Fresh from putrefying the stage at this year’s UNIFY Gathering, Melbourne grindlords King Parrot are getting amped to take their very own upstart festival out on the road.
The inaugural travelling Thrash, Blast & Grind Fest is promising to be as brutal as its name implies, and King Parrot should know; they’ve masterminded the entire bloody thing. Together with their Tassie m8s in Psycroptic, KP spawned the new underground metal circus, which is set to crack necks across Australia this February.
Just a few weeks out from the official kick-off, frontman Matty Young sat down for a casual pow-wow with Music Feeds about the state of the Aussie metal festival scene today, serving up some tasty thought nuggets on Soundwave (RIP), the foretold forthcoming Down Under leg of Download Festival, and the important reason why KP’s Thrash, Blast & Grind Fest will never be like either one.
Youngy also shared some thoughts on the illegibility of many modern metal band logos, the whole saga surrounding King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard’s controversial 2016 ARIAs win in the ‘heavy metal’ category and some exciting news about King Parrot’s own new record which will be upon us pretty damn soon (they’re not here to fuck spiders, kids).
So hold on to your Bonox, and get lubed up for some metal up your clacker with Youngy’s full interview below.
Watch: King Parrot – ‘Home Is Where The Gutter Is’
Music Feeds: So, Thrash Blast & Grind Fest… what was it that made you guys decide to throw this thing together?
Matt Young: I was just speaking with my friend Dave Haley from Psycroptic and we’d done a bit of stuff together in the past. I suppose — with the downfall of Soundwave and the Legion music festival, which kind of looked like it was gonna happen and then kind of fell apart — we just thought “there needs to be something”. And obviously what we’re doing isn’t on the scale of Soundwave or what Legion was gonna try and do – it’s a much smaller operation – but we just wanted to give something to the extreme metal fans who might not have had much going on this summer. And we hadn’t had many tour plans around that time — we’d just been working on our new album — and for us it was like “Well, what are we gonna do this summer? Let’s just go on tour” [laughs].
Yeah, so we’ve been lucky enough to pull something together, we’ve got our mates in Revocation coming over from the states and also two great bands in Whoretopsy and an up-and-coming band from Sydney called Black Rheno — this is their first national tour — and they’re a really amazing band who are just gonna bring a different flavour to the whole lineup entirely.
And you know, we get to go to New Zealand, and for King Parrot it’s the first time we get to play in New Zealand, which is really cool. It’s been one that’s eluded us a little bit, so it’ll be nice to finally get over there.
MF: How did you go about picking the bands, did you have a wishlist?
MY: Yeah, pretty much, I mean we had a bit of a wishlist – we know the guys from Psycroptic and we’d toured with Revocation before and I’ve met them a bunch of times — they’re really really lovely guys and they love to tour just as much as King Parrot and Psycroptic. For us that was a no-brainer. And we were all happy to take a little bit of a pay cut to get something this awesome together. What we hope to do is just build the brand and build it up so that it’s an ongoing thing – I’m not sure yet if it’s gonna be an annual thing, or maybe just whenever we feel like wheeling it out. But it’s cool for us to be able to do something like this with Psycroptic who are one of our favourite bands and great friends… And we both do different things within the extreme realm, we both draw different audiences – I think every band on the tour package does, brings something unique, different styles.
Revocation are kind of thrashier, and we’re more of a grind band and psycroptic are more technical metal and whoretopsy have kinda got that slam thing going on and psycroptic have got that heavy sludge thing going on… You know, we’re hoping to kind of unite the metal fans and try to bring everything together so that there’s something for everyone. Hopefully people might be able to discover something new or something different that they might not have seen before. It’s something that’s really cool, because it’s the bands bringing it together for the fans, you know? None of us are in this for the wrong reasons or trying to make a quick buck or anything like that, we just do this because we absolutely love it and it’s our lifeblood and this is what we wanna do with our lives. It comes from the right place I think, and that’s super important to us.
MF: I love that your logo’s one of the most legible ones on the tour poster… can you actually shed any light on why it always seems like the more extreme the band is, the harder their text logo is to read? I’ve never gotten why that is.
MY: Yeah, I don’t get it either. The King Parrot logo – I mean, obviously it looks like a metal band, we’re a heavy band or whatever, but it’s not illegible like some of the other stuff out there. Yeah I don’t know why that is. I think even back in the ’80s and ’90s, like death metal bands and stuff, their logos weren’t so confusing, but I think it came in with all the black metal bands and some of the grindcore bands and stuff, they just sort of went crazy with it. But now I guess – in this day and age – everything’s just pushing to the extreme and pushing further and further out. You know, people can go to the umpteenth lengths to make their stuff look ridiculous, and I think that’s certainly been the case with a lot of the logos that you see these days.
MF: So you guys have picked one local act to open each show… why was it important for you to include local supports?
MY: Yeah we were really stoked that we were able to add a few local bands and give some of the up-and-coming acts a bit of air time, which is a good initiative really. I know that when we first started doing King Parrot, it was shows like this that gave us a bit of a leg-up and exposure to larger audiences. It’s really important if bands do want to kinda take that next step into the national/international touring realm, that they get these opportunities to play in front of larger audiences because that’s the only way that you can build your fan base up. We love being able to give those bands the opportunity to play for bigger crowds, it’s cool.
MF: Do you envisage Thrash, Blast & Grind fest could ever get to that level that Legion was going to be or that Soundwave was?
MY: Well I think more so this caters to the more extreme sort of fans, so I don’t think our aspirations are to get to the point where we wanna have bands of the sort of ilk that [SW/Legion] were sort of aiming to have, you know what I mean? I guess we wanna keep things realistic in terms of what we do and what we’re about and I don’t think the commercial aspect of either of those fests is anything that we really aspire to. We’re kind of old-school in the way that we do things and we just wanna have a really cool festival with cool bands for an affordable price with good quality merchandise and just something different for everyone that listens to more extreme music. That’s sort of more what it’s about for us, as opposed to branching out into anything that’s more of a sort-of-commercial venture. We just want to keep it true and keep it grassroots, keep it underground. And obviously, it doesn’t have something that would appeal to everyone that would go to Soundwave or go to Legion. It’s just something for the more extreme fans to sink their teeth into, and know that it’s been done for the right reasons, and there’ll be good quality bands there and a good time guaranteed.
MF: Let’s talk about Soundwave – you guys played what we now know was the final SW — probably ever. Were you surprised at all, when the news came out that the whole thing had been canned?
MY: Not really, I mean I’d heard a few rumours about what was going on and stuff. I mean, just being involved in it – we actually played the Melbourne leg a couple of years ago and then the last year that it happened we did the whole tour. And just the sheer scope of what they were trying to achieve with that festival, it was absolutely mind-blowing. Trying to take on something of that magnitude, I just don’t know how they did it. And it’s really impressive in my eyes to see something so ambitious get wings and take off and succeed for the amount of time that it did. I mean, it’s enough work putting on one festival like that, as opposed to putting on a tour! It’s just incredible what they did. And look, I guess all good things must come to an end and at some point, unfortunately, Soundwave did. I just really tip my hat to them for really giving it a shot because it was something that was truly unique and something that most people couldn’t even fathom trying to organise!
MF: And what are your thoughts on the news that we might be seeing Download Fest coming Down Under sometime soon?
MY: Well that’d be really cool, I mean I’ve been to Download festival in the UK and it’s really awesome, it’s a really great festival, not too dissimilar to something like Soundwave really. So I think something like that, with the right people behind it that can make something like this work – and you know, with the financial backing and all that – I think that would be a logical step, to bring something like that out here. Of course, there’s nothing like going to a massive festival and seeing a whole bunch of your favourite bands in the one day. And summer in Australia is the perfect place for something like that to happen! It would be great for live music in this country, something like that would take off, so yeah, I’m all for it.
MF: Who would you like to see headline?
MY: [Laughs] Well look, there’s so many bands, it’s incredible. I mean I love Black Sabbath and AC/DC so it’d be cool to see a band of that sort of size do it. Guns N’ Roses have got their shit together again now… It’d actually be cool to see AC/DC do it with Axl Rose, that’d be funny.
MF: Have you had the chance to see the whole Axl/DC combo live yet?
MY: [Laughs] Na, I haven’t, but I’ve seen some of the videos on YouTube and I thought he did a really great job. The Bon Scott era stuff that he did – he just nailed it and I thought he did an awesome job of it. I know a lot of people were sort of sceptical of it, but for me, I thought he was great. I thought he did a really good job. It’s cool to see someone who’s that talented doing what they do best and putting all the bullshit aside and getting out there and doing a really great job.
MF: So switching gears for a sec: you guys were nominated for the best heavy metal album ARIA last year, so I wanted to get your thoughts on the whole hullaballoo over King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard winning it this year. Heaps of bands and fans have come out saying they shouldn’t have won it because their music isn’t heavy enough… What are your thoughts on that whole sitch?
MY: [Laughs] Oh man, look, you know it’s hard rock and it’s heavy metal. I’ve seen King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard play and I think that they’re a really good, talented band – they work hard, and they certainly fit into that category, because they are a hard rock/heavy metal band. And I mean, the ARIA Awards aren’t a popularity or record sales award, it’s voted for by music industry people, so they obviously thought the King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard album was the best record. I mean, some people could argue that the bands who were sort of complaining and stuff don’t fit into the category either, you know? That’s my view, you know, I’ve heard The Amity Affliction and some Parkway Drive stuff and it’s not really my cup of tea, some of the stuff on there is really poppy. And you know, it is what it is. There’s so many different genres and styles under that umbrella now, and maybe they should make two different categories, I dunno. But at the end of the day, the ARIA Awards is mostly for music industry people and for the big major label companies, all that sort of stuff. And if you get one, that’s great. And if not – well – who gives a shit, really? I mean the fact we even got nominated for one? I just couldn’t even believe it (really). We’re a grindcore, thrashy kind of band and the fact that we even got nominated? We thought, “Fuck, this is hilarious! To get nominated for something like this.”
MF: I remember thinking you guys were looking like you were having the time of your lives on the red carpet.
MY: Oh yeah, we had a ball! You know, our label were like “Let’s go to the ARIAs!”, so we all went up to Sydney and we got picked up in this fuckin’ limousine and we were on the red carpet — we met The Wiggles, we met Kylie Minogue, we had a fuckin’ blast. We knew we weren’t gonna win and we’ll probably never win an ARIA award but just to have the opportunity to go there and to see all those music industry people and to go to an award ceremony like that – and just to have a bunch of fun with it, that’s what it’s about. If you get an award in the end then fuckin’ cool, that’s great. But if not then, well you know, don’t fuckin’ cry about it. If you wanna be competitive and all that then go play football, you know, go do something else, man. That’s not what the music industry’s about in my opinion. It’s just not. There’s a reason I stopped playing sport when I was a teenager, you know? I hated that bloody competitive edge to it all and I didn’t wanna be being exposed to those kinds of people, it just felt wrong to me.
That’s why I gravitated to music as a youngster, because I really loved that creative element and that element of not being in competition with others, stuff like that. You can just express yourself . And that’s why I joined [King Parrot], you know, we’re not in this for awards. If you get a couple along the way that’s great. It’s not about that for us, and I could probably say the same thing for all the bands on the thrash blast & grind tour, you know, we’re doing this because we love it and because other people like it as well and that’s fuckin’ fantastic. We’re very grateful that we even get to do this shit. You know, I think the minute that it starts becoming about awards and getting pats on the back and all that sort of shit then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
MF: Now before I let you go, you mentioned the new album earlier. What’s the status report on that?
MY: Well we’ve got probably around half of it written – maybe a little bit more than half. You know, we’ve been jamming on some ideas and I think… we’ve got the skeleton of most of the songs there and I’ve got a lot of lyric ideas, I think we’re looking at heading into the studio around March and nailing it, so hopefully the second half of 2017 you’ll have a new King Parrot album in your hands.
MF: Any word on who’ll be taking the reigns from Phil Anselmo and producing this time around?
MY: Yeah it looks like we’re gonna be doing it in Australia, we should hopefully be working with our friend Jason Fuller from Goatsound Studios who produced our first record. He’s a good friend of ours, he used to play in Blood Duster, who were a legendary Aussie metal band. And obviously we did the last album with Phil Anselmo over in the states, that was a really cool experience and one of those sort of circumstantial things that sort of worked out for us and obviously a great opportunity to go and record with an iconic person in the metal scene! But I think this time we sort of just wanted to come back home and record at a studio where we’re comfortable and we knew the people a little bit better. You know, Jason really understands the Australian sound and the way that we try to portray our music, that sort-of tongue-in-cheek style. And he has a real ear for that sort of grindcore sound and those production values that we look for in a producer. We’ve already demo’d some songs with him that have come up great, so yeah, hopefully by the time it’s finished we’re gonna have a really great product and another killer Aussie metal album to put in the catalogue.
Watch: King Parrot – ‘Like A Rat’
Thrash, Blast and Grind Fest 2017 Lineup
Thrash, Blast and Grind Fest 2017
Friday, 10th February 2017
The Triffid, Brisbane (Lic/AA)
Saturday, 11th February
Manning Bar, Sydney
Tuesday, 14th February
The Cambridge, Newcastle
Wednesday, 15th February
The Basement, Canberra
Friday, 17th February
Max Watts, Melbourne
Saturday, 18th February
Sunday, 19th February
Fowlers, Adelaide (Lic/AA)