Interview

Parquet Courts

Parquet Courts

By Courtney Sanders

Thursday 27th June, 2013 11:15AM

New York punk band Parquet Courts have enjoyed an epic round of releases for their excellent new album Light Up Gold. First released last year, it was re-released in January and now it has just been released officially down our way via Australian label Create/Control. This latest release provided us the opportunity to catch up with the band and discuss the record, how they got together and what drew them to New York...

What are you guys up to at the moment?

We just pulled into our show in Seattle and sound checked. Now we’re just kind of hanging out, waiting for some friends to hang out with haha.

Nice, are you in the middle of a US tour at the moment?

That’s right.

How’s it going?

It’s going just splendidly.

Have you played a particularly awesome show or has their been a place that was particularly rad?

They’ve actually all been good shows but I really enjoyed the town we were in, in the Bay Area and San Francisco was cool too. In complete honesty I have no complaints about any of the shows, they’ve all been really fun and people seem to be having a good time, and that’s all I really care about.

I wanted to start at the beginning of Parquet Courts,  how did you guys form?

Sure, let me think here. I’m afraid it’s not going to be too interesting because the story of our becoming a band isn’t that great but I’ll try to make it as cool-sounding as possible. Basically, we all live in New York and we know each other from other lives I guess. As a result we were able to convene in this shared interest of starting a band. That is what gave us the inspiration to start playing music together. The longer story is that Andrew and Max are brothers so they’ve known each other their entire lives. Austin and Andrew went to college together so they’ve known each other through the formative years of their lives and I met Andrew when my old band was on tour, we went through Texas where he was living. Andrew and I have been friends ever sine so it seemed natural that when we were in New York together we would start to play together.

Did you go into the band knowing the kind of music you wanted to do, or was it more organic than that?

I think that we knew what we wanted to do. At the very beginning we were sharing songs with each other – songs that inspired us or we’d been influenced by. We all come from different backgrounds but it all kinds of merges together at one point or another. So there was some mix tape stuff going on and from that we got an idea of what we would want to do as a band. I think that makes it sound like it was more premeditated than it actually was. Ultimately it was just four dudes hanging out and playing music together and Parquet Courts is the result of that. Maybe whatever we were listening to or inspired by influenced how we play as musicians individually but I don’t think as a band there was ever a conscious decision that was like “we want to sound like this and this is what the band is going to be”.

So you’ve just released a new album Light Up Gold, tell me about the writing and recording of it.

Well we recorded it in our practice space in Brooklyn. We would get together twice a week and thrash out songs. We put out a record before that so we knew each other pretty well. I was actually really sick when we recorded Light Up Gold so I don’t really remember it but I guess it came out pretty good. We recorded it in three days in our practice space. It’s like a little hole-in-the-wall dingy space that we turned into a recording studio with help from our friend Johnny Shankie who actually just recorded 25 new songs for us also.

Three days in a DIY space to record an album is a pretty prolific effort: did you have any production or recording assistance?

Austin had a tape machine that we recorded to. Johnny is a professional engineer and he is really talented and incredible at what he does and I don’t want to belittle it at all but at the end of the day it really was five friends hanging out in a practice space and Johnny happens to be very talented at what he does and that’s the reason at least partially it sounds as it does for what limited resources it has. A lot of it we wrote during those three days too. We recorded a lot of stuff that never got released or anything, but, a lot of the songs that are on the record we wrote in those three days while we were mucking around for 12 to 15 hours a day in that practice space. There was a really good energy and a really good vibe which aided the experience.

So do you guys write songs collaboratively?

Yeah. I’d say that the way the songs are written is that Andrew and Austin will parts of a song or most of a song written and then when we’re in our practice space together we play it a bunch of times until everybody has parts that they’re into or comfortable with. On Light Up Gold we all have songs we’ve written on it.

And you work on the lyrics together too?

No, usually Andrew and Austin have the lyrics. They have different approaches that they go with. Max and I will also write lyrics – like I wrote the lyrics to a song on Light Up Gold and I have another one that’s going to be on the next record. For the most part Andrew and Austin write the lyrics and depending on which one of those two you ask they write lyrics to inform how a song will come together instrumentally.

Now that Light Up Gold is a finished product: is there anything that binds the songs together?

Certainly wouldn’t define it as a concept album but as with any frenetically put together and fully figured-out piece of work there’s definitely themes running through that we relate to and can speak to. Mainly I think an apathy that informs our generation and I think a lot of the lyrical elements of the record speak to that. I shouldn’t speak entirely on behalf of Andrew and Ausin but sonically a lot of comparisons people make to our sound and other bands is fairly accurate and that being said without speaking for Andrew and Austin, those bands share similar sentiments that we do. I think we are trying to convey those messages, or I hope so. I don’t want to say it was a total success or anything but I think we’re all pretty proud with how it turned out.

Yeah, the Light Up Gold album sits as one of many pieces of creative work that is speaking to the apathy of our generation, created by our generation at this moment. What are your thoughts on the rising of this creative subconscious?

We live in an era now that, after the fog has settled from the promises that have been made to us by our parent’s generation, we are slightly disheartened compared to what we expected. People have had a hard time coming to terms with it and have taken time to think about it and reflect on it. It just is, in fact a real cognitive thing that people are talking about or facing at the moment and if Light Up Gold offers any asylum or point of conversation that can be agreed with or disagreed with then we’ll be happy. What you’re asking is “are we thinking the same thing right now?” and I think the answer is “yes”.

I’ve read a few interviews with you guys and you hate being asked about being a “New York band” and I’m not going to ask that. But, I do want to ask what the creative community that you exist within is like.

Well New York is an excellent city for people to run away from home to. I think we all did that. We describe ourselves as a New York band because we’ve all lived there for kind of a long time. The bigger issue is that people seem to think that our band is one that moves from one place to another and that’s not true. The fact is that as four individual people we all chose to move to New York and all did it before Parquet Courts was even on the radar at all. New York has an allure and fascinating energy that exists that is unavoidable and I think that most artists that you talk to who live there whether their musicians or filmmakers or whatever will tell you that there’s a reason why they’re there certainly in terms of influencing the work that they do. There are a tonne of New York bands that we love and although we’re a New York band we’re not trying to be part of a sound or something, we’re just trying to state that New York has a huge influence on the work that we do.

In terms of the community: Andrew and I both grew up in the DIY and punk communities and we’ve always played in punk bands as long as we can remember. When I moved to New York I moved there because I saw that that community not only existed in New York but was thriving in a way that I wanted to become involved in. I think that is what was alluring for all of us and it’s fun to be there because you get to be anonymous in a lot of ways but the community and the art scene is so overwhelmingly inspiring that the essence of being an artist in New York is that you’re surrounded by inspiration.





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