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December/January 2024

Fresh Talent: Parkdale

Fresh Talent: Parkdale

Made up of Mt Albert Grammar and Selwyn College students Will Jones, Liam Beasley, Solomon Woods and Emma Wagner, Parkdale was the Smokefree Rockquest 2023 winning band. Proving that perseverance can bring rewards, Parkdale only made it into the final based on a second chance re-submission.

How did the band come to be?

Woods and Jones have known each other since 2017, and started their first band a few years later under the name Winter’s Bloom (we know, bad name) just to have a bit of fun with some mates. Eventually Sol and Will wanted to start taking music more seriously, so they formed Parkdale as a duo, and met Jesse Sheehan, who mentored them and eventually got them their first gigs as a two-piece. At one of these gigs they met Emma, who was playing with her other band, and they thought she would make a great bassist. As a trio, we started to build a following in the local gig scene. Unfortunately, Emma wasn’t able to play with Parkdale for Rockquest due to other commitments, so we got our mate Liam to play bass for us, and through playing with him we decided he’d be an amazing addition to the band. Since he joined he’s added a whole new layer to Parkdale and to our songs. We’ve been a four piece ever since.

How did you come up with the band name?

In early 2021 when Sol and Will decided to take their new band seriously, they decided they needed to rebrand. Parkdale Road is the street that we practise on, and we thought it would make a great band name.

What sort of musical training have you all done?

We value any and all music education we can get, as we all love music with a passion and getting better at it can never be a bad thing. We learnt from a range of different places, with Will learning from a death metal drummer who taught him jazz, Sol learning Latin guitar in Dubai, Emma learning from a funk bassist, and Liam learning from multiple different teachers and schools. We credit our combined musical knowledge to the variety in our backgrounds, as opposed to having learnt from one place in particular.

Any other projects (that we might know you from?

Solomon has a solo songwriting project under Solless on Spotify which he has been working on for a number of years. Liam plays guitar for a small indie pop band called Bittersweet, who are about to release their first single very soon. Emma is the lead singer of an uprising pop-rock band called Fan Club.

We’re sure Will is working on some big secret project we don’t know about yet, but we’ll cross that line when we get there.

What was SFRQ like for you?

We had a pretty rough start to Rockquest as Sol got hit by a car the night before the heats, injuring both his arms, and as a result we almost didn’t perform at all. Luckily we still got the chance with Liam switching from bass to guitar at the last minute. We entered into the Second Chance online submission that Rockquest provides and eventually made it into the national Top 30! We were ecstatic, and it pretty much blew our minds when we were announced as one of the Top 10 after that.

Overall, Rockquest was amazing. We loved meeting all the other musicians and there was just so much energy at each event, especially at the National Final. We were all really excited to play, and a little nervous too, but we had a great time meeting everyone and performing for such amazing people. We’re still so stoked that we won, and it’s something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

What do you think made them pick you over everyone else?

That’s a tough question. We think it was probably quite a hard decision for the judges as there was so much variety and talent this year. We really focused on being authentic, having heaps of energy on stage, connecting with our audience, and having a good time in addition to playing as best as we could. Maybe the judges liked that about us.

What makes a good single?

A big thing we focus on when trying to pick a single is how the song sounds live. We really enjoy playing to live audiences, and we try to play any new songs that we’re thinking of recording/releasing in front of a wide range of people to gauge their reaction to it. There’s also a personal element to it – if we get good vibes from a song during rehearsals, then it’s pretty much a guarantee we will try to record it eventually.

Who do you work with behind the scenes?

We work with this guy named Jesse Sheehan who actually won Rockquest back in 2009. He’s been our mentor almost since the start of Parkdale. Jesse has helped us in so many ways, and actually helped us to structure Serenade back when Parkdale was still in the early works of being a proper band. We give him huge credit for getting us started with our first gigs, the contacts we have, as well as what we know about the music industry today. We call him our “Band Dad”. Also, the team at Rockquest have also been a huge supporter in our endeavours this year. Georgia Parker, Sarah Karika, Matt Ealand, and everyone else at Rockquest have been a huge help with our further development as a band as well as where to go from here in the music industry, we couldn’t thank them enough for the amount of support they’ve given us in these past few months.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

We’ve been working with Rockquest on our upcoming releases, including the music video we won from the competition, and a new single or two. We hope to be releasing lots of new music very soon and can’t wait to show everyone, so stay updated with our antics.