Pseudo Echo on how they kickstarted Australia’s new wave evolution

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Pseudo Echo on how they kickstarted Australia’s new wave evolution


What do you know about Australian band Pseudo Echo? For the unaware, and even some that were, the four-piece is often reduced down to a few phrases like “super camp hairstyles”, “ridiculously bold clothing” and “that song – you know, the cover of ‘Funky Town’”.

However, as the frontman Brian Canham explains, that was no gimmick.


“I definitely always stood out from my peers. I always dressed differently and was often ridiculed for it but you know what? I didn’t mind because the more people that commented on the style of my hair or what sort of shoes I was wearing I knew that I had achieved what I had set out to – to be unique,” quips the singer, guitarist and keyboardist.


Growing up in the ‘70s in Melbourne’s outer Northern suburb of Bundoora, it took this proclivity for otherness as well as support from his father for Canham to pursue a style of popular music no one else in Australia was doing at that time.


“I was a guitarist at school, that’s what everyone knew me as, but I was infatuated with synthesisers. It was the band Styx’s use of a synthesiser that spiked my interest in forming a band based around synths, but then in 1979 through my father I discovered Jean-Michel Jarre, then I knew how I wanted my band to sound.”


With a bold musical direction to go with his bold style, along with high school friend Pierre Gigliotti, Pseudo Echo formed in 1982, but they found themselves well and truly in no-man’s land.


Canham explains, “We were breaking through when the new wave thing was just on the tail-end, so that’s bands like The Cure pushing the boundaries away from punk into a ‘pop-punk’ thing.” That last explanation sticks in his throat a bit, Canham  knowing ‘pop-punk’ these days is something very different from The Cure. 


“I think that’s where that new-romantic electronica thing came out but we hadn’t heard any of those bands,” Canham’s trails off awkwardly, knowing in a modern context this explanation doesn’t make sense. He now makes a pertinent point regarding the tyranny of distance Australian bands suffered from prior to the world wide web.


“You have to remember then it was hard to hear of new bands, you couldn’t just google it. We’d hear about bands like Japan or Simple Minds or Kraftwerk obviously but there was no one in Australia for us that sounded like that.”


By 1983 the band were signed to EMI records and went on to release their highly charting albums – 1984’s Autumnal Park which peaked at #11 and 1985’s Love an Adventure which reached #14. However, neither of these albums made an impact internationally, meaning that Pseudo Echo’s music was just enthralling local audiences. That was until Pseudo Echo decided that for the US release of their sophomore album, they would include a version of 1979 disco track ‘Funky Town’, originally by Lipps Inc.


“It was the very end of 1985 and I just started jamming that song with the band. It was literally just a muck around so we just played it from memory and there are quite a few changes melodically and rhythmically from the original that were not on purpose.” Pseudo Echo’s interpretation is vastly different from the original, featuring a driving rock guitar and striking synth melody, that resulted in the single spending seven weeks at number one and being included in the 1987 comedy blockbuster Revenge of the Nerds.


Pseudo Echo recorded their bold third studio full-length Race in 1988, but the album flopped and lead the band breaking up in 1990. But due to fan demand the band is back performing live around the country, with new material under their belts including a banging new cover – this time of Tina Turner’s ‘Nutbush City Limits’.