Still on the rise, Echolyn returns to Ambler Cabaret

Appeared in "The Ambler Gazette", written by David Brown
January 1992

Philadelphia earned its spot on the nation's musical map in the 1950's and 60's with the artists who created the "Philly Sound." These days, a band from North Penn is creating a whole new Philly Sound that is winning over fans up and down the East Coast and overseas.

Fans who turn out to see the band Echolyn in their performance Saturday at the Ambler Cabaret will see a band on the rise. The band is communicating with Reckless Records in Hollywood about a possible recording contract and has already issued a first compact disc on their own.

With the release of the first disc in October, members of Echolyn have seen the group's status rise from a poplular local band to receiving airtime on Philadelphia's WMMR radio and playing gigs from Virginia to Boston. The CD, entitled Echolyn, is currently being distributed accross the United Stats. Also, just last week, the group found out that distribution will soon be going international with sales in Japan, France, Scotland, Korea and Italy.

The group members say that only further success lies ahead. "It's inevitable that it's going to happen," says keyboard player Chris Buzby. "The CD it selling itself."

The CD is a culmination of almost a full year's work. The band began recording last January, and worked on it through October. Despite the many hours of recording, re-recording and mixing the music, the group still managed to play 70 live performances in 1991.

Guitarist Bret Kull, who formed the group in 1989, says the band doesn't like to classify its style of music, and has been turned down by record labels for not fitting into any one category.

"We're not trying to write something to a certain percentage of people," he says. Kull writes most of Echolyn's lyrics with vocalist Ray Weston of Ambler, and says he has been tempted to write pop songs that might be more widely popular. However, he has resisted, saying, "You have to maintain your integrity."

Although Echolyn tries to avoid being classified, listeners at a recent performance at Alibi's in West Chester said the band's style is similiar to such classic bands as Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Joining Kull and Weston from their band Narcissus is drummer Paul Ramsey. Buzby and bass player Tom Hyatt are the grou's newest members. Hyatt joined Echolyn in June when former bassist Jesse Reyes dropped out of the group because of the increasing pressure of success and the amount of time he was devoting to the band.

Depsite their recent success, most of the band members, who range in age in 21 to 29, still have regular jobs. Buzby attends Moravian College. However, the band does have a full-time manager, Kull's brother Greg, a graduate of Temple University's business school, who works full-time promoting the band. He says he does it because he believes in the band. "Echolyn's music and lyrics are powerful, exciting and intsne," he says, "This is going to happen."

Buzby says that Greg's work allows band members more time to concentrate on their music. "You have to be able to get yourself across to the listeners," he says, "and how can you get other people to see what's going on when you don't know what's going on because you're too busy worrying about CD distributors, setting up shows and everything else."

Echolyn has learned a lot about the music promotion business since their debut at the Ambler Cabaret in late 1989. For one, the band now limits the number of times it plays in certain areas. This insures that when they do play, the house will be packed. Besides Saturday's performance at the Ambler Cabaret, the band will also be performing at the North Star, at 27th Street and Poplar, in West Philadeplphia on Jan. 23.

The group is also considering a trip to Austin, Tex., in March to play at the Austin New Music Seminar, which will be attended by record company executives in search of new bands. Although the group has been turned down by a number of labels, they feel it is only a matter of time before they get signed to a contract.

The words of the group's song Until It Rains read, "Fly, catch the rainbow. Then once you have hold the grip, save the sight. Don't let go." Echolyn's members have put in the hard work, now they have hold of the rainbow and are hanging on for the ride.

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