Total Control and the control groups of Mikey Young

Sjimon Gompers

Mikey Young, Total Control

The many moods and might of Mikey Young. (VIA)

Mikey Young's reshapening of synth pop and hardcore evolutions are almost impossible to keep up with. Call him the busiest man in the Australian entertainment business, you know him from Eddy Current Suppression Ring, UV Race, performing with SF's prolific indie impresario Kelley Stoltz, Lace Curtain, Ooga Boogas and a few others we are probably missing. Today we set our sights and inquiries into the vortex of Young's band Total Control, while pausing to gain insights into the collaborative and multi-versatile approaches the indie-AU-legend applies to his other bands and projects of love. So without further ado, the many bands, projects, talents and thoughts of Mikey Young.

First of all, being an individual of many projects, gig, jobs, tasks, bands and interests; how do you even begin to budget and or schedule your time?

Well, I dont have a real day job so that frees up a lot of my time. I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I can do a few mastering and mixing jobs a week, have enough to pay the bills, and spend my free time doing things of my own. I do a lot less than people probably think, I feel lazy quite often, i think a fair bit of what i do gets mentioned here and there so it makes it seem like I'm busier than I am. All thanks must go to my huge PR machine for keeping me in the spotlight.

Given the amalgamation of various members from ECSR, Ooga Boogas, Lace Curtain, UV Race, etc, all wrapped up with you in Total Control; is TC like the control room around which you and longtime and concurrent collaborators can enjoy a more primal existence?

Hmmm..maybe. Total Control used to be where I get almost anything out of my system that didn't fit elsewhere and not be concerned that it had to sound like Total Control, it just had to sound good. To be honest, something like the Boogas or ECSR probably gave me more of a primal outlet, I put too much thought into TC to be able to achieve that. Live, I still get a primal kick out of it but making the records forces me to use my brain too much.

I also totally forget that you played in Kelley Stoltz's band. He's another big prolific figure out here in the Bay that has played with (Sonny and the Sunsets, Fresh and Onlys, etc, etc) and produced countless others. Did you and Kelley find a creative bond on that kind of level of output and proliferation?

I met Kelley in 2003 when he toured Australia and I played in his band. I was already a fan of his record Antique Glow at the time. I played in his band the next two times he came out and went on a UK / Euro tour and played some American shows. I don't think our bond has anything to do with a high creative output, i just like playing his music and we both dig each other's company a bunch, he's one of my best buds. I am still a huge fan of what he does. I just got to mix his newest record, which was a total honor for me to work on. He's also funny as all hell and points me in the direction of good records to hunt down.

Seems like you have had some deep connective roots to the Bay, what are some of the similarities and differences that you have found amongst the AU/NYC/Bay scenes?

I don't know NYC well enough to comment, its not really a city that I can compare to anywhere else I've spent time in. Its pretty unique. Melbourne and the bay area's music scenes seem pretty similar to each other as far as being relatively tight knit and incestuous. Melbourne's a fair bit bigger and has a heck of a lot of venues and bands , both places are nice comfortable places to live and both are becoming increasingly difficult to afford to live in because of this. Our Mexican food costs a million dollars but we have better fish n chips.

It's amazing too the success of Eddy Current Suppression Ring's accolades, what were your feelings on getting the coveted Australian Music Prize?

It was pretty surreal at the time but also didn't seem totally out of place, maybe does more so now I look back on it. It was rad to get an over-sized check with money attached to it and I'm still a little proud of it if I think about it but it's always a pretty weird concept, to judge the importance of our scrappy rock n' roll record against an Aussie hip hop record or a folky singer songwriter thing or any other record for that matter. Competitions are weird. I appreciate that people dig us though.

As we are always fascinated by Australia's vast musical movements, what insights can you give us on the current developments, bands to watch,exciting happenings, etc in Melbourne right now?

I've been pretty damn inactive over the last year not going out so much so there is probably people that can answer this a lot better than I can but with honestly no bias whatsoever, the best thing I've heard out of Melbourne over the last year is Al and Zephyr from Total Control's other band, Eastlink. the upcoming 7″ and LP rule hard.

The Stevens are a great band with a LP due out pretty soon, Galaxy Folk are a good band.

I love that your variety of projects and sound run between the beat driven synth pop minimalism to Total Control's recent slate of 7″s that strip the rock and roll shit-kicking attitudes to its ragged bones. Do you feel that artists in Australia are more prone not to be too tied up into being either strictly keyboard enhanced DIY or guitar based DIY?

It seems like people don't really give a shit about that kinda thing anymore. Most people I know dont sit around listening to only disco or strictly hardcore records, they have pretty eclectic tastes and it seems natural to me that people would want to make attempts at various genres. For me, it makes music fun to start fresh with new projects and approach different genres with a little bit of fear and trepidation. It's exciting to not really know what the hell you're doing and come out with some happy accidents.

Being that you're playing Ty Segall's Birthday at the Eagle with Thee Oh Sees; what are you getting Ty for his b-day?

A wristy.

What's next in store for the infinite worlds of Total Control, UV Race, Lace Curtain, ECSR, Ooga Boogas, etc, etc?

Total Control – LP

UV Race – not my band but if they aint sick of me yet, maybe they'll ask me to record another record for them. They are developing refined tastes though and have been flirting with younger, more handsome engineers lately.

Lace Curtain – 2 more EP's ready, an album possibly half ready, a possible live show down the track.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Not so much. Maybe one day.

Ooga Boogas – Shows, [we] continue to record and release every dumb idea we have, against our better judgement.

Total Control's 7″s are available via Bandcamp.

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