Rebellion, Rage and Rammstein: Why Parkway Drive Had To Make 'Ire'
After 10 years of playing it safe, Parkway Drive have made a bid for metal’s throne with a bold leap into the dark unknown...
Picture the scene: it’s Sunday night at Download 2013. Rammstein – metal’s all-conquering, fire-breathing kings of spectacle – have just finished one of the most intense live shows ever brought to Donington’s iconic stage. Pyro, smoke and explosions are all delivered with precision timing, and in perfect harmony with the tightest set you could ever hope for. It’s yet another masterclass from the Germans, and the fanatical English crowd lap it up.
This time, however, it’s not just the Donington faithful that are left picking their jaws up from the field. Somewhere within the army of 90,000-plus delirious fans are five friends from the other side of the world. Unlike the countless screaming, shit-losing metalheads around them, this particular quintet are left not only speechless, but deep in contemplation. For them, this wasn’t just a pretty show. It was a wake-up call that would come to define the next part of their lives.
“That Rammstein show was a really big turning point for us,” reveals Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall today, as we catch up via a phone line from Australia’s Byron Bay. “None of us are massive Rammstein fans, but it was the best show I’d ever seen. We all watched it and were like, ‘Did you guys all just experience the same thing?’ Because it was an experience, and that is what heavy music is capable of. Everything worked together; the music, the production, it all worked so fantastically to engage 90,000 people who didn’t even speak the same language – and they play slow, simple riffs! That’s what this shit is capable of, and if we wanna do something different and of that calibre, then why the fuck not?”
Shit was about to get very interesting...
Let’s backtrack further for a moment. When Hammer last properly caught up with Parkway Drive back in late 2012, the guys had just released fourth opus Atlas; an album that, as Winston explained, was forged in extremely difficult circumstances, with deaths and illnesses among their friends and family hanging heavy. Despite that, in career terms it was a knockout for the band, continuing their seemingly unassailable ascent up heavy music’s ranks with spots in the UK Top 50, the US Billboard Top 40 and an impressive Number Three on Australia’s ARIA charts. While peppered with a few interesting experiments (Wild Eyes’ crowdbaiting vocal chants and delicate atmospherics, and female vocals on The River), the record’s success primarily came from the same, solid metalcore formula that had already seen them become one of modern metal’s biggest players. Crowds continued to grow, venues continued to get bigger, and festival slots continued to get higher, with a hugely successful 24 months capped off with a mindblowing, pyro-fuelled showing at London’s beautiful Roundhouse at the end of 2014. As it had been for most of their 10 years so far, it was a case of So Far, So Good.
“It’s very easy to get complacent when you’re releasing records that have got better and better, and you’re playing shows that are getting better and better,” admits Winston today. “You’re thinking, ‘I know how to do this, that’s it.”