Patriarch hail from Kansas and released a brilliant 4 song EP First Hand on a private label (TED Records) back in 1983. The first thing that struck me when I heard this record was its similarity to Kansas (the band). This is fantastic stuff and extremely well recorded and played. These guys sure know how to pen pomp rock songs of the finest order. There are 3 great rock tracks with vocals similar to Steve Walsh and one ballad to vary the tempo, and every one could have been lifted off any classic Kansas record, they are that good.
The band line up featured that most typical Kansas instrument, violin, too. The line up was Gregg Anderson - (lead and rhythm guitars, violin, vocals), Chuck Huels - (keyboards, percussion, vocals), Mike Maxwell - (lead and rhythm guitars, bass, vocals), Jeff Carroll - (bass, vocals), Steve Kuker - (drums. vocals). Having said that these guys do what they do very well indeed and are obviously influenced by their heroes rather than just stealing their songs. Sadly, the band released nothing else, which is a shame as they had major league potential and were nearly signed to RCA until the deal fell through at the last minute.
Apparently there is other material
in the vaults and there is talk of a reformation later this year.
I can't wait and if anyone has an original copy of the EP to
trade I know Carl Noonan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is particularly keen to meet you! I was
lucky enough to track down the band and through some e-mails with
mainly Steve along with Chuck and Jeff I gleaned the following
from them. Genuinely enthusiastic and pleased to hear from one of
their fans, it was nice to find out the story of one of the top
rarities of recent years
Was the "First Hand"
mini-album all that Patriarch did?
No. It was our first attempt at a professional recording though. Mike Maxwell's father (Ted) loaned us the money to make the recording. "Ted Records" was in honor of Ted Maxwell and also stood for "Terribly Expensive Demo". We spent so much money on this project that we purchased a Tascam T38 8-track reel to reel recorder and then began recording, mixing, and producing on our own. Jay Waller, owner of "Stage Pro", had excellent equipment that we could use so it was an easy decision to do it on our own and made good business sense. The recordings that we subsequently produced were much better than the one we paid a professional to do.
The album seems rare from over here --
was it successful regionally & how many were pressed?
Our goal was to sell enough records to pay for the $5,000 demo. We initially had 1,000 produced for sale and sold them for $5 each at our concerts and in local record stores. We sold 1,000 pretty quickly and paid Ted back. We then had another
1,000 produced, which were also sold locally. With no major promotions or marketing, I think it was fairly successful on a
local basis. (CHUCK) We made only 1,000 "First Hand" EPs and sold them all back in 1983-1985 time frame. We only did cassette tapes after that - mostly for demos. We recorded a lot (we bought our own 8 track - 1/2 " tape machine) for demos but did just a few seriously - maybe 10 songs that we really tried on. Two songs that we did in our little studio that came out great were "Sentimental Youth" and "Under the Ice". You probably have never heard them - sold maybe 500 tapes as the purpose was not for making money, but for getting a label. I have those masters packed away.
Are there other recordings I should be
We made several other recordings on our own but used them mainly to promote the band to major record labels. We did sell a few tapes locally. The first attempt at recording on our own resulted in a 4-song cassette entitled Patriarch". We also
produced another tape for demo purposes under the name of "Host of Others". This was so that we could send the same
material to the record labels under two different names to increase our odds of someone listening to us.
How and when did you come together?
Gregg and I started the band in 1981. We were roommates and had played together before. Gregg met Chuck at Kansas
University in the Music Building on campus. In this building, there are about 20 small practice rooms in the upper floor where student musicians went to practice. Chuck was in a room and was playing "Last Chance" by Shooting Star. Gregg heard this
coming through the wall and he then joined in by playing the violin part. Chuck heard him respond through the wall and they stopped playing and introduced themselves. Gregg came home and told me that he had found our keyboard player. We then
found a bass player named Mark and he brought his friend from Topeka named Mike Maxwell to jam with us as a second
guitarist. We clicked with Mike from the start but it didn't work out with Mark. We were then fortunate to have a friend refer us to Jeff. He jammed with us and Patriarch was born.
Had any of you recorded previously?
I think Mike may have recorded in his former band but I'm not positive about that. I believe that this was the first recording for the rest of us though.
Was it a studio project or a live band -
did you play with anybody I might know?
It was a studio project and was recorded at "Studio West", owned by Gary West of Shooting Star. It was actually in the
basement of his home. No one else but us played on the record. Also, there is no overdubbing...we wanted to make sure that we could play everything you hear on the recording in a live concert. We usually played solo live. However, we did play with a few bands in concert settings such as Shooting Star, Head East, and Alchemy. We played a few other outdoor concerts with multiple bands in which we were the headline act.
What sort of stuff influenced the music?
As you can imagine...Kansas, Rush, Journey, Yes. We were compared a lot to Kansas because we featured a very talented violinist.
Were you always based in Kansas?
Yes. Specifically from the Topeka and Lawrence area.
What other bands were in the scene for
(I guess you'd know how you categorized yourseIves better than I)
progressive music / AOR in Kansas? Is this Shooting Star /
Shooting Star, Powerglide, and Plain Jane were hot back then. Also, a band from Topeka named Alchemy was an awesome "true musician's" band!
What happened after the album?
We sold the album locally and made other recordings with our own equipment. My current company is a software development company, but after we get it off the ground, I seriously want to start an internet based record label for our band as well as others who didn't quite get the attention of the big labels in LA and NY. There is a lot of talent out there and it should be promoted!
What have you & the other members
done musically since?
Gregg is a violinist in the Naples Symphony Orchestra in Florida. He also performs violin at private engagements and has
several guitar students as well. He's also written and recorded several "amazing" jazz tunes that will blow you away! Gregg, Chuck, and I plan to record them in the near future. Chuck lives in Atlanta and is building a 32 track digital studio as we
speak! He plays in two bands and is now an accomplished guitarist as well as a keyboard player. Jeff plays bass in a
jazz/blues band and is really enjoying it. He was always very good with the jazz stuff! I haven't yet heard his band but have
heard that it's very good. Mike hasn't played music with anyone for a while but is teaching guitar to a couple of students in
exchange for karate lessons (he's now a very good black belt!). I've played with Chuck several times in Atlanta and am getting ready to start a band here in KC with the former Alchemy bass player Chris Myers.
Is there anything left over musically
(demos/live) that haven't been heard?
There are several recordings that haven't been heard by the public.
What will come out on the CD? Do you
mean CDs/videos of the reunion or are you going to unleash some
of that old stuff on us (please)?
We plan to produce CDs/videos of the reunion and will have them available for sale. We also plan to re-engineer all of the old music that is now on tape onto digital format for CD production.
(CHUCK) I am currently in the middle of building a 32 track digital studio (ADAT) and my first plan is to remix all the old
Patriarch stuff and get them on CD so that they don't disappear. The videos Steve mentioned are all very home" quality and the sound is all through the little mic on the camera. Mostly us doing cover tunes but there are some originals on the tapes. I
know I have a live take of Two Steps Away from the EP - I am sure there are others as well. The master sound tapes were the important things to keep and I have all of them.
To the extent that Patriarch aren't (I
presume) still a going concern how did it "end"?
Gregg had an opportunity to get his Master's in violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and they made their third and final offer for a full scholarship. Chuck had just finished his Master's in Engineering and had lucrative offers from several
companies around the country. We had been at this for about 6 years with no luck from the major labels. We nearly got signed by RCA in Los Angeles but couldn't get over the last hurdle! Atlantic was also very interested but we couldn't convince them to sign us! Eventually we felt like we were wasting our time with them and had to decide to either pursue our careers as businessmen or keep on being "played with" by the labels. We decided to move on into our careers....when the band called it quits I cried for a week. It was like a death in the family.
You obviously still get back together in
part at least - what's prompted the full reunion?
I just went to Atlanta and played a New Year's gig with Chuck and over the weekend, we watched old videotapes of the
band. It was a blast! Patriarch is also planning a reunion concert this summer or fall and CDs/videos will be mastered for
duplication. We've talked about it for a few years and we all keep in touch because we're still friends. We were all (and still are) as close as brothers. It is something that we really want to do. If we still lived in the same area, we'd still have the band
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