If you ignore the social climbers and degenerates at its periphery, the underground punk scene can look a lot like an outsider’s utopia, the living embodiment of the Ramones’ proclamation “Gabba gabba, we accept you, we accept you, one of us” at the start of 1977’s “Pinhead.” (That line was lifted from the 1932 cult classic Freaks—so of course it is a most fitting rallying cry for all the weirdos of the world.) It’s also the reason meeting a fellow punk nerd anywhere on the planet doesn’t feel too different from meeting someone new at your local club or DIY venue. So when CREEM asked me to track down beloved Australian multi-instrumentalist and producer Mikey Young, I was more than game. In a climate where oversharing has become so normalized that Tommy Lee’s recent literal interpretation of “putting it all out there” on not one, but three social networks barely elicited a blink, Young’s musical CV and understated media presence have inadvertently created a mythos around him. Where some might cast him as an elusive man of mystery, I suspect that the reality is he’s too busy working to bother with smoke and mirrors—and probably too down-to-earth to care about that stuff anyway.
Arguably best known as a founding member and guitarist of Melbourne garage-rock phenoms Eddy Current Suppression Ring and riveting synth-punk alchemists Total Control, Young’s played in a dizzying number of bands and projects since the early 2000s. Most recently, he’s been focused on the exploratory electronic soundscapes he puts out under his own name (he reissued his 2020 record Curtains on Lulu’s Sonic Disc Club back in January) and the Green Child, his laidback psych-pop duo with Raven Mahon (formerly of San Francisco indie trio Grass Widow), who is also his partner.
Young’s been similarly prolific in his studio career, particularly in mixing and mastering records. His lengthy list of post-production credits include titles by Australian groups, such as Amyl and the Sniffers and CLAMM, and well as punk and indie artists from around the globe, including recently released albums by Glasgow’s Nightshift and Toronto’s Weird Nightmare (the new project from Metz frontman Alex Edkins). That is to say, if you’ve listened to much underground rock music over the past decade or so, there’s a decent chance that Young has had a hand in shaping your record collection. And if he hasn’t yet, he might soon—while life under lockdown may have caused the majority of us to slow down a bit, his workload only revved up.
Earlier this summer, I Zoomed with a bleary-eyed Young from his minimalist home studio, seen above. It was early morning in Melbourne after all, and yet, his vibe seemed closer to the relative serenity of his solo material than the frenzied energy of his bands. Below, Young shares the scoop on life since COVID-19, the musical give-and-take between the songwriting and production sides of his brain, and (drumroll, please) intel on some highly anticipated new material that he’s been hinting about for years. Read on, and cross your fingers it’s not just another tease.