Echo and the Bunnymen is first and foremost the story of two guys and a drum machine who wanted to get into dark, edgy rock. In the midst of the new wave era, they were the worthy heirs of punk, letting their guitars do the talking rather than giving in to the siren call of synthesizers, then king of the airwaves and dancefloors.
"Untouchable, celestial, magnificent and real" is how singer and guitarist Ian McCulloch describes his music. If they're not modestly successful, it has to be said that, against all odds, The Bunnymen have left their mark on the 80s, on a par with The Cure or U2. With a mix that borrows from the edginess of punk or garage rock, but with unmistakable pop flourishes and marked forays into rock territory, their music is hard to classify, but clearly easy to love.
Grinding guitars, deep or perched vocals, soaring bass lines and uppercut melodies: if Echo and the Bunnymen's fame has crossed the oceans, it's also thanks to the energy they display on stage. Ian McCulloch seems to live his lyrics and his music, oscillating between a vitality bordering on despair and groans counterbalanced by deep, perfectly executed choruses.
A style and titles such as the unmissable Killing the Moon and Lips Like Sugar that have already gone down in history, with some groups defining them as "the spiritual fathers of today's psychedelia". Because Echo and the Bunnymen's music is clearly one that stands the test of time. An assertion that the band confirms with each new album and each new live appearance. In their green meadow, the rabbit-men still have a bright future ahead of them!
Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson form Echo and the Bunnymen. Who is Echo? Quite simply the drum machine they used to record their first single, The Pictures on my Wall I Read It in Books. Fortunately, the band quickly recruited Pete de Freitas to replace the unfortunate Echo and record their first album, Crocodiles, which has already been warmly received by the critics.
Ocean Rain, the band's fourth album, received a lukewarm reception, even earning a glowing review in RollingStone magazine. Since then, it has become a benchmark, and it's on this album that we find a nugget, the band's most-listened-to single, The Killing Moon. In 1987, they set the world alight with their eponymous album, their biggest commercial success. However, this marked the beginning of a long hiatus for the band. In 1988, Ian McCulloch left his bandmates to go solo, and Peter de Freitas died in a motorcycle accident the following year. A series of setbacks that marked their separation.
Will Sergeant and Ian McCulloch soon reunited, and in 1996 they finally managed to convince Les Pattinson to join them. Echo and the Bunnymen were back on their feet! The following year, they released the album of redemption, Evergreen, also featuring Liam Gallagher, to unanimous acclaim from critics and early fans alike. And although their bassist left them again in 1999, this time the band stayed on track.
After 2009's The Fountain, Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant release their twelfth album, Meteorites, on which the singer makes a point of exorcising his demons, again with his trademark sublime voice. In 2018, the band revisit and transform their hit songs on The Stars, the Ocean & the Moon, and continue to tour the world. After the Bataclan that year, they returned for a mini-tour in 2022, culminating at the Trianon in Paris.
Ian McCulloch's voice, beautiful and powerful, has not changed and still acts on me like a magnet. And the songs were all played in their original versions, with an intensity, energy and emotion that thrilled me. A perfect setlist for a band I've been dreaming of seeing for a long time.
They made their mark in the '80s, but we love the 21st-century version of Echo and the Bunnymen. Because their music hasn't aged a bit and can still be savored with relish. Because Ian McCulloch's voice and the band's on-stage charisma haven't changed a bit. And because their sound is still imbued with those dark yet luminous melodies, the kind you could listen to for decades to come.
Right from their first album in 1980, Echo & The Bunnymen made a name for themselves with a deep, unusual sound for a band that favored guitars over synthesizers at the height of the new wave era. Reformed in 1996 and stabilized ever since, Echo & the Bunnymen are still going strong, regularly releasing eagerly-awaited new albums.