PC: Hi Brian, thanks very much for talking to LMA today! What have you been up to?
Brian: No worries! Guitar maintenance today! Which is a rare thing for me. I’ve got a bunch of guitars; it looks like a music shop in here, but we're setting up a few for the tour, they need a bit of going over every now and then 'cause they get trashed on the road!
PC: Where did the name Pseudo Echo come from?
Brian: It came out of a synthesiser owner's manual, the synthesiser was called an ARP Odyssey, it was a keyboard that we predominantly used on our first album, we still use that sound live quite a lot and we were just flicking through the pages and one of us found the Pseudo Echo machine.
PC: How did you come to cover Lipps, Inc.'s Funky Town, which was of course your biggest hit, and a song synonymous with the decade?
Brian: That was something I grew up with, the original version, and we were between albums, between Love an Adventure and the Race album, we were kind of just biding a bit of time and wanting to try new things live. I think I suggested it to the guys one day, 'cause I'd heard a mate playing the original version off the vinyl. We had a bit of a laugh about it, and said this would be funny to do live, and we always liked to do something that no one would expect, so we ran through it. I showed the guys the parts and how I'd like them to go and we took it from there. We found it was really working live, so I went to the record company and said "I think I wanna record this". I remember they all didn't wanna do it, they all said it was a crap idea, but I stuck to my guns and we did it, and it worked out good!
PC: It sure did. It's always great when a cover is done that doesn't sound exactly the same as the original, and is done in your own style, and you certainly did that.
Brian: Yeah, that's exactly right, I think that's integral.
PC: You toured extensively on the strength of Funky Town, what was the most bizarre place you played and what were some of your highlights of your time on the road, if there's any that you can share?
Brian: Well, I think the strangest place we played was we did a theme park once in the US, and I think it was called Knott's Berry Farm and it was pretty funny, it had all these character's costumes backstage, big Charlie Brown heads etc, it was pretty surreal!
Some of the highlights would've been doing the bigger shows we've done over the years, we played to a packed house at The Ritz in New York which was fantastic and the Roxy in LA was great, and the Marquee in London, which is an iconic gig. But that's not to discount a lot of the big gigs we've done in Australia, a lot of them have been amazing highlights.
PC: Your big break came when Molly saw a gig of yours and got you on Countdown, what was it like to know all of a sudden you're not just playing to the people in the room, the whole country could be watching?
Brian: Yeah, it was pretty overwhelming; we were really passionate about what we were doing, so we weren't really nervous, we were just so excited to be getting to do our thing. It was a great break in our careers. The fact that Molly seemed to be so into the band, we were stoked about that, we really felt it was great how he really believed in us and went out on a limb to put us on the show.
PC: How important was Countdown back in the day for breaking new bands like yourselves?
Brian: I think it was instrumental (no pun intended!) for us, we just had a captive audience on there, people wanted for us to be on there, and showcase our new songs. It was almost a formula you know, you go on Countdown and play your songs, radio would jump on it, next thing it's a hit!
Brian: That would've been James Leigh at the time! We've always had somebody playing keytar, whoever plays keys, whether it be Ben Grayson, Simon Rayner or Tony Featherstone, they've all sort of used the same one, and had a go at it. It was a thing that was around in the '70s, it sort of took off in the funk scene a bit. But they were very cumbersome 'cause they had the whole keyboard internals on the remote itself, whereas in the '80s they brought out a simplified version where it was just the remote control for an actual keyboard module, and you didn't have to carry the whole thing around your shoulder. We just liked the mobility of it, we felt a bit trapped always stuck behind a keyboard. We didn't have a traditional bass player roaming the stage; it was only me who was mobile. I said to the guys that we could try this idea, it will give us the flexibility to be like a guitarist, so we got one that looked the most shaped like a guitar, modified it a bit and then tried it out. It was a bit of a hit! I felt like I had someone to jam around on stage with, rather than being on my own. Then we just used it all the time, so it just became synonymous with Pseudo Echo.
PC: As far as the creative side of the band goes, how much do your bandmates contribute to the recording process and the live shows?
Brian: Well, it's sort of my baby. I do always like to listen to the guys. I mean the current line up more so can be really good like that, they can have a listen and give me the feedback, but it has always been my thing. I would write a lot of the parts, program a lot of the keyboard sounds and come up with a lot of the drum grooves and things like that. You do rely on your players though to either do it faithfully or add their thing to it.
PC: I see you released a couple of new songs last year, which I quite like actually, is there an album in the works, and if so, how long before your fans get to hear it?
Brian: It's on the cards! We're going over whether we're going to do it via the pledge method to help finance it, as is often done these days, but that will take a bit of time. We'd like to think we can start the album by the end of the year, at least.
PC: You've done some production work on other act's albums, how much have you enjoyed that, and do you see yourself doing some more in the future?
Brian: Yeah look I'm doing that pretty much full-time really, I've done that since the late '80s and it's kind of one of my main things outside of Pseudo Echo. I love doing it, it's almost better than doing my own stuff, because I'm on the outside of it. I do a lot of work with solo acts, singer-songwriters, duos and things like that where they need a one-man-band guy. They can come to me as a multi-instrumentalist and I can do all the instruments for them, guide them in the direction they wanna go, and help them. I've had so much experience with different genres and things it's often good to get somebody like that who knows a lot more about how to match their sound up. So if they come to me and their songs are a bit all over the place, I can pull it all together to give them what's kind of their sound. So, you know, I really enjoy that.
PC: Do you find there's been somewhat of a renaissance of synth-pop music such as you played?
Brian: Definitely, which is a great thing for us. That's been really cool. We're quite flattered that a lot of bands name us as their influence, and pay homage to us by covering the songs or doing similar sounds and arrangements, it's great!
PC: What current bands or artists have you heard that remind you of that era?
Brian: Lots really! I can't really pinpoint just the one, but anything from Lady Gaga to Empire of the Sun, or even Placebo in their earlier years, you know bands like that you can hear a lot of that influence.
PC: What are you listening to these days?
Brian: Predominantly film, because that's something I'm in to and that's my main focus these days. I listen to a lot of film scores by the classics, you know Bernie Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith and then the more recent guys like your Thomas Newman and Danny Elfman, I love that sort of stuff.
PC: Is that something you're looking to get in to in the future?
Brian: Most definitely. I scored my first film last year which was an amazing experience, and then I scored another short film. I'm always looking for another one to jump into.
PC: How long do you see yourself being a part of Pseudo Echo?
Brian: It's an ongoing thing, I don't see an end really to be honest, as long as I can always do the other things I like doing. It's always there; it's always a nice change if I'm doing a lot of studio stuff or a lot of composing for film and things like that. The band thing is a real breath of fresh air.
PC: You play The Gov in Adelaide on 27th July, what can fans look forward to seeing that night?
Brian: We do a couple of newies, and we try to do some oldies that we haven't done before. We try to mix it up a bit, and we always give things a new lease of life and enthusiasm when we play, try to do something different. We change the sound a little bit, but it's still a very authentic reproduction of the original stuff.
PC: Sounds great! That's all we have time for today Brian, thanks very much for chatting with LMA and we look forward to seeing you at the Gov!
Brian: No worries, can't wait!