t really want to be aware of it. I’m really worried about getting too big a head.
After the release of their third album, Rush to Relax, in 2010, they went on a six-year hiatus.
At a sold-out launch for the album, the group played the Palace in Melbourne. Young’s response to the gig showed how ill at ease he was with their profile as a band.
“I walked away feeling really numb,” he told Mess & Noise in 2010. “I did enjoy it, I just didn’t know how to take it. I was looking out and there were people really intensely looking at us, singing every word. It was just weird!”
And maybe that’s just the way things work best for Eddy Current Suppression Ring
“I guess success has never been our goal,” Young told The Big Issue. “None of us are anti-success. If that happens, that’s awesome, but it’s all a by-product of what we want to do, which is to make the best records that we can.”