Thursday, July 3, 2008

Parkway Drive Interview Part 11

Ok, lets change pace a little here. Personally for you as a young kid growing up in the beautiful town of Byron Bay, what attracted you to hardcore? As in what bands, records, etc, and also what attracted you to the ideals behind hardcore, and further off shoots of that, straightedge and vegetarianism?

For me it came from punk, which came from surf video's and the radio. I can remember hearing these songs that were so fast and so intense that they just stood out from everything else. I started listening to the music i heard on certain surf vid's, bands like pennywise, front end loader and of course, throwdown. Then i heard bad religion. Basically i heard a band that sounded like these bands that had taken over my world, but the singer was throwing out these words and ideas and concepts that were so intelligent i just couldn't get my head around it. They made me actually want to pick up a book and have a look at the ideas they we're putting out there. I guess that's when i found the idea behind punk, and i went back and took the time to read the lyrics of these bands that i was listening to and find out what they were about. It was great to realise there was so much more than just a sound but someone that actually gave a fuck and encouraged open minded thought.
From punk my musical influence just spread and spread until it hit hardcore. Once again i started hearing these sounds that we're new to me, mainly being faster, rawer, and more intense. It was a challenge to get my head around, and i've always loved a challenge. Bands like throwdown lead to raised first, which lead to strife, which lead to new friends with a whole stack of shit i had never even heard of.
By this time i was in high school and some of life's reality’s were hitting home, especially regarding the beautiful town i lived in. Unemployment, lack of future options, racism, homelessness and street violence all of a sudden became a lot clearer to me, and i guess i found out it isn't the perfect place the tourist brochure's tell you about. I guess it lead me to ask the question, "how can this beautiful little town get so fucked up?" Basically the problem's i came up with were the same things these bands were confronting. I guess it just made me feel a little better to know that it wasn't just me that gave a fuck about a fucked up world.
Straight Edge for me came from Strife, Ten Yard Fight, Earth Crisis and Pitfall. It was something i had no idea about. How the fuck do you live without getting drunk? At the time i was 17 and i had just started drinking after years of telling my friends I'd rather be surfing. The new experience was amazing to me and i got fucked up as much as i could, which later lead to me fucking up my education and becoming very ill. I'll blame that one on my Irish heritage. Anyway i can remember laughing about it when i first heard what it stood for. Two years later, I was done with wasted nights. The idea of keeping my brain cells and memory seem too logical to deny.
I've been vegetarian since birth and i wouldn't have it any other way, except i hate veggies and they taste shit. But pasta and tofu are good.

Do you recall if it was a single show, or maybe a band's record that made you think to yourself, "hang on, i could do this, i want to be in a band"? Am i right in saying the first hardcore band in Byron was Think Straight? If not who was it? and iam sure they were friends which made the idea of being in a band of your own not seem like an impossibility, and also how supportive was the whole Byron Bay hardcore scene in these early stages?

It was a show. DOC and Mindsnare on the gold coast. I think it was 2001 but i may be wrong. Anyway, it was less of a , "hey i could do this" feeling, and more just me seeing how young DOC were and seeing how crazy Mindsnare went that made me actually "want" to do something.

Your right in Think Straight being the first hardcore band to come out of Byron, and seeing them play definitely influenced the way i saw hardcore on a whole as more accessible than any type of music i had ever heard before. The only down side to seeing my friends play was realising how shit i was at playing any kind of musical instrument (and i still am). I realised early on that all hope was lost in that department, no matter how simple the chords or beats where.
The Byron scene on a whole has always been supportive, although with all the write offs that go down i can see how people can think it appears otherwise. Back then it was very very small. One band. No venue. Halls or parties were the only places to play in Byron and not too many people cared outside of our very small community. For years it remained small, we went to whatever shows we could. Most of them Think Straight were playing. Most of them we had to sneak in somehow due to being under age. We got whatever lifts we could to get to the venues, which included Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich. It's all blown up pretty huge now. Lot's of faces i have never seen before and far less that strike me as familiar, but i've kind of noticed that nation wide.

You just touched on it, but how do you feel about the current popularity of hardcore in Australia at the moment? With bands selling out the roundhouse and other larger venues.
But with this rise in numbers, gone are the days of pulling up to a venue and playing to a room of familiar faces.
Obviously there are good and bad points from this, what are your thoughts?

I think the rise in popularity goes hand in hand with the rise of the internet and the availability of music. Before the net came along you couldn't find records anywhere other than a few select shops, therefore the amount of people listening and being exposed to hardcore outside the scene itself was tiny. Basically unless you stumbled into one of these stores or your friend showed you a band you had no exposure at all, where as nowday's records are everywhere, band video's are on TV and every man and his dog are wearing a shitty Ramones shirt. All you have to do to hear something new is browse though myspace or track down a band from a friends personal page. A bit different from mixed tapes and mail orders. To be perfectly honest i think it is only a very very small portion of kids at these giant shows that actually have a clue what hardcore is about, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sure there are less familiar faces and the rooms are huge but it's like fun, and everyone knows that with the rise comes the fall. It's only a matter of time. I say enjoy something different while it lasts, cause you know when shows go back to being small rooms of friends, the kids that were complaining in the first place will be gone anyway. Plus it's only crazy for a few bands anyway. Hardcore shows still go on like usual. It's pretty simple. Parkway somehow has got to the stage where playing the arthouse just can't happen. We've thought about it and tried to work out a tour with small personal venues, but the thing is we'd have to play the same venue several nights in a row, we'd be fucked, and the shows would end up full of people saying "why is this venue so shit". So basically fuck it. We still try and play hardcore shows. We try and play the most personal venues possible for us, which these days means a barrier, which sucks, but what the fuck else are we supposed to do? And we still play with hardcore bands. In case people don't know or haven't realised yet, we are in the unique position of being able to bring bands form overseas to tour with us, which means we can bring friends and bands that kids in Australia might miss out on seeing, and for us it means bringing good hardcore bands. So there it is, there's a positive and a negative to every situation.

Thats awesome that you guys are in the position to do that, and i know that The Warriors and Have Heart have already benefited from it (as well as Her Nightmare, No Apologies, Antagonist and Break Even among alot of others). What other bands would you like to see make it to our great country. And what bands in general over the past 5 or so years have kept you siked on the core? Whether it be just by hearing their record, or seeing them play in some weird venue in Germany.

This is Hell and Rise and Fall for starters, but as you know i'm just a fifth of the band and there is a lot of difference in our musical taste. Both of the bands are really good friends and both are amazing hardcore bands so hopefully we can bring them out at some point in time, if they don't make it here by themselves firstly.
There has been too many bands keeping me sane over the years through both their music and their friendship so i'll role off a few. Internal Affairs, Down to Nothing, Have Heart, The Warriors, Rise and Fall, Knuckledust, Sick Of It All, Madball, Terror, This Is Hell, Comeback Kid, Most Precious Blood, Ringworm, 108, The Hope Conspiracy, Bury your Dead, Converge, Evergreen Terrace, 50 Lions, and god knows how many more.
Probably the best and most lasting live shows or bands i have seen have been from two bands.
The first time I saw these guys was at Eiper Fest in Belgium a few years ago. Seriously, hearing these guys on record and seeing them live are two different things entirely. The loudest, the heaviest and the most intense band i have ever seen. We've played with them a fair bit since and they are great friends, but seriously, very time i see them it feels like my chest is about to explode. They are just so fucking hectic.
We played with these guys in a tiny Club in Japan purely out of chance. To be honest I never saw what the hype was about with these guys. Then they played, and holy shit, what a fucking hardcore band. These guys are so young, so honest, and carry so much passion and integrity i feel very very bad for not taking the time to get into these guys earlier. Seriously good dudes and one of the best hardcore bands i have ever witnessed.

Ok, back to Parkway Drive. You guys have been out on the road for at least 3/4's out of the year for the past few years, How hard do you find it being away from your home and loved ones? I know that it must be tough, but does the one thing that helps you to get through it is knowing the fact of how fortunate you are to be in such a position to see the world for free, travel with your mates and play shows all over the place?

This year has been the easiest out of the last 3, simply because we worked so hard that we are now in the position to be able to plan our tours bit better as apposed to just jumping on whatever we can. We've tried the rough approach of month on, month off, and it seems to be working well. Up until then i was pretty much at the end of my rope. Tour is great but to be honest it was breaking me apart as a person. I love hardcore and being in this band so much, but at the same time I love my girlfriend and leaving her on the other side of the world for months on end while i go and travel just mad me feel ill. We all realise how lucky we are to be doing what we are doing, and we are all to aware that it wont last so that really does keep us running. I don't think any of us would have guessed our lives would turn out this way but it is one of those things that you have to take while the chance is there. Life is strange i guess.

Of all the places that you are lucky enough to have travelled, which are some favourites? and over the last few years what are some shows that stick out in your mind?
Also, tell the readers some things that Parkway get up to on off days.

Favourite places would be, in no particular order, Greece, Scotland, Russia, Venice, Rome, France, OC and Japan. Show wise, let me think. We've played so many its hard to pin point these days. Pretty much every show we've played in London has been ridiculous. The Underworld is probably the best venue in the world. The last show we played in Koln, Germany was completely mental. Kids jumping of the speaker stacks, a couple of girls flying into the drums and the whole kit exploding rolling stones style and kids swinging from the lighting rig. That was a good one. There was another stupidly crazy show on the last Never Say Die tour with comeback kid.we played in some little town in italy. The stage was tiled so it was like ice skating. The was about six or seven hundred kids in this tiny room and you could just roll around on top of them. Like i said it too hard to pick. Every show that kids rush the stage is crazy.We've tried to make a point of seeing as much of the world as we can through playing in the bands. The first year of touring in Europe we drove ourselves and saw and did some crazy shit. We crossed over the French alps, went thought the highlands in Scotland, hung out in Venice for a night, cruised around Rome and Athens and saw other crazy shit. Other than the standard sight seeing stuff we still try and hit the water as much as we can. We get to surf a bit with whatever boards we can. The first few times we surfed the wedge in California it was huge and we didn't have gear so we stole some food trays from Del Taco and surfed them. it worked pretty good. Oh yeah i jumped of a 40 metre bridge in the states somewhere. stoked i'm still alive. Oh yeah the other great thing is breaking into a water park in the states at midnight and turning all the rides on. That was some of the craziest shit we've ever done. We almost died.