Interview with Ben Gordon of Parkway Drive

by Anna Denejkina

 Written for Australian Hysteria Magazine, On-line

Originally published February 2012

“I still can’t really take it in… I still feel like I’m just watching someone else do it all, like it’s just a dream.” Ten years; three albums, and these are the words from drummer Ben Gordon, coming as the epitome of the grounded nature of Parkway Drive in the face of their global success.

Metalcore has become a largely dominant sub-genre within the current metal scene, and yet, only one Australian band has managed to take the lead of this niche – despite countless others trying to break through the critics and the fans, and ultimately taking the proverbial crown from Parkway Drive.

If hardcore used to be the sound of Sydney and Melbourne, it is now overtly the sound devoted to the Australian coast, coming synchronically with the surfing and skating culture of its youth. Surf videos led to punk, and punk ultimately pushed to hardcore, which is “a pretty stereotypical thing to say for this band, but that’s how we were driven to this music, to punk music,” Ben explained. However, the position of Parkway Drive poses the question of why they are the overriding force in taking Australian hardcore to the world, despite myriad others trying and, for many, facing the reality of stalemate.

“Well, that’s the golden questions… I’ve been expecting another band to burst out of the scene and blow us away in the past six years…. But no one has really taken [our] thrown yet!” he laughed.

Following a grueling touring schedule in 2011, Parkway Drive is seldom resting as they return toAustraliafor a trek under the moniker of the Sick Summer tour. Their decision to turn from major cities in favor of regionalAustraliahas been two tours in the making, now giving the quintet the chance to revisit the kids that rarely get an opportunity for concerts, and to rediscover their country.

“I find that regional Australia, as well as the places we go overseas – we play places where no other bands go – they are generally some of the best shows because the kids are starved for music…” explained Ben.

Currently in the process of working on the follow-up to 2009’s ‘Parkway Drive: The DVD’, Ben emphasized that the forthcoming tour dates would not be featured due to timing, and with a tentative pause – fans, take note – adding that the may, after all find their way onto the screen.

Parkway Drives’ inaugural documentary film highlighted the history of the band, with the forthcoming release focused on their previous world tour, including a stint at Sonisphere Festival, a festival that Ben expressed was the biggest and “the most memorable show we’ve ever played,” – despite the roughly fifteen they have formerly covered throughout Europe – and guitarist Luke Kilpatrick’s well publicized performances whilst wheel-chair bound.

“It was great for us, because we just got to laugh at him,” exclaimed Ben. “He broke his ankle the day before we were meant to leave for this big world tour, and there was no time to do anything else but for him just to come.

“He could have either stood up on the stage and not moved [sic], or he could have sat in a wheel chair, and rolled around being funny, so that’s what he did!”

A tentative title for the release is in the works, albeit, overt reasons are in the way of Ben unveiling its name, giving detail to the content instead, once again underlining that Parkway Drive ventures into places which others choose to steer from.

“We played Europe, Russia, Ireland and Spain; then we went to Central America and South America, Asia and then India. And amongst all that there were some interesting, crazy events that happened,” he began. “The things we saw, the places we played, such as India, Guatemala, Panama, bands just simply don’t really go [there]. We thought it would be really interesting to show people what it was like in those countries; to play there,” something which Ben admits the band didn’t know themselves, “but we knew it was going to be interesting.”

Naturally, Parkway Drive took time off to explore and adventure throughout the aforementioned territories, and above all, discovered the overpowering reception from their fans in India.

“It was amazing, overwhelmingly amazing,” expressed Ben. “A lot of the time the shows are quite small – under or around five-hundred people – so being an Australia band playing somewhere like India or the Philippines, even to get five-hundred people to come out totally psyched-[up] the band. It’s amazing, and it’s good to see how they live and their different cultures.”

The amount of work undertaken by Parkway Drive rarely sees itself on pause, and due to this, the band is set to record the follow-up to their highly acclaimed, third studio effort ‘Deep Blue’, around May and June of this year.

“We’ve actually written about ten songs. So we’re quite close,” explained Ben. “We’ve been working on it ever since ‘Deep Blue’ came out, that’s how we write. We take a fairly long time to write, so we do one song every few months. That way you have time to reflect, and listen to it.”

Their writing isn’t directly influenced by fans, and definitely not written with what others may want to hear in mind, as Ben clarified. And despite the eclectic, personal tastes of each member, the diplomacy within the unit leaves enough space for each individual to take care of their own part in the music.

“The process of writing has been a lot smoother this time,” commented Ben on the recent change for the band, as they have adopted a digital approach with Pro Tools and an electric drum kit, for the purposes of writing. “It makes such a big difference… we can practice for longer periods at a time and every practice we have [we] can record [it].”

As for the sound of the album, Ben commented on the varied dynamics of the record, explaining that in his view the new work is the heaviest music that Parkway Drive has ever written. “I think it’s going to be our best album,” he concluded.

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