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Simple Energy: Eddy Current Suppression Ring

Back in 2003, four average Australian guys who had met at their factory day jobs decided to start a band after a drunken jam session at a Christmas party. Paying homage to mid 70s proto punk and favouring a more straight forward, ragged sound, they successfully recorded a few singles and two fantastic albums, and even toured overseas – all to the praise of garage punk critics and fans alike. And yet the only thing more extraordinary about Melbourne’s Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s piercing guitar riffs and straightforward vocals is the ordinary character of the four men who write them. Mind you, that is hardly what anyone would consider a problem. A noteworthy part of Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s broad appeal and nearly unanimous critical acclaim is owed to their own disposition as run-of-the-mill type of guys. They may not be doing anything groundbreaking or particularly original, but that’s kind of the point.

We’re just average guys playing the type of music we always wanted to play,” says bassist Brad Barry. “It’s strange being considered established musicians – it’s even stranger having to try and be a public figure with stuff like interviews. We just try to keep ourselves grounded and try and show people where we came from and how far we’ve come.”

Recorded in a single day over a period of six hours – and, by and large, showing it – their latest offering, Rush To Relax is a treasure trove of energy. Recognising conventions of blazing power-chords and banal lyricism in the vein of their punk rock predecessors, Television and The Ramones, Eddy Current Suppression Ring wear their absence of musical mastery like a badge of honor. Whilst the band themselves willingly admit to self-indulgence (with two tracks exceeding the six minute mark) this does not mean Rush To Relax is conceited or excessively stated.

“Mikey [Young] writes all the music and the way he writes is pretty diverse,” explains Brad. “He is always playing something new and unusual, and in this case, it was no different. When there are four people with different opinions and someone comes up with a good idea, you all have to be on the same page to at least attempt to make something good out of it.
“A few people have said that we’ve tried to take a new direction on Rush To Relax, but there’s always a bit of an overlap between albums and at least half of the songs for Rush To Relax were already written during the Primary Colours stage. For us, the whole process doesn’t take long. We didn’t really have a break from song writing album to album.”

Balancing out the band’s stretched-out moments (including twenty minutes of ocean sounds that close the CD version of the album), Rush To Relax is quietly laced and without a trace of lo-fi. Asking for nothing up front and yielding more and more rewards with each passing listen, the album fully encapsulates Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s direction and cause, and Brad agrees:

“It reflects the way we play this batch of songs live and captures the energy we had recording in the studio, which is what you always aim to do from a band perspective.”

As anyone who’s seen them live will attest, Eddy Current Suppression Ring are certainly one of Australia’s most well known and best live music exports. With songs about ice cream, being broke and early mornings, they have been described as ‘one of the most entertaining live shows Australia has to offer’.

“There’s definitely a big mix of people seeing us live, and we always get people coming up to us after a show telling us that ours is the first gig they’ve been to in years,” says Brad. “It’s always so good to hear, not necessarily because you’re getting people out, but it’s good to know that we’re not just pigeonholed into one scene and fan base.”

Fittingly, Eddy Current Suppression Ring will spend most of 2010 on the road touring nationally and overseas, and they’ll be bringing their sweaty rabble rousing live performance to Sydney this Friday and Saturday at The Annandale Hotel.

words: Jacinda Fermanis


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