Interview with Winston McCall of Parkway Drive [Part 1]

Interview: Hannah Collins

Winston McCallOut on the run, and sitting quietly in a car it’s about 11.30AM when the phone rings.

It’s an anticipated call, an exciting sound, I answer, my heart beating with suspended animation.

LMM – Hello Hannah Speaking
WM – Hey Hannah It’s Winston [McCall] from Parkway Drive here.

LMM – So have you done a few interviews already this morning?
WM – No I haven’t actually, this is the first one.

LMM – Really? So you got to have a bit of a sleep in?
WM – *Laughs* Yeah a little bit!

LMM – Good Stuff. So you’ve been touring off the back of your latest release, Deep Blue, having done a recent national tour. The Brisbane leg of the show was stated to be (in your own words) one of or even the biggest headlining shows that you’ve played in Australia.

WM – I think it’s the biggest gig we’ve played ever actually. We were in Australia at the time but the reality is it’s the biggest show we’ve played anywhere.
LMM- It’s quite interesting that you say that you’ve been doing a lot with the band recently. You’ve played the Warped Tour twice now, have done quite a few shows in Europe and the USA and you’ve hit the stage in Japan, so in contrast to the extent of your touring it’s clear to see that you have a huge fan base in Australia, particularly in SE QLD and northern NSW so it’s great to see the loyalties.

WM – Yeah it was pretty… oh… to be honest it was one of the first times I’ve played a show, looked out at the crowd and just gone…”FUCK”. Like, i don’t even know how to comprehend this sort of thing. With other shows we’ve played it’s like’ yeah cool there’s plenty of people here and we’re all having a great time but that show was something totally different; completely insane. To look over the grounds and see the rolls of Riverstage hill just packed entirely with people was absolutely mental.

LMM – Pretty good feeling isn’t it?

WM – Yeah I guess but for some reason it was just different to any other time we’ve played. I mean, we’ve played some pretty rad shows in respect to the size of the turn outs, but on the Brisbane night there were like 1000’s and 1000’s of people there and it gets to the point where you can’t even grasp the numbers or more like the mountains of people that come to see us.. I wonder where they all come from sometimes.
LMM – Parkway Drive would obviously have a lot of fans from the Brisbane / QLD Coastal areas that would have been with you right from the beginning

WM – Hell yeah definitely
LMM – I find that as well as those die hard aussie locals that have a story or two about run ins they’ve had with the band, you’ve attracted a lot of very down to earth fans, considering the metalcore presence you have. These fans seem to see your lyrical themes in a theatrical light, and not become too emotionally involved as some of the emo kids would. Do you think there’s maybe a reason for that?

WM – Um I’m not sure, like, i think the fact that we just come off as just ordinary people maybe, might make it a lot easier for them to relate to this band, simply by the fact that we make it pretty damn obvious that we’re just ordinary down to earth people playing music that we love. We’re not rockstars we have no full of ourselves pompous belief or anything like that. We’re just a bunch of guys doing what we love. I think that’s definitely translated somewhere along the line and it makes us… I wouldn’t say more accessible, but I guess the idea of Parkway Drive is then something they can really grab a hold of, as opposed to just see as something beyond their reach I guess.
LMM – Very true. I remember when I watched your DVD; Parkway Drive; I was really inspired by your journey. It stuck out plain and simple that you’ve always been very true to yourselves and have worked so hard to make sure your story continues. From really putting in the hard yards at practice, not losing sight of your goals, funding all of your own early tours when you couldn’t get a break and you’re ability to do what you love without risking your musical integrity. Do you think the release of the DVD helped adapt peoples insights of the band more so than they already were?

WM – Oh yeah 100%. And it had the exact impact that we wanted it to as well. It was never meant to be a marketing ploy that accentuates the fact that we’re just a bunch of Byron Bay surfers that don’t really care about anything else. We’ve always just wanted to play music that just really represents us and make a DVD that represented us. So the release was like the perfect window into our lives and it takes you behind the music which people seemed to want to see. It kind of confirms the fact that.. laughs* we were just a bunch of ordinary kids, in extraordinary circumstances. I guess when people realise that, those that maybe hadn’t thought about that before.. it makes the band stand out a bit more. The DVD’s really represented that aspect of us I guess. So yeah.
LMM – Now that things are getting pretty intense i.e. “Deep Blues'” been a huge release and perceived perhaps in a mixed light by the public versus the critic; do you think that the new popularity you have and the fact that the band just keeps getting bigger and bigger is going to have an effect on the way you’re perceived and related to in your home town? Do you get a lot of clingers and hangers on? I know that everyone I speak with that loves Parkway always wants to have a story about you; “Yeah I went surfing with Winston one time”.. you know.. do you find that happens a lot?

WM – Not so much in Byron, it seems to happen everywhere but Byron wich is kind of nice..we’ll go to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne and on any given day a hand full of people will come up and want a photo or want you to sign something which gets a bit annoying.. yet it doesn’t happen now and then when friends of friends or distant acquaintances who’ve seen the DVD aren’t into the metal scene take a bit of interest in it. Other than that, Byron Bay is probably the safest place on earth when it comes to not getting recognised! *Laughs*
LMM – Definitely low key isn’t it?

WM – Yeah for sure! That’s the way we like it.. without seeming to be snobby fuck wits. We never started the band with the idea of getting “recognised”. So to have strangers all over the place know your name and know all about you.. it’s a really weird feeling.
LMM – Parkway Drive are coming back to play the “No Sleep Til” Festival soon. Another national tour. There’s some pretty big bands on the bill, including the long standing and notorious Megadeath who’ve been stated to be playing (surprisingly) in their career best form. What was your reaction when the No Sleep Til organisers asked you to take part in another epic touring festival like this one?

WM – It’s amazing because we haven’t done a tour like this since “Taste of Chaos” which was a long time ago. The line up on “No Sleep Til> is absolutely phenomenal, it’s a line up that may not be as large as… well in regards to the amount of bands on the bill for festivals these day’s levied against the quality of the bands.. the “No Sleep Till” line up may not be as large as others but every single band is fucking amazing. So when they approached us and said hey do you want to play this festival with these other bands?.. we were like … Holy Shit! How can you even say no to that and just being a part of it is insane. Hopefully it’s something that continues for us! Like fuck.. Dropkick Murphy’s, NOFX.. It’s literally gunna be insane, and it’s hard to fathom that we’re going to be a part of we’ll have to see how we go!

Interview: Hannah Collins