The band name alone should be enough to tell you Parents do a fine line in ironic – all the more apparent when in a darkened beer- and sweat-stained venue you sustain the withering assault of their oldie-frightening hardcore punk. In contrast with the title of their 2014 EP ‘Low Life’, but sticking with the irony, the Auckland band’s new album is called ‘Great Reward’. Darryl Kirk talked with the errm, young adults.
Parents have the intent and purpose of a real, getting on with it, smash-you-over-the-head punk unit. Around since 2009, the Auckland four-piece have built a reputation for their compelling brand of punk.
The vocals are handled by Simon Oswald (ex-Malenky Robot), who appears to have a chainsaw somewhere in his family tree. He’s backed by the hard fast and brutal trio of Jono Glenday on guitar, Brent Hewitt (also a former Malenky Robot) playing bass, and Will Wood (perversely an alt-country singer/songwriter in his own right) on drums.
Formed in 2009 the band spent a couple of years writing and honing their sound, taking some time to figure out where they fitted in the local punk scene. The band’s approach to the craft of songwriting centres on Glenday at the outset.
“Our drummer Will has his own project and spends a lot of time overseas playing, so we have set window of time where we know we’ve got to write a record,” he explains. “I will write a bunch of riffs and create some structure for the songs, and we figure it out from there. For about 80% of the songs that’s they way we work, the remainder comes from straight jams.”
Their sonic approach is based on the idea that more is better in terms of their tools of trade. Jono goes as far as putting his Telecaster through both Ampeg and Sovtek tube amps so that you get the message, they aren’t fooling around.
Having previously released a self-titled debut album in 2013 and follow-up EP ‘Low Life’ in 2014, the band’s new album ‘Great Reward’ is a remorseless slice of hardcore precision and power. Released on 10-inch vinyl and digital formats, it has the feel of something complete in concept and execution.
While an extension of the band’s previous offerings it has an immediacy and a kind of focused fury.
“We’ve found our own sound. Early on we were into bands like Swing Kids and Orchid. I guess straight up ’80s hardcore as well, which has got that energy we are looking for, bands like Black Flag, Bad Brians, Minor Threat, you know, the classics. Along with bands that do things a little differently like Fugazi. Fugazi are crucial for us,” explains Glenday.
The proactive example of many of these bands has rubbed off on the way Parents go about recording and touring.
“Well, no one is going to do it for you. I’ve seen other bands stagnate, never record or tour. In the end you don’t need a record label, they don’t offer you that much help. Why pay someone to do something I can do myself?” asks Wood.
“We approach other bands and say, ‘We’re coming to Sydney, can you book us a venue and play with us?’ I do the same thing for other bands that are touring, they’ll ask me if they can stay at my house. ‘Yeah, you can stay at my house, eat my food, fill up my entire living room,” Glenday laughs.
As with their ‘Low Life’ EP, the album was recorded at the 80-person capacity Wine Cellar venue in central Auckland, with Tim Shann behind the controls. “He is from Wellington originally,” explains Wood.
“He is a member of the Eversons. They’re cool, really popular and quiet catchy. But before that he was involved with the punk and thrash metal scene, and he engineered and mastered a lot of bands we liked. He did records with Razorwyre, Entrails and Numbskull bands like that.”
“We wanted to work with him because he has the best handle on recording aggressive music,” says Glenday.
“Tim has a mobile recording set up and with various members of the band having worked there, we’re allowed to use the back room at the Wine Cellar.
“The room has a great drum sound, it’s quite DIY, but we always get what we want because Tim is very good. It’s heavy, but things aren’t lost, you can hear what the drums are doing and how the bass works. We have a live approach when we record – some tracks were all instruments in one take,” Wood adds.
“Regarding recording this album we did something a little different this time,” elaborates Glenday.
“Tim did the tracking, but we had Jack Shirley at the Atomic Garden Recording Studio in San Francisco mix and master it. That was done on analogue tape which gives it a distinct sound. That was also part of that punk ethos, we just asked him and he checked us out and liked it, and that was it.”
Their album is set to drop in early February with the band hitting the road in support soon after.
“We have dates lined up for NZ in February. Then in March we are going to Australia, I’ve always wanted to go to Tasmania so were going to make it happen this time,” lead singer Oswald chips in.
The band also have their first European tour scheduled for June, they playing the Kiel Explode and Cry Me A River festivals in Germany, with other shows around that country, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. ‘Having fun on tour with the Parents…’