Take your mind back to the colourful year of 2007. Soundwave Festival was still in its infancy, I Killed The Prom Queen had bid us adieu, Bring Me The Horizon’s sweeping side fringes were the stuff of MySpace legend, and a promising young metalcore band known as Parkway Drive were gearing up to release their second record, Horizons. We rolled up our sleeves and dug deep into the BLUNT vault to bring you the band’s first ever cover story. Original words by Nina Bertok.
They’ve come a long way from Byron Bay, but for Aussie metalcore kings Parkway Drive, the Horizons are endless.
Few things in this life are certain… but you can bet that nothing beats a kebab after a reckless night on the piss, and that Parkway Drive are about to drop the most bludgeoning metalcore a-bomb you’re gonna hear all year – promise. With Killswitch Engage guitarist-cum-producer Adam Dutkiewicz once again in their corner, this October will see Byron Bay’s loudest residents unleash the stomping, sneering and skull-crushing Horizons, an album simply tailor-made for breaking stuff.
“We’ve tried to make it a bit heavier and a bit faster than the last one [Killing With A Smile, 2005], so the heavier bits are heavier, the faster bits are faster and the melodic bits are more melodic… as cliché as it sounds,” vocalist Winston McCall laughs.
Except there’s nothing cliché about it – the overwhelmingly positive feedback the band have received since posting new track “The Siren Song” on their MySpace page suggests McCall, guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick, bassist Jia O’Connor and drummer Ben Gordon have very little to worry about.
“The comments have been really, really encouraging for us. We are not a band that’s ever written songs specifically for other people to enjoy, but it’s always very nice when people do like the songs. When we wrote the songs we didn’t stray from the way we wrote already, which was trying to write heavy music that was interesting for us to listen to, the kind of music we’d like to hear, which is basically what Parkway sounds like.”
Considering the band never thought they would ever get as far as a second album, McCall couldn’t be happier with the results.
“Killing With A Smile really took off and this one came up a lot better than I would have expected. I’m hoping it will do well. But either way, I think Adam did a really good job on it, the songs sound good and I suppose all we can really ask for is to be happy with it ourselves,” offers McCall.
Hooking up with Dutkiewicz this time around, however, was not initially on the cards, according to the vocalist.
“We were actually thinking about recording with other people, one of the reasons being that the last thing we wanted to do was make Killing With A Smile Part 2 and have people go, ‘Oh god, that sounds exactly the same as the first album’. So we were trying to think of someone else to do it with. But then we saw Adam again when Killswitch were playing and it was so awesome to hang out with him again that we just realised we should do it with him again.”
Fun is one of the key words as far as recording goes according to McCall, and the studio shenanigans Parkway Drive shared with Dutkiewicz the last time around were not easily forgettable.
“We just remembered how much fun we had with him. When it comes to doing things we’ve always just tried to have as much fun as possible, and recording with Adam was great the first time, so seeing him kind of brought it all back. We figured we may as well enjoy ourselves while we are doing this and if we want the album to sound different then we’ll just make sure that it does.”
And if “The Siren Song” is anything to go by, Dutkiewicz was clearly the right choice, though how in the name of all that’s holy McCall and the band managed to keep a straight face is a mystery… So, let’s set the record straight – is Dutkiewicz insane, a genius, or just really baked?
“He’s not, like, insane,” McCall laughs, “But he makes out that he is when he’s onstage. He likes to try and say the most ridiculous shit possible when he’s onstage. He is also blind drunk most of the time he’s playing. Yeah, he’s pretty crazy but in a fun way. He’s awesome, he likes to have fun and he’s just like a big kid, which actually makes him really easy to work with. He doesn’t take himself too seriously but he’s not an idiot by any means,” confirms McCall.
In fact, tables were turned somewhat during the recording of Horizons, with Parkway Drive often proving a handful, as McCall explains.
“I think it was harder on him than it was on us! I mean, being cooped up together… See, we’re five stinky Australians and his playing skill is a hell of a lot higher than ours, so here he was having to put up with bad take after bad take and just us talking crap or someone fighting in the studio and that kind of stuff. By the end of the recording he was pulling his hair out. He had fun, but I think there are probably much easier bands to record with than us!”
“We are not a band that’s ever written songs specifically for other people to enjoy, but it’s always very nice when people do like the songs.”
With Horizons now done and dusted, McCall and co. are getting pumped for Parkway Drive’s upcoming national tour. Having spent a large part of the past year touring constantly throughout Europe and the USA, the singer claims he can’t even remember their last national tour.
“It’s been so long,” he says. “Either way, I know I’m gonna have fun because I love being in this band and I’m not sick of it yet. I’m looking forward to hanging out with a whole bunch of friends, then hopefully at the end of the year we’ll get some time off. We’re always about three months ahead of ourselves. As soon as we finish a tour there’s already two other tours that are booked in advance and it just keeps rolling like that. Life is kind of weird when it’s booked in three months ahead and you already know what’s going on.”
With more European touring to follow the Australian leg of the Horizons Tour, McCall explains why, despite the chance to see the world, nothing really comes close to playing on home turf.
“Overseas tours are great, but you realise how awesome Australia really is. It’s not so much homesickness as it is becoming more appreciative of what you’ve got. We’ve been to so many places over the last couple of years and it’s been great, but at the same time, all these places that people call so amazing are really not that good. We really have the best of everything – an amazing country, a very easy society to live in compared to a lot of places, and generally we have a lot of freedom that many places in the world don’t have,” explains McCall.
A case in point has been the band’s previous experience in Europe, where some of Parkway Drive’s most dedicated fanbase can be found.
“We’ve been to some amazing places that have absolutely fucked-up politics and poverty, and we’ve also seen some disgusting places that have amazing cultures. But the people have been great. You go through almost third-world areas that are just run-down and destroyed and you have kids coming to the show that can’t even speak the same language as you but they absolutely love your music and scream along to words that they probably don’t even know what they mean.”
It’s never ceased to amaze McCall and the band how massive a fanbase they have in countries some people may not even know exist.
“Actually, you’d be surprised how many people do speak English, and quite well too. Or they would have at least a basic grasp of English which would be much better than my grasp of any other language,” he laughs. “I can’t describe what it’s like to play in countries like Poland or the Czech Republic and to have reactions where kids are like, ‘I’ve wanted to see you for two years, this song means so much to me’ and that kind of stuff. You really step back and go, ‘Wow, I’m in Germany and this kid is saying this to me’. There are cultural barriers and there are language barriers, but music seems to overcome all of them which is amazing.”
America, on the other hand, has been something of a letdown. While the reaction to the band on their recent 31-date Warped Tour stint was beyond expectation, travelling across the country gave Parkway Drive an insight into the general vulgarity of a country many look up to as the leaders of the free world.
“I hate that Australia seems to want to emulate America in every way in its culture,” explains Winston. “All our TV shows are American, all the latest fashion is American, everything we see from America is portrayed as being amazing. It seems to be the benchmark but when you actually see it… I’d hate to see the day Australia and America are the same. There are some wonderful things over there but there’s also a lot of fucked up shit. I expected to like America a lot more than I did. It was just a consumer-orientated culture where everyone tries to have the biggest thing possible and every food is either dipped in sugar or deep-fried. After a couple of weeks there you just go, ‘I don’t think humans are supposed to live like this’,” he laughs.
Thanks, but no thanks, Parkway Drive couldn’t be more content with the quiet life in Byron Bay, no matter where the whirlwind may take them in the near future.
“We’re definitely not relocating anywhere. We had a discussion about it a couple of years ago, we’re not moving from Byron Bay. We’re small-town kids that like to surf and that’s it. We spend most of our time in a band seeing the rest of the world anyway, so to be quite honest, to be able to come home to Byron is absolutely amazing. I remember when we were growing up, everyone used to say, ‘Wow, I can’t wait to go to London for a year and work, everything’s gonna be so much better once I get out of this shithole’. But we’ve been to all these places… and I’ll stick with Byron, thanks.”