Matt Piucci of paisley underground band The Rain Parade (and also, for a while after that band split in the late ’80s, Neil Young’s Crazy Horse) is reminiscing about the two shows in 2013 that saw the coming together of paisley underground bands The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate, The 3 O’Clock and his own.
“It was somewhat of a miracle,” he says. “I don’t think people fully appreciate how difficult it is to do collaborative art and get all these people together. To talk about it was one thing but to actually get it to happen was another thing. We hadn’t played in a while. Because of a car accident, a guy who was in a band called The Windbreakers [Bobby Sutliff] was almost killed and we were asked to play a benefit for him. That got our juices flowing again. And it seemed like The Dream Syndicate were out there already. I really enjoyed it. I felt like all the bands were as good as they were before. I particularly liked the fact that The Bangles had returned to their garage-y, guitar-based sound.”
We recently spoke to Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles about those shows, and the fact that the eventual fruit has been a new CD, 3 X 4, which sees each of the four bands covering a song by each of the other three. Piucci says the project was discussed in 2013, with all bands agreeing back then that it was a wonderful idea. The next challenge was getting the schedules to sync, hence the five-year wait. And then, of course, they all had to pick the songs to cover.
“There was a bit of jostling about,” Piucci says. “There were some who wanted to do the same song but we worked it all out. I think the reason that we picked the ones we did was because we liked the lyrics. We picked ‘When You Smile’ [originally by The Dream Syndicate] because I had an idea for it. We realized that we could do it backward, so we did that. The Bangles song, we wanted to do one that featured their more complicated harmonies sometimes. They have some simpler songs and some less simple songs. We weren’t going to go for any of the later stuff — we wanted to do something early. I think it’s got that painful core to it. The Bangles are monsters, and trying to live up to their version was a little scary. With The 3 O’Clock song, the ‘As Real as Real’ song is almost a Rain Parade song. Not that we claim they were trying to be us but there’s a lot going on in there that we do. It felt like an old pair of shoes.”
Piucci says he’s not a fan of genre labels, but he’s not about to argue with people about the fact that the paisley underground was indeed a thing.
“The four bands associated with this record are a part of whatever that was,” he says. “It was a time and a place more than anything else. The punk movement in L.A. became less exciting and people were ready for something new, which in music is always something old because there is nothing new. But I did think it extended beyond more than just us four. The Long Ryders. There was that whole Danny & Dusty thing, which was Steve from The Dream Syndicate and Dan Stuart from Green on Red. Green on Red may enjoy claiming that they weren’t a part of it, but they don’t get to do that because they were. The early-’80s college rock thing was a sub-unit of that, which you could call this paisley thing.”
The frontman says he’s flattered by the versions of Rain Parade songs recorded by the other three bands.
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“It’s funny — ‘What She’s Done to Your Mind’ is kinda about Susanna,” Piucci says, echoing what Hoffs told us earlier this week. “So I thought she would end up doing it. But I really like what The 3 O’Clock did. With The Dream Syndicate song [‘You Are My Friend’], they did a faithful version. I really like Steve’s vocals — he felt the lyrics. And then having The Bangles do your song [‘Talking in My Sleep’] — that’s just fantastic.”
While graciously cheering us on (“Go, L.A. Weekly!”), Piucci says The Rain Parade has been inspired by this project, and that more new music is on the way in 2019.
“Outside of this project, what had to happen individually and collectively was all these bands had to get together, themselves,” he says. “Once the machine is up and running, then it seems obvious to do something with it because there is an activation energy. It takes a while to get the ball rolling. So yes, we have a bunch of songs, we’ll record them, they’ll come out, and you guys can tell us whether that was a good idea or not. There’s no money in it, so you have to basically pay to do it, which means you have to have the money to pay to do it, and the inclination to do it without getting paid, which we all seem to have, so that’s beautiful.”
3 X 4 is released worldwide via Yep Roc on Jan. 11.