“We’ve been through a lot of tragedy and a lot of trauma. It’s darker than anything we’ve done before… “- hmv.com talks to Parkway Drive
Australian metallers Parkway Drive ended the touring for their fifth studio album Ire on the crest of a wave with a sold-out gig at London’s Brixton Academy.
For a band who have spent their carrier delivering uncompromising heavy metal, driven by powerhouse riffs and gruff vocals, with no thought to radio airplay or commercial success, that was a triumph. But it’s a triumph that has only served to whet their appetites.
This week they return with new album Reverence. Produced once again by George Hadjichristou, the band’s power and precision is front and centre, with frontman Winston McCall’s uncompromising vocals still as harsh as ever they were.
As the album arrives on shelves, we spoke to McCall about how it came together and why the band take a long, long time to write songs...
When did you start putting together the songs for Reverence?
“We started working on these songs a long time ago, more than two years ago, it takes us a long time to distil our music to a point where we’re happy with it. The last thing you want is to go in and record an album and six months later wish you’d done something completely different and know you could have done better. We take a long time, going over every inch of the record, making sure it all makes sense in the context of a whole piece of work.”
How did you want the album to move on from what you did on Ire?
“We wanted the album to progress what we stand for. We want Parkway Drive to have a record which took everything we loved about the band - the heaviness, the melody - and push it in a direction people weren’t expecting. We wanted to retain the band’s character, but help redefine what this band is capable of and what sounds we can bring. We never want to grind away in the same spot. We want Parkway Drive to be a band that’s unpredictable and capable of anything.”
You worked with George Hadjichristou on the album, what did he bring to the process?
“We worked with him on Ire and the idea of doing the record with anyone else never came into the picture. He’s also our front of house sound guy and he’s been with us from the start. He knows how we work, what works for us sonically. We’re trying to capture what we do as a live band, that energy and he knows how to do that and he knows that from the get-go. This time around the concepts were much larger and it took a lot of work, but George was definitely up to the task. He’s been a huge part in expanding the band’s sound.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme across the album?
“Every album is written as a reflection of what’s going on in our lives. Aside from Deep Blue, we don’t do concept records. We write music that reflects that period of our lives. It’s a lot more personal record than anything we’ve done before. We’ve been through a lot of tragedy and a lot of trauma, the world was quite a dark place, so the lyrics definitely reflect that. It’s a darker album than anything we’ve done before.”
Which song on the album took the longest to get right? And which came together most quickly?
“That’s a hard one. I don’t think anything came together quickly. Even if a song does come together quickly we let it sit with us for a couple of months before we go back to it. Nothing on the album is the way it was first written, every single song sounds incredibly different from the first demo, that’s just how we work.”
When did you settle on Reverence for the title? Were any other titles in contention?
“The title came very late in the game. We had a few titles, but nothing stuck. We had other names, lots of them floated around, but nothing felt right until Reverence came along.”
What are your plans to take the album out live? When will we see you back in the UK?
“We’ll be back for Download Festival and we’re bringing everything we’ve got. We’ll be burning that place to the ground! Then we’ll be back for a headlining run for the album. We only plan on making these bigger, we want to make it a huge experience. When we come back, it’s a whole new ball game.”
You’ve got six albums to choose from now, how will you go about choosing what you put in your live set?
“It is becoming a challenge. We’re not a band that likes cutting old songs, we like building a live sound that maximises what we do sonically. It comes down to picking moments and what songs give to certain moments. We make different sounding songs so our live experience can go from very dark to very light and everywhere in between.”