It’s been 10 years since Aussie heavy metal band Parkway Drive left Byron Bay for the big time, cementing their place on festival circuits around the world – and having just treated fans to a nostalgia-fuelled ‘10 Year Anniversary Tour’ on home soil, the guys are getting set to pack their gear into the tour bus once again to play the ‘Vans Warped Tour’ across Europe and Australia this month.
MTV Australia caught up with lead singer Winston McCall while he was back home in Byron Bay last week to talk touring, playing competitive Bejewelled and children named Carrion and Leviathan. Read on…
MTV: You’ve just wrapped your '10 Year Anniversary Tour' of Australia, what were some of the highlights?
Winston McCall: The fact that it didn’t suck was definitely a highlight! But no, I mean that in the truest sense, the whole idea of the tour was bringing back a whole bunch of old songs. We re-learnt 17 songs that we hadn’t played in so long and they were so obscure that we figured that it might be a really awkward show, that people might not actually want to hear those songs, but the fact that it was really well received was absolutely phenomenal – so that was the biggest shock. Some of the highlights... Jesus… people jumping off balconies at shows, stage invasions…
MTV: Over 10 years you must’ve clocked up some pretty crazy fan moments, right?
WM: In general, the craziest thing is generally children named after either a song or a band member. That’s when things get really nuts. Example, a child named Leviathan, a child in America named Carrion, which is insane. I can’t understand that because the actual meaning of the word carrion is ‘rotting carcass.’ So yeah, ‘How’s it going little Carrion? Congratulations, you’re going to have a great life no one’s going to pick on you at school, because your dad happened to like our band,’ – it’s rad.
MTV: What can we expect from your ‘Vans Warped Tour’ set?
WM: We’ll see how we go. We’re in a weird position which is very nice in the sense that we have more songs that go down really, really well that people want to hear than we have time to play, and it sounds like such a stupid rock star thing to say but it’s pretty crazy how well songs go down these days and how many songs are hit songs in that sense. So we do have a space written that we’re just like ‘play old songs here.’ We don’t know which ones we’re going to play but the fact that we’ve managed to re-learn them and that’s gone so well means all of a sudden we breathe life into a whole bunch of songs which we never thought we would play again.
MTV: Are there any acts you’re hanging out to see on the Warped Tour?
WM: Millencolin and Offspring, especially. Both of those bands have been massive influences on every single member of the band growing up and they’re both bands that we’ve never seen before, which is really odd because they’ve toured Australia a bunch but we’ve always been overseas or something while they’ve played. We’ve also played festivals with them but they’ll be on a different day to us, or clashing stage times.
MTV: What’s the vibe like behind-the-scenes on tours like Warped?
WM: Yeah, it’s really good. Especially in the States it’s a real community vibe because there’s a lot of work done by the bands in the sense of you have to run your own merch tent, and basically, other than the stages, which are run by the same crew every single day – who work their asses off – you’ve got to take care of yourself pretty well. So there’s a full-on community vibe to it, there’s a lot of hang-outs going on and yeah, it’s social. But that’s the feel of the whole show full stop, that’s what makes Warped great and I guess different. The whole festival definitely feels a lot more personal as opposed to like ‘there goes some rock stars on like a sky-scraper-shaped stage that’s off in the distance that you watch on an LCD screen.’ It’s still sweaty and nuts and in your face, so it’s cool.
MTV: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
WM: We all stretch a bit, that’s about it. To be honest the only full-on ritual we have is playing the iPhone game Bejewelled, and we have a band contest of it, including the roadies, every single day. So we have a champion at the end of the tour and we have a daily champ and the person who loses gets ridiculed and that’s about it, that’s our ritual. We’re very competitive.
MTV: You released Atlas a year ago now, have you been working on new material since then?
WM: Yeah, we just started actually. So we’ve been writing and songs have been coming along really well and the material that we have is fantastic. It’s definitely an evolution to the band and it sounds great. It sounds like Parkway but at the same time, there’s stuff that sounds completely different to anything that we’ve done. It’s exactly what we want to do, we love making things that are different to what we’ve done before and we love doing things that we’ve done before better than we’ve done before. To be still rolling along with that kind of stuff is fantastic. So we’ll see how we go, we haven’t hit a wall yet but that being said I don’t want to jinx it.
MTV: When can we expect another album then?
WM: We’re not tied down to anything but we’re thinking it’s probably going to be like a year before we record … but it could be longer, it could be a little bit shorter but I really doubt it. We do tour a hell of a lot and we are keeping in mind the fact that we don’t like putting out stuff that isn’t completely 100% the best that we can do with it. We don’t like rushing things and we need time to write and you know that at some point you’re going to smash into that writers block and it’s going to suck.
MTV: Do you set aside time to write or do you do it on the road?
WM: It’s good these days with technology. Like this tour we’re about to do we’re taking laptops and a bunch of programs and we plug it in and we can literally do what we do in the back of the bus and it goes down on the computer and then we just translate it when we get home. It’s nice. 3am in Bulgaria you can still write.
The Australian leg of the Vans Warped Tour kicks off on Friday November 29 in Brisbane before heading to Coffs Harbour, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, then finishing up in Adelaide on December 8.
— Lucy Slight