Winston McCall, vocalist of Parkway Drive, is about to head into rehearsals to prepare for the band’s headline appearance at Good Things festival. “I’ve got a bit of a chip on my shoulder that no other Australian band has been given this shot before,” McCall says frankly.
“An Australian heavy band has not headlined a major Australian festival. It’s always been that way when it comes around to a big festival, some overseas act gets that spot.
“For me, I want to prove Australian heavy music deserves to be seen in a headlining light, that we can deliver something which makes people go, ‘No one on earth could have equalled that, that was deserving of that slot’. That’s it for me. I want to make sure that when it happens, people remember it happened and that then can set a new bar.”
It’s serendipitous that McCall should have these thoughts at this time. He, too, has noted the cancellation of tours by metal greats Metallica and KISS.
Having operated as they have for the last 15 years, it seems like there’s no one more qualified than McCall to discuss whether the alternative music scene should be focusing our money and efforts on bands like Northlane and Polaris, rather than feeding into metal monoliths.
“It’s a really interesting time to exist as a band,” McCall says carefully. “The question goes a bit deeper than that, down to basically how people perceive music these days.
“There will never be another Metallica, another Guns N’ Roses, another KISS. There will be something that’s the equivalent in this day and age, but the time and that establishing factor is done, because the way music was consumed and regarded by people meant it had to be given a certain amount of attention, a certain sacrifice, and you had to have an investment in it. An investment in what music actually is.
“The world we live in now … I mean, try telling an entire generation that music isn’t actually free. When something’s free, it denotes value, and the idea that music is free for everyone makes it disposable to the actual perception.”
We can all stop complaining about cancelled tours now, McCall has cleared it all up. We’re joking, though McCall argues that when it comes to huge and established bands, he understands the connection (and disappointment) people have with them, because of the relationship established during a different period.
“The way music is interacted [with] now in relation to bands like ourselves, as far as I’m concerned, it is 100 per cent vital for people to invest time, energy, and understanding into new music.
“At the end of the day, you can’t live in the past. In terms of live music, everything has an expiry date because the body has an expiry date.
“As much as I’d love to see my favourite bands play [live] forever, there is an inevitability of muscular and mental disintegration that will come along. We’ll only be left in a wasteland after that where there’s … holograms, unless people take the time to invest in new bands.”
So, how do Parkway Drive hope to move forward with the times and, in essence, be an example of those things McCall hopes for in the future?
“We simply try and do what we do within a changing world,” he says. “We’ve come along from the end of that time period – the first thing we ever released was a demo tape because we couldn’t afford a CD – we’ve existed in a state of flux. We’ve had to figure out our way of doing it, because you have a dinosaur music industry that has been wiped out.
“We’ve tried to stick to the core ethics, that are: make the music we care about, create the art we care about, do everything we can to not have to sacrifice, and don’t expect anything from the other side.
“We’ve always done what we wanted because if it all ends tomorrow, we’d be happy knowing we’ve always done what we wanted.”
Deeper than that, McCall says that when it comes to success in the industry, it comes down to making smart choices and having your head screwed on.
“The days when you could rely on someone to tell you what to do and you go on a rock‘n’roll rollercoaster with no idea and your head’s not screwed on because someone is going to take care of business are done and fucking dusted.
“To get to the point where we are, we’ve had to put everything we are – family, life, band, all of our time, all of our energy – into this band for the last 15 years.
“There’s been no disconnect on this road, and that’s what it takes in this day and age. It’s completely doable, but it’s not as luxurious as it used to be – that rock‘n’roll lifestyle is in the ground. The lifestyle is dead, but the music isn’t.”
Parkway Drive hit Good Things at Flemington Racecourse on Friday December 6. Grab your tickets at goodthingsfestival.com.au.