Ian McCulloch, live

Echos of an Electrafuture

Ian McCulloch of Electrafixion

Interview by Daniel Ewacha
Live photography by Dan Zubkoff

35-second excerpt from "Feel My Pulse" (various formats)

The name "Electrafixion" might not ring a bell with most people, but if you also mention that two members of this British group are Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, that might be enough to pique the interest of a few 80's music lovers. McCulloch and Sergeant were, of course, the nucleus of 80's supergroup Echo and the Bunnymen, whose chemistry and musical brilliance made them one of the biggest bands of their time whilst spawning and influencing countless garage bands. They have once again partnered up to form Electrafixion, hoping to produce the same magic they did a decade ago.

But does the fact that Ian and Will will always be associated with Echo and the Bunnymen bother them in any way? Is that association a blessing or a curse? These questions play on the mind of McCulloch: "It's hard to say. In some ways it's good because Bunnymen fans will come out to the show so there's an established audience already to some extent. But this isn't an Echo and the Bunnymen album, and although it may sound reminscent of stuff we did earlier, it's quite different. So the association of us being in Echo may overshadow Electrafixion at times, which is a pity. But I think it is inevitable that Will and I will always be, to some degree, recognized as being the members from the Bunnymen. It's not a bad thing, mind you. I'm quite proud of what we did with the Bunnymen, but that was then. I'm in Electrafixion now."

Ian McCulloch, live Electrafixion's debut album, Burned, also marks the first time in six years Ian and Will have worked together. Burned takes the listener deep into the sewer that runs below the merry green fields and blue skies of Echo and the Bunnymen. Yet, when you listen to the disc, it sounds as though it was a great album to make and an even greater one to play live. Ian couldn't agree more: "It felt like a complete picture. Working with Will for the first time in six years, it was...I dunno, magic, I guess. Fate, possibly, because I was doing stuff with Johnny Marr at the time, making an album, but the tapes we made were stolen so I joined up with Will and here we are. We went into the studio and recorded a bunch of stuff, sifted through it, came out with the album. Playing it live, however, the first time we lay the stuff down, it sticks, it just feels and sounds right."

Times have certainly changed over the last 15 years since Ian started in the music business, a change for the better, he says: "There's a healthier pop climate now than ten years ago." Disagreeing with this statement, I was curious to know the reasons he feels this way: "For one, you've got Oasis, who I think are just brilliant. Supergrass are good, as are Pulp and Radiohead -- Radiohead I think are the best of the lot by far. Also, radio was a lot different back then. You didn't have as much choice as you do now with all the pirate stations and all."

Ian McCulloch, live A sound argument perhaps, but I find it hard to compare Supergrass and Pulp, as good as they are, to the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen compadres U2 and Simple Minds. Smiling, Ian shares his views on these two groups: "Early U2 was shit. I don't like it at all. They got good, however, on Achtung Baby. Simple Minds were just the opposite. They were good early on, but tried to be like U2 later on and it backfired." Despite the smile and mild chuckle from Ian, I can't help but feel that he has a bit of resentment towards these two bands and others from that era who made it to the very top while Echo and the Bunnymen just narrowly missed. Echo and the Bunnymen could have been just as big as U2, but just didn't get the break U2 did. With that taken into consideration, the resentment I sensed in Ian could be justified.

This stop in Vancouver, the 10th and only Canadian stop on the the tour (lucky us!), marks the second time they've visited the city. The tour started in Washington D.C. and will end in three weeks in New York, completing a full circle around North America. Future plans include returning to the studio to start work on the next Electrafixion disc, as Ian explains: "We've got about 20 songs written for the next album and we hope to bring Noel (Gallagher, Oasis guitarist) in to produce some songs."

Echo and the Bunnymen may not have reached their full potential a decade ago, but this is ten years later and with a strong, boisterous debut album such as Burned, Electrafixion could very well surpass anything Echo and the Bunnymen ever did.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on June 20, 1996

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