The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world








Parkway Drive is a band that Australia should be proud of: making music very much on their own terms for the last ten years they have done what so few Australian bands seem to manage on such a scale – getting their music heard and connecting with people all over the world. If you take a moment to reflect on their story – it’s one of self-belief and dedication. They have a right to be proud of what they have achieved and the doors they have opened for other Australian artists, but instead of swagger they are rather self-deprecating about it all – just thankful that people listen and grateful they can do what they love – playing live all around the globe.

Like all the best bands Parkway Drive writes about themes that concern and matter to them, but they don’t preach – they let you decide. And if there ever was a band that could inspire the youth of today to take a positive interest in the world it could well be them. With ten years and a lot of hard work under their collective belts Parkway Drive are co-headlining the 2013 Australian leg of the Vans Warped Tour. We spoke to vocalist and lyricist Winston McCall and found a very humble and very articulate ambassador for Australian heavy music. The time, like in all the best interviews just flew by.

Most of all though Parkway Drive rock, and long may that continue!




Mark: Hey Winston, thanks for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit. The big news of course is the Vans Warped tour. How does it feel not only to be playing but headlining a show like that on your own turf?


Winston: It’s pretty special especially as it’s Warped, as for most of the band that was one of the first shows we ever went to when it first came to Australia. So for us to be part of it almost 20 years later, let alone to be so high up on the bill is amazing.   


Mark: You’re veterans of Warped of course, so you know what a great Festival it is.


Winston: Yeah we’ve played two tours in the States, and we’re actually leaving on Wednesday to go out and play the European shows, so were straight off the European shows into the Australian!


Mark: That’ll be great to get back out on tour because you’ve had an uncharacteristically quiet 2013 so far by your standards – actually taking some well-deserved time out?  


Winston: Yeah the first time really we’ve had a bit of time off. It’s great because the shows that we have played have been absolutely crazy – the Summer Festivals have been absolutely monstrous and the ten year anniversary tour was huge, but we’ve had a bit of time off which has been nice.


Mark: Was the Ten Year Anniversary Tour all that you hope it would be?


Winston: It was way more than I hoped it would be. To be honest it was something that we really wanted to do primarily for the fans. We re-learnt I think it was seventeen songs that we’d completely not played in many, many years! And we did it literally because there are so many people that have been supporting this band for so long and have been coming to gigs, even if there were only a handful of them yelling out for songs they usually don’t get to hear. So we put up polls to try and figure out what people wanted us to play and learnt as many as we could. But we really didn’t expect it to go down as well as it did. We expected people to want to hear the newer songs and for the first half of the set, sit there going ‘I don’t know this’! But it worked really really well, those old songs got such a great reception it was huge! The shows we absolutely insane and we were so stoked. We were half expecting that part to be just really awkward and people being bored for the first half of the set waiting for the new stuff. But it just went from strength to strength- it was absolute chaos, unforgettable.    


Mark: And now you’ve got the book out to join the  DVD, so there’s a lot out there for fans to enjoy and great to see a band looking after them and listening to what they want..


Winston: It’s great that people want that stuff. It’s great that they want a memento of what this band has been doing for the last ten years. I mean it’s nuts really – especially that they remember the songs we were doing ten years ago, it’s fricking nuts!



Mark: Looking back over the first ten years, what have been the highlights for you amongst it all. What has really stuck out as the milestones for Parkway?


Winston: Oh man, there have been so many of those. It’s been one of those things where we started from zero in the sense that we just wanted to play and have our friends mosh. Then the idea of recording a song was never something that came into the equation early on. So to think now that we’ve done four albums and toured so many places around the world is amazing. Even when we record something now: an album or even an EP we sit back and wonder how the hell are we going to do anything else because we just used up all of our riffs! We just used up all the music we have! How are we going to put together another set of songs?  And it’s like that every time, and it’s even the same with shows that have gone so well, or when we’ve played a new place. It’s like ‘Holy shit!’ and it’s great that al that excitement is still not lost on us, we’re still not jaded thinking oh it’s just another song or another show and that’s the really amazing part we’re so grateful for. So every step along the way really is a milestone for us


Mark: Things are just getting bigger and bigger for you though. You sound very humble there but in a way you’re still leading the way and saying to Australian Metal bands especially, that if you work hard and put your foot down you can achieve anything. You guys have achieved so much and are out there leading the way for so many.


Winston: Yeah, It’s really good that that is possible as well because there’s been so many time when we’ve played a gif or done something and said to each other “We better remember that because that’s as big as it’s gonna get!”. We never had any expectations or dreamed that our kind of aggressive heavy music could break those thresholds that we thought were the maximum number of people we could reach with it. And to have those expectations blown away so many times and to know that it’s not just us, that it can happen to other Australian bands, and should and does – it’s not a fluke. We played a bunch of Festivals in Europe this year and one of the was the Full Force Festival, with like 30,000 people and I heard this band playing in a tent and it was completely packed - there were like 12 maybe 15 thousand people there – and it was ‘Thy Art Is Murder’- I thought this is fucking amazing - another Australian band that I’d literally never seen before and they were absolutely demolishing it, it was killer and it was shoeing exactly what Australian bands can do, it was really cool.      





Mark: ’Atlas’ the album that you put out late last year seemed to be another leap forward – it’s got a huge sound to it – was that something you were consciously striving for? To create something massive to blow away the bigger crowds?


Winston: Thank you, yes it was, pretty much. We wanted to incorporate more. We’d never tried before  to put things like the layering in there. And to do that we needed the clarity in order to put that in, otherwise it would have just turned into a giant ‘mush ball’. So the idea was to make it sound as big as we could but also as clear as we could so yes that was definitely the idea behind it. And then we had to I guess go for the goal of clarity and Matt Hyde (producer) did an awesome job as far as we were concerned.


Mark: It’s also a very dark album lyrically, but you yourself seem to be a very positive person. Would you consider yourself an optimist as far as the state of the world is concerned or…


Winston: (pause) Ummm, I wouldn’t say that (laughs)! I am a very positive person, but I don’t think I have the wool pulled over my eyes in terms of the way things work. I’m positive because I’m very lucky , everyone in this band is really aware of how lucky we are and so it’s very hard to complain and not be positive in doing what you love, travelling the world, making new friends and at the same time creating some kind of art form which is fantastic. At the same time you travel the world and you get to see what life means to everyone else, and the struggle that everyone’s involved in, so it’s hard not to write songs that say ‘hey everything is not OK’ so that’s where I guess where things do come out negative or dark. I think t would be very unfair of me to write a bunch of songs about me just going surfing and living a great life, because its always on my mind that I’m a very lucky person.


Mark: It’s interesting because as a band you do seem to put out a very positive image, whether that’s intentional or not, but you’re not preachy. It’s almost as if you’re saying “Look this is the reality of what’s out there, but it’s really up to you to get up off your arse and do something about it.


Winston: 100% I think that when a band becomes preachy that’s when they also become a crutch. When you start preaching you either turn people away or you become something that people decide to lean on for that specific cause. And people say ‘Hey that person’s saying something and because that particular person is saying it I believe it and that’s cool, but they don’t necessarily do anything they just relate because of their relationship with you. But I think leaving it up to people to make their own minds up about things is so important. I think that the provision of information is the main tool for change. People need a motivation to look at things for themselves. You don’t need someone telling you “Hey you guys aren’t doing a good enough job because…” Everyone is different and everyone can decide to make a difference or not in their own way.  


Mark: ‘Dark Days’ the video was very ‘in your face’ too, I imagine that did everything you wanted it to?


Winston: Thanks, yeah it did and it was great that it got such a great reception too. We really wanted to put a first single out that would mean something. Not just a band playing and then some story about a girl getting chased by a zombie or something! The song did hit home lyrically for us, we wanted to create something that mattered and put the band’s name behind something that we believed in. It got so many views in the first week it was ridiculous! A couple of million people watched it and reacted in a very positive way. It was great that we managed to put something out there that would really make people think. That was phenomenal and it’s great that song has now turned into one of if not the best song we play live. It gets such an incredible response and it’s not the usual sort of sappy romantic song that people usually like to sing along to!   


Mark: (laughs) Zombies are very cool though at the moment!


Winston: (laughs)





Mark: You’ve toured a lot of interesting countries in your travels and I see that Metallica are set to play Antarctica soon! Where is still on the ‘bucket list’ of places to play?


Winston: Antarctica yes! We wanted to be that band! I’ve been wanting to play Antarctica so long! (laughs). When I read that I thought “Fuck they beat us to it!” As far as the list we’ve just turned down a bunch of shows that we really wanted to pay for a number of reasons. We’ve covered so much of the Earth literally all over the globe that I just picture this land mass and where we haven’t been. But other than the whole continent of Africa and Antarctica I’d love to play everywhere and every continent on the planet! I’d also love to play space! Don’t count space out! (laughs).    


Mark: (laughing) Just a few quick ones for you to close: can music change the world?.


Winston: Yes, of course it can, It’s one of the most primitive, basic and effective communication tools there is so I think it can set in motion an amazing amount of change.


Mark: If you could have been a ‘fly on the wall’ for the creation of any classic album in the history of rock, just to see the interaction and how the magic happened what would it be for you and why?


Winston: Oh (pause) I’d say… Can I say two? I’d have to say The Black Album and St Anger just to see the difference!   


Mark: (laughing) that would be interesting I guess! And the easy one to close – what is the meaning of life?
Winston: It’s gonna sound sappy. But I’d have to say love and compassion. That’s it because I think that’s really what means the most to everyone on this planet and what will keep this planet turning.


Mark: I think that’s about time up, though I could go on for ages, it’s been a pleasure talking to you today.





Winston: That’s cool, call again any time and we’ll talk again.


(at this point the operator cuts in to tell us we have one more minute left)


Winston: We’ve got one more minute, keep ‘em coming it will go quick!


Mark: Cool, I will. What are you listening to at the moment? Anything our readers need to hear?


Winston: I’m listening to the new Monster Magnet record, that’s fantastic, and the Nationals new record, those and Nick Cave’s new one ‘Push the Sky Away’. Those three all fantastic.


Mark: Love the Monster Magnet and Nationals but I haven’t heard the Nick Cave one yet though.


Winston: It’s incredible. It’s soft for Nick Cave but I couldn’t listen to another record for six months after hearing that. It’s the sort of record you put on and after it finishes you just don’t want to put on anything else.


Mark: Sold! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit, all the best and enjoy Europe!
Winston: Thanks mate, have a good one…




Winston McCall spoke to Mark Diggins October 31 2013





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