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Total Control

The Reluctant Punk

Dec 15, 2014 Total Control
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Mikey Young usually likes to keep busy. In addition to being guitarist/keyboardist/co-songwriter of the Australian five-piece Total Control, Young has played with bands such as Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas, and Lace Curtain, and currently spends much of his time doing studio work with various Australian indie acts. Typical System, Total Control’s second album, is a step forward from the dark electronic post-punk of its 2011 debut, Henge Beat; however, despite warm critical response to the album, Young is taking a break.

Young and his band matessinger/co-songwriter Daniel Stewart, guitarist Al Montfort, bassist Zephyr Pavey, and drummer James Vinciguerrahave said that Total Control will not tour in the near future, and the band’s website starts with the text: “No shows on the horizon, but all of us are doing different things and love each other very much. We will hopefully record again sometime in the future.”

“I go through stages where I’m really sick of touring,” says Young. “I’ve told every band I’m in that I’m not playing live for an indefinite amount of time. So Total Control, as a live thing, is on hold until at least next year, and who knows what happens by then. It’s a strange time to feel like that, because we have a record out and, if there was a time to tour, now would be a very good time. I just feel it’s better for me now to just chill out.”

Typical Systems is as musically abrasive as Henge Beat, but with more of a melodic bent. While songs like “Expensive Dog” and “Two Less Jacks” bludgeon the listener with heavy guitar and dark vocals, tracks like “Liberal Party” and “Safety Net” almost sparkle with tuneful melody and ambience.

“A lot of these songs we couldn’t really pull off back then,” says Young, explaining how a few tracks date back to the Henge Beat sessions. “We didn’t have the courage to be soft and sentimental, or we didn’t have the conviction to do it, so every time we tried, it didn’t work. I really wanted us to have the courage to sing nicely and make the pop songs as beautiful as we’re capable of.”

It’s curious that a band on the upswing is deciding to effectively go on hiatus. Young acknowledges that his age may be a factor; he is the band’s oldest member, at 37. Plus, in the interim between Total Control albums, he moved to the coastal town of Rye.

“It’s really hard to wake up in a nice quiet area with a balcony and want to put on loud punk records,” says Young. “I get up and I want to put on really well-recorded ‘70s soft rock. Or really long Indian ragas. Just things that sound nice. The idea of dreamy ambient stuff is really appealing to me right now…. I guess there’s always the chance that, if I take the idea of crowds and any outside validation for what I’m doing out of it, I actually wouldn’t want to do it. What if all the music I’m making is subconsciously just to be validated by the screaming masses? So maybe I’ll sit around and I won’t want to play guitar, because no one’s listening to me. But I don’t think so. I think I’ll be fine.”

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s September/October print issue (Issue 51).]


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May 31st 2015

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