Here are four original songs from Parousia’s first professional recording session at Filippone Sound Studios in Buffalo, NY.
Parousia began recording basic tracks for what was imagined to be the band’s first album on June 25th and 27th 1980. The plan was to lay down four original songs: ‘Oh My Love‘, ‘Malmedy’, ‘MissOgyny‘ and ‘Revelation‘ and then idealistically, secure an album deal with a major record label.
This was the first time the band stepped into a multi-track studio with professional recording equipment… our minds were reeling with possibilities. Then, a conundrum emerged… which songs will be recorded and who will write them?? Up until now, the band had written and performed a handful of original songs (“Angel” and “Oh My Love”, written by Gath Huels. “Cotton Holiday”, “I Like People”, “Revelation” “You Got Me All Crazy” written by Patt Connolly).
The division in musical styles was clearly defined in our music… Garth, Bob and Kim favored songs that were melodic, heavy and raw in nature with lots of guitar parts from power chords to lead solos, musically influenced by bands like Frank Zappa, Aerosmith, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, new-wave and punk.
Patt, Barry and Gerry’s music influences were also melodic and powerful but softer with complex musical parts, influenced by bands like Super Tramp, 10cc, Elton John, Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper and The WHO.
That’s not to say the band didn’t have its common ground. It did. Even when the majority didn’t like a song that one of the band members brought to the table, as a band we would try it together, give it our all and over time gained an appreciation for what it was. That was the beauty about writing and playing songs in Parousia.
We all agreed to a “loose-set of clearly defined” song writing rules for writing songs long before stepping into the studio for the first time. One of the rules was to “be inclusive”, in other words, write interesting parts for everyone in the band to play; electric / acoustic guitars, piano, organ, synthesizer, flute, bass, drums, percussion. Another rule; write catchy melodies that people will remember and want to hear again. Time-signature changes, instrument solos, dramatic beginnings & endings were welcomed and encouraged.
We had arguments about what musical parts were too “out there”, yet in the end we usually tolerated something that at first felt “weird” only later to realize its brilliance. The final rule: Whatever you write, make sure the band could play it live on stage. That proved very challenging at times but we never stopped us from trying to recreate the songs we recorded given the limitations of the technology we could afford to own.
For the first recordings, the band finally agreed on ‘Oh My Love‘ (written by Garth Huels), ‘Malmedy’ (written by Patt Connolly) ‘MissOgyny‘ (written by Kim Watts / Garth Huels) and ‘Revelation‘ (written by Patt Connolly & Garth Huels). The most difficult decision over which song to include, was the song “Miss Ogyny”.
“Miss Ogyny” was a ‘New Wave’ style song… it didn’t seem to fit at first, but in the long run, looking over Parousia’s long musical career, it did fit. The band’s writings spanned a wide range of musical styles, all designed to create songs that are original and interesting. “Miss Ogyny” is original and interesting. Ironically it later became the one song to give us notoriety in Western NY!
While recording basic tracks and overdubs in Randy’s studio, Parousia made the best use of a four-track recorder a seven-piece band could possibly make. It was a TEAC reel-to-reel, a classic piece of professional audio gear in the 70’s. Drums recorded on one track, bass on another, both guitars on another and on the fourth, keyboards. Once the basic instruments filled up all the tracks, it became necessary to bounce-down (combine) tracks to make room for instrument solos and vocals.
During the session, the head phone mix was in mono not stereo, on the left you could hear your own instrument and on the right, the rest of the band (if you were lucky). Without the luxury of a scratch vocal to listen to while recording, each band member had to memorize their own individual part in the song independent of hearing anyone else. It was challenging and insane. If one musician blew-it, it was back to the beginning to start all over again.
Patt’s song “Malmedy” proved to be the most challenging. “Malmedy” is just shy of eight-minutes in length and it includes every instrument Parousia owned at the time. From beginning to end the song had six distinct musical passages with separate time-signatures. Each musician had to hit the changes dead-on together and immediately be in the groove to keep the flow of the song.
In the middle of “Malmedy” there’s a transition from the calm / softer part of the song into the darker / heavier part. The transition required a full fade-down and fade-up of all instruments. Each band member had to manually fade their own instrument in real-time using dynamics. Coming up from the fade, the time signature was totally different with a much heavier feel.
The band had never been so focused, intent on playing every part perfectly. None of us wanted to be the musician responsible for screwing up and making the entire band start over again from the top.
On the vocals and the flute, the band experimented with an effect made by Roland called “Dimension D”. It added a chorus sound with a sweet spatialization, kind of a “special sauce”, something to use sparingly. You can hear the effect quite prominently in the beginning vocals of the song ‘Malmedy’ but because it was necessary to combine instruments on single tracks, there was no flexibility to add effects to individual instruments, only the sub-mix or global-mix.
On July 21st 1980, we finished overdubs and mixed-down all four songs in two separate mastering sessions and then made cassette copies for distribution. Finished tapes were submitted to local album contests held by WPHD and WGRQ. To our surprise, in February, 1981, 97 Rock (WGRQ) chose the song ‘MissOgyny’ to appear on their first “home-grown” album titled, “Buffalo Rocks” and ‘Oh My Love’ became ‘pick of the month’ on WUWU FM in November, 1983.