Our 1st time in the Studio: Filippone Sound, June 1980

 

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.

Kim, Pat & Garth

PAROUSIA:  Young, creative and hungry for attention… right after we’re done relaxing.

This was the first time the band stepped into a dedicated audio 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 and Cheap Trick.

Garth Huels… gets his protein fix on between takes. He’s willing to share… THE FOOL doesn’t he know we’re starving musicians, we’ll eat them all!

Garth Huels… gets his protein fix on between takes. He’s willing to share… THE FOOL doesn’t he know we’re starving musicians, we’ll eat them all!

Patt, Barry and Gerry’s music influences were also melodic and powerful but softer with complex musical parts, influenced by bands like Supertramp, 10CC, Elton John, Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper and The WHO.

Patt Connolly is… off on another planet (sigh).

Patt Connolly is… off on another planet (sigh).

That’s not to say the band didn’t have common ground. It did. Even if we didn’t like a song that one of the band members brought to the table, as a band we would play it together, give it our all and magically we gained an appreciation for what it was. That was the beauty about writing and playing songs in Parousia.

Robert Lowden psychically readies himself for the long recording session ahead…

Robert Lowden psychically readies himself for the long recording session ahead…

Parousia laid-down a “loose-set of clearly defined” song writing rules before stepping into the studio for the first time in June, 1980. One of them 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, try to include vocal harmonies for the vocalists.  Catchy melodies, time-signature changes, instrument solos and 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 “out of place” only later to realize its brilliance.  The final rule: No matter what style of song you are composing, it had to be written in such a way that the band could consistently recreate it for live performance.  That proved very challenging at times, but we never stopped trying given the limitations of the technology we could afford to own.

Randy Filippone - Filippone Sound

Randy Filippone at the helm of the Teac 4-track reel-to-reel recorder

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!

97 rock album

Parousia’s song “MissOgyny” appears on the “Buffalo Rocks” 97 Rock album.

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.

Parousia_1980 - fog

PAROUSIA 1980

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.

 

Filippone Sound Studios

Filippone Sound Studios business card

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.

Lyrics from the four songs recorded at Filippone Sound

Lyrics from the four songs recorded at Filippone Sound

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.

…A little bit of inspiration anyone?

…A little bit of inspiration anyone?

4 comments for “Our 1st time in the Studio: Filippone Sound, June 1980

  1. Kevin K
    February 19, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    How come you didnt post this session in the songs? would like to hear the early version of Miss Ogyny and others

  2. Patt
    June 28, 2016 at 10:55 am

    This was the guy’s house. We played in the living room – dining room area, and actually did record the vocals in the bathroom for the natural reverb effect. Randy, at the time, was a strong advocate of the Dimension D for the vocals, a phlanging device which was an early chorus effect. I know we didn’t like it at the time, and tried to limit its use as much as possible. Listen to the recordings and you will be able to pick out this effect, which gave the recordings a distinctive sound.
    The four track had its limitations. Some of the instruments had to be premixed down to one track in order to have room for the vocals. That’s why we had to rerecord Miss Ogyny for the 97 Rock album. They wanted more control over the tracks in order to create a coherent album.
    Although I wrote a majority of Revelation, Malmedy was really my baby. A three part progressive mini opera, it featured both the flute and my vocal range at the time. I was influenced (stole) from Jethro Tull, Yes and Supertramp. Writing for the band was extremely difficult, since by the band rules all seven of us must be playing and/or singing at all times so no one would feel slighted. Thus you have Kim’s mini xylophone part in Revelation, added to preserve the peace and my own personal well being. The beginning of Revelation is from a nursery rhyme I remembered from childhood, with some of the lyrics changed of course. It really exists. You can google it.
    All in all, the most important part was that Randy charged us a fixed project rate (time was not a consideration), since we had very little money and could never at that time afford an hourly studio.

    • gerry cannizzaro
      July 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      Yup, recording this project was challenging to say the least. All seven of us were responsible for laying down the basic tracks. Drums, bass, two guitars, piano, organ, percussion all going for it at the same time without the vocal line to guide us through the music. We had to know each song from beginning to end inside out. if one of us made a mistake, there was no punching in, it was back to the beginning to try again. When it came to recording ‘Malmedy’, laying down the basic tracks felt like running a marathon… I think it was Eric who was playing piano and Kim Watts had to assist on the Synth during song because it was impossible for Eric to play the real-time fade between the two sections using only two hands, it required a third. Then, we had to bounce-down tracks quite a bit to squeeze in all of the overdubs. Synthesizer, flute, vocal tracks and lead guitar.

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