You all know the German word zeitgeist – but what does that actually mean? Who decides what meets the zeitgeist and what doesn’t? And isn’t it much better anyway if you don’t give a damn about the zeitgeist and do your own thing? Like Para Lia. Ever since starting out, the indie rock duo from Cottbus has been creating music far from the mainstream and despite this, or maybe because of it, the whole world is listening. With their third album “In Clash With The Zeitgeist” René Methner and his wife Cindy are now entering the next chapter.
Let’s take a short dive into their history: René Methner has played in various bands since the nineties but then life got in the way: family and job pushed music aside for around eight years. “Then I met Cindy, we became a couple and somehow I suddenly felt like writing songs again”, he says. “There was one track in particular that I thought could use a second voice, so I put Cindy in front of the mic – literally, because I had to convince her at first! But there was something magical there from the very first moment and I knew: now it’s complete.” Para Lia (the name came from their connection to and love for Greece: paralia is Greek for beach) was born.
After uploading their first songs on Soundcloud Para Lia self-released their debut album “Soap Bubble Dreams” in 2019, which helped them established a small but fine international fan base and got them radio play on indie stations from Germany to the USA. As a result, their second album “Gone With The Flow” featured guest musicians from the US, United Kingdom and Canada. When painter Louis Renzoni, whose works have been shown in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, stumbled across their music, he enthusiastically emailed them: “You paint in the same colors as I do”. Besides creating the album artwork, he and Para Lia organized a joint virtual exhibition in 2020: Each of Renzoni’s paintings was supplemented by a Para Lia song.
“In Clash With The Zeitgeist” sees Para Lia aim even higher. It’s the first album officially release through a label. The songs were crafted in René’s music room at home and recorded and produced entirely by himself, before Thommy Hein (Die Ärzte, Nina Hagen, Udo Lindenberg) took over mastering duties.
While the band’s first two albums were inspired by late 80’s and early 90’s indie rock, this time around the musical universe is a lot bigger. There’s 60’s influences as well as psychedelic elements, garage rock and early prog rock. “You could say that we’ve packed a lot more of what’s not up-to-date into our songs and are therefore even more in clash with the zeitgeist”, René laughs. These influences first showed up in the 7-minute long psychedelic epic “Nagual”, which is named after a beach bar in Greece that is far from the tourist hell of crowded summer resorts, but a place for dropouts and individualists. “We sat at a large round table every night, just talking to each other”, René remembers. “The creative output was enormous. That opened the door for everything else that came after and a common thread for the album became clear.”
In the single “Sunchild” for example, the psychedelic elements extend to the lyrics. “That track is a love letter to life”, René says. In fact, most songs are characterized by optimism and hope. Catchy “Mr. Perry” is dedicated to a British friend who supported the band with a lot of energy during the release of their last album, and according to René it’s an “ode to all indie rockers out there. A cheer up song that says: stay authentic, even if your path is rocky and difficult at times.” “Our currency is passion, our brand is a distorted chord“, René sings. Driving garage track “C’est La Vie” meanwhile is about how it’s never too late in life to meet the right person. And even “Yellow Rose”, a playfully arranged song about losing a loved one, has something positive about it – not least thanks to this perfect symbiosis of René’s deep voice and Cindy’s ethereal harmonies.
Of course, there’s a few guest musicians on “In Clash With The Zeitgeist” again. Fady Haddad from Baltimore, who has been featured on Para Lia’s last record, contributed synthesizers. Besides you can hear two members of the Staatstheater Cottbus, both longtime friends of the band: Christian Georgi played electric piano on “Yellow Rose” and “Sunchild Reprise” while baritone Andreas Jäpel added a passage from a late 19thth-century Italian opera to “Mr. Perry”. The artwork, meanwhile, was designed by Greek artist Georgia Moschogianni, who created a visual representation of each track. “We simply enjoy broadening our horizons in all possible directions to see what happens”, René says.
Talking about broadening horizons – “In Clash With The Zeitgeist” will see Para Lia grow on yet another level. So far, the band has never set foot on a stage, but that’s about to change. “We were asked so many times in recent years when Para Lia can be experienced live that we have gathered four great musicians around us who we are now sharing the rehearsal room with to work on the live implementation”, René says. “So currently a wonderful metamorphosis is taking place: 2 are becoming 6 and Para Lia is changing from a studio project to a six-piece band on stage!”