Twelve years ago a bunch of kids from Parkway Drive in Ewingsdale were playing hardcore in the garage.
Twelve years on, the boys have become men, touring internationally to sold-out houses around the world, having just released Ire, the 10th album for the band that ended up going by the name of Parkway Drive. (Luckily they didn’t live at Sunrise Boulevard; that name just doesn’t have the hardcore resonance!)
On the eve of their return to sold-out shows on home turf, vocalist Winston reflects on what it’s like after over a decade on the road.
‘We still have the same passion and drive for what we do; it’s not just having an eye on the pie, because there has never been a pie! It’s been an interestingly rollercoaster ride!’
Unlike most bands, Parkway could never rely on radio play. Hardcore is about playing live, and the audiences who love what you do will find you.
‘I 100 per cent underestimated our genre,’ says Winston. ‘We were one of the first bands to have this sound; heavy music is very marginalised, and for a very good reason: it’s very abrasive, just when you think this is what it’s capable of, it surprises you. There were shows in Europe where we played to 120,000 people! We first started playing to 120 people!
‘Heavy music in Australia is very much a sideline act to mainstream, and when it comes to industry and ARIAs I don’t think they know or acknowledge how big it actually is and the reality of what we are doing in the genre leaves most other genres in the dust!’
The worldwide following for hardcore is phenomenal, as is the loyalty of Parkway fans. Winston believes that one of Parkway Drive’s greatest strengths has always been their live shows.
‘You have to create something that connects with people – you have to create a reason for going to a show rather than its just being a thing to pass the time; it’s connection and it’s an experience!’
Winston believes the marginalisation has helped grow the industry rather than the reverse.
‘I think it’s a thing when culture feels marginalise ad to any degree and there is a very negative stigma that goes with heavy music – but that draws those people together in the same way it pushes other people away who don’t like it. I am yet to meet someone in this culture who is a closed-minded arsehole. It’s the audience that is driving this, it’s the people coming to the shows, and it’s the people feeling the connection to the music; that is a huge difference from the approach of mainstream – ‘I am a rock star and I am drawing you here.’
The new album Ire heralds a new approach for the band.
‘It’s basically the first time since the band’s existence that we have gone into a way of writing where we haven’t followed a formula that we are used to. It’s still very heavy and angry, but it’s the difference between a third of my lifetime. I would be surprised that if anyone would feel the same as they did 10 years ago; we literally had to relearn from scratch how to cull our egos. Sometimes to get what we wanted it necessitated playing less, and often what we did before was about more more more!’
What keeps Parkway Drive fresh is their desire to make new ground. And that is what they’ve done.
Catch them this Saturday (sold out) or Sunday at the Byron Bay High School. Tickets from Oztix outlets www.oztix.com.au.