An Interview with Parkway Drive: Writings On The Wall

An Interview with Parkway Drive: Writings On The Wall

—by , May 4, 2016

05-04 Buzz - Parkway Drive 1 (Photo by Tom Barnes)

Fresh off their European stint with Architects and Thy Art It Murder, Parkway Drive have fully embraced every single new opportunity to take advantage of their rising success. While these Australian-based metalcore titans continue to play some of the biggest headlining shows of their entire career, Parkway Drive’s latest studio effort, Ire, is also regarded as the band’s most well-received album to date. While there are several split opinions about Ire due to their recent change in sound, there’s no doubt that the innovative avenue that Parkway willingly chose to peruse helped launch them to newer heights.

Filled with high spirits and sincere gratitude, Parkway Drive marches forward this month, as the band is currently on the road touring North America for the first time since putting out Ire this past fall.

About a month before Parkway Drive geared up to make their return to the United States, I had the pleasure of having an insightful and engaging conversation with vocalist Winston McCall about coming back to the United States, the current reception of Ire, Rage Against The Machine’s influence on the band and the refreshing qualities that make Australia’s hardcore scene, such a unique entity in comparison to the rest of the world.

Pretty soon, you’ll be making your return to the United States for the first time since supporting your latest record, Ire. What are you looking forward to the most this time around?

            This time around we get to play a bunch of festivals that we have yet to experience, which is awesome. Plus, we get to play a whole bunch of dates with A Day To Remember, who we haven’t toured with in ages, which is going to be great. We get to play shows in a bunch of places that we haven’t played in a very long time, or have never been to. So actually, it’s a win-win for us (laughs). The record [Ire] is still really fresh, so we really love that we’re able to play these songs.

Seeing that you’re going to be sharing the stage with A Day To Remember for a select number of dates definitely brings up a lot of high school nostalgia for me personally. Over the years, has Parkway Drive ever crossed paths with A Day To Remember every now and then? If so, tell me a little bit about your relationship with the band.

            Basically, I think we first toured with them…it would be about eight years ago maybe? I think it was right before we put out Deep Blue, and we toured with them first. We’ve done a bunch of tours around the world with them since. I guess both bands kind of gone way further than we ever expected, and that meant that we haven’t [gone] on a proper tour again since, but we’ve crossed paths on all of these tours over the years, and kept in contact. It just so happened that this worked out, and we got to jump on a tour in America, and see how massive those guys are (laughs), which will be really, really awesome. It definitely carries out that nostalgia again for us, and at the same point in time, it’s definitely current, and it’s kind of strange that both bands kind of have a trajectory going, which is going to be bigger than we anticipated (laughs).

You guys just finished up your recent European tour with Architects and Thy Art Is Murder. What were some personal highlights from the last few months, either from the shows or just from traveling?

            Mainly, it’s just been nuts. With the size of the shows that we’ve been able to actually play, and the shows that we’ve been able to put on, it’s still really strange for us to be able to be a band from a small town from Australia —on the other side of the planet from the USA and Europe—and to be able to go these countries and have thousands upon thousands of people coming out every night.

Probably the highlight of this last tour in Europe was the fact that I’m pretty sure some of the biggest headlining shows that we’ve played in anywhere the world, and we’re playing in countries that we didn’t speak the same language (laughs). It’s a pretty crazy thing for us, to be able to walk down on stage, and to go, “Oh my God!” It’s pretty much something that we don’t take for granted.

And at the same point in time, we get to put on a show, which has been exciting for us to be able to play. Like, all of us are dodging fireballs and stuff on stage (laughs), which we never thought would have come to, but it’s pretty neat. To be able to do that kind of thing, and get on stage and say, “Fire happened now!” (laughs)

Can we talk about the crazy pyrotechnics that you’ve been incorporating in your live shows? What’s the inspiration behind that? I saw some pictures on social media, and your Instagram page, and thought to myself, “Wow! That looks pretty epic.”

            (Laughs) Yeah, that was pretty much it. We got to a point where we ended up playing at festivals and headline shows in rooms that were the size of where we had to do something else to fill it up. There was a very long period of time in the band where we were a band that walked up on stage, and played in front of backdrop, which was normal.

But when we got to this point where it was like several thousand people coming in the room, we kind of had the opportunity to say, “How do we step the intensity up?” I don’t know, I think blowing things up on stage kind of seems like the most intense thing that we could do (laughs). So, we just started working with that kind of stuff, and it’s been fun. It’s been intense, but it’s been fun; we lost a lot hair so far (laughs)

Very interesting! Now that the dust has settled since releasing Ire, how do you think the album’s reception has changed over the last couple of months? Does it seem like critics are starting to give record a second chance?

            Yeah, to be honest with you, [Ire] this is actually been the best received record that we’ve done (laughs). It’s one of those things where when we kind of…honestly anticipated every single reaction that was going to come from the record. Simply because it was a large departure from what we’ve done in the past, so anyone that was really hoping for something that sounded very old was going to have a big shock. At the same point in time, there was a bunch of people who didn’t like the stuff that we did in the past (laughs), and then all of a sudden, decided to give the band a chance. So, it was probably the first time in our entire existence where we saw a shift in the way that we were perceived.

Luckily, it seems like it’s been a good thing simply because—well, mainly by judging on the amount of people that are coming out to the shows, and the amount of records being played, and the exposure of the band, that is the only way you can kind of judge it (laughs). But for us, it’s been a really awesome time because it was a really great record to make.

It was one of those things where we didn’t simply just sit down and say, “Let’s change this band’s sound because we want to achieve ‘X’.” We decided to change it because it was something that we wanted to do. In addition to writing new music, we wanted to play something different, you know? The fact that people allowed us to do that, and supported the change, has been really, really nice (laughs).

One thing I’ve noticed since Ire came out was how much Rage Against The Machine was citied as a huge influence on the record. As a whole, what personally resonates with you about Rage?

            There’s definitely a little bit of influence in there [from Rage Against The Machine], but it’s definitely not the only thing, but yeah we did cover “Bulls On Parade.” That band is I guess for a lot of people in this band, they were one of the first heavy and probably political bands that we ever listened to, that was truly kind of comforting. They were truly a band that released albums that are timeless.

Like, you put on those records now, and they still sound newer than most of the new bands that you hear. It’s those kinds of records and those kinds of sounds that inspire us as a band. I think for a band that did rock, their songs are heavy as fuck, let’s put it quite simply (laughs). They made really, really heavy music, but also incorporated very groovy flows and a lot of sounds that weren’t just brutal, and that’s the kind of thing that draws us to them.

Like, in a way where you don’t need a heavy breakdown to get the crowd going?
That’s it, yeah! You look at some of the footage of their live shows, and music isn’t what we deem to be “brutal” (laughs) in this modern context. There’s so many bands that just sound like machinery destroying animals (laughs) for a lack of better description. But then, you look at a half-million people watching a Rage set, and it’s absolute pandemonium. And that’s coming from a guitar that isn’t even drop-tuned to the end of the earth, and it’s something that doesn’t sound like Satan screaming. It’s the power of the actual music, and the tune that is being played rather than the sheer properly to it.

When I first started listening to Parkway Drive, it opened the doors for me to get into many other bands in the Australian hardcore and metal scene. What stands out to you the most about the Australian scene? Before you guys started getting a lot of national attention, did you ever feel like it was a hidden gem of some sorts?

            Yeah, definitely. It was a real shock that kind of went boom because even in Australia, it’s still very underground. Like, when Parkway and a few other bands get exposure, but at the same point in time, there’s still no media coverage of any of this kind of stuff. There’s one radio station that maybe plays a couple of songs like a couple of times a week, and that’s it. The only bands that they would talk about were 50 Lions, Miles Away, and Blackout—like, all of those bands that were around at the same time that we were coming up, and people were starting to take notice.

They’re still playing in Australia to handfuls of kids in pubs, but the fact that all of a sudden, it went “boom!” and people started taking notice, Australia was something that no one really kind of anticipated (laughs). But it’s a really, really cool thing to happen because we did grow up being very proud of the thing that we have here simply because it was something that was so ensure.

We’d never anticipated bands from overseas to coming—like, it was a big deal when international bands toured Australia. It was like, you’re looking at spending fifteen grand on airfare just to get out of the country, and that was the same thing coming into Australia to spend that much money. So, it was a big deal for the Australian scene to have the international doors wide open.

Once this U.S. tour ends, you’re going to be heading back home to do some tour dates throughout June and July under the tour moniker, “All Aussie Tour.” After all of the traveling that you’ve been doing recently, what’s it like get back and play some gigs back on your home turf?

It’s going to be nice. That tour is going to be more of a regional tour, which we haven’t done in about three or four years. We used to do it quite a lot, and then, the international thing… we hit that really hard in the last few years. We’re playing in towns with venues that don’t necessarily get hit by most bands. When most people come Australia, it’s generally a major city.

So, a very long time ago, we started this tradition of trying to play at places that don’t get heavy music of any kind, and bring it into their town. We’re just going back to that, and calling it the “All Aussie Tour,” because it will be featuring Australian bands as well. We’re taking out Make Them Suffer, who are an amazing band from Perth—they’re like, a really nuts metal band.

We also get to see what the scene is like because [we] have a fairly large disconnect as well. We’re away so much that things move around within the Australian scene that you have no idea what bands are going, and what bands are finished, and what people sound like these days, so it’s usually really fun for us.

Totally! I am pretty sure you’ll find out whether or not if there are any newer local bands that take a lot of influence from Parkway Drive too, right?

            Yeah, that’s the thing. It’s a really weird one. I think the last time we did one of these tours, Northlane, who was starting to blow up, played a bunch of shows with us, and their guitarist was like, “You know the very first show I ever went to was when Parkway did their first regional tour, and I wanted to be in a band after that.” Oh my God, that’s a big reality check! (laughs) Now, Northlane are fucking huge, and they’re a household name in Australia. We think back to that and we think that we had much of an influence on local bands.

 

Australian metalcore titans Parkway Drive return to New Jersey this month, where they will be playing at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on May 9. They’ll also be stopping at the Rock’N Derby in New York on May 20. The band’s fifth studio album, Ire, is available now on Epitaph. For more information, go to parkwaydriverock.com.


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