Pseudo Echo rises from Down Under to turn North America into “Funkytown”


By Steve Newton

They say that rock ‘n’ roll is a young man’s game, although the number of aging rock stars raking in big bucks today makes you wonder. Still, there are always some fine young whipper-snappers whose youthfulness comes through in the freshness and vitality of their tunes. Such are the members of Pseudo Echo, the Aussie band that visits the 86 Street Music Hall Friday (December 11).

“At 24, I’m one of the old men in the group,” says bassist Pierre Gigliotti, on the line from Kansas City. Lead singer/guitarist Brian Canham is the old-timer of the band at 25, drummer Vince Leigh falls somewhere in the middle at the ripe old age of 23. His brother, keyboardist James Leigh, is only 20. One wonders if the group’s success in their homeland–where they’ve had 10 charting singles and are one of the country’s top acts–has been tricky to deal with at such an age.

“I suppose it’s easy to be overwhelmed,” admits Gigliotti. “But because we’ve all been playing the live rock ‘n’ roll circuit there since we were 14, 15 years old, it’s just something that’s progressively gotten more professional for us. It’s not as though we weren’t playing at all, and then all of a sudden Pseudo Echo happened.”

Having already conquered the charts Down Under, the Melbourne-based band recently hit it big in North America with its souped-up version of the disco-ish dance track “Funkytown”. The tune was originally recorded by a group called Lipps Inc. back around 1980. Pseudo Echo revised it for ’87 by inserting a big drum beat and some supercharged guitar.

“We’d come out of the studio about two years ago,” explains Gigliotti, “and we were going to be doing all these new songs live. We just wanted a track that a lot of people our age would be able to relate to. So Brian and James dug up a copy of “Funkytown” and we had a few listens to it and then just started doing it as we would play it.”

“It was a thing that we played live for about two years, and then it came to a period between albums for us in Australia, where it would have been nice to have something just to keep Pseudo Echo in people’s minds. So we recorded it very quickly, did a very simple video clip, and released it, and in three or fours weeks it went all the way to number one.”

Pseudo Echo is just the latest in a number of Aussie bands to make good outside of the big island. Right now INXS are tearing up the charts with their new album, and Crowded House is just coming off a banner year with its debut disc. Then of course there are the old standbys like AC/DC, Angel City, and Midnight Oil. Gigliotti notes that a few other bands to keep your eyes on are Noiseworks, Wawanee, the Venetians, and Boom Crash Opera.

“There’s a lot of good young bands coming up, “says Pierre, “even ones that have been around for the last two or three years. They’re a lot rockier too, these days.”

Apart from one date in Toronto last year, Pseudo Echo has never been up to the Great White North. Coming from the sunny climes of Australia, the group may be in for a little shock weather-wise. In fact, they’ve already had one.

“Our first encounter with snow the other day was in Detroit. But I mean, it’s pretty. I think it’s great. And I’d love to spend a white Christmas somewhere, but we have to go home for Christmas. We start recording our next album on the first of the New Year.

Although the weather on their current tour has been different from what they’re used to, Gigliotti says the fan reaction isn’t too unfamiliar.

“It’s basically the same,” he chuckles, “except up here you cheer with an accent.”



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