Tag Archives: the parameters

That Curse Is Broken

Hi, Tony here. This posting is somewhat different in that it is of a recent recording that I finished in September last year. I wrote the song in 2008. Early last year I made up a MIDI file of the song, (piano, bass and drums), converted it into audio, and added rhythm guitar and vocals, all on my PC in my bedroom. Ian Graham added the lead guitar track on his PC in his shed/studio.

A few months later I  took my computer etc to a rehearsal room in Eagle Farm (Scream Ahead Studios) where Steve Pritchard added the drums. My brother Terry gave me a hand with this.

This recording then sees the original Parameters together again on a recording for the first time since 1984, when we recorded Material Possession. This would never have happened if not for the 2007 Pig City concert, where we played live for the first and only time.

Finally I recorded the bass track in place of the original MIDI bass, and added just a touch of slide guitar in the chorus. The MIDI piano survives in the rhythm track for a bit of extra colour and body.

Ian knows a lot more about digital recording than I do, and made some very helpful suggestions in the mixing process. The graphic is by my brother Shane.

 

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The recording of Pig City

Hi. Tony here with my second blog entry.

Police Commissioner Terry Lewis with Tommy gun

Pig City was mixed down and ready for airplay on 4ZZZ just a few days before the October 22 election in 1983.

Some nine months later we went back into the studio and recorded “Material Possession”. I then had 1000 singles pressed by Sundown Records on my own label, A Records.

Here then is the B side, Material Possession. This version was taken off the original master tape, and slightly remastered.

Back in 1983, when I wrote Pig City, I wasn’t in a band at the time. Recording it was the obvious thing to do, but it wasn’t so simple in those days. Very few local bands had more than a four track tape deck.

I discovered that community radio station 4ZZZ had a one inch eight track tape deck, but the rest of the intended recording studio was a shambles. It was a large room, but to make space a staircase had been ripped out, leaving a pile of bricks and rubble, a huge steel girder, and a gaping hole in the ceiling.

After attending a number of 4ZZZ’s station meetings I was able to strike a deal.  I could use the eight track if I built in the ceiling, (floor, from above) with 4ZZZ paying for the materials. I remember a whole team of people moving that bloody great girder with the aid of a block and tackle, but most of the building work was done by myself and my brother Terry. We spent ages drilling holes into concrete to anchor the supports for the beams.

It took us at a couple of months of regular work sessions to get all that done.Then it was a slow rush to get the recording done before the Queensland state election. My brother Terry and friend Nick Paine shared the work as engineers. Both of them were there most of the time. One of 4ZZZ’s former techs had almost built a mixing desk to recording specs which was never quite completed – we used an ordinary live desk instead. We did however have the luxury of two Neumann mikes belonging to 4ZZZ.

Recording by overdubbing is slow tedious work. Most people would get bored rigid within an hour or so of watching the same thing being played over and over.

First I laid down the rhythm guitar to a click track. It took ages and we ended up using two or three takes mixed together. Then it was the drums. Steven is a real pro and the only difficulty was trying different mike positions and settings to get the best sound. With the bed of the track down it was easier but with vocals, chorus, slide, lead, bass and sax to do, it took us a good couple of weeks of constant work. The main vocal was done on the first take, the slide only took about three, and Ian did the lead solo in one single take as well – amazing!

Nick and Terry were incredibly patient through all this, but when I did the sax solo last, I was doing a practice run through to warm up, which they recorded, then, in spite of my protests, declared it was quitting time.

They did the mix down and had it ready for airplay on 4ZZZ just a few days before the October 22 election.

Tony Kneipp

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The story of Pig City

Hi. My name is Tony. Welcome to my blog.

Pig City with Trash Of All Nations live Melbourne 1986

Pig City (by The Parameters) is a song which I wrote and recorded ages ago, in 1983, at the studios of Brisbane’s alternative radio station, 4ZZZ, at that time on the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland. It was basically a throwaway piece of satire, recorded shortly before the Queensland state election in October that year.

Without 4ZZZ there would have been no Pig City. 4ZZZ started broadcasting in December 1975. By the time Pig City was recorded, 4ZZZ was clearly a major part of the opposition to the excesses of the then Bjelke-Petersen government. For years after that election they thrashed the song to death on the airwaves, making it something of a local protest anthem.

So here is the link to the song. This version is not from the vinyl, but from the original master tape.

Another way of listening to the song is to watch Steve Stockwell‘s video to Pig City which he has uploaded to YouTube. Here is the URL.

youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehx4CZSsojI

In 1984, I recorded another original song, Material Possession, and had 1000 singles of Pig City pressed by Sundown Records on my own label, A Records. The song became a perennial on 4ZZZ’s annual Hot 100. In the early 90’s top local band Ups and Downs recorded a cover version of the song which was also played repeatedly on 4ZZZ for a while (I’d love to get a copy!).

In 2000 Pig City was included on a 2 CD compilation released by 4ZZZ, Behind The Banana Curtain (1975 – 2000) – a mixture of some of the biggest name bands to come out of Brisbane, along with others whose public exposure was almost entirely limited to 4ZZZ. In 2004 Andrew Stafford published his book Pig City (UQP, subtitled, From The Saints To Savage Garden), an in-depth account of the Brisbane music scene over those years. Following on from the book, Pig City was used as the name for a major concert in July 1997 as part of the Queensland Music Festival 2007. The irony of the government footing the bill for a concert of this name was not lost on me or my friends! The headline act was the reformed Saints.

I was fortunate enough to be able to get the other two original Parameters, Steven Pritchard (drums) and Ian Graham (lead guitar), as well as some other friends, (Marko, John, many thanks) to perform the song live at that gig.

The irony about this is that we had never played the song live before. The original recording was overdubbed on an 8 track tape deck 4ZZZ had, with none of us ever playing at the same time. Ian and Steven were never even in the studio together. So The Parameters was basically the band that never was.

The top of the page shows me playing the song at an anarchist conference in Melbourne in 1986 with Trash of All Nations (originally The Tapeloops, their material will feature in future postings). Fellow Brisbane activists jumped up on stage to sing the chorus, pretty much obscuring the rest of the band. That was only one of two or three times I had ever performed the song in public.

Tony Kneipp

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