Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Bad//Dreems – Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Eddy Current Suppression Ring (2006)
Every Thursday night in the mid-2000s, we would cross the river to attend Shake Some Action. It was at 161 – a small club in Prahran – that, come the weekend, would be filled with AFL players and plasticised normies doing coke to the latest Grant Smilie remix or other such dross. Somehow a local promoter by the name of Hugh Waters was given the run of the place on Thursday nights. The format of the night became commonplace in later years, but at that time it was unique: three bands would play followed by DJs playing indie rock and dance music. Many bands that went on to great things played their early shows on the tiny stage against the windows overlooking Chapel Street, such as Children Collide, Midnight Juggernauts, Ground Components, Cut Copy, Wolfmother, British India, My Disco, Damn Arms and Love of Diagrams, to name a few. Other regulars went on to form great bands, such as Marty Frawley from Twerps.
I think it was 2005 when I witnessed a show that would change the trajectory of my life, musical or otherwise. The headline band that night was Eddy Current Suppression Ring. This was apparently their second or third gig. My first impression was that they were certainly looked quite different from most of skinny jean wearing Strokes clones that would usually take the stage. The drummer was sinewy and hard, with good tattoos. The bass player looked like a friendly suburban dad on his way to drop the kids off at Auskick. He wore his bass at the most uncool jaunty angle, played with his fingers and grooved like my old man dancing to Roxy Music. The guitarist had a black strat and stood with the classic unmoving wide legged power stance of the great rhythm players. He mainly looked down at his guitar, occasionally looking up at the singer and cracking a smile.. And who could not crack a smile when laying eyes upon the singer? A handsome, dark featured bloke who quivered with energy, as if his mic was plugged directly into the mains. Like the others he was dressed in an unpretentious polo and baggy jeans. However, one could not fail to notice his gloves. Golf gloves? On both hands??
Before they started, he paced the small stage pack and forth, muttering to himself, like smokers outside the psych ward. And then the guitarist began to play…
His sound was immediately arresting. His strat was plugged into a Goldentone amp (an Australian valve amp from the sixties) and unadorned with any effects. The sound balanced on the tonal precipice between metallic bright chaos and warm driving bottom end. For me it was like the opening snare on ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ that so many musicians attested to changing the course of their life.
Then the rhythm section kicked in. The drummer played like he looked. Hard, no bullshit and straight to the point. Dad on the bass was awesome – a fuzzed out tone (also through a Goldentone guitar amp) with perfect feel and timing. By this stage the singer was practically levitating, glancing around at unseen sights and shadow boxing at the ground. His sang in an Australian accent, with an urgent stilted cadence about shit mornings, being broke, love and pain. It was impossible to tell whether subjects like ‘Cool Ice Cream’ were literal or metaphors for something darker. But it mattered not – the lyrics were perfect.
I didn’t know what I was hearing at that time. But I knew it was good. Really, really good – a different kettle of fish entirely to all the other bands that I’d seen to that point. I knew that for the rest of my life, I wanted to try to recreate the feeling of that 30 minutes, either as a listener or performer. The audience of 60 or 70 people obviously felt the same. Halfway through the second song the place was alive. A singer from another band upended a table, smashing glass across the floor.
At some time in the next 12 months Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s first album was released. I’d watched them several more times by then and their notoriety had quickly spread. The album was everything it needed to be. Turns out the guitarist, who I then knew was called Mikey Young, had tonal genius that extended from beyond his amp to the studio.
To me Eddie Current are a generational band. Their lineage can be traced back from the canon (the Troggs, Stooges, the Saints, Wire, Devo and X) and forward to a whole generation of Australian underground and independent music, that most likely would not exist without them (Twerps, Dick Diver, Woolen Kits, Royal Headache etc). And ourselves of course.
Personally, they opened the door to the world of Australian independent music. I think their no frills DIY approach is distinctly Antipodean and refreshingly free from the snobbery that often taints such scenes. Long may they be heard and seen.
Bad//Dreems play Farmer & the Owl Festival in Wollongong this Saturday, 29th February.