THE SOUND EXPLOSION - An informative study of the early years of the band with leader JOHN ALEXOPOULOS - Part 3
THE SONGS OF THE 45
Q3. Tell me how your classic debut 45 came about. What were the songs about?
From our gig at the "AN Club" our reputation grew a bit, as we were really the first band here to adopt totally that 1966 sound and look and so we attracted the attention of a guy called Mike, who had a label then called “Who Stole The Summer” that had released a couple of records, including the 1st LP of The Ultra 5.
He came to one of our rehearsals in early 1992 and offered to release our 1st 45. We had already done a couple of demos till then, but they all sucked! So, we started working more on our own songs and sound. After long discussions we chose to record two songs, “Hangover Baby” and “Some Other Guy”, which were totally different from each other, but we thought showed both sides of the band.
“Hangover Baby” was a simple, fast and furious fuzz punker, while “Some Other Guy” was a bit more complex and sophisticated.
I had written the main core of “Hangover Baby” when I was 16 years old and it was one of the first songs I brought to the band. It was really based on a classic riff that has been used on so many garage and rock’n’roll songs in different variations. If I remember right, we sped it up, changed a bit of the chorus, and added a change before the solos, so the song was completed.
I wrote the chords of “Some Other Guy” in the very early days of the band. I used parts from 3 different songs I had written and glued them together, but all the band members contributed their own ideas on the song until the final result. I guess it was our attempt to write something in the vein of “Spend Your Life” (First Crow To The Moon) or “Shame” (Kings Ransom), a song that’s a bit more complicated and ambitious and breaks a bit from the typical 3 chord garage sound. It actually had 7 chords!!! I don’t think we’ve ever written any song with more chords than that!
Both songs had stupid lyrics, really. “Hangover Baby” is an ode to being wasted on alcohol. I was drinking vast amounts of alcohol at the time on a daily basis and I woke up every day with terrible hangovers, so what better way to exorcise those demonic hangovers than to write a song about them! I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but it somehow did back then!
“Some Other Guy” was a typical “guy gets his revenge” story that can be found in millions of garage songs! Both songs stupid lyrically!!!
THE RECORDING SESSIONS
Q4. How did the recording sessions go for this single and what equipment was used?
As I already said we had done a couple of demos, but they sucked because we had no recording experience and those studios had stupid sound engineers who were into Phil Collins instead of The Gravedigger Five!
So, we chose to try out a studio called “Praxis” where many local rock’n’roll bands had recorded with good results. Also we asked Costas Constantinou from The Purple Overdose, who were a wonderful and very talented psychedelic band, somehow closer to our sound than any other band at the time, to produce it.
Both Costas and Coti, who was the sound engineer at “Praxis”, completely understood what we were
trying to do and their contribution and help was invaluable. Both of them were older than us and thus far more experienced and so they contributed some fantastic ideas especially in the vocal arrangement department and the “layering” of our sound, really helping us a great deal to shape up our sound.
The recordings took place in September of 1992 and I recall that they consisted of two 3 hour recording sessions. We played the songs live in the studio and then added solos, vocals and other stuff like tambourine and maracas. I think we did each song in a couple of takes, and a great deal of time was spent on the backing vocals on “Some Other Guy” and engineering the recorded parts.
I used my old beat up Kawai guitar, as well as a vintage Gibson guitar and an old Fender fuzz pedal, Costas had lent me, Stelios a Farfisa Professional, Dimitris a beat up Fender Precision copy and Stavros Ludwig drums (a couple of months later we would find our Voxes, Ekos and Farfisa Compacts that we used on our rest of our records).
All amps were Fender Twin Reverbs. The recording console and tape deck were all analogue. The recordings were financed by the band, mostly from money we had gathered from our gigs or borrowed from families and friends. I think a great deal of the budget was spent on the multi track tape we bought for the recordings, which were very expensive back then! The rest of the “budget” was spent on hamburgers from the local burger joint!