Ask any alternative act that has survived the Vans Warped Tour circuit about PARKWAY DRIVE and they’ll state the obvious: witnessing one of their shows (or listening to one of their three studio albums) is a must, not a maybe. Underneath The Opera House’s stage during a recent gig in Toronto, vocalist Winston McCall discussed the respect the Australian metalcore group has received from peers and how forging a friendship with the road has prompted them to be more passionate.
What was your last trip to Canada like?
The last time we came here was for Vans Warped Tour and it was great. Canada has always been awesome to us and playing here is something we always look forward to. This has been the coldest trip we’ve ever had though (laughs). We’ve never had the chance to play a show here during the Winter.
As this is your fourth time here in Toronto, what do you think your life would be like without the band and touring?
Oh God. It would be very different. I’ve literally spent a quarter of my life touring with this band now and to be honest, I couldn’t really imagine what life would be like if all of this never happened. If it did, I’d probably be at home with a crappy job stocking shelves somewhere.
Have you learned any life lessons from performing on the road?
Definitely. We’ve seen so much of the world as a band and the whole experience is literally invaluable. You couldn’t pay for it if you tried. There’s so many things you’re forced to learn, like how to sleep outside and not freeze your ass off to what do you do when you run out of gas in the middle of the desert. It’s life-changing. There’s a big world out there with a lot of different people and no matter what, you have to keep broadening your horizons.
“People come in focused on trying to find a certain hair colour and a certain look. Music is about much more than that.”
Has touring changed your perception of music?
I think so. When you tour and you hear the same songs again and again, you’re encouraged to listen to music you’d never find yourself listening to. Over the years, that’s happened to me. You don’t want to listen to the same heavy, heavy music 30 days in a row. Giving artists a chance makes you appreciate their work more even if you never thought you’d listen to them at all (laughs).
From your experiences, how does the road change an individual?
That’s a really good question. Music-wise it’s influenced us indirectly as we’re not the most talented people in the world. We all like to write heavy music because that’s who we are. At the same time though, the road exposes you to so much. We may not like one country song from start to finish but we may take a certain aspect from it and incorporate it into the music we write. It goes back to broadening your horizons. That in itself changed me as it sort of does creep into how one writes lyrics and creates melodies.
Coming from Australia, were you nervous at first to play gigs overseas?
Kind of. It wasn’t so much nerves based on how we were going to perform, it was more about how we we are out of the country and we didn’t know what the hell was going to happen to us. Starting off was a very strange experience because we thought it was rare for us to be even playing international shows. It seems like fear but it was really just excitement.
That excitement transferred to how you act on stage as a lot of artists make positive comments about your live performances. Are there any musicians you idolize when it comes to playing every show with passion and heart?
There’s a lot. I wouldn’t say idolize as putting bands on pedestals is something we as a group don’t really do, but there are a lot of bands we respect. We’ve played with most of them already on Warped Tour as they perform with passion and heart and don’t focus on looks. One to name is Every Time I Die. Even the bands we’ve brought out on this tour are ones we respect because they’re not about playing for the lights, they actually do give a crap about music.
I wouldn’t say that’s a rare commodity these days but it is definitely becoming scarce. Popularity is overshadowing heavy music and it’s dragging a certain group of people into it. People come in focused on trying to find a certain hair colour and a certain look and all of a sudden they’re a band. Music is about much more than that.
Do any memorable shows motivate the five of you?
There isn’t really a show in particular. We’re more of a group that looks forward to the next show. That’s what being a band is about. The size of the gig shouldn’t be a factor. I’ll play for five kids and I’ll play for 500 kids, it doesn’t matter. We started this band so our friends could mosh and have fun.
Has that motivation ever transferred over to writing new material or trying to achieve personal goals?
We try to write music we enjoy playing. There’s no point in writing material just for the hell of it. At first, we just wrote music for friends back home to go crazy to and run around a stage to. Sometimes it does mean a bit more as the emotion affects people in different ways. Doing what we do has been unbelievable. It shows us how much we have achieved, how we’ve become this international touring machine. The band informs us how we’ve started from nothing and neglected to settle for the desk job or being a trash collector all because following our passion is important to us.
What’s something you hope Parkway Drive will accomplish within the next five years?
Maybe still exist (laughs). We don’t really set goals for ourselves. We’ll play anywhere people want us to play and we’ll shut up at places where they don’t want to hear us. I’m content I’m still in this band, with these friends, playing tours like these. We love things like Warped Tour. Things like that are just amazing and if we ever get the chance to do them, we’ll jump up and take it because we’re passionate about playing music.
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