Parkway Drive is a musical force to be reckoned with. Powering out of Byron Bay and destroying the international circuit, the lads from this heavy metalcore band have bolstered themselves as the b
ench mark for the genre.
With their latest album Deep Blue hitting the heights of the A
RIA charts and yet another tour in their sights with ‘No Sleep Til’, it’s little wonder these guys have any time to sleep themselves! Despite the band’s lofty international and home grown success, lead singer Winston McCall’s feet are firmly planted on the ground.
Parkway Drive is a touring machine! Your next festival tour in Australia &
NZ,‘No Sleep Til’ kicks off in early December. And before that you have the European festival tour ‘Never Say Die’. Do you reckon you still get excited about traveling the globe, or do you get a bit over it?
No, definitely excited. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t like it. I think we’re lucky in the sense that we all have the desire to travel. If we weren’t doing what we are as a band, we would still be aiming to travel. Obviously, there are plenty of times when you get a bit homesick and stuff like that, but I mean c’mon – I have friends that have spent years saving up to do half of the traveling I’ve been lucky enough to do.
Which bands from the ‘No Sleep Til’ bill are you most keen to check out?
Kind of everyone – well not kind of – literally everyone! I think [the organisers] have done an amazing job of putting together a line up where all of the bands are absolutely amazing. So, top of the bill at the moment for me is: NOFX, Dropkick Murphys, Frenzal Rhomb, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, Megadeth – actually, I think we might be playing at the same time as Megadeth.
So a little bit of gig time competition with Megadeth hey?
Yeah, but competition is good!
Is there a good camaraderie between PWD and other bands playing on tour? Do you all get to chill out after your gigs or is that only in a heavy metal band Utopian dream?
Yeah, generally. I mean, we’re interesting people when it comes to chilling out with bands. We get along with a lot of bands and then there are bands that… I don’t know, we’re not your ‘party hard, let’s all go out and get trashed and wreck things’ kind of band. We keep to ourselves and chill out, and if people are down with that, then generally we’re good friends with them.
Your latest album Deep Blue was released whilst you were on another tour back in June and hit number 2 on the ARIA chart. Do you find that you are getting even crazier attention than you were before?
Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. [The album] has been successful from the time of its release but it was really weird to come home, I guess because the album launched in Australia when we were on our last tour. Seeing numbers on charts isn’t really something you can take in straight away. It’s not until you’re playing live and people are responding that hits the point home.
It blows my mind to think how awesomely successful PWD is overseas. Did you ever imagine your music would have such a huge impact internationally?
God no. It’s just one of those things where we literally ran out of places to play in Australia, so we started touring overseas. We’d come back home and the next show we did was a bitter and we were like, ‘Oh, cool’. Then every time we’d come back each show exceeded the last, and it just never took a backward step from there.
Your fans are very loyal and somewhat die hard. What do you think it is about your music and hard-hitting, poignant lyrics that give you such a loving fan base?
I’m not sure, to be honest. It’s really amazing that they do love us so much. Maybe it’s the fact that they get that we are an honest band made up of regular people playing music that they happen to like. I guess they can associate with us in the sense that they realise we are just like them. There are bands that make themselves approachable and will go out of their way to say hi to someone. I think PWD is approachable because we see ourselves as normal people and are just ourselves. We’re the ultimate underdogs in that sense.
Tell me about what inspired the title of your new album Deep Blue.
OK, this is the short version [laughs]. The title came about because one day Luke [Kilpatrick, guitar], Jeff [Ling, guitar]and I were out looking for Luke’s lost racing boat. So we drove out and it was a perfect day and the water was crystal clear, but at the same time, completely black. It was absolutely terrifying. I’ve grown up in the ocean and never thought I’d be in a situation that I was actually scared of. It was the most calm, placid ocean I’d ever seen, yet we didn’t want to even touch the water. It put into perspective just how tiny humans are in comparison. So that’s where the name Deep Blue came from.
How was it collaborating with Brett Gurewitz from Bad Religion for the song Home Is For the Heartless, as well as having the album produced by the legendary Joe Barresi?
It was amazing working with Joe, he did such an amazing job and is such a great guy, so the whole experience was phenomenal. And then getting Brett to come in and do his part was amazing. And not only getting him to come in but having him be genuinely excited about this project. I mean, you’re asking someone that has been making music for 30 years who could so easily be jaded and over the entire experience, but in turn was genuinely excited to work with us. And I guess we’re lucky in the situation we’re in, because Brett owns the record label we’re on in the States [Epitah Records]. He’s actually a great guy and he’s always supported us, so we thought we’d hit him up [to collaborate].
The Sleepwalker video is pretty insane. I read your mate did the CGI whilst you came up with the concept. Do you enjoy the visually creative side that comes with a new album and video release?
I like doing anything and everything I can with this band. We find it very entertaining to be a part of the band so that’s why we do it. Being given the opportunity to do stuff like the film clip is very, very cool. At the moment I am loving playing the new songs live. Its one thing to jam in the studio but playing them live on stage and being able to let the emotion come out is awesome.
What inspired you guys to start making heavy metalcore music , because it is at odds with the tranquil surrounds of your home of Byron Bay. Did you feel you needed to shake things up a bit?
The main thing that dragged us towards this music was that it was the kind of music that got us excited to do things. Like if you wanted to go skateboarding or surfing, it was such hard, fast music. You also found that these songs actually meant something, not like that pop crap. They were songs that had meaning and so there was more passion to them. It wasn’t so much about our surroundings that we grew up in, as opposed to hearing something that we could relate to on a human level.
Do you boys always come home to Byron Bay after touring or do you reside elsewhere in the world?
I will never live anywhere but Byron.
You’ve collaborated and toured with a myriad of other Aussie bands (including brother Oscar’s band 50 Lions). Do you believe that supporting your mates in other bands cements the age old value that friendship is one way to succeed in the music business?
Yeah definitely. I don’t think it’s necessarily the way to succeed, but it’s what you want to do. The bands I have always loved and looked up to, I want to support – and especially local music – and we’re in a position where we can pick the bands we want to be able to tour with. Being able to get your friends, let alone your younger brother, to come on tour with you is so, so awesome.
And finally, on a lighter note. Does it seriously hurt your throat to ‘growl’ the way you do when you sing your songs?
[Laughs] It used to, back in the day! It’s one of those things where there’s a technique to it and it’s just a matter of trial and error. I haven’t lost my voice lately, but originally when I started ‘singing’ I couldn’t speak afterwards. We couldn’t play more than 2 shows a week, then I’d need a week off. You can really hurt yourself!
Parkway Drive tour Australia in December to play at the No Sleep Festival.