Im Gespräch mit dem außerordentlich freundlichen Luke Kilpatrick, Rhythmus-Gitarrist der weltweiten Metalcore-Speerspitze Parkway Drive:
You played Groezrock one week ago for the second time! What do you think?
I love it. Groezrock is almost the best festival we played ever. We played it.. was it two years ago? Yeah. And that was like the biggest audience we’ve ever played to, so we couldn’t wait and this time around it was even better so.. it was very good for us! We almost didn’t make it to because of the volcano but we just made it in time. I heard a lot of tours cancelled, so I’m glad we made it.
You’ve got some Pennywise and Bad Religion songs on your DVD. You played at the same time as Pennywise, did you hurry to go watch their last songs?
Yeah, as soon as we finished I went and watched them because I haven’t seen them with Zoli, the new singer yet.
What do you think of Zoli singing for the band?
Ehm.. it was okay. It was weird to see at a big festival from the stage. Maybe I should watch that in a club. It was hard to tell. It sounded good though, I think. It’s definitely different. I don’t know what it will do for them. We’ll see.
I like Bad Religion, but most people say that their live performance is very boring. What do you think?
No way. No way. When we were recording in L.A., I just saw them five times at the House of Blues in their hometown and it’s amazing. They’re funny, Greg has a great sense of humor, he tells jokes and shit, that’s funny and they’re just an amazing band if you know their songs. I can see, maybe if you didn’t know their songs you might think this is a boring punk band, but to me, they’re perfect. Hetson does punk jumps on the side, Baker the other guitarist is just so weird to watch. The drummer is amazing and I like Greg’s stage presence as well. It’s unique.
Do you still look up to these bands? For most of the kids, Parkway Drive has become a legend, too. And I think some of them don’t even know Bad Religion.
Definitely, I still look up to Bad Religion, that’s why I saw them so many times. I’m like a fan. And Pennywise too. It doesn’t change anything for me. With other bands that I used to think they were big or whatever, that we now play above, it’s still.. I don’t know, I was never really that big a fan of them, so it doesn’t matter but Bad Religion – I’ve always been a big fan. So, even if we play above Bad Religion one day I’ll still be a big fan.
Is there any band still existing that you always looked up to and never played with up til now?
Propagandhi - I really liked. I don’t really need to play with them, I just wanna see them and I’ve never seen Green Day live. I’ve always loved Green Day and I’ve never seen them. Ever since I was like twelve, I’ve liked them. So that’s sixteen years I’ve liked them and I’ve never seen them. They’re huge.
I seriously think no band had such a huge audience on Groezrock as Parkway Drive did. The tent emptied when Story of the Year played. Concerning the shirts worn on the festival I think Parkway Drive is the winner, too. First time I saw you guys was on Pressure Festival 2007, where you played quite early. And now you’re co-headlining the Groezrock Festival. Where do you see your band in five years?
Fuck, I don’t even know. It depends on how the new CD is, I guess. If the new CD goes good, we could maybe get bigger and if the new CD is bad, maybe we’ll never be back here again. We’ll see what happens, I’m not sure. We played a lot of festivals this last summer, 2009. And there’s a lot of festivals where there is a main stage, and we just played on the side stage, so I thought maybe it would be pretty cool to play the main stage on these huge festivals to like 80.000 people or something. That would be a goal for Europe, for me, because we don’t get stuff like that in Australia.
There are very high expectations on your new album “Deep Blue”, possibly the highest expectations I’ve ever witnessed in the hardcore/metalcore scene. How do you deal with that?
We knew the CD had to be good. Now is the time to write a good CD because we do well already and if we put out a good CD, we could do even better. But there was no pressure. The pressure was there but we never felt it. When we wrote, it just flowed. We never got stuck and thought “We gotta write a song!” or “Fuck, we’re stuck here!”, everything just worked perfectly. Even the studio, it was just all natural and it felt right and then what we ended up with is what we think is the best CD – by far – we’ve ever done. So, hopefully the kids think so too. I think it just comes with time to “lose” fans. When bands get bigger, kids get turned off by it, almost because like they knew the band when they were smaller and they played to 300 kids and that could be intimate. But now they’re playing bigger venues to 2000 kids and behind the barrier, you can’t approach them as much because of the security and stuff. I think a lot of kids get turned away by that, but I think the amount of kids that start listening to you and the younger generation that comes through outweighs that. And if people are gonna be jaded and not like us because we got bigger, we don’t even care. That’s up to them. We haven’t changed while we do anything, we still handle everything ourselves, we do it DIY-style. So there’s no reason. Were not selling out musically or anything, we still write the heaviest music we can.
How’s “Deep Blue” gonna sound like? Will you go back to the roots or will it even be more atmospheric as Horizons?
We basically wrote shit that we thought would work out live. We’re a live band, we tour so much and that’s what we do. We didn’t wanna write songs we couldn’t play live. We wanted to make as many singalongs, heavy breakdowns and then some melodic, catchy parts where kids just feel like singing along to. That’s how we approached it. It’s hard to go back to the roots because it sounds so different back then. It was such a big producer and such good equipment, how do you make a song sound like it did back then? There’s definitely a couple of songs that are more like early Parkway. A couple are just fast, not as technical, not “anthems” or whatever. So that’s good. But there’s also a couple of newer sounding Parkway songs that people have never heard before. It will be interesting.
What does the title refer to? Lyrically, will the new songs be comparible to “Boneyards”?
Winston wrote the lyrics as a concept album. There is a story to it all, it all progresses, the songs are in order to fit that concept, and it all relates.. he’s got this whole big meaning, it relates to about how fucked up society is or whatever. I can’t explain it for him, but we all agree with it. And “Deep Blue” for me reflects how we are, just the ocean. We just love the ocean and the title relates to that and it also relates to his story. So that’s where the name comes from.
Why didn’t you choose Adam D. this time? Will “Deep Blue” be music for even greater masses? Because I don’t think your music is for everyone yet.
We actually didn’t intentionally not use Adam D. We were going to use him again for the third time. And then, some issues with time, where Adam couldn’t come to us at the right time and we had to look for some other people and when we looked we found Joe Barresi. And then Adam came back and said “I can do it” and we were like “We’re committed to this other right now and we’re kind of excited about it!”. It’s a whole different approach, a whole different producer. He’s never done a record so heavy before. He’s done a lot of like.. Tool, Bad Religion, Queens of the Stone Age.. big rock bands. So we thought “Fuck, if he can make those bands sound than imagine what he could do for us, how heavy we could sound!”. It’s still Parkway, it’s still really heavy. Winston’s singing like he always does, but better. We haven’t like revolutionized the genre at all but it’s definitely a big step up for us and using Joe as a producer was a part of that.
No clean vocals?
No. But Brad from Bad Religion does some guest vocals in there, which are pretty interesting. And Marshall from The Warriors.
Let’s come back to your tour. What was the most mentionable thing that happened yet? Any funny stories?
Yes. Last night when we played Hamburg, Charlie (guitarist of The Warriors).. when we came out to play our first song, he came out naked and introduced “We are Parkway Drive” on stage, in front of 1200 people. Sold out show. That naked, hairy, mexican-looking man just standing there. It was really funny.
Are there bands you would never tour with?
There’s a few bands that we probably have personal issues with. I wouldn’t mention names. There’s definitely bands I don’t like or we don’t like, that we feel no need to help out, but it’s not a big deal. It’s not something we think about or say “Let’s not give these guys a show at all!”.
Let’s talk about your tour mates. People often compare 50 LIONS to Parkway Drive because Oscar’s your brother. I think that makes no sense. Does it?
Not at all. They come from the same town, half of the guys don’t even come from the same town, only two. But just the fact they are brothers doesn’t mean it’s the same musically, it sounds completely different.
Do you think that one day they would want to be where PARKWAY DRIVE is now?
I’m not sure. You’d have to ask them. That’s a personal thing that they could possibly answer, I’m not sure. They might be happy the way they are right now or they might not like these shows, they might wanna play small shows but I think that they are enjoying themselves on this tour. They’re definitely not complaining so I think they like the bigger shows.
I suppose you love THE WARRIORS. You already toured with them back in 2007 in Europe. In my opinion, they’re one of the most experimental hardcore bands ever. Do you agree?
Yeah. They were just different. When we first went to America in 2006 and no one would help us out, even bands we’ve helped out in Australia and The Warriors we’re like “Yeah”. Straight away, they put us on a tour, just for no reason. Just because they thought they could. From then on we just loved them and they are such great dudes as well and we love the band itself. The last two years they haven’t really done much, they don’t have a new record or anything but I just think they are an amazing band, amazing people. That’s why we have them in our bus, sharing our bus with us and we tour with them as much as we can. We’re telling them to write a new record so we can just keep touring together.
I don’t really know WINDS OF PLAGUE. What should I know about them?
They’ve got a girl that plays keyboard and they’re very heavy. We’ve toured with them in the states before and they seem to be very popular right now. They’re doing really well on these shows so: Expect good things, if you’re into that kind of music!
Concerning DESPISED ICON: What do you think about bands that announce their split-up right before doing huge tours? Isn’t this just a strange way to sell more shirts?
I think it’s more a thing of telling their fans: “This could be the last time I’ll see them”. If you think “I’m not gonna see them this time, I’ll see them next time.”, well now they know there’s no next time, so they might as well come out. I don’t think it’s a way to make more money, to make the shows bigger, because the shows are selling out regardless. Most have been sold out.
Will you miss DESPISED ICON? Do you think they had a huge impact on the scene?
Well they’ve never been to Australia, so I don’t know. I’ve never seen them in the states or Canada. I’ve heard they’re big in Canada. I think they have quite a big presence over here in Europe though, they headlined Never Say Die! last year, the played Never Say Die! with us the year before, they’re killing it on this tour, so: I think a lot of people will miss them, but there’s always more bands coming through, isn’t there?
Yeah but I think most of the deathcore bands aren’t that unique.
Yeah they’re shitty. They’re not as mature I guess, but the guys in Despised Icon are just older. They’ve been doing it for a while.
Do you know why they split up?
I think it’s personal issues again. Some people have to leave the band for personal reasons and I was talking to Alex and I think he doesn’t wanna continue the band with a whole new band and just him or just a couple of the original members. He feels like that’s just not the band anymore. I understand that. He says it’s time to move on, so I agree.
HAVE HEART did the same thing last year. I know you’re quite into hardcore. After Verse, Have Heart, Go It Alone, Modern Life is War, Dead Hearts and so on splitted up, I think all the best hardcore bands are gone. I still love “new” bands like Defeater, More Than Life and all the australian bands but I think they can’t fill these holes. What’s your opinion?
I’m not sure, there’s still classic bands like Madball and Terror, there’s kind of “been-around-forever”-bands that you think will always be there. Like you wouldn’t think there’d be a year without Madball or Terror coming over. But all those other bands.. you see they’re still kind of new bands to me as well, because I’ve been listening to it right before them. So they’ve come and gone while I’ve still been listening to it. I don’t see there’s something missing there, I just think more new bands will come through and then they will go, and more bands will come through. And hardcore, it’s a weird genre. I mean it gets to a point where you’re playing such small shows but you’re not making a living of it – so how long can you keep doing it? It’s between lifestyle and a real life. Some people think they need a real life, they can’t do this anymore, they got a family..
That’s my next question: Do you think all of these bands split up because of financial reasons and their families?
It’s different reasons, I’m sure financial reasons a lot of the time, I’m sure families a lot of the time, and I’m also sure just getting over it. I talked to Have Heart and they just said they toured so much, almost too much. There’s all kind of reasons for all kinds of bands, maybe some bands hate each other, they can’t live with each other.
Can you live from the music? Do you live well or do you think you’d do better if you’d just have a job in Australia?
No, we’re doing really well at the moment. We all live comfortably, we don’t have to have jobs when we go home. It’s obviously not why we do it but it might have got to the point where if we weren’t making money, we’d have to think: “Okay, is this worth it? Is that what we wanna do?” But at the moment, it supports us financially and we love the lifestyle. So were just gonna keep doing it, and then when it gets to the point where we stop liking it, well then that might change but money is not really an issue for us, but there is money there, so it’s okay for us.
Yeah, I just wanted to ask this because I think some bands are even spending money instead of receiving anything. And I don’t think anyone can handle this over years.
Are you talking recordlabel-wise or they just put too much of their own money into it?
Equipment and so on..
Well, bands make a lot of stupid decisions. I think so many bands could approach a lot of areas, where their business is way better, that’s just up to each individual band. There’s a lot of bands that have managers, booking agents, production managers, in every territory and everyone’s taking a part of their money because they see they can. And I think you just gotta be smarter, you gotta do shit yourself, you gotta think about your decisions.
Do you do most things on yourself?
Yeah, definitely. We have a manager in Australia, there’s no contracts or anything. We’ve been friends with him for years and that’s how we work. He’ll email me, if he wants to know something I’ll email him and it’s just between me and him, we decide everything. We have people trying to manage us in the states and we just don’t need it. Why get more people in when everything’s working out fine? We’ve got a booking agent everywhere. We have a great relationship with every agent. Some people talk shit on other people but if they work with us, then we’re gonna keep doing it.
On the DVD, I saw that you flew over to Europe years ago without having booked shows. Were financial issues never a problem to Parkway Drive?
It was a problem because we had to borrow money of our parents. We were in debt from the day we flew away from Australia. I guess it paid off. First a few months here and a couple of months in the US, we built a foundation that we couldn’t really.. it would have been harder to do, it would have taken another year or so of putting another record out in Australia before people started to take notice, so we just thought “Fuck it!”, we’ll make them take notice now and then we can come back sooner and do better shows.
In Europe, there’s such a club scene set up already. There’s tours every night, coming through every town. So, the market is already there. You just gotta put yourself into it. We had a couple of contacts, we kind of knew some people and I don’t know. It just worked out, we played some terrible shows. There was like 50 kids there, no one really cares, but that’s a part of it.
Another thing you said on the DVD is that no one in the band is really into metal. Where does Jeff draw his influences from when writing these awesome riffs?
I don’t know. I guess a lot of Metallica and shit like that, even The Police and some other stuff like that when he was younger. I’ve always listened to punk. We used to listen a bit of metalcore like As I Lay Dying, Unearth, they used to influence us quite a bit early on. But since touring so much we just kind of don’t listen to that and I guess a big influence is ourselves because we know what songs work with first, and we like – not writing the same riffs – but building on what we know works. Jeff listens to a couple of bands. He still listens to like Killswitch or Bring me the Horizon or something like that. And just being on tour with so many bands - we’re always around the music.
I used to listen to At the Gates and In Flames and shit like that a little bit, I definitely know their music, I’m just not a fan, like if I’m backstage I’m not sitting there listening to metal bands. I’m just listening to something else.
I spoke of australian hardcore bands. I really love 50 Lions, Break Even, Miles Away, Carpathian and so on. And all of these bands can come over to Europe nowadays. Do you think Parkway Drive paved the way for other australian artists and that you made it easier for them to get out of the country?
I think we did. A couple of bands have been here before, australian bands but never really did anything. I just think because of our success maybe those bands thought “It’s not such a big thing to do!”. You just book a flight to Europe, get on a tour and it’s done. You know, in a way I think we’ve paved the way but it would have happened inevitably anyway. These bands still would have come over here. Maybe we’ve inspired them a little bit more or got the ball rolling quicker, I’m not sure. But I think we would have had an influence, yeah.
Is there any australian band you would recommend everyone to listen so?
I don’t know if you’ve heard of Confession, Crafter from I Killed the Prom Queen now plays in that band. We toured with them in Australia quite a bit, and they’re good dudes, actually a good band. We’ve always used to give ‘em shit because we used to think Crafter is an idiot (laughs), but they’re actually a good band so: Look out for them, and a couple of other friends play in a band called BLKout, they’re really good to. You see, all of these bands have been here before. If you wanna see them you can see them.
Is there any band that hasn’t been in Europe before that you would recommend?
No, there’s not really going much. There’s tons of little bands but they’re all just generic. They’re just copies of everything else. And they’re so young, their influences.. it’s like our influences are old bands like Bad Religion, Metallica, and their major influence is like Parkway or I Killed the Prom Queen. There’s just no roots. It’s too young I think and all of these bands start sounding the same and I’m not a fan of it.
Most of the bands I know from Australia are hardcore-bands. Does the metal/metalcore scene grow too?
As a straight up metal thing, there’s not much going on. There’s hardcore bands and like metalcore bands like us, I guess. Metal and hardcore bands, they don’t play together. There’s nothing like dark metal with long black hair and black clothes. I’m sure there’s their little scenes in the cities but we never deal with them, we never see them.
What are your plans for 2011?
2011 is pretty much all figured out. We know what we’re doing. It’s just touring, basically. We’ll be back here for the summer, festivals.
Are you doing a tour next year in Europe?
We’ll be just playing the festivals into the summer and probably we’re gonna do Never Say Die! in november. This november. And then next year we’ll do the festivals.
Do you know the Never Say Die line-up yet?
I do it, but I’m not telling you. (laughs)
Too bad. Does any member have a side-project?
No, I definitely wouldn’t even think about it. But Winston’s doing some other band at home, I’m not sure why. I guess he just wants to do something else as well. I don’t know how he finds time for it. But yeah, he’s got something going on.
What would all of you probably do if you weren’t touring the planet?
I don’t know, washing dishes in a restaurant somewhere? (laughs) I have no idea. We were all just working shitty jobs. In Byron Bay, it’s really laid back.. you just do whatever. I did a bit of laboring, building work, whatever I had to do to make money. You just live there for the lifestyle I think. I’ve always wanted to travel, I’d probably be travelling. Probably working and travelling.
I didn’t see Parkway Drive doing covers yet. What song would you pick?
I think we played a Bleeding Through song when we first started in 2003, which was terrible. And I’ve always wanted to a Bad Religion song.. but I would do that for us. I don’t think many of our bands would even know who Bad Religion are. I don’t know what other songs there would be to cover. We don’t need to cover and old metal song or anything like that.
When or why would Parkway Drive split up?
Before I get to the point of splitting up for touring, I think we’d not be touring first, so if it were way too much and people would miss their girlfriends too much at home, instead of breaking up we would just say: “Okay, let’s go to Europe once this year. Let’s not go to America at all. Let’s do one australian tour!” So then there’s no reason. It’s not hard to go to Europe for three weeks and then go home. I think something that could happen now is, if the band becomes less popular and we’ve gone from this high, where we are and we go back down to touring in a van, I don’t know if we’d have the nerve to do that again.
I hope that doesn’t happen. And I hope you enjoy the rest of your tour! See you!
Thank you! That was a good interview.