WORDS: SEAN HUBBARD
“The new breed is well and truly fucking dominating,” emphatically states Parkway Drive frontman Winston McCall just one day before their documentary Viva The Underdogs hits cinemas across the world. After a 2019 that saw the ascension of Parkway to festival headliner status across Europe and their biggest production ever in a series of arena shows it could be called a bold statement, but after the success of the past 12 months and the ambitious plans they have for 2020 culminating at the legendary Wembley Arena it is anything but.
Parkway have always been a band to film everything they do, this is their third documentary release but unlike the other two this is a full production covering a year in the life of the Reverence cycle right up until the biggest show the Aussies ever played at Wacken Open Air. According to vocalist Winston McCall the entire film came about after Hype Republic worked with them on ‘The Void’ video and then turned to the band and said “we find you guys really interesting, we think there’s something there.”
Despite being a much more polished release than any of their previous documentaries and having the poster made by the same team who created the Star Wars posters, Viva The Underdogs still retains the personal touch. Through filming intimate moments between the band and through the use of footage from the early days of the band filmed with the video cameras of the early 2000s this is a true insight into the collective mind of the new festival toppers. Winston recalled a time that is actually an integral part of the film where he was driving the van and asked where the band would be in 5 years time and he answered “probably finished.”
“When the crowds sings ‘Viva the Underdogs’ with us we feel connected like “yeah it’s you and us” and that is such a pure thing in this industry”
Looking back that is an ironic answer as Parkway are now on the brink of world domination and yet still consider themselves underdogs, hence the title being taken from the iconic ‘Wild Eyes’ line. Winston says that the band have felt this “the entire way through our career because every time you reach a new level of success other people have decided for us that this is the biggest we’re ever going to be, no one expected us to be festival headliners except us.” The song itself too “was originally written with a much broader concept but I found it coming around with a much more personal feeling as something I share with the crowd who sing those lines along with us.”
The reason he still considers the band as underdogs is because of the lack of mainstream media backing that they have received, and the fact that the band is solely driven by people who come to shows, “It’s not a hype trick or a viral sensation.” Their status is so unique, “It’s quite a rare thing in the music industry to be this big and have this kind of dedicated following. When the crowds sings ‘Viva the Underdogs’ with us we feel connected like “yeah it’s you and us” and that is such a pure thing in this industry.”
Despite all their success and their legions of dedicated fans however there are constant naysayers, and before their Bloodstock performance the negative comments of “they’re not real metal” consistently outweighed any positive coverage on social media, however Winston was not intimidated in any form, merely stating “I appreciate people’s opinions,” before rebutting all the pessimists: “But if you think your opinion will stop us then you have a harsh reality check coming your way.”
“if you think your opinion will stop us then you have a harsh reality check coming your way.”
There has been a consistent conversation over whether or not ‘metal is dead’ over the past decade despite the success of younger bands like Parkway Drive which Winston puts down to the fact “people love grand statements” and that “there’s no middle ground, everything is either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, but in fact something can merely be just ok.”
However while Parkway have achieved huge success they are seriously worried about the infernos raging across Australia, with Winston completely summing up the reaction as “fucking psycho.” The absolute scale cannot be overestimated, and has affected the band personally with the Byron Bay area hitting 10oC hotter than the hottest ever recorded regional temperature. “It’s the hottest I’ve ever been in our country and we live on the coast and I’ve been to the middle of the desert.” With their own GoFundMe set up to help fund relief and people they personally know suffering from the effects it is a major source of frustration when they see people brush off the fires as merely arson. Winston however warns “I understand they don’t believe because they haven’t experienced it yet, but it’s going to be a worldwide thing. There will be global effects, it’s inevitable [climate change].”
Helping with fire relief alongside planning their own pyrotechnic mayhem for the April arena tour, Parkway Drive are a busy band, but it is that dedication to their craft that has propelled them to the huge rooms they now find themselves in. While they say “in terms of writing you can’t expect anything any time soon,” it is clear that they are planning for the next stage in their world domination, and with this Aussie band there is nothing that can hold them back any more.