Based in Freehold, New Jersey, "Party of Devils" is the group name under which Leon and Peggy Goudikian write and record music. The style combines elements of folk and psychedelia. In August 2011 they released their first album: "Homage." Seven of the eight tracks are covers of songs from the period 1967-1977. These are songs that left a strong impression on them and to which they wanted to pay homage, like After the Gold Rush, Sympathy for the Devil and White Rabbit. The eighth and last track is an original instrumental called "Ride."
More recently they created a soundtrack for a short demo reel shot by Thr3guys, a Hong Kong-based collaboration that specializes in martial arts photography and choreography. This work has lead to interest from two Hong Kong-based producers for soundtrack work on upcoming film projects.
A second album, consisting of mostly original songs, is due to be released in late 2015. This album, untitled as yet, will include mostly original songs. Other current projects include creating music videos for the Homage tracks.
Leon was born in Queens, New York but grew up in Commack, New York, a suburb out on Long Island. Starting in the mid-1950s, many families were taking their kids and moving away from the city to greener, more pleasant environments. This was possible due to new parkways and the booming defense sector. The schools and streets of Commack were full of young people and it was easy to find like-minded friends.
His parents started him on piano lessons with a chain-smoking, older pro who specialized in songbook standards and emphasized theory and sight-reading. The lessons continued for several years and helped Leon to gain a love and appreciation for music. At home, he remembers the records his parents had on the shelf: Harry Belafonte in a calypso outfit, the late Hank Williams in black and white, and young Van Cliburn at Carnegie Hall. In 3rd grade, though, during a year-long relocation to Salina, Kansas, where his father Edward was working on missile silos, he remembers the first songs he wanted to buy for himself: Johnny Horton's version of Battle of New Orleans and The Coasters' Charlie Brown, both heard on a jukebox in a luncheonette full of country folk relaxing and chatting. The songs were well-written pieces but what made them interesting enough to make a long-lasting impression on a young boy was the execution: the ear-catching vocal arrangement (Johnny's exaggerated nasal, southern twang cutting through the dense battle, and Billy Guy's plaintive booming baritone); the stirring use of marching drums; the comic exuberance; and the lyrics (especially the part where the gator "lost his mind.")
A few years went by without much else making an impression. The teen idols were selling a lot of records but were not on his radar. Then the British wave started. Those guys were cool! Rebels with a confident, devil-may-care sense of humor. Long hair. Pointy shoes. Just what a new generation was waiting for. "That was yours; this is ours." It was an unexpected explosion. Late '63 to early '64 was when the asteroid hit. History was going to divide itself into the Before- and After-Beatles periods. Even existing American groups, like The Beach Boys, began getting more flamboyant. Guitars and drum kits started flying off the shelves. Leon got a beginner red and black plywood acoustic steel-string. He would listen to the records of The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys over and over with reverance and technical curiousity, thinking, How did they create those sounds? Why were these short, economical tracks so catchy? Why wasn't I sick of them yet?
Later he received his first electric guitar: a beautiful Hagstrom double-cutaway hollow body in glossy tobacco sunburst. He got together with other musicians after school and practiced as much as possible, playing instrumentals like Walk, Don't Run and songs like Nashville Cats.
By junior high it was time to form a band. Leon took up bass, bought a used Jazz for $75 (yes, a real one, with case) and got together with friends to form a Who/Kinks/Stones cover band. The band stayed together into high school and played a lot of dances and battles of the bands. Working with bands continued through college and a bit beyond in NYC and Leon was fortunate to participate at least a bit in the legendary mid-70s lower Manhattan music scene, playing gigs at Club 82 and CBGB and hearing and hanging out in the same places as great musicians like Talking Heads and The Ramones and many others. A decent little job at Sam Goody provided adequate funds to support his, and his bandmates', efforts to make it big. Those were good times.
After a little over a year of this, three things happened: his father took ill, the band broke up, and he left his musician-friendly but low-wage day job to move closer to his family and begin a career in the design and manufacture of telephone equipment. Music needed to be on the back burner for a while. Time to grow up and maybe make some money. Goodbye, snakeskin boots.
But while the band was still together he began writing songs and kept at it afterwards during his spare time. He wrote songs using a Radio Shack cassette recorder and pencil and paper. Later he recorded by singing and layering instruments using 8-track analog tape technology. He also produced tracks for a Christian singer/songwriter. Working with a singer to get her dream onto tape was very satisfying, but it would be many years before he would find another person with whom to collaborate.
Peggy also grew up in Commack at the same time as Leon, and knew many of the same people, though they never met during this period. Peggy loved folk music and Bob Dylan despite the British invasion. Later she was completely floored by the courage and boldness and originality of Janis Joplin. The other giants who touched her were Grace Slick and Melanie. The harder side of her record collection was filled by classic bands AC/DC and Led Zeppelin during the 1970s. Music and the Vietnam war were intertwined with her daily existence. She played a little guitar but mostly she sang to herself. After leaving home with a bluegrass band as a roadie and pet-sitter, she traveled all over the country and had many footloose adventures over the years. Best of all, she had two beautiful daughters.
The couple met by chance in the late 1980s in a town out on the eastern part of Long Island and discovered that they knew many of the same people and hung out at many of the same places while growing up in Commack. And that was that.
Leon, while working as an electronics technician and later as a software design engineer, continued writing and making recordings. The tracks were getting more elaborate and the technology was better but something was missing. A collaborator.
Around 2005, Leon began getting together with other guys in a basement to play light country-rock cover tunes for fun. Before one session, Leon asked Peggy to join them. She did, reluctantly. Leon had already heard Peggy sing a song or two by Grace Slick and Annie Lennox and he wanted to see how she would do with a live band. She did fine. Her rendition of White Rabbit blew the boys away. Lo and behold, he had his collaborator, standing right under his nose for years. Despite her trepidation over her lack of experience, she warmed to the idea. In fact, she became closely involved with the production, providing invaluable guidance and criticism. Leon saw that she was waiting for this all of her life.
The goal and impetus for creating the first album was, for Leon, the hard-to-describe thrill of creating something out of nothing that is worthwhile. For Peggy, she felt a powerful bond with certain songs and artists from her youth. Singing them was a way to express this emotional attachment and, at the same time, pay homage. In addition, she wanted the music captured in a physical CD as an artifact that could be held and then passed on.
Party of Devils sincerely hopes you are in some way touched by the products of the collaboration.