With their fifth album Ire (2015), Byron Bay five-piece Parkway Drive put the snatch on their first ever ARIA #1 record. That’s a huge win for any band, but particularly so for a metalcore act.
That didn’t mean, says frontman Winston McCall, the guys were hanging up their adventure boots – but nor were they necessarily tightening their laces. “You’re trying to figure out what to hold on to, but at the same time trying to go as far as you can – you’re just stretching between those two things,” he tells STACK. “If we wanted [to take] a path that was relevant to something older, we’d do if it was needed – but it wasn’t forced. It was working outside of a pre-conceived paradigm of what Parkway was, and just creating what Parkway can be.”
In describing the process of constructing, chopping, sculpting and sanding down, McCall says that he, lead guitarist Jeff Ling, and drummer Ben Gordon – the writers of the band – agreed that they were fully determined not to regress in any way. “We knew when something was right,” says McCall. “Then we kept building. It would sometimes take a year to actually form [a concept] into the way you hear it on the album, but it’s so far removed from what that original interesting thing was.” He thinks on it for a moment. “So, it’s a process of evolution… it’s like Darwinism over the former record. Musical Darwinism: survival of the fittest idea.”
The ideas that did make it onto Reverence haven’t just ‘survived’; they’re pulsating with life, from the gorgeous orchestral strings on Shadow Boxing and In Blood, to the duelling fork-tongued guitar melodies on Prey, to the bleak decline of heartbreaking closer The Colour Of Leaving.
“There’s a lot of references to faith, and a larger power, and a larger overarching theme to life on this record,” says McCall. “And words like ‘pray’ and ‘God’ and ‘faith’ and ‘The Devil’, they’re all used simply to give the idea of giving yourself over to something that you really can’t control, or something… all-imposing.” ‘Pray’ is one that’s used particularly cleverly in the track Prey, as McCall oscillates between the word’s meanings as a plea, and as a target of attack. “I like the idea that those two could be tied together, because the song itself is about the idea of what we now look to as a model for our life,” McCall says. “You look at the most influential people on the planet. They’re people that have replaced body parts to look a certain way, they’re walking advertisements, and will do whatever they can for a dollar. And then at the same time, the way they make their money is by making us feel we’re lacking something in ourselves, and in our lives. And we create this cycle of depression through what we choose to watch. And what we choose to worship, is attention… we’re literally the prey [in] our own cycle.”
When he speaks about the aforementioned final track of the album, McCall is visibly affected just thinking about its genesis. He says the whole album was written during hard times for himself and his bandmates, but The Colour Of Leaving is particularly raw. “That song is written about saying goodbye to friends, and I wrote the lyrics right after we lost one of our friends to cancer,” he says. “I think it was within hours of getting the news, ‘cause it was a way of dealing with something. It was just there, so I wrote it down. Then I wrote the other half after burying my dog from cancer. And the two sets of lyrics… I didn’t realise until a couple of months later that … they combined into a song. I didn’t even demo those words, ‘cause they were too hard to even say. The vocal performance was just me and the producer for four takes. The other takes, I’m broken by the end, so that was the only one we could use.”
The suggestion that including this song on Reverence is brave – a courageous choice – is something McCall shoulders off, in the nicest possible way. “I’ve seen what bravery is, and it’s not creating a record,” he says. “The whole idea was for the album to be honest, and this is honesty – not hiding behind anything. That’s not me trying to make a statement, it’s just out of the moment, I guess. This is just music, but I hope that it does that music justice.”
STACK caught up with Winston McCall, frontman of homegrown metalcore lords Parkway Drive.Check out the full interview about their new album, 'Reverence': https://stack.com.au/music/music-interview/interview-winston-mccall-parkway-drive-reverence/#STACKpresents
Posted by STACK Magazine on Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Reverence is out May 4 via Resist/Cooking Vinyl.
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