Mike Powell and the Echo Sound

The Echosound came together organically out of a moment in time when a musical future was uncertain and cloudy. It was 2020 and the world was locked down. Overnight I went from playing music in public all the time to listening to music alone all the time. I dusted off my old vinyl collection and went through it tirelessly. I had plenty of time on my hands. I fell back in love with the music that shaped me and the albums that have withstood the test of time. It was a wonderful experience that forced me to hit the reset button on a lot of things in my life including my musical direction. It didn’t take long before I got the itch to start playing and writing again.  

Starting a band is often met by challenges. I grew up playing sports and for the most part I found it to be a very black and white world – very little time is spent in the grey. There were rules that everyone followed, clear objectives, defined boundaries, time limits and obvious ways to measure success. In music and art in general I’ve found there to be none of that. It’s all grey. One of the things that I did carry over from my past life as an athlete is experience in how to build good teams. The best players on paper aren’t always the right fit for the team. It’s ALL about chemistry, work ethic and the shared vision – especially true when you’re making art. This whole journey of mine, writing songs for the past 15 years, has felt like an exploration into the in between. I have been very fortunate and always seem to find myself surrounded by incredible musicians who are much more talented than me.

There was only one thing to do. I called up one of those musicians, my longtime collaborator, monster guitar player and musical brother John Hanus. I told him that I wanted to get together once a week with a group and just jam on some ideas that I had. He asked what kind of players I was looking for and all I said was, “great people that just want to have fun.” Our first call was to a bass player we had heard good things about through our circles, enter Zak Masoud. I’d seen him play a time or two with Bad Mama’s Blues Band and I could tell that he had a style and feel that would work really well with John’s guitar playing. His approach to music is very organic, with a playfulness to his sound that just makes you groove along. Music means the world to Zak and in many ways it’s his lifeblood. Needless to say, after the first time jamming with Zak and getting to talk with him it was clear he was THE guy. So, we had a bass player. One down, two to go.

In the following weeks the three of us jammed with some drummers and keys players, all of whom were extremely talented. On the way home from one of these sessions John said out of the blue, “do you remember that cool guy we met out at that festival who had the green drum set? He was really fun to talk to and that drum set was killer. I wonder if he is any good?”

Neither of us remembered his name because it was literally a three-minute conversation during a load out at a festival. But thanks to some phone calls and the internet we were able to track down the name of this mysterious drummer – enter Adam Manion a.k.a. Chaz Minivan. That night John sent me a link to some videos he found of Adam playing with his old band Trampoline Jetstream. It was obvious that he was incredibly skilled technically, but he also had a natural feel for dynamics that you don’t find very often. So, we set up a jam and got to see first-hand his ability to play a wide range of musical styles and drive songs in a unique and intricate way. But most importantly his personality meshed perfectly with what we had going on and what we wanted to do. Adam was a perfect fit, and we were over the moon that he wanted to play with us. Two down, one to go.

We played the following few weeks as a four piece and managed to work some original material into a few songs. We flirted with the idea of just being a four piece, but everybody knew that something was missing. We all wanted keys because we knew what it would bring to the sound. Except we had exhausted our options – or so we thought. After a session one night over a beer we were talking about finding a keyboard player. Adam brought up some of the work he had done with Jeff Aderman at Big Blue North over the years. “You know Jeff?!”, John and I both said simultaneously. Jeff Aderman is someone that John and I knew really well because he was in our first band, The Villains, in the late 2000s. After that band Jeff ended up rolling into the production side of the creative world, got out from behind his keyboard and sat down in front of a Neve 5088 console for the next ten years. Jeff was one of the most technical players that we ever played with because he comes from prog land. He is a Swiss Army knife of talent with skills in theory, production, songwriting, performance, etc. Only problem was he hadn’t played a live gig in ten years, so we hadn’t considered him because we figured he was out of the game for good. So, kind of as a joke I sent Jeff a message asking if he felt like dusting off his old synths to come play with some friends. Although we knew it would be incredible and he would fit the puzzle perfectly we were 100% expecting a hard “not interested”. Instead, he said, “let me think about it” and the following day he sent, “okay I’m in.” There it was! Jeff came over and – boom – we were a band. Off and running.

With our line up now complete, we played all of 2021 under the name WADE. The new material I was writing for the project was different than my normal stuff because we were approaching WADE more like a jam band. I really wanted to step away from the microphone and explore becoming a better player. The tunes were much more instrumental and less lyrical than the stuff I had always done in the past. Although it was fun and going great, I slowly started to bring some of my more “songwritery” tunes into our rehearsals. That’s when I got to see the true power and chemistry of this group of guys. Their ability to be dynamic, listen hard and play in service the songs was amazing. After a few of these rehearsals I called for a band meeting, and we all got together. In short, I told them that my heart is in writing songs with lyrics and stories that really mean something to me. I asked how they felt about that, and everyone agreed that it’s all about the songs and arrangements. Zak, John, Adam and Jeff are all songwriters themselves and that is why it works. They aren’t just listening to the groove, finding the key and thinking of a part. They are listening to the lyrics and getting the entire picture – they buy into the full story. This is that shared vision that I spoke of earlier. So, we shifted gears creatively and I started writing songs that I was comfortable with, story songs, to which the band would arrange and add their flavor to. For the very first time I felt comfortable bringing in all the songs I was writing because these guys were shaping and adding to them in such a beautiful way. 

This spawned a totally new chapter in our story. We continued getting together and playing regularly and each of us was growing closer socially and musically. Soon we were playing out live again, only this time with a much different set of songs. Suddenly, we were off and running with a steady schedule. Our only problem was our name. WADE didn’t feel right to us anymore and I was having a hard time having two separate projects going between my solo stuff and the band. I explained that I wanted to bring everything under one roof so we could be more focused and try to grow in a single direction. It took us quite a while, but we finally landed on “Mike Powell and The Echosound”. We’ve been playing under that moniker since 2022 and have had the privilege of playing some of the coolest, most beautiful spots in New York and meeting a lot of amazing people along the way. Of course, the music part is the core but it’s the friendships with these guys and our family of fans that I value the most. Thank you to everyone that has stuck with us through the journey and everyone who has ever come out to see us even once. We love playing music and feel so grateful for your support.  

A few months ago, we headed to Big Blue North in Utica to record our debut album, Plastic Spoon Honeymoon. It is finally out in the world, and I couldn’t be happier or more creatively fulfilled than I am at this moment. I wish I could bottle up time, but recording is the next best thing. We hope you like it. All the best to all of you, Mike