It’s a story of a family parang band... the worst band possible.
A band where the members are usually off-key, sometimes drunk, and often slip into soca, R&B or dancehall songs when they do not remember the lyrics of the parang they started singing. The oft-repeated refrain by the band’s manager, “Allyuh is the worst!” was adapted and adopted as the name of the band and spawned Terrence “Terry” Seales’ 2019 soca parang hit, Los Worse Worse Worst.
Seales said his grandfather started the band, which did not have an official name, around 35 years ago and various family members showed up at Christmas to play instruments and sing when they could.
“Every line is the truth. It’s about a parang band that came down from generation to generation... It was only back in the days of my grandad that they used to do it the proper way.
"But the new generation, which is us, kinda old but still new, we decided that we don’t have time to learn no song. We never learned a whole verse and chorus of a parang song and we doing that for years. We prefer to consume alcohol.”
He said there are usually ten to 15 people in the band and every year they plan to learn a whole song but it never worked out. They parang from house to house on Ariapita Road, St Ann’s from Christmas Eve night to Boxing Day, and perform at events until the end of December.
Family members who live abroad and cannot make it to TT for Christmas are usually included in the fun via Skype. They join in with bottle and spoon, toc-toc, or their voices and parang with family and a few close friends like music artist Roland "Rembunction" Yearwood also joins them for a few songs every year.
The band members play traditional parang instruments including the guitar, box base, chac-chacs, mandolin, and cuatro, but even that has a catch. “Honestly speaking all the members can’t really play the right chords so one of them, Stanley, is the one to hold the band together on the guitar. But by the time we reach the second home, guess who drunk? Stanley alone! It’s pure bacchanal. The band playing in C minor and we singing in C major. But nobody realises it so we real happy... It’s a lot of fun, from night till morning. Trust me.”
Los Worse Worse Worst was written by well-known chutney artiste Chris Garcia. Seales recalled that he met Garcia at an event, told him he wanted to do his first parang, and asked for help.
He said Garcia wrote him a great song, but it did not fit him. “I say if I’m doing my first parang I have to come out hitting hard. I gave him the whole story and history of the band and Chris started to laugh uncontrollably. By the next morning Chris called me and sent the demo. The rest is history. Even the ‘heel and toe’ lyric is traditional, from my late grandmother who used to do a dance she learned from her early life in Tobago as the band performed.”
Seales said over the years people kept telling him he should “do a parang” but he never found the right one. It was while working on a soca project with George “Rocky” Clarke that the men realised the Christmas season was approaching and they encouraged each other to sing a soca parang song.
“Everything happens for a reason because three or four years now Rocky and I were supposed to do a project together and it didn’t happen. This year, everything just fell into place when I link up with Rocky. It was the energy and the vibes.”
Take a drink on 'd riddim '
Those vibes led to Clarke singing a song, We Drinking, on the Los Worse Worse Worst riddim. Written by himself and Duran “Revelation” Manswell, Clarke said the song reminded him of how it used to be at Christmas limes at friends’ homes.
“It reminds me of how we used to have that house to house vibe long time. You reach by your neighbours or friends and family with the intention of drinking out the house. They ask you what you drinking and you tell them, ‘Anything!’”
He said he fell in love with the riddim when he heard Seales' song. “I was under the influence outside the studio vibes-ing and I caught a melody. They were like, ‘Yo. That really bad. You should record it.’ So they put me in the booth and started to record We Drinking.”
Clarke said it was the first time in his career singing soca parang and was excited about it. He thanked Vincent9+ Rivers who played the instruments on the song and said he was looking forward to doing other soca parang songs in the future.
Clarke burst onto the soca scene in 1998 with Gailann Stephen, as Rocky & Gailann, and their song, Look Meh In Meh Eye. He later toured Asia with another band but stepped away from the industry for several years for personal reasons. However, he said he never completely stopped performing or making music.
“Sometimes people think we’re not around because they aren’t hearing us but it’s just that the songs weren’t popular with radio DJs and it didn’t get the traction.”
He admitted that it was not always DJs’ faults, but sometimes the song production was not “on point” either because artists rush a song’s production or did not have the money to do it well, as well as market the songs.
“Sometimes this business could have you financially and emotionally depleted when things don’t go how you plan. You invest a lot and it’s not easy or cheap to put yourself out there.”
He said things are different now. Because of social media, radio airplay was not the main means for people to hear an artist’s music which gave artists “a fighting chance.”
With that in mind, in July of this year Clarke released a reggae song called You, testing the waters outside of soca. He said he no longer wants to be boxed into any category, genre or group and people should expect a different side of who he is.
“I have a fire burning in my soul because I have been out of the game for a little, but I’ve been having this desire that was being stoked by family and friends always asking when I’m bringing new music. So, I’ve been trying to get myself back in a gear, writing, putting down melodies, and working on other riddims.”
With these soca parang songs, Clarke and Seales have been creating a buzz and laying a foundation to reintroduce themselves to the soca scene in time for 2020 Carnival. “I thank the powers that be for the opportunities and the blessings. The songs are doing well. We can’t complain at all,” said Seales.
The soca project, the single, The Party Now Start, is expected to be released this week. It was written by Dynice, produced by Nyce Nation, and mixed and mastered by The Ultimate Rejects.
“It’s bringing back that whole lavway feeling. The parang was just the smoke, this is fire!”
Clarke can be found on Instagram at rocky.868 and Facebook at rocky868, while Seales’ Instagram and Facebook pages are terry_seales and terrychristopherseales respectively.