Interviews

Published on October 6th, 2015 | by The Beige Baron

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King Parrot

Growing old is a trip.

The person you were at 17 is still inside somewhere, wrapped inside ever-swelling folds of gut flesh, behind the bad teeth, mutant grey hairs, and creeping existential dread. Beneath the daily paper cuts of disappointment and the dull weight of adult responsibility is a collection of transcendental experiences burned so deep in your psyche they spring alight whenever there’s a spark: someone at a bar who remembers who Budd are. Someone gets your subtle Lebowski reference. Beneath the Remains pops up on random.

The in-your-face 100% energy live show … was really the thing that set us apart from most other bands

There’s always a low buzz of longing for the past when you’re old and fat, but there are advantages, too. One of the best things is that you care less about the shit you can’t control. You get a sense of perspective. You know what you like, what you’re capable of, and you’re less tolerant of those who prevent the best from happening. You care less about what people think of you. You purchase a pair of metaphysical Crocs and wear them without shame.

In that way at least, getting old is a relief.

12075058_1141293322567528_372304337638249715_nI think this sense of liberation is fundamental to King Parrot’s appeal. They’re not teenagers. For them, the word “irony” doesn’t exist. All members, past and present, are veterans, having honed their skills in countless bands over the years. This is an outfit that is so confident in the quality of its music, and so obviously having fun with it, that all the rest of the bullshit and fabricated industry “image” that goes with being in a working band just falls away.

They show the same irreverence and questionable taste as fellow Melbournians Blood Duster (in which former KP drummer Mat Rizzo also served a stint).

As my cousin Nate observed, “They’re unhinged, in the best possible way.” A dryness and endearing lack of pretension makes them almost unique in a global scene that can sometimes get a little too wrapped up in its own self-importance.

The years of hard work and willingness to take risks are paying off for King Parrot, for the time being anyway: the band has barely set foot back on home soil since getting together just a few years ago. They are among the few local “independent” bands out there making a career as a touring band, and to do it playing extreme metal, well, that’s pretty impressive.

11990485_1136499246380269_5963390725534208765_nKing Parrot’s singer Youngie tells us more about how the band fought its way to the top without losing its sense of humour or the passion that drove them together in the first place.

BNU: It seems that you guys just exploded out of nowhere with this crazy album Bite Your Head Off and suddenly got popular, but you’ve all been doing the hard yards for years. What felt different this time when you got together, and do you remember a moment when you thought, “We could go somewhere with this”?

The main difference with King Parrot was that from the beginning Mr. White and myself, who are the founding members, were really keen to take this as far as we can. We were confident that the music was sounding good enough to try and tour internationally, and we decided that as band we would need to step up the performance to make people take notice of us, firstly in Australia and then overseas.

We got sick of people standing around doing nothing at metal shows

That’s why we went about the in-your-face 100% energy live show. It was really the thing that set us apart from most other bands in the scene back home and has held us in good stead so far in North America and Europe.

That, and obviously the videos, and getting a guy like Slatts on board to play bass and being a totally hilarious guy certainly helped.

We have gone through a few different drummers until we found Todd Hansen, who has been with us for over one year now. Our guitarist Squiz is a veteran of the Australian scene and he loves to tour and is certainly a lifer. That was also a prerequisite for this band, that you are in the music game for life and love doing it.

Certainly people can change, but it’s important to have that outlook if you are going to make a touring band work.

Your live performances are legendary. If you mention King Parrot, people say in the next breath, “Have you seen them live?” Have you guys always felt so comfortable on stage? When you’re playing night after night, how do you keep slamming it and blowing people’s hair back?

11891155_1120877891275738_4476792071107608583_nI’m glad we are getting that reputation. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so our philosophy is, if it’s not your cup of tea, then we’ll throw the cup of tea in your face.

We got sick of people standing around doing nothing at metal shows initially, so we went about making people pay attention. It was pretty forceful in the beginning and I got myself into a bit of trouble, but now that we have built things up a bit, we are getting the reaction we initially desired.

Being clean and sober certainly helps for me being able to bring that energy night after night. I couldn’t do it if I was smoking cigarettes and getting smashed all the time.

King Parrot immediately gained my respect because your sense of humour shows you’ve kind of risen above the “scene” and are now allowed to mock it freely. What I mean by this is, you know, it’s a welcome contrast to the self-seriousness of a lot of other bands. Did Blood Duster influence this approach? Do you think you can get away with more now than you could when you were kids starting out?

Slatts’ favourite thing is sleeping

I think Blood Duster has been an influence on us, and they are great friends of ours, although they aren’t playing too much anymore. I think our show and approach is totally different, we are probably more energetic and full on, in your face.

To be honest, I don’t think our approach has changed much since the beginning. We are still the same old brats. We have always been about doing our own thing, and I think that really shows and helps set us apart from the rest of the pack. We like to have fun, entertain, and enjoy ourselves; you can’t do that is your being Mr. Serious all the time.

Is Slatts always that out of hand? Do you guys get pissed off with each other on the road, where you seem to be for most of the time, and how do you deal with it? Who is the most annoying person in the band to tour with?

Slatts’ favourite thing is sleeping. So I wouldn’t say he is that out of hand. You certainly get value for money when he is awake, though.

I think touring is one of those things that you have to be diligent and aware a lot of the time. Sometimes saying nothing is the best outcome. For a band that tours as much as us, I would say we all get along pretty well, and that just comes down to communication and respect, mostly.

derek_carrDescribing music in words, when anyone can see for themselves with a lethargic click on the mouse, makes these kinds of comments redundant, but to my ears the difference between the first and second LPs is pretty marked. The first one seems more fun; the second one seems more pissed off. What was the difference between making the two? Why did you bring in more old-school hardcore on the new album?

Rizzo [former Blood Duster drummer] played drums on the first record, and they were the first songs that we recorded as a band. It’s pretty raw and was recorded on a tight budget. On the new record, obviously we had a different drummer, so the chemistry of the band changed a bit, and this is what came out in regards to that change.

Having [Pantera vocalist] Anselmo produce the record, too, I think you can certainly hear that it was recorded at his studio, there’s something about that place, it sounds great and I think it helped capture our sound well.

We are not strictly a death, grind, punk, or thrash band, so I think over the course of our career you will hear different things pop up, and I think it’s in our best interests to keep the doors wide open so we are not easily pigeonholed like so many other bands are.

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Photo: Simon Girard

Do you have any concept of how you want songs to sound beforehand, like do you say, “I’m thinking this riff should sound like Carcass”, or do you just play and whatever the hell comes out, comes out?

Usually someone will bring a riff to the table and we will work it from there. We put it through the shit filter and work with it. We know what we want to sound like and how we want to come across, so if it works, then great, and if not, we move on. We don’t necessarily ever try to sound like anyone else. I think if you start doing that you get into trouble and that is probably the reason why there is so many generic bands out there.

How badly have you been fucked over and cheated by people on the road? What has been your worst experience so far? What has been the most surprising display of hospitality on the road?

We’ve had our fair share of bullshit, but it’s the same as any other industry really, you get over it and move on. We were robbed in Chicago earlier this year and that sucked pretty badly. It was a really hollow feeling. We have a lot of friends in North America now, so we are entirely grateful for them and we are often treated really well.

I think in Europe, people are super accommodating too.

You’re one of the few bands who have broken through and been able to hardscrabble an existence with music. Has going at this full time changed your perspective on wage-slavery? Have you been subject to any resentment or jealousy by locals because of your success?  

To a certain degree, the old tall poppy syndrome always rears its head in Australia if you dare to go out and do your own thing and take some risks.

1623614_1080560978640763_5539090943988805042_nI honestly couldn’t give a fuck though. I’m over that shit, and I just want to play in a band, always have and always will. If people want to hate on us for that, they can get fucked, they are probably just jealous. We certainly aren’t rich or anything from doing this, so we understand what it means to be grateful to do what you love doing, we are extremely lucky in that regard.

You guys have toured everywhere. What do you love and hate about Australia when you come home?

Australia has always been really kind to us as a band, so unless we had that support in the beginning then I don’t think any of our international touring would be possible. It’s always nice to come home for a bit, but for the most part I get a little bored when at home for too long. I love to travel and tour and I think the band is the same, that’s why we stay so busy.

I think Squiz would be a good Mrs. Mangle

You guys need to keep doing sketches. You are all natural actors. If you could be beamed into any era of Neighbours, what era and what characters would each band member play?

I dunno man, I like the old days of Neighbours, the Scott and Charlene era, that was hilarious. I think Squiz would be a good Mrs. Mangle, and Slatts could be Toady! Ha!

When I was graduating high school in ’97 in regional Australia, every party featured a lot of Pantera, Korn, Metallica, White Zombie. But Pantera always got shit started. Who were your bands as a teen, and what did it feel like when Phil Anselmo got involved with your band? Was the expectation different to reality?

The more extreme bands I liked as a young kid were Slayer, Sepultura, Pantera, and so on, but then I also went more for the underground stuff, the black metal, grind, and thrash as well as getting heavily involved in the Australian scene and all of our great bands.

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Photo: Joseph P Darignac IV

I’ve always been into rock music too, and AC/DC and Black Sabbath are two of my favorite bands.

Of course it was cool to have Phil involved with our band, we love him and he has been incredibly supportive and generous to us and all the bands on Housecore. He is in it for the right reasons, and after some previous experiences with overseas labels, it is nice to be with a label that actually gives a fuck. Housecore is awesome and has opened so many doors for us.

Does it take a long time for you guys to make records? Do you write on the road?

The last record we recorded in three weeks and the writing period took about three weeks also. We don’t really write on the road, as it’s kind of impossible in our current situation. We like to allocate time and concentrate on writing …

What’s your stance on Scott Ian? What do think about people with two first names?

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Photo: Kevin Eisenlord

I have no stance on Scott Ian, I hear he has a sharp right hand… As for the two first name thing, well it’s just the way she goes…

What’s on the horizon for King Parrot?

We have five shows in Australia after we finish this current North American tour and then we are going to have some time off for the first time in a long time. I think we are taking two months off… We will probably knuckle down and start doing some writing at some point in that period.

I think we will do a combination of touring and writing over the next 12 months and we really want to spend more time in Europe.

Australian Show dates are as follows:

Fri 30 Oct – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury, WA: Tickets Event Info

Sat 31 Oct – Blood Rock Fest, Perth, WA: Tickets Event Info

Thu 5 Nov – Hot Damn, Sydney, NSW: Tickets at the door Event Info

Fri 6 Nov – Baroque Room, Katoomba, NSW: Tickets Event Info

Sat 7 Nov – Bang, Melbourne, VIC: Tickets at the door Event Info

 

King Parrot’s latest album Dead Set is available in Australia on EVP Records/Rocket Distribution via this link, on your local iTunes, or from good record stores. Follow the band on Facebook for tour information. King Parrot are on Housecore Records in North America and Agonia Records in Europe.


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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.



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