King Parrot: Into The Mouth Of Madness
King Parrot are Dead Set on staying true to their roots on album number two. We caught up with Melbourne’s most brutal to talk about playing metal like an Aussie, recording with Phil Anselmo, and their love for Die Antwoord.
Photo by Kane Hibberd.
Believe it or not, King Parrot frontman Matt Young is on babysitting duty when he takes our call. Fresh off an American and European stint with Weedeater, he’s relieved to have a smidgen of downtime before the Melburnian grinders take their new record out on the road around Australia. An exhausting display of raw aggression, the very sound of Dead Set is a reaction to the polished up, cut-to-the-grid metal that seems to prevail today.
“We really just wanted to make an organic sounding album that’s a true reflection of where we’re at now,” begins Young. “There’s so many bands who are making records that don’t sound real, with digital drums and shit like that and it’s not what King Parrot is about. We’re fairly stooped in the old school and we want the drums to sound like a drum kit, we want it to sound a little rough around the edges and not processed
or sound replaced. We’ve had two or three years on the road and a lot of time to hone the craft, so to speak.”
Having battled through some line-up changes before finally finding a new drummer (Todd Hansen) who could keep up with their constant road-dogging, the band locked themselves away in a barn in the woods in Vermont in September 2014, where they could thrash away to their heart’s content and prepare an album’s worth of material. From there they moved things to Massachusetts for pre-production, before packing up shop once more and heading to New Orleans where they shacked up in Nodferatu’s Lair, the hallowed home studio owned by one Phil Anselmo. Yes, that Phil Anselmo – he of Pantera and Down fame, legendary vocalist, producer and authority on all things metal.
“[Nodferatu’s Lair is] not all bells and whistles – it’s a home studio and it’s got a lot of character and it’s obviously been built by him,” Young recalls fondly. “It’s been treated sound-wise of course but it feels very lived-in; there’s posters all over the walls and it oozes character. You know that all these great bands have been in there before – Down, Eyehategod, Haarp, Warbeast and myriad other bands that have gone through there and some of them have been on [Anselmo’s own label] Housecore Records like us, and it’s all just so conducive to making a good record.”
As the Parrots have been friends with Mr. Anselmo for quite some time now, having stayed at his abode on a few occasions while in the States and toured with Down, Young reports that the ‘pinch yourself’ moments were far behind them by the time they got into the studio.
“There’s no bullshit with Phil; he’s straight down the line and once you get to know him you realise he’s a guy who just loves music as much if not more than anyone I’ve ever met. Hanging with Phil you always learn something, whether it’s a band you haven’t heard before, or you might learn a new studio trick, or some wisdom to pass on or just a good story… and boy does he have some great stories to tell! He also just has a great voice. When you listen to him talk he just sounds so cool!” Young laughs.
“Phil’s got such a great ear for hooks and phrasing and pronunciation and how words flow together, and he played a pretty big part in shaping how the record turned out. We were on tour with Down before we recorded the album, so we had a lot of time to hang out with him at the shows and listen to the preproduction and make notes. There were subtle changes he made here and there but he didn’t overstep the mark at all.”
While the sludgy, groovy Southern metal of Down and the punk-infused thrash of King Parrot might make for strange touring bedfellows, our boys are no strangers to playing to unfamiliar crowds. Having toured Australia with an eclectic range of acts from Gay Paris to Thy Art Is Murder, King Parrot have made an art form out of winning over new fans with their live show, giving punters little choice but to give the band their undivided attention.
“If they don’t like it we just basically abuse them… we just give them hell!” Young laughs. “Obviously going on tour with bands like Down, stylistically we’re totally different, and we’re used to that. We’ve been on tour with tech death bands too – we went on tour with Origin and Beyond Creation last year and sometimes the crowd isn’t there to see a band like us, but we found that by interacting with the audience and putting energy into the show and trying to make the best of every opportunity, the audience will usually get into it.
“I guess we’re more interactive than most bands, whether it’s giving them shit, having some fun with them, or jumping into the crowd and getting in their face and knocking their beer out of their hand. We use that Aussie charm I guess and definitely in the States it works.”
That Aussie charm he speaks of has always been a big part of not only King Parrot’s live performance and sense of humour, but their overall vibe, and the band have spoken in the past of their desire to convey that Antipodean je ne sais quoi in their music. So we have to ask – how exactly does one accomplish the feat of playing crossover thrash-grind like an Aussie?
“I think it goes back to bands like AC/DC, you know?” he says after pondering the question. “I mean, when you listen to Bon Scott-era AC/DC it has this Australian twang to it. It’s not just the vocals; it’s the music too. And we were always influenced by these ‘90s bands like Damaged and Beanflipper and Blood Duster, and those bands to me sound Australian. I can hear when a band is American – when you listen to Lamb Of God
you can tell that it’s American metal, and I think you can hear that we’re Aussie when you listen to our band – somehow we got it across, I don’t know what it is! You’ve just gotta stay true to who you are and the way you perform and your vocal sound.”
With Dead Set now assaulting ears across the world, the band have of course also begun propagating a new batch of music videos in true King Parrot fashion – brash, offensive, weird, and unashamedly silly. The new clip for “Home Is Where The Gutter Is” even features bassist and BLUNT guest columnist Slatts urinating on a homeless protagonist (“We love urine and celebrate that in all ways,” adds Young). But it hasn’t always been this way. 2011’s “Epileptic Butcher” was for all intents and purposes a fairly stock standard metal video, but a creative turning point came in 2012 in the form of their now-definitive piece, “Shit On The Liver”, thanks to some unlikely influences.
“When we started doing our early videos we were just trying to put on a good performance, but when we got to ‘Shit On The Liver’ we were thinking about what we liked about other videos we’d seen. We’re huge fans of the Die Antwoord music videos, and I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the video ‘212’ by Azealia Banks, but that was a big influence too. We wanted to do something along those lines and incorporate metal with it, and that sense of humour is a big part of what makes our band now, and it’s way too fun to stop!
“I think there’s a place for seriousness in metal, but it’s not what we do! Other bands can do whatever they like, it’s fine, but we have fun and we’re not afraid to show it. Whether it makes us more or less metal than another band, we don’t give a fuck, we take the music as seriously as anyone! And when you come to our shows and see us play live you should be able to tell that because we give 100 percent, and by the end of our performance we’re all knackered, dripping with sweat, water and usually blood.”
King Parrot Tour Dates
Thu Aug 13th – Barwon Club, Geelong (18+)
Fri Aug 14th – Pelly Bar, Frankston (18+)
Sat Aug 15th – Karova Lounge, Ballarat (18+)
Sun Aug 16th – The Tote, Collingwood (18+)
Fri Aug 21st – Republic Bar, Hobart (18+)
Sat Aug 22nd – Club 54, Launceston (18+)
Fri Aug 28th – Studio Six, Sutherland (18+)
Sat Aug 29th – Woy Woy Leagues Club, Woy Woy (18+)
Sun Aug 30th – The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney (AA)
Thu Sep 3rd – Plantation Hotel, Coffs Harbour (18+)
Fri Sep 4th – Hotel Ballina, Ballina (18+)
Sat Sep 5th – The Brightside, Brisbane (18+)