Squirrel Hill musician, para-athlete aims to break hand-cycling record
Attila Domos isn't the most well-known musician in Western Pennsylvania, but he just might have the most unusual resume. Who else can say they were born in Hungary, studied classical music, lived in a refugee camp in Romania, moved to Vienna and sang in the Vienna Boy's Choir?
And has any musician anywhere tried to break a world record to promote a new album? That's what the Squirrel Hill resident will try to do Aug. 20 at the Bud Harris Cycling Track on Washington Boulevard in the East End. Domos, who lost the use of his legs in an accident 23 years ago, will take a trial run to prepare to break the hand-cycling record of 403.8 miles in a 24-hour period.
“The clock's going to run for 24 hours straight,” Domos says, laughing. “Whatever I can do, I'm going to do.”
Domos, who came in second in the hand-cycling division of the Pittsburgh Marathon this year, was the lead singer in the hard-rock band Big Bad Wolf in 1993. On the same night the band signed a recording contract, Domos was paralyzed in a falling accident. Since then he's dabbled in music, but “Never Enough” is his first solo CD.
One of Domos' inspirations is Freddie Mercury, the late singer from Queen who also was classically trained. Domos says he admired Mercury's willingness to incorporate other genres of music into Queen's sound, and that's what he has tried to do with techno on his album.
“If you listen to some of the (classical music) written hundreds of years ago, it's not that different (than techno),” he says. “It's variations on a theme, where you have a melody and you do variations of that over and over. In essence, it is techno because in techno you take a little theme or hook and do all sorts of variations with it.”
Some of the songs on “Never Enough” date to 2008-09, when Domos was bedridden with a medical ailment. During that time, he never stopped working — writing an autobiography and learning how to edit video in addition to writing songs. Although he enlisted some contributing musicians for the record, Domos performed much of the material himself, then had the songs mastered by producer Sean McDonald at Red Medicine Studios in Swissvale.
“It's not easy to bring songs together that were written at different times using different equipment and sometimes at different places,” says Domos, noting that some songs on “Never Enough” had to be tracked from MP3s. “Sean was able to take (the MP3s) and the new material that I did and bring it together.”
Domos moved to Pittsburgh with his family in 1980 from Vienna. He initially lived in Hazelwood, and his first Independence Day was an eye-opening experience: He thought Fourth of July fireworks displays were gunfire. Since then he's experienced a roller-coaster ride in the United States, from the low of his paralyzing accident to winning the hand-cycling division of the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2010.
In early July, his hand cycle fell apart on Beechwood Boulevard in Squirrel Hill, and donors came forward to help Domos purchase a new one. On Aug. 20, he will ride “The Beast,” as he has christened it, to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Steel Wheelers.
“I want to go for the world record, and I think this a record I can actually own,” he says.
Domos is asking donors to pledge 10 cents per mile Aug. 20.
Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.