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Interview with PWD’s Winston McCall
Parkway Drive are due to hit the stage hard at No Sleep Til. So we decided to have a chat with Winston McCall over tea and scones about music, culture, life, touring, and labels. We
Mannequin Republic: Hey Winston is it good to finally be having a break?
Winston McCall: Hell yes. We’ve toured non-stop for probably a year. I’ve loved every minute but it is good to be home and not having to worry about our next show for a while.
MR: That is something that Parkway Drive has always been passionate about. Does constant touring make you a better band?
Winston: Sort of. It depends what you get up to in your spare time. Interviews are great and I love doing them while on tour because it gets me away from the mayhem that is Parkway Drive and touring (laughs). We work really hard to make sure our gigs are awesome and that the kids are having fun.
MR: Also I nearly forgot, congratulations on the ARIA.
Winston: Thanks! (laughs). It was a real honour. It’s an award that is great reward not so much for us, but for the way the alternative scene works so hard to push the music to the masses. Often from a very grassroots level. The ARIA is for them, not so much us.
MR: Things are certainly going well in the world of alt-rock.
Winston: Yep. Just look at Bring me the Horizon. Their album debuted on the British Charts and on the Australian charts at number one. Even if you aren’t a fan, you have to admit that was a pretty proud moment for hardcore/metal.
MR: I admire what they have done it’s fantastic. Do you think it’s partly down to the fact that they are signed to Epitaph Records?
W: I think it certainly helps. We signed to them because we knew it was a big label, but also small enough where you felt comfortable to express yourself and I always knew that environment would help us grow.
MR: The new album is certainly a step away from what you have done before. I got the feeling that many PWD fans were a bit upset you didn’t go with Adam Dutkiewicz again.
W: There would be some disappointment amongst fans. That’s normal. I’m so proud of the sound and direction we took on Deep Blue. Joe Baressi was so great to work with and very much a visionary. Adam D was fun to work with but we never had a lot of time with him because of his commitments to Killswitch Engage. With Joe, we took our time, and worked hard on cleaning up the sound and making sure it had more of a metal feel to it.
MR: As far as influences go, who do you cite as some of your main influences. What bands tend to inspire PWD?
W: For me personally I really enjoyed listening to anything growing up. Coming from Byron Bay and hearing about some of the massive bands touring about Australia and somewhat missing out on those concerts, made me want to start a band. I wanted to do that too. Myself and Jeff (Ling) were veryu much into everything. The Misfits, Ramones, Metallica, Bad Religion, Maylene, everything. These days we are mainly influenced by bands that are relatively new. They’re all pretty talented bands and definitely push bands like ourselves to the limit and make us play better at our shows.
MR: From the way you’re talking now, you sound like a seasoned veteran.
W: (Laughs) I certainly feel like one. But it’s so awesome to see bands that look up to you, and at the same time, you see them as a major influence on your live shows for instance.
MR: You’ve never shied away from mentioning the fact that you don’t drink, smoke, take drugs and that you’re a vegan. The straight-edge culture is something that I think is often misunderstood. I guess some people would feel that PWD have no fun on tour. Or that you guys must be very preachy about clean living.
W: I certainly don’t preach about it. Straight edge is only brought up in interviews like this because the media, the people are fascinated in it. I don’t really talk about it unless asked about it. And I am more than happy to talk about it. Do we have fun on tour? Shit yes! I’m proud of the fact that I can still have fun without the help of going into a different state of being. But hey that’s me. Ben and Jeff both drink. They would probably drink more if we didn’t have so many gigs to attend (laughs). I do understand that there are kids out there that preach about it. I guess if you really believe in something, then talk about it. For me, I just want to tour, record good albums, and enjoy our lifestyle as a band.
MR: You had a peek at “Arrogantly opinionated rant #406” by Here is Your Mind. Obviously you can’t make everyone love you but there are some good points in there about music and music culture. Do you feel that kids are just not willing to learn about the past greats?
W: I think you would need to go and actively ask them. That blog certainly raises some good points. Such as, why does our music suck? Because it is played live and recorded with heart and soul from a bunch of Byron surfies. We have a drummer who hates drumming, a shit guitarist a bass player that looks like a retarded frog and a vocalist who only says “rawwrrr” in every song. But what I do love about our music is that it somehow, I don’t know how, but somehow, it reaches people far and wide. We’ve played some huge shows in Europe to people that class English as their second or third language.
Locally, I think the Australian hardcore scene has grown so much. To hear we are responsible for that is humbling and total bullshit. I do believe that bands like The Amity Affliction, Heroes for Hire, and Break Even are paving the way for a new wave. Carpathian and 50 Lions are on their way up as well. As far as our lifestyle is concerned, I don’t enforce it on anyone and especially anyone in the band or around us. Our techs are heavy smokers and drinkers but they tend to cut back on the drinking because perhaps I don’t drink. But I certainly won’t stop them from unwinding after a gig with beers and smokes.
MR: You just mentioned 50 Lions because your brother is in the band.
W: Exactly (laughs)
MR: I’m not a fan really. I get the feeling they don’t know what direction they’re heading
W: Yes but they are improving. Wait a couple of years and they will be smashing the USA on Warped Tour
MR: I think it is fantastic that you have slots at a couple of mainstream festivals in Europe such as Hurricane Festival. It shows how well and how hard you have worked. Big Day Out one day?
W: (Laughs) Yep that’d be the day the sun dies. Big Day Out is a legendary festival and they always have pretty good line ups. But for us, I feel more comfortable doing Soundwave or No Sleep Til. By the way good work with that one champ.
MR: Thanks. But it was the work of many minds and wallets. I get the feeling that we should be shamelessly plugging it now.
W: Moshtix, $130-$140, GO GET SOME FUCKING TICKETS!! MEGADETH ARE PLAYING!!!!
MR: Perfect! How do Aussie festivals compare to ones like Warped or Bamboozle in the States?
W: We’re leading the way for sure. Australia is now the place to come for international acts because we love the outdoor lifestyle and music fans love music. Simple as that. I don’t know a lot about the different festivals, but I can tell you that Warped has nothing on Soundwave. We played Soundwave ages ago when it was a pretty small festival. AJ was keen to model it on Warped and he has done a great job doing that, but still giving it a distinctive Aussie feel. And when we tour with American bands or European ones, they always rave about the festival, or state that they want to play in Australia one day. Australia is the place to go for good, well run festivals. I think T In The Park in Scotland is modelled on the Big Day Out set up and it’s been successful over in the UK.
MR: I recently forced you to listen to a band that we manage, The Last Outlaw. Thoughts?
W: This is the last time you will force me to do shit for you dude. (laughs) Nah. I like them. I think they will go very far if not further than a lot of established bands going around locally right now. They need to work on a lot of stuff but I’m not going to sit here and give tips because I know I’m not perfect.
MR: Well you’re going to have to come see them play then.
W: I’d love to. They’re doing a good run of gigs as well which bodes well for the future. The management must be pretty good. (Laughs)
MR: Stop being sarcastic! Just a couple more questions and you can go back to drinking your beer…I mean juice. Why Epitaph Records?
W: We felt honoured that they would even consider wanting to listen to us. So for Brett to sign us was a risk for him. But he is smart enough to realise potential and I knew that we would develop well with them as support. Resist Records and Epitaph have a similar ethic in that they want the best for their bands.
MR: Has Epitaph “sold out”? Do you think they should be taking more risks with smaller and unknown bands?
W: Yes and no. I mean you and I know that A&R is dying out because labels don’t want to fork out much cash for scouting. So to sign a “sure thing” is regular. But we both know for a fact that Brett is extremely selective. One Day as a Lion for example are still seen as a weird experimental band with no future riding on the back of Zach De La Rocha. But I think Brett sees where they can bring great things to Epitaph and for themselves. It’s not just about distribution these days. Labels have started to really look after bands. Epitaph is like a family as it is not too big but big enough to be known. Have they “sold out”? Well who hasn’t? Epitaph Records, or any label for that matter, is a business. Why own one and not make anything from it?
MR: OK so finally, what are you listening to these days?
W: There is so much awesome stuff about. I love The Devil Wears Prada, Cancer Bats, and Bring me the Horizon. I am so proud of The Amity Affliction for their success. Their album is pretty amazing. And I just started listening to our good mates, A Day To Remember. I love those guys and they’re so much fun to tour with.
MR: Winston thanks for wasting your time off with us.
W: It’s always a pleasure to waste my time with you Tom! (Laughs)