Interview with vocalist Winston McCall | By Tim Anderl
“Anytime we write an album, it is a snapshot of our existence while the record is being created,” Parkway Drive vocalist Winston McCall says of the band’s sixth album, Reverence. “I’ve [only] written one conceptual album. Obviously, there is a lot of grief and pain on this album, which represents what we were going through at that time. It has been a hard three years for us personally, and we’ve all experienced a lot of loss. That’s what came out in these songs. The ones that weren’t personal are very dark because, worldwide, it is a dark time in history.”
As such, Reverence—which drops via Epitaph Records on May 4—is the most sonically diverse and emotionally intense work the Australian five-piece have created to date.
“Elements [of goth and industrial music are] definitely there,” McCall admits. “It was intentional, but not in the way that we were saying, ‘Let’s put goth and industrial parts in there so that we can write a record that sounds like that.’ Those influences came out because they are personal influences. They are parts that we enjoyed creating. We never said, ‘Let’s go in an X, Y, or Z direction,’ but those sparks were inspiration for creating this sound. I listen to a lot of that kind of stuff, but it had never made its way into our records.”
For perhaps the first time in Parkway Drive’s career, McCall demonstrates a rock-solid confidence in breaking the mold of their previous, more metal-leaning efforts and pursuing new directions.
“If we want to write music differently or unlike anything we’ve done before or redefine the band in a particular way, we can,” he asserts. “The band is five friends, and this is the music that represents us. After having been a band for a long time, you get stuck in the mindset that you are defined by everything you’ve done previously. For this record, it was a goal of ours to take everything that we find interesting in music and carve songs and a record out of that concept and that concept alone. It has taken us a lot of time to get the confidence to actually do that.”
Reverence also sees the group allowing more melody to leach into their songwriting.
“This is the first record where I’ve had control of my voice and to sing and write melodies,” McCall explains. “A lot of the melodies ended up coming out darker than ever before. It left a lot more space for creating a character that was driven by a vocal performance rather than the guitar performance.”
Despite some fans pushing back a bit against the new direction—in particular when Parkway Drive premiered their single, “The Void”—McCall’s resolve and determination remains strong.
“I think you can hear [in our records] when we’ve chosen to push and when we’ve chosen to remain safe,” he says. “This is the first time we’ve been pushed to go into a recording with no preconceived notions of what Parkway Drive should sound like. We like heavy; we like melodic. It doesn’t have to be metalcore. This is the next step in the legacy of the band. After 15 years of writing music together, this is where we want to be. It is what we need as musicians. I hope people remember that we were fierce in the creation of this record.”
“We are swinging for the fences,” McCall concludes. “That is why the record is the way it is.”