Odyssey interview with Vinny Kusy

April 1, 2012

Odyssey interview with Vinny Kusy

Odyssey formed in Long Island, New York and soon they recorded album titled Setting Forth in A1 Studios, pressed in quantity of 500 – 1000. They used lots of fuzz and organ, which gave them prog touches. Here is the interview I made with organ player Vinny E. Kusy.
Firstly I have to thank Tom Doncourt from Cathedral for helping me to get a contact from you. I’m really happy we can share the story about one of the finest psychedelic bands, that ever came from the States. I’m interested in your childhood an teen years. Where did you grow up and what were some of your influences at the time?
I grew up (did I?) I’m sort of a “grey haired” teenager, LOL  Well now, until 4th grade my family resided in Queens, N.Y. I started playing piano approximately age 4 – I love (d) keyboards! Sang with a Church Choir- 1st soprano- Hmph, imagine that 5th-8th grade we lived-Hollywood Hills, Ca. I attended Hollywood professional. Absolutely wonderful. There were Disney Mousketeers and many others in my everyday experience. I also sang with the world famous “Mitchell Boys” during this time.
When and how did you guys came together to form Odyssey?
9th-12th grade it was back to N.Y.- Brooklyn this time (I consider myself “Bi-coastal”, another LOL, wink). 11th-12th grade it was “outta” Brooklyn to Long Island N.Y where I met Lou Yovino. We began singing “acapella” on street corners. Later I bought a “Farfisa” organ, Lou bough a PA system. We auditioned lead, base guitar players and drummers as we put together the original Odyssey Joe Docko (original lead guitar), Dave Keene (base guitar), John Willems (drummer)… and it began.
The Farfisa organ became a Hammond M3, which then became a Hammond B3, a Hohner Electric Piano and Mini Moog, which rounded out Odyssey’s original key instruments. Dave Keene, for reason of his own, became the groups Head Roadie. He was replaced by Ray Lesch, bassist extraordinaire. Now you have Lou, Vin, Joe, Ray and John comprising the group. One more change occurred, Joe Docko was replaced by Dennis Pennaga; Joe sought solo projects, as you will see when you search his name. This was the “Setting Forth” Roster, Lou, Vin, Dennis, Ray, and John. We played clubs, theaters and outside concerts for years. We opened for Billy Joel and many others, too many to name here. OH HEY! We played for Major Lindsey of NYC at Gracie Mansion by special invitation.

In 1971 you released your album which has really wicked hard rock sound with loads of fuzz-wah guitar and great organ playing. I would like to know in what studio did you record the album?


We recorded “Setting Forth” in NYC in auspiciously named “A1 Studios”. W. 74th St between Broadway and West End Ave. I’ll never forget our recording engineer, picture Santa Claus, with Red hair and beard, he was lovingly nicknamed “Red Beard”
Re: “Organic Production”
Joe Carlton, executive producer (best known for “How much is that Dogie in the Window?”) from the 50’s. Kenny Stella, producer, his loyalty and dedication to Odyssey had no equal. The white “artless” cover artwork resulted from no one agreeing on artwork, period.
Pressings: 500-1000, that was it.
Organic sited Budgetary Constraints… we were their “Bastard Child” LOL again, again, wink, wink…
Now then: Tom Doncourt, the inimitable Tom showed up at one of our concerts, all of 14 years old, as I recall. This then spurred a life long friendship. He was also a part of the Odyssey group (mellotron and percussion in the group’s latter days, and just before he formed the Cathedral group).
Member changes – setting forth- Live at levitown John Willems, Drummer- SF- Went on, became a doctor. Ray Lesch, Bassist- SF – became a fill time teacher Dennis Pennaga, Lead Guitar – Disappeared – Don’t Know.
Replaced By:
Jay Sharkey on drums
Fred Callan – Bass Guitar
Lead Guitar – not replaced. Group went to stronger keyboard fill and Rickenbacker bass drifting between – Bass + head – HooRay!!
In the Final Days Tom Doncourt – “Cathedral” joined “Odyssey” with MelloTron/ Electric Piano – and More- Vinny Handled – Hammond B3 + Mooy Synthesizer.
Songs commentary:
Angel Dust – Our break song- 30 mins Leads on stage.
Sally- Our slow it down interlude into sweetness.
Churchyard- A step into spirituality./ You’re Not There- Vinny Favorite.
Got To Feel It + Tied by a Rope- Guitar Songs- Even Though “Tied by a Rope” was mixed wrong – organ up – Guitar down- “Backwards” – Oh well-
Society’s Child – Social commentary + our single
Denky’s Boogie- spontaneous creation in the studio – Dennis sings Lead. st. Elmos Fire – wrtitten in 10 minutes one morning before sun up.
Come Back – 10th song on the album – ?
Live at Levitown Material:
Obviously influenced by the “yes” group.
Hello yes in England
-we’re Odyssey
(from across the pond)
When you Listen To Yngwie Malmsteen and then review “Rata Blanda” in Mexico- -well, the influence is pretty evident.
All music written by Vinny
All Lyric’s written by Louie
-Thanks For Your Interview-
-Future Projects- Vinny – Odyssey
Tom – Cathedral
Fingers Crossed- Into the Future
-We Go- There but for the-
Grace of God.
 Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2012
One Comment
  1. Anonymous

    Fantastic New York music history, this should be more well known. Listening to "Setting Forth" for the first time Oct 2018, I feel so sad, why wasnt this ever played on all the asinine repetitive NY stations over the years.
    Im lovin this album so far...new, different things nobody ever did. People are so limited, theres so much great music out there to discover...MADE NEARLY 50 YEARS AGO!!
    Go find it.

    You be well Vinny, thanks for the music.

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