Interview with Winston McCall of Parkway Drive [Part 2]


Winston McCallLMM – Parkway Drive have played with some huge names in metal, like Killswitch Engage, Chimaira and In Flames. They’re all huge names in your genre so do you think there’s a reason that you feel a little bit more intimidated playing on the No Sleep Til tour?

WM – Well definitely because there’s a bunch of bands on the line up that we’re really good friends a Day to Remember among others but at the same time there’s bands that I’ve wanted to see for a hell of a long time that I’ve never gotten to see before, like NOFX and of course Descendants. We found out about NOFX first and we though to play with them would be insane cause we’re all massive NOFX fans from way back, we’re pretty big punk fans! Then we found out about Descendants those freaks! It’s insane to have a bill like that and its mind warping we’re playing with them. Its gunna be a really, really long day put it that way!

LMM – I can imagine! You think you might try and secretly squeeze your way into the mosh pit?

WM – Well I’ll squeeze off the stage into the mosh pit! Wherever I’m at backstage I’ll just run out and jump. I find that’s generally the best way to get in there!
LMM – Argh it’s a tough life eh?

WM – *Laughs loudly* Yeah! We’ll see how we go there’s a whole bunch of sets that I we really want to catch with only two stages, rather than 5 or six packed all over the place it should be pretty easy to co-ordinate. It’s one of those things where if we’re on tour with No Sleep Til, we’ll have day’s worth of running around trying to catch every set we want.

LMM – You’ll definitely have plenty of time to catch it all.

So in relation to your latest release “Deep Blue”, as we were saying before, you have had a lot of mixed responses. Aside from the diehard Parkway fans who are going to love the album no matter what.. a lot of the public have complained that it’s not melodic enough….

WM – *Laughs as I speak*
LMM – …and that the band seems to have taken a downturn since Horizons. That you may even have taken a step backward with your levels of musicianship, and even under exerted yourselves. But on the other hand, the critics have acclaimed the album as one of the greatest releases an Australian Metal band has ever delivered, and that “Deep Blue” will likely be used as point of reference for a lot of international acts for years to come. Do you think those comments have any merit? And if so why would you say there’s such a difference of opinion?

WM – It’s exactly what you said it comes down to; opinion. Everyone’s entitled to have theirs and to be honest it all comes down to the individuals perception of the sound. Everyone’s going to take it in a different way. Perhaps that some of the public hate it and some of the reviewers think it’s the ultimate thing but in the end it’s literally one person typing words on a computer and it’s the same thing with everyone else saying it’s us going a step backward. It’s their opinion and they’re all looking at different attributes of the music, yet everyone’s opinion has just as much merit as everyone else’s. It’s not necessarily something we really take on board, but in the end we’ve never written music with anyone else’s opinion in mind other than our own. We’ve never aimed to be like the most technical band or whatever, we play want we want and the music comes out as it comes out. If people like it it’s great, if they don’t, we’ll still keep doing what we’re doing. But I don’t know..the last tour we did, the “Deep Blue” tour was insane in that the new stuff definitely got the largest reaction out of any of the songs that we played and it was pretty crazy, but i guess it means things are going well with the album so far!
LMM – I still see you’re pulling our crowd pleaser “Carrion” in the encores though?

WM – Yeah definitely! That’s one of the song we’ve written, which i have a feeling just won’t die! It’s great though because neither the other guys in the band nor myself expected that song to have the affect it’s had on the public in the first place.

LMM – Speaking of “Deep Blue” it’s also been mentioned that your guitar work, although pretty precise and calculated, (particularly in your dual execution) that your rhythms and choice chords may be becoming a little bit predictable. Do you think that’s a valid comment?

WM – Um? Maybe? I’m not too sure. We write in a specific manor and that’s the way we write. It’s hard for me to comment on simply because I have no say in the guitar work. I can’t play guitar and the way we’ve always written is simply; play a riff, and if it’s something we like, and it sounds right we use it. Anything other than that and we don’t really aim to go in any other direction. A riff can be as technical as anything possible but at the same time if it doesn’t sound right.. it doesn’t sound right. Same on the flip side, we could play something real simple but if it doesn’t sound good…..we won’t use it you know. I guess if things become a bit predictable, it’s because we have a “Parkway” sound! We’re always going to sound like this band but if we started to write stuff in a completely different manner, it would take a large shift in the way we write to do that, and it’s not a shift we necessarily want to make. So I guess after three full length records, that do sound similar…if you think it’s predicable or it sounds like “that band” .. It’s cause it is “that band” you idiots!
LMM – So you don’t play guitar at all hey? So how on earth did you learn to scream like you do? Did you have any lessons?

LMM – Trial and error?

WM – Well I spent a year losing my voice. The reason I do what I do is because I can’t play any instruments! I’m the least musical person on the planet. I live music in a massive fashion but at the same time I just can’t play an instrument and at alto I can’t sing to save my life. So originally when i started getting out there and found myself drawn to singing in a band, Parkway became a vehicle to test the vocal abilities that I had and I’ve slowly evolved the voice that I have over time. Trial and error of course and a lot of nights of not being able to talk!
LMM – Ah well, the Parkway house did wonders for you then…

WM – *Laughs* Definitely hell yeah!
LMM – So do you have any tricks you use now when you get sore? Notably as good as the show was, at the Brissy leg of the “Deep Blue” tour you were a bit rough. Do you think that’s because you have been doing so much touring recently?

WM – Not so much. You know sometimes you’ll get a cold, and one other thing that completely smashes me is the smoke machines. They tend to make your voice a bit gravelly other than that it’s kind of ironic that we’re doing the No Sleep Til tour, when the best thing for my voice is sleep! So once it’s gone, that’s the only thing that really heals your vocal chords and your throat so the more sleep I get the better I guess and touring the hell out of your voice can be detrimental to the way it sounds literally.
LMM – So with all the touring that you do, do you guys find that you miss the family much or do you prefer being on the road?

WM – Touring’s something you have to take on board I guess, something you have to get used to over time. I’ve been with my partner for 10 years and we grew into it. If i wasn’t doing this I’d be laying bricks or whatever and wouldn’t see her during the day time anyway so I’d rather just go away for a month and work hard, then come home and be able to spend a month at a time together. It makes us appreciate the actual town we come from being Byron, when we go away we come back with fresh eyes and learn to appreciate our surroundings for what they are again. Rather than take it all for granted.
LMM – Your first recordings were actually with another local band that aren’t playing anymore..

WM – No they’re not.
LMM – Do you think there’s anything that you’ve done differently or better than them to ensure that the Parkway name has been solidified on the pedestal of Australian, nay, International metal core pedestal? What was the bands secret to maintaining focus and being very goal orientated with your music?

WM – To be honest I think it’s the fact that we didn’t have any goals… we just took things as they came. The reality is, if you look where we’re from-Byron Bay- and look at the type of music that we make, it would have been inconceivable to believe that we’d start anything like this because it’s was just out of place. But as times change and the music that we wrote just happened to be in the right place at the right time, we took the write opportunities. I’m sure if “I Killed the Prom Queen” decided to keep going they probably would have been in exactly the same position, because it’s not so much us just doing something better or anything like that, every chance we took just happened to be the right chance and we were never ones to sit back and say well that’s enough, let’s just wait for something to happen, we made it happen.

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