Funky Town, Brian Canham tells me, starts at the end. That pounding kick drum that solidly pummels the ground while Canham rocks out a bending, squealing, fist-pumping guitar riff over the top. For a song about a funky town, it's speeding down the highway to Hard Rock City.
"In those days, when you did your long play or club mix it was the same song just extended with musical parts switched off and on, they were fairly basic," he says, referencing the 12" versions that were mostly purchased by club DJs needing longer intros, outros and middle sections to mix in and out of to keep their dance floor's filled.
"We were determined to always make them different so we'd get quite creative. Our original single version of Funky Town had a really long extended intro, it was indulgent and a bit nonsense. It took a long time to get the song started," he admits with a soft chuckle. "The extended mix started with the kick drum and the guitar riff, but that was really the outro of the single."
To make the club mix unique they'd simply cut the single's outro, pasted it to the start and muted everything except the kick and his guitar. "That was just me jamming," he laughs.
The next morning they realised they had to ditch the single's long-winded intro.
"We got into the studio, listened and thought, 'that's much better'. It was really weird how it came together," he says. "When I look back now it's so obvious it should have started that way all along."
They quickly changed the single's intro to the version we all know and the rest is 1987 music history. Funky Town hit No.1 in their homeland of Australia, as well as the US, Canada and spent three weeks in our No.1 spot and a total of 19 weeks in our charts.
Quite an accomplishment for a song Canham describes as "almost an accident". He had fond memories of Lipps Inc.'s original 1979 disco version and just spontaneously started riffing it at a soundcheck one night.
"I started jamming it very loosely. I didn't learn it. I just played from memory," he says. "We just started jamming it and I said, 'Hey, do you want to throw this in the encore tonight?'" It went down so well we went, 'that's a keeper', and we left it in for the rest of the tour as our closing song."
Which is where it would have stayed if the head of a major radio station in Victoria hadn't somehow got a bootleg of them performing it.
"He said to us, 'You've got to record that song, it's great.' We didn't even know that he knew we did it," Canham recalls.
They still finish their live set with it. Only now it's a 10-minute epic, complete with Canham's fret-frying guitar playing, free-form jamming and a wild sense that anything could happen.
"Oh, we're on fire. We're high," Canham answers when asked how he feels playing it. "The energy from the crowd goes up tenfold. We mash up a whole lot of songs in the middle and have fun with it. Most of our set is really pre-organised with sequencers and things like that, whereas when we get to Funky Town there's a point where we switch all that off and we're just running free. We can just jam and ad lib.
"Our set's always energetic, we have a lot of singles that we play, but when we get to Funky Town it's undeniable. I do cut loose a bit live," he laughs.
Canham says that the upcoming Summer Tour will be their first shows in close to a year.
"It's really exciting," he enthuses. "We haven't been outside a 5km radius in about 12 months so to get across the pond's pretty good."
It does, however, remind me of a rumour I'd heard that Pseudo Echo once turned down a world tour with Madonna. Is that true, I ask, to the sound of Canham laughing.
"That is the truth. I must admit. That is true. It was in the late 80s. The sound was changing dramatically. By the end of the 80s, the synthy sound was dying away and the stadium rock sound was coming in. We'd started adapting this rock sound, like all the bands were moving towards, when the Madonna tour came along. They offered it to us and we were just thinking 'Madonna? Jesus...'" he recalls, practically rolling his eyes. "She wasn't that big then. She was big, but not at the scale she got to. We just went, 'We can't be seen playing with Madonna. We need to tour with Van Halen.' We were moving into that rock direction at the time. That's really why we knocked her back. We were writing all these epic rock tunes and it just didn't fit."
Then, still chuckling he says, "In hindsight, I can see that was the dumbest decision we ever made but… we all make them."
Who: Brian Canham, frontman and founding member of new wave band Pseudo Echo
What: Playing The Summer Tour 2021 with Gin Wigmore, Dragon, The Angels and Mi-Sex.
When: Queenstown, Saturday, January 23, Taupo, Saturday, January 30 and Whitianga, Sunday, January 31. Tickets on sale now.