Parrot is a Post-Rock / Experimental / Shoegaze band from Boston Massachusetts, they’ve released his debut album “The Path is Gilded and Its Travel Light” on February 6th, 2018 and actually, we had the chance to ask a few questions to Parrot’s members (Ryan, Eugene, and Andy) were they talk about post-rock, the band, his debut album, and the immediate plans for the future.
So, take a look at what they told us
There’s one thing I always want to ask because I’m curious, why did you guys decide to call the band Parrot?
Ryan: Because parrots repeat.
Eugene: I like the simplicity of it. It’s not trying to be too fancy or profound. It’s just a parrot.
Andy: Yeah, it was maybe a month or so of writing down different names on a whiteboard before we decided to just pick Parrot. Like Eugene said, its very simple. It also has a nice image and ring to it.
As musicians, how did you get inspired to create and compose music?
Andy: This is actually a question i’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Lately my ideas have been coming from nothing at all. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and have an idea in my head that I want to remember, if it’s a drum piece, i’ll hum or tap it into a phone recording, if it’s a poem i’ll write it down. I get lost in my own thoughts a lot, and I daydream about the possibilities of my musical career, which helps inspire me to write. If you have an idea of what you want in life, it becomes a part of your everyday thinking, and the choices you make, so I guess that when I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, it’s probably because I was dreaming about something that’s important to me. Does that even make sense?
Eugene: That’s an interesting question! I think this drive to create music comes from a couple of factors. First, the thought of sharing a musical thought/idea/experience/emotion with someone else in the world that I’ve never even met is pretty incredible to me. Creating music that other people can hear and appreciate (or hate!) forms a social bond that never would’ve happened otherwise. That accounts for part of my personal drive to create music. I think the other motivational factor is that I’ve almost experienced Stendhal Syndrome with certain pieces of music, such as Stars of the Lid’s album “The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid”. When I first heard that album, my father was in the final stages of his life after battling colon cancer for 4 years. I was an emotional wreck with not many outlets. But listening to Stars of the Lid gave me an almost out of body experience. There were moments of pure catharsis hearing songs like “Requiem for Dying Mothers”. It was an emotional outlet that I desperately needed at the time, and I can say without a doubt that the album helped me cope with the eventual loss of my father. I sort of want to give this back to the rest of the world – moments of musical catharsis that can help ease the pains of life.
Ryan: I tend to take a lot of inspiration from what I call the inexpressible. Lots of musicians tell you that they are trying to express or evoke the feeling of “X” or a specific emotion, or a significant event with their music, but I figure if you can express it so clearly in words, why bother spending the time and effort translating that thing into a crazy medium like music? People know what sadness is, or what it feels like to be broken up with, and while a song might provide a soundtrack to that event or feeling, your life isn’t a movie.
So, while it might not be the clearest answer, I do often have experiences in my life which I have a hard time expressing in words, or even emotions – how I am feeling, or what I am feeling, and I tend to pour a lot of that into the musical ideas I bring to Parrot. The first time I held my newborn son was an experience like this. It wasn’t just happiness, or joy, or fear, or some reductive emotional state, it was excessive, beyond those things in many ways, and music seems an apt way to translate that. I also write a lot of songs for or to specific people. Not many of them know this, which is fine.
In terms of the actual composition, I usually kind of hum ideas and lines and such to myself all the time, and once one won’t go away, I pick up an acoustic guitar and try to play it a few times to get a better feel for it. I write a lot of my bass lines on the acoustic as well, it helps me to hear what I am doing, and if I am fudging something important by being loud and distorted when i am playing through the amplified rig.. As Eugene mentioned above, in the band context we mesh pretty well in the process of songwriting, so when we’re practicing, we usually just have a song idea that we play around with for a while, playing it through, playing the chords, the lines, etc. until something starts to emerge from the amorphous blob of sound. Then we’ll start trying to be specific about what starts and stops where and when and why. Then we just practice the hell out of it until it makes sense to all of us.
How much time did you spend composing “The Path Is Gilded and Its Travel Light”?
Andy: It’s actually pretty funny how fast it was. We were in a previous band with another guitarist for I don’t even remember how long, and there were so many good ideas that were just never brought to the surface due to frustration or what have you. After we parted ways with that band and the three of us agreed to still write together, it’s like we hit warp speed and all these songs and ideas starting pouring out, some being pieces of songs from the previous band sewn together. After we had a comfortable setlist and enough material for an EP, we went into the studio and tracked it all in 1 day.
Ryan: It was about four months from conception to recording on the EP. When we started Parrot, we came in with a lot of energy, ideas, and excitement such that the process of composition came very easily to us. It was more about tying a lot of ideas together than writing new ones from whole cloth, so it was a pretty speedy process.
Eugene: Yeah, Ryan pretty much covered it! We basically spent 8 practices piecing together musical ideas that we had been working on individually and in our previous band. A lot of the EP was also improvised in the studio, such as the piano parts in Elbrus and the vocals at the end of K2. We’re pretty sympatico musically, so a lot of the songwriting happens very naturally and with little effort.
What was the inspiration behind “The Path Is Gilded and Its Travel Light”?
Ryan: Just the title? It was something that came to mind one day when thinking about what to name the EP. It evokes the Wizard of Oz, so if you start playing Elbrus right after Dorothy steals the ring from Voldemort and brings it to be destroyed by Emperor Palpatine and T1000 in Neverland, you’ll see it line up at some really cool moments.
Andy: The title was Ryan’s idea. As for the emotion and ideas behind the songs? I think we all described it perfectly in the studio when we said that the emotions that the songs make you feel are like if a Christmas was ruined. Aside from that, I honestly just believe that we were all happy to part ways with the frustrations of the last band and have a fresh new creative outlet. That alone was inspiring to me.
Eugene: That’s the name of our EP, right?
Can each of you guys name 2 of your musical influences?
Andy: Lately i’ve been really into And So I Watch You From Afar and Sianvar. I feel like my influences change all the time, but I guess if I had to pick, I would say Anthony Green and The Mars Volta. I enjoy anything Anthony Green touches musically. I’ve met him a few times, and I have to say, he is one of the few musicians I can say I personally feel a familiar connection with. As far as The Mars Volta goes, those dudes got me into everything that is progressive, odd time signatures, amazing drumming and drummers, crazy vocals, and I have my brother to thank for introducing me to them. He used to somehow fall asleep to them playing on his iHome when we shared a room and I loved listening to it. Are iHomes still a thing?
Eugene: I think my two biggest influences are Glenn Branca and Sooyoung Park (Bitch Magnet, Seam, EE, Bored Spies). I appreciate how Glenn Branca changed the way people hear the guitar and rock music in general. The Ascension is probably my favorite album of all time. It combined the insanity of no wave, the iconoclastic ideas of punk, and the romanticism of classical. Moments of sheer beauty peeked through the shrouds of atonality. Amazing. Definitely the biggest influence on my aesthetic approach to music.
I absolutely love every album that Sooyoung Park has been involved in. The way he can create moods and evoke emotions using the simplest melodies and the most basic arpeggiated chords…it’s mindblowing to me. Definitely the biggest influence on my guitar playing.
Looking back, I think this has been my lifelong musical pursuit – to combine the aesthetics of Glenn Branca with Sooyoung Park. Someday I’ll get there 🙂
Ryan: Godspeed was and is a major influence for me, they just had a certain sound that was really attractive to me from when I first heard them in high school. I didn’t know if I could, but I always kind of wanted to make music like them. Maybe it is a little gauche to say, but Tool is also a big influence, sure they are a popular band, have their overblown moments, but I also just think they are great musicians who really craft solid songs. The way I think about how bass fits in with the drums and songs as a whole has much owed to Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor. The dudes are tight.
Thoughts on the Post-rock scene?
Ryan: A lot of what gets the label ‘post-rock’ (a label I am fine with claiming for Parrot) is kind of boilerplate stuff. It has a similar set of sounds, tonalities, ways of playing, it gets a little stuck in a rut. I think this is particularly true in the U.S. post-rock scene, less so overseas, where I think there is a lot of really innovative and interesting stuff being done. It just sometimes feels like I am listening to the same band over and over when I put on a post-rock station on Spotify or something. Godspeed and Mogwai and Sigur Ros are all great bands that are enormous influences on what we do and play, but we also want to push the boundaries of the style and genre. We’ve found that when we look for folks to consider what we are playing, especially in the U.S. that we aren’t fully recognized as post-rock, we’re a little too percussive, or not quite ambient enough. This isn’t sour grapes on our part, just an observation that I think that the genre label gets a little too rigidly applied sometimes such that it disallows the music to actually morph and change in more interesting ways. Rock music from 1982 sounds pretty different from that written in 2002, even if you might actually still categorize two examples from each of those years as still being ‘rock’, so as we get close to 25 or 30 years from what we can recognize as early ‘post-rock’ I don’t think there should be any problem with the same kind of changes occurring.
Eugene: Yeah, I think present day post-rock kind of fell into the same trappings that it was trying to escape. To me, the early post-rock bands were all about creatively pushing the boundaries of what a rock song could be, whether it was eschewing melody in favor of textures (Tortoise), creating mood/tension that was difficult to explore in more “traditional” rock song formats (Slint, Talk Talk), or turning the idea of instrumental rock music into a serious endeavor (Mogwai). This spirit of “thinking outside the box” was, to me, the hallmark of early post-rock.
A lot of the post rock bands nowadays merely look back on these early pioneers and copy the formula. Not to take anything away from these bands (they do the formula very well!), but I think many of them lost the initial spirit of post-rock; namely, pushing the boundaries, thinking outside the box, and truly letting creativity take reign.
Andy: I love it and wouldn’t change a thing about it. It is mysterious, technical, beautiful, and artistic. I just hope it gets more of a following and more of an understanding. As for the current leaders in the scene, I hope they keep doing what they are doing.
In your opinion, is post-rock underrated? Why?
Eugene: Overall, I think there is a lot of potential that hasn’t been explored in post-rock. So it’s really hard for me to say if it’s underrated…I’ll expand on that below.
Andy: I think so. Absolutely. Post rock to me, is a genre that was created for musicians by musicians. Similar to jazz or classical music, the majority of post rock bands are instrumental and what comes out of instrumental music, but, to me, more creativity with your instrument. Be it odd time signatures or what have you, are you really going to be appealing to the masses? If you turn on the radio, or go to a club, or you have some friends that are going to a local live show, chances are they aren’t going to see a post rock band. Chances are they are going to see something that they can dance to that doesn’t have a 2 minute droning intro. Not to say that there aren’t post rock bands trying to combine both technicality and dance, because there is, but I wish people could go to the show with the 2 minute droning into, wait it out, and when they realize the instruments in those vocalless songs are singing for themselves, you don’t need to be dancing to have your fucking mind blown. So all in all, yes, post rock to me is underrated. It is a beautiful genre that is unfortunately misunderstood.
When you were kids, did you grow up thinking you would be musicians and that you would be playing in bands?
Ryan: Not as a kid. No one in my family plays any instruments other than my brother and I, so while I certainly listened to some music growing up, there was no real context for playing, performing or composing it. When I started playing trombone in 4th grade, followed by my brother on drums and me on guitar, bass, and mandolin in high school, my parents didn’t really know what the hell was going on, other than a lot of extra noise coming from the basement. As I hit high school and college I was in a lot of different bands. I mean they didn’t discourage it by any means, which I am grateful for, especially in that I think they were a little unsure as to how to actually encourage it. I played bass and my brother played drums in a small town, so we were in high demand, I’ve played in everything from punk, to jam bands, black metal, and a philharmonic orchestra in college. I took a bit of a hiatus from being in a band proper through my 20s, and recently jumped back in again.
Andy: Music has always been in my family, and loudly played throughout my life for as long as I can remember. I didn’t really get passionate about playing music, or think I would grow playing music, until I was about 13 or 14, which is when I received my first kit. I actually told my parents I wanted a bass guitar for Christmas so I could play in a jam band with my drummer friend and guitarist friend. Luckily (probably due to the fact that I would “drum” on my computer desk and wake up my dad late at night) they got me my first kit instead.
When Limewire was a thing that’s when shit got real. I downloaded a bunch of Nirvana songs and I immediately was turned on at how powerful music could be to a person. Ever since then i’ve been playing in different bands, and i’m honestly just recently realizing that music will probably be a part of my life forever.
Eugene: I didn’t think I’d be involved in music at all when I was a kid. I started playing music at an early age (piano lessons), but I came from a mostly non-musical family. My parents didn’t really listen to a lot of music, so I didn’t get an appreciation for it at home. So, as a kid, I was spending time in piano lessons learning all these archaic rules about how music should be, and I had no reference points at home as to what music could be. I hated it. It just felt like music was a bunch of rules that old people made with no context. But things changed when I listened to punk rock for the first time. Here was an entire genre filled with young kids that threw the rulebook out the window and created music for the sake of creating music. Bands such as Sex Pistols, The Clash, Buzzcocks, Bad Religion…they blew my mind. They weren’t about following the past, they were about figuring out the future. That was really appealing to me, and I’ve been pursuing music ever since.
What’s next for Parrot after releasing “The Path Is Gilded and Its Travel Light”?
Ryan: We’re working on a full-length album right now, just in the writing stages. I’d say we’re about half or ⅔ done, depending on how long it is going to end up being. The songs are definitely much longer, and much darker in tone. The EP feels kind of lighthearted comparatively. We’re trying not to be too indulgent with song length, so they top out at about 10 minutes. It feels to us like you have to earn the right to make people listen to singular chunks of 15 or 20 minutes worth of your music. We also have an unexpected cover to toss onto the end as a bonus track. It involves Frankie Valli.
Andy: Haha. Frankie Valli, that was supposed to be a surprise. Ryan pretty much covered it. We are working on our first full-length album. I feel like for the EP we were still trying to feel out our “sound” as a 3 piece, but for the full-length, I feel like we are much more aware and comfortable with what we are trying to produce as for as having our own “sounds” goes. The new songs are dark, hopeful, confident, victorious, and overall pretty intense. I definitely get a Godspeed vibe.
Eugene: Yes, can’t wait for everyone to hear what we’ve been working on!
So here you go guys, that was the interview with Parrot, below you can check their social networks.
Parrot’s Social Networks