I vividly remember the day my brother headed off to his first live concert. He was off to see none other than Parkway Drive in Bendigo on the band’s famous All Ages Assault Tour. I was far too little to go along and mosh my heart away in some sweaty basketball court and as such, my mum didn’t let me go. I’ve never forgiven her.
Fast forward 12 years and next month I’ll be seeing the band take the stage at Margaret Court Arena in front of thousands of adoring fans. In the words of Parkway Drive’s frontman Winston McCall, the comparison between then and now is “really, really, crazy.”
But it’s not just the sheer step up in venue size that warrants this reaction from the singer; it’s also what goes on up there on stage. “It’s pretty mental,” says McCall. So mental, in fact, that Parkway Drive’s latest stage show can only be contained in venues of a certain calibre. Use a venue too small and you’ll find pyrotechnics engulfing the roof and an upside down, spinning drum kit destroying everything in its path.
“You have to have a very certain stage to fit all of this gear,” McCall says. “That’s why the Australian tour got pushed back, because we wanted to play venues where we could have this setup and give the fans that show. We’re working with a stage that’s been designed by literal engineers. There’s four times as many people running the show than there are guys on stage.”
If you aren’t impressed by that description, just know that Parkway Drive are putting themselves in harm’s way to deliver this arena spectacular.
“This is the first time we’ve used stuff that is legitimately terrifying,” says McCall. “We’ve had big setups before where I know what heat feels like, but at our production meeting for this tour when we set some of this stuff up, I couldn’t feel the hairs on my arm and we all had flash burns. We all knew that we couldn’t fuck this up. It comes down to the crew being good and us being on point. You don’t want to pull a 5 Seconds of Summer and burn your face off.”
As big as the crowds and the venues have gotten over the years, and as intense and intricate as the stage show has become, Parkway Drive remain a band that is deeply and personally embedded in the lives of their fans and Australia itself. This isn’t something McCall and his bandmates have forgotten, and a reputation they still hold dear to their hearts. “I know that this band means a lot to people,” McCall says, not with ego or entitlement but with earnest and sincerity.
As I share the story of being a rosy cheeked kid wanting nothing more than to go see Parkway Drive in Bendigo, McCall tells me how much these stories resonate with him.
“There’s a generation of kids who have that experience of what Parkway was and they hold that dear to them. I still walk down the street and get people coming up to me and telling me that they were at this certain show all these years ago and it was their first gig and it ended up defining things for them.
“To now have that perspective on what we’ve been able to create, I can say that they’re the fans who have pushed this band to be what it is. What we’ve been able to accomplish is mental. It’s come from a small show in Bendigo to having a rotating drum kit on stage. It’s a strange reality.”
As strange as it is for McCall and the rest of the band, it’s a reality fans are all too happy to be a part of.
Catch Parkway Drive on tour around the nation this November. Reverence is out now via Resist Records.
Image via Kane Hibberd.