The Los Angeles music scene in the early 1980's was a place of diametric opposites in the early 1980's; the punk scene had become a form of conformity with cartoonish thugs churning out loud for the sake of being loud and held tightly to fashion while the last gasp of the bloated, cocaine driven superstar acts were still massive commercially but beginning to suffer a massive comedown culminating in a crash 'n' burn thanks to the visual media of MTV.
The Rain Parade were formed in 1981 by a pair of roomates- one California native (Steven Roback) and a transplant from Minneapolis (Matt Piucci). The pair were devouring music of the '60's, and found their creative calling within the sound of their The Byrds, The Doors and Love; bands that are the spiritual and geographical older brothers of The Rain Parade. The band drew inspiration from those groups and added the lilting drone of The Velvet Underground to the mix and created something that was entirely out of step with the rest of the L.A scene. The band was rounded out by Steven's brother David, Will Glenn, and Michael Murphy and within their first year together self released the incredible single you're about to enjoy. In a recent interview with The Austin Chronicle, Matt Piucci said of the times "When we started playing in Los Angeles, if you weren’t sweating like a pig in a ripped T-shirt and screaming at the top of your lungs, then you weren’t cool. It wasn’t valid. And we thought that was bullshit. We thought it was very punk of us to play waltz tempos slowly with acoustic guitars at punk clubs. We thought that was punk because nobody else was doing it."
Weird coincidence, I later learned that right before Ethan got it (the house that the studio was built in), my wife (who I was yet to meet) had lived there. Good karma"
Much has been made of the so-called 'Paisley Underground", and while the other bands associated with that scene drew on some obvious '60's influences, none matched the sheer blissed-out visionary droning brilliance of The Rain Parade. At this time, the only other band that was even performing were the still developing Bangles, who were known earlier as The Colors, then The Bangs, then by their more famous name. Bangles leader Susannah Hoffs was a neighbor of the Robacks and they all attended Pacific Palisades high school.
Matt's sitar is heard in all its glory on the b-side, the lysergic sugar cube bomb that is "Kaleidoscope".
The Rain Parade went on to release a 5 star LP in 1983 (Emergency Third Rail Power Trip), and a 5 star EP in '84 (Explosions In The Glass Palace), as well as a live album and another studio effort. David Roback left the band after Emergency and formed (the also brilliant) groups Clay Allison (which became Opal), and eventually Opal morphed into Mazzy Star. Steven Roback formed Viva Saturn, and Matt Piucci Gone Fishin' and also played in the (Neil Young less) Crazy Horse.
One of the thrills of my life as a musician was sharing the stage (my band played on the same bill) with the recently reformed Rain Parade, last December at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco. I stood in awe listening to these magical sounds which I never thought I'd be able to hear live. Several times I had to politely ask people "please talk to me later, as this is a big deal for me to LISTEN to this set!!!" I watched in awe as Matt laid out the same whammy bar moves on the same Gretsch Tennessean as on the videos I've seen of the group back in the early '80's. Check out these two performances of "No Easy Way Down"; the first from 1983, the other 2012. -Derek See