1995: Electrafixion Release BURNED

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The early 1990s were a tough time for post-punk legends, Echo & the Bunnymen. Lead singer and songwriter Ian McCulloch had left the group in 1989, going on to record his debut solo effort, Candleland. The remaining members of the Bunnymen forged on, auditioning new singers before choosing Noel Burke to fill McCulloch's spot in front of the microphone. 

Before the new lineup could get off the ground, tragedy struck when Echo & the Bunnymen drummer, Pete de Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident in June 1989. While the devastated band soldiered on with a new drummer, Damon Reece, the resulting album, Reverberation (1990), failed to connect with fans. By 1993, Echo and the Bunnymen had called it quits.

In 1994, Ian McCulloch and Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant found their way back to each other, forming a new group: Electrafixion. Influenced by the emerging rock sounds of the day, the pair were inspired to turn things up to 11 and rock out.

"I love Nirvana. One night I played 'All Apologies' about 23 times on the bus," McCulloch said during an interview at the time. "Will liked Smashing Pumpkins when I introduced him to them. For Will, I think he and I just realized you can get that big guitar sound from these Les Pauls and Marshall amps, because when the Bunnymen started, people using Les Pauls and Marshall amps with a big guitar sound were really horrible spandex-trousered rock bands. So that definitely made Will's mind up that he would use a Fender Telecaster through a Fender amp to get that heavy sound--that bright sound like (Television's) "Marquee Moon" or something. I'm not influenced in that when I write songs like other people, but as a fan of them. Like Radiohead, I think they're really there."

Fleshing out Electrafixion with bass guitarist Leon de Sylva and drummer Tony McGuigan, the outfit recorded debut album, Burned (1995). With McCulloch at the microphone, echoes of Echo & the Bunnymen permeated the album, while Will Sergeant's massive guitar sounds gave the music a modern rock sheen that fit in well with the grunge acts of the era. Tracks like "Never" invoked groups including Primal Scream, while tunes such as "Sister Pain" and "Lowdown" roared like a supercharged take on classic Echo & the Bunnymen.

Even though the record made an impact in their home country of England, reaching #38 on the UK Albums chart, Electrafixion found the Echo & the Bunnymen associations hard to shake. So after just one album and a handful of singles and EPs, the band broke up in 1996.

"We thought Electrafixion was kind of going nowhere," Sergeant said before a 1997 show by the reformed Echo & the Bunnymen in Manchester, England. "The only people that were coming to see us were Bunnymen fans, and it was really pissing me off, because we ended up doing a load of Bunnymen songs. To me it just made sense, like the songs were starting to sound like the Bunnymen, all the fans that were coming to see us were basically, bar a couple of ‘em, were Bunnymen fans and wanted Bunnymen songs, and you know, I think the Bunnymen is the best thing I’ve ever done so why not do it?"