Cosmic Thrill Seekers, the new record from Albany punk rock band PRINCE DADDY & THE HYENA, is many things. It is an odyssey of epic, The Monitor-esque proportions, a great, galloping sonic roadtrip across space and time and Albany, boomeranging around a horn of punk, pop, indie, garage rock, and orchestral, Queen-style arrangements and theatrics; it is an exploration of the fall-out after an acid trip, manic self-destruction, bottoming-out and recovering, and then slipping again; it is a candid, acute documentation of front person Kory Gregory’s cyclical mental health states as told through three acts and 14 songs/chapters; it is an existential presentation of eternal return theory, a victory via surrender to impermanence; and perhaps most of all, it is about Dorothy Gale and The Wizard Of Oz.
“Dorothy was the OG cosmic thrill seeker,” Gregory says. “Dorothy kind of encompasses everything I was trying to get at.”
There are three acts in Cosmic Thrill Seekers, each exploring a stage in Gregory’s mental health. “I remember watching the Wizard of Oz one time, and noticing some weird kind of parallels between the cyclical nature of my mental health and that movie,” he says. “My mental health rotates and jumps from one stage to the next, and then repeats itself.” The closing moments of Cosmic Thrill Seekers reflect this, as the outro to the last track, “The Wacky Misadventures of the Passenger,” morphs into the first muted notes of opener “I Lost My Life.”
Kory wrote the entirety of Cosmic Thrill Seekers alone over the course of the last four years. Not even his bandmates knew what was coming; while recording this past winter at PonderRosa Studios with producer-on-the-rise Nick “Scoops” Daradaris, Gregory would even ask them to leave the room while doing vocal takes. Their trust throughout the entire process, and of course the finished product, are tributes to the sort of friendship and community that surround Prince Daddy.
The process and finished product are tributes to the sort of friendship and community supports that define Prince Daddy. Gregory’s bandmates are his best friends, and they encouraged him to pursue the record he needed to make. “It’s very, very, very much a selfish record,” he says. “It wasn’t just the record I wanted to write, but this is for me, this is to help me, and hopefully to look back on when I’m in the more destructive phases of the cycle and realize that it’s not permanent, and that I’ve confronted it before. I’ve put some math to it.”
Cosmic Thrill Seekers is a constant replaying of this cycle, equal parts joyous and challenging; it’s a punk rock, mental health-oriented declaration of, ‘time is a flat circle.’ “The record title is very ambitious and big and grand, but as the first and last song kind of display, the message of the story is almost like, ‘There’s no place like home,’ even though Cosmic Thrill Seekers is the direct opposite of that,” Gregory says. “But it takes a journey to realize that, as it did for me, and as it did for Dorothy.”
To summarize in Gregory’s words:
“This has the potential to get semi-dark, if you’re down with that.”
Pre-order Cosmic Thrill Seekers here: