by Solomon Woods

My Song: Parkdale – Hesitate

by Solomon Woods

My Song: Parkdale – Hesitate

2023 Smokefreerockquest winning Tāmaki Makaurau band Parkdale are on a bit of a roll, with their third single, the energetic Hesitate out now. It’s their first as a four-piece – made up of newcomer Liam Beasley, William Tinnock-Jones and Emma Wagner, along with frontman Solomon Woods who gives NZM a bit of a run-down on their new single and its genesis.

Hesitate started life quite humbly as a rough demo recorded in my car one day. I was recording a random song and got really bored of it, so then I was like, “Let me just write an entirely new song”, and those first two chords you hear after the intro was where it started. It was the first thing I played, and I just stuck with it. Eventually, when I finished the demo, I brought it to band practice and they were like, “Well I guess we’re going to dedicate the next few practices to this song!”

We went over the song on and off for months before we were happy with it. Every band practice was, “Let’s try and finish Hesitate” or “I’ve got a new idea for Hesitate,” for about two months straight. A lot of drafts were thrown into the bin, but after a while we finally figured it out and into the studio we went.

A couple of days before the recording I met up with Chris Mac of Six60, who produced the song, to talk about it. The way I described it to him was, “Can you try and make it sound like a pair of old shoes dangling on a telephone line? Kind’a damp from the rain and discoloured from the sun?” I liked the look of that image in my head and I thought it reflected the song really well, so much change and yet after all the hardship you might just end up where you’ve always been. Dangling on a telephone line.

Lyrically, Hesitate is about the different emotional stages that you go through during and after a break-up, from the initial shock through to acceptance and moving forward. To me, the most meaningful line in the song is, “Does the back of your head hurt?” It hurts to think about them, but they’re always in the back of my mind. That’s the best way I can put it. Hence, ‘the back of my head hurts’. We tried to focus on making the instrumentation reflect the story the song is trying to tell so we decided to make each section of the song a different stage that flows into the next, mirroring how emotions flow into each other and change over time.

Chris really helped put the finishing touches on the song, he had a lot of great ideas that took it another step up, like the crowd vocals in the chorus, some of the intricacies in the bass parts, and working with Will to figure out additional heavy hitting drum beats throughout the more intense parts of the song. Him and Noema Te Hau, who was our engineer for the sessions, were so valuable to the making of Hesitate, and we are so grateful for their expertise. Also, working with the team at Smokefreerockquest has been incredible, they have given it their all for us, and we can’t thank them enough. We’ve made so many connections through them and they have truly helped us to progress, not only in our music but with our industry knowledge as well.

One thing about Hesitate that people never notice until we point it out is that there’s harmonised guitar feedback in the rise towards the end of the song. Liam had this wacky idea to layer a bunch of guitar feedback into an A major triad to use for texture. You can hear the notes A, C# and E, almost buried in the mix; they sound kind of like a train whistle.

Recording this was interesting to say the least, as we were using VST amp plugins for all the higher gain sounds, so we didn’t actually have an amp that we could make feedback! Instead Noema cranked the studio monitors in the control room and Liam leaned over the desk, holding his guitar up against the speakers. The rest of us left the room for sushi as we couldn’t stand the noise, but it made for a cool effect in the end.

Hesitate is significant to us not only because it’s a step away from our previous releases, in that it’s less traditionally structured/hook-based and more of an artistic, conceptual song. It’s also the first song we’ve released as a four-piece, with Liam joining on guitar. We think it’s quite fitting, as you can hear pieces of each member throughout the track; all four of us have contributed to its identity, and we hope you like it as much as we do.