Interview with Winston McCall | By John Hill
With their new record Ire, Parkway Drive take a lot of steps to show you that they’re interested in way more than breakdowns. In no record before it has the band taken as many risks in order to further their craft of making songs that explore heaviness in musicianship and lyrical content. They did the riskiest thing a heavy band can do at times: slow things down and make music that doesn’t try to do a million things at once. Ire drops September 25, and will change the way you know Parkway Drive forever.
This record’s pretty different. Are you nervous at all?
Not at all, to be honest. We know there’s a change, but at the same point in time it still sounds like Parkway. There’s nothing about the sound that doesn’t sound like the band, like massive clean choruses, or it’s a soft record. It just makes sense. If you’re looking for heavy or fast parts, it’s there.
How do you approach each new record? I was listening to Atlas the other night and it really felt like you hit the end of that style, nothing else to do.
You hit the nail on the head. [laughs] That’s literally the story of this record. We wrote Atlas, recorded it, were really stoked and thought we made huge steps in our songwriting. When it came to write Ire we said “what the hell do we want to do?” We were bored, we loved Atlas but at the same time we didn’t want to write another hundred breakdowns. We literally said “what do we want to do within our skill-set that’s entertaining to us?” So we sat down and listened to a whole bunch of different records and thought of what we like that we can create within Parkway without creating an entirely new band. We love doing what we do, we love this band to bits.
But you can’t do the same shit all the time.
That’s exactly it. And it’s not like all of a sudden we have a record that’s completely different, and it’s a wild record people won’t comprehend. They’re still going to rock out at a Parkway show, it’s not like we’re going to play twelve new songs. But we literally re-evaluated everything about our band and our skill-sets. We sat down and looked at the type of music we were playing, what was working live best, what was fun to play and what was missing. There was a few things we worked out basically. The riff style for our band just wouldn’t cut it anymore. The riffs, 90% of the time get lost. Not necessarily because the riff is bad, but just because you have me screaming and the drums going crazy, so it’s just chaos. Especially in larger venues it just doesn’t translate. We had to make sure a riff counted when we wrote a riff, we had to make sure the breakdowns counted, and the major thing was realizing melody. We wanted to maximize the melody and hooks without me singing like Howard Jones. [laughs] He’s an incredible singer and everything but..
Yeah, it really stood out to me how much variance there was in changing up vocals from song to song. What were you listening to that brought it out?
Everything. We all have very different influences and they all mesh into something that’s Parkway. For me it all came from Nick Cave, and you’ll really hear that on “Writings on the Wall.” By the time someone hears that song, it’s going to be a “what the fuck moment.” There’s a lot of moments on the record we knew were going to wig people the fuck out. Vocally I wanted to bring a lot more humanity, like the record is called Ire. I’ve heard so much over the course of being a band like, “oh Winston sounds like a demon, but in real life he’s a normal person!” And even my friends can’t reconcile it. So I wanted to give the record a feeling of it being from a real person, and up until that point I couldn’t because of my voice. So I made that shift from level zero to ten, and have bits that really count. When you do really go heavy, it’s like “oh now he’s pissed” as opposed to that being the whole record. This is the most excited we’ve been as a band, simply because we’ve gone from wanting to do fast parts and breakdowns to a band where we can do whatever we want, and we can turn it into whatever we want. That’s why I don’t care if this record goes well or not, it’s the first time I’ve felt like a musician doing this record.