Winston McCall (vocals)
Paris – Monday March 19, 2018
“The production we have is the biggest we’ve ever done in France before… As long as we can fit it on stage!”
How did yesterday’s show go? You seemed rather happy onstage.
I’m always happy on stage. It was very good! It was great, really, really good. Good vibes: just fun, no pressure, perfect crowd, perfect little stage, just playing songs. Very simple, fun and nice.
What’s the idea of mixing promo sessions and intimate gigs. And why not just doing Skype/phoner sessions like most bands do?
It’s strange because we had the idea for two separately. The gigs idea we had a while ago but never had a chance to figure out when to do it. And then, the face-to-face interviews promo stuff just happened with this album because everyone’s interested in talking about the album so the timing was perfect. Surprise gigs as well: people didn’t know they were coming until a couple of days. So just something different that makes people stay awake (laughter)! Also, face-to-face is always better than the phone but it’s just hard sometimes because we are in Australia. This time, we can combine the two: it’s perfect.
Flashback : the Ire cycle. That album (released in 2015) is your most successful effort to date. What’s your appraisal of that whole circle?
Amazing. Just better than what we could have ever hoped for. That album was made on hope. Because it was the biggest unknown for us. Even when we first started the band, we knew exactly what we wanted to do and it was a lot easier but to just make this. No pressure because we were just starting. With Ire, we wanted to make something new but how and what? And then, we made the album and were happy but it went so much bigger than we were expecting and hopping. The shows were crazy and, all of a sudden, the production is crazy and all the new things that we get to put up and play with… Just nuts. So good, so good (laughter)!
Reverence has been ready for release for a while and won’t be out before May 4th. What’s your current state of mind? Excitement? Anxiety?
You know what? None. None of those. Just because the music for the album came quite easy. The album is a very dark one. It deals with a lot of personal stuff and the perspective, like my personal perspective and value for life, changed since Ire. So now, the album is like what we wanna do and I’ve never been more happy with our music. So if everyone decides it’s amazing: awesome. And if everyone decides it’s shit: I don’t mind, still awesome. Because I’m happy, that’s it: I got what I wanted.
The album is entitled Reverence. What is this reverence for?
Fucking everything. And I mean like, it could be massive but small things as well. Like all little things that you miss, like when someone… There’s a lot of songs on here about loss, coping with family members and friends passing away and that’s leaving the smallest little things you never even thought you’d miss. All of a sudden, it means the entire world to you. And if you don’t take time to stop and look at life, and look at the beauty and the small things, then you never know when it’s gone, if you like… That meant more to me than I knew than I should have known… That’s what it’s about…
The promotional material for Reverence mentions “the most honest record that we have created”. I’m being cheeky there: you were not “as honest” in the past?
(laughter) No, no! It’s more the fact that it was always honest but this one is more raw. Especially the lyrics, like it’s very, very raw. In the past, it’s been bigger topics that I believed in personally and a lot of metaphorical wordplays. And this time, that was very, very personal topics. Just very brutally honest lyrics. Like this is me and that is what it means, that’s horrible but that’s to be put in words.
The album was “born though pain, sacrifice, and conviction”. That sounds pretty serious. I hope that you had some fun doing it though.
No, no, we did. We did. It’s been a fun process. It’s just… Playing music is always fun. It’s a wonderful release. It’s been one of those things where there’s been very high highs. There’s been wonderful moments of writing records but there’s also been just these points when, all of a sudden, another friend passes away and someone else gets cancer… I enjoyed writing the record. Like I said it’s my favourite music that I think we’ve put together. And I’ll always be a fan of the other guys in the band, of their actual playing abilities because I don’t have that and I love the way they do what they do. It went between fun and very serious. It’s a hard balancing act and it fucks with your head a lot.
It looks like this album took quite a while to be written. Why so?
It’s one of those things that comes in… We don’t really like to sit down and say “OK, next month we’ll write an album”. We just start when it starts and we take the time we need. Some of the songs came really early after recording Ire: a few months later we already started working on some stuff. Then, a bit of a gap. And then, there’s a big chunk of a couple of months where all of a sudden a song is flowing up every 2 days. It was really enjoyable to do. We kind of work on some stuff and then slow down a bit, etc. It takes time, it’s not a constant sit down album only. We write a little bit, then refine it, polish it, polish it… And then, we take some time away and when we come back, we see if it’s right or not and we polish it more. The songs just take a long time to do. But the thing is that’s how our albums work: there’s never 10 songs that we didn’t put on the album, we just make our song exactly the way they need to be. There isn’t a bunch of songs which are not good enough: it’s all on the album, that’s it!
Would it be correct to state that Ire is the end of an era and Reverence the beginning of a new one?
Yeah. I think it’s a bit of a transition. I think so. Is that what you feel for it? I think so. Ire was searching. It was a searching record and us trying to know what we were and trying to be. Again, like not wanting to let go but just trying to find something new about us, new songs to play. This record is us: we know who we are and it’s a lot of different things and that’s fine. We always gonna be a heavy band but that’s all of this and we’re gonna do all of that. We gonna make sure we do it well and we gonna make sure we put the whole of us into it. So yeah, it looks like the first record where we’re comfortable and we have the confidence and the conviction in what we do. If that makes sense (laughter)!
The choice of “Whishing Wells” as a first single seems like a statement. To displays another facets of Parkway Drive’s music – more electronic elements. That’s my own view. Is it accurate?
Yeah, it definitely was. It was one of those things where we finished the album and we said “OK, what’s the first song? What’s the single”? If the single could be the one where you’re like “this is what the album sounds like, you can expect this”. But no song is the same, so… So “Wishing Wells” started the album. A heavy song and it’s still different: different music, different video. Fuck it: this is us, get ready! (laughter)
Aren’t you worried that maybe some people won’t understand that new direction?
At this point in time, no. Because it’s either do what you wanna do and be happy and make something that you care about or do something that you don’t care about because you hope that people might say “yeah, good enough”. And I know which one I’m going to choose. That’s the thing: that’s music so that’s personal. That’s my personality, that’s our personality. We’ve been doing it for 15 years now and, at this point in time, we play for keeps, we play for ourselves, there’s no in between ground to maybe go “Oh, please, like us! We know that you like the old stuff so here’s a little bit of it…”. You know it’s gonna sound fake.
“The Void” – the second song out of Reverence – is more typical of the band. To play it safer and show that anthemic songs are one of your very own specialities?
It’s more just like…An easy song in the sense that it’s just hooks. It’s probably the safest song, like the simplest song on the record concept-wise. But the hooks on that one are so much higher than on anything we’ve ever done before. But someone’s not gonna like it anyway. And we don’t really mind! The thing is: that has grown so much simply from Ire until now, the audience has expanded so much. The more people listen to this music, the more attention it’s gonna get. And for any person that says “I like this”, there’s someone that says “I don’t like this”. Which is fine: it’s just music. You can’t worry to about it because there are so many… “Wishing Wells” has got already like 1.5 million plays already. Think about how many fucking people that is: that’s a lot!
Will you intent to give live treatment to all songs of the album?
Yes. We could but we don’t know that’s the thing. I’d love to. They’re all written with live in mind. Like something that would work in a live environment. We generally write music standing on stage and the impact of that in mind. One of the big things with this record was finding out through playing, through Ire, and suddenly the massive venues, longer set times, what music people react to and how… Because it’s just different from playing 30 mins in a club. Adrenaline! Adrenaline! So finding out different feels, different moods, different vibes that you can bring and how you can bring that into the music and what we could add to the songs we already have. Like what a new song will be able to do if we put it up between 2 old songs. That was a big thing. A lot of songs on this, it’s been written specifically to create a live moment that is different from everything that we had before. Hopefully! (laughter)
Many top deathcore/metalcore labeled acts made drastic changes to evolve. Like Bring Me the Horizon, Trivium, Bullet For My Valentine or Avenged Sevenfold, for instance. Parkway Drive has reached that point where it must evolve to survive?
It depends. It depends on what “survive” means because the sound itself, I think, has gone beyond… Like a new sound came and a couple of bands were popular and then a million band started and the, all of a sudden, there are so many bands that it becomes kind of boring. It gets a little diluted. And people have heard almost all of the sound you can make from it. And people start changing. For us, this is exactly why it happened on Ire. We got four albums and we were like “we’ve done it all and everything that we do after this within that formula, it’s like going back to the start, making a copy which is not as good”. For us, we had to change. It might happen for other bands and it might not happen for other bands but I’ll be surprised like if I see most bands that stick to the exact same thing they’ve done for 15 years, you find it reaching a level where it just don’t break out. We didn’t want to get bored and we wanted to write something new. Sure some people never get bored. Slayer’s not metalcore or deathcore but look at Slayer: they write Slayer songs only and they’re fucking awesome and they did that for their entire career. Same with Pennywise, Bad Religion or AC/DC. Obviously people like and want the same thing but for us… We started this band to write something different that we never knew before in the first place. It took us 10 years to run to get bored of that but we didn’t get bored! Hopefully, we’ll see if this works. That’s fucking great because we love doing what we do. Because it is interesting.
Third appearance at Hellfest in 2018 where you’ll close the day on the Mainstage 2. Any memories of your two previous appearances in 2009 and 2013?
No pressure! (laughter) I remember it being wild. I remember… 2009 was the first time, yeah? I remember 2013 more. It was crazy: mid-afternoon and this is happening? Hellfest is awesome. I also remember arriving and Air France losing all of our gear and we had to borrow everything from our friends from A Day To Remember: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, so we could play!”. The actual festival is… Rad! The people and the actual festival setup is world class. As soon as we got like “Hellfest, this year” we were like “We’re coming back, yes!” (laughter) Closing the stage is a big responsibility though! But the production we have is the biggest we’ve ever done in France before… As long as we can fit it on stage!
Have you had the opportunity to have a look at the line-up? Just in case, here it is…
I haven’t, actually. Let me see… Fuck! This is really the actual line-up? This is the biggest line-up of the entire festival season: this is mental! It’s really insane, man! Our name next to Limp Bizkit, Marylin Manson, Alice In Chains, A Perfect Circle: that’s fucked up! (laughter) Bands that I listened to in high-school… At the time, I was thinking: “they are the biggest bands on the planet”! Limp Bizkit was like the soundtrack to my high-school. The fact that we get to do this and have our little name in front of these people is amazing. It’s really nice but it’s crazy!
Many thanks to Charles (HIM Media).