INTERVIEW: Matthew Young (KING PARROT)
King Parrot: you’ve either heard the name, love them or think that this article is about that Christmas-coloured bird you saw on that family vacation one time. But regardless of where you sit in King Parrot awareness, it’s undeniable that this is a band who truly walk, talk and squawk like nobody’s business all while inciting cheerful anarchy at their live shows and crafting heavy-hitting (and twice ARIA-nominated) albums.
Larger and louder than life itself, this Melbourne quintet have continually shocked and impressed all over the world with their unique take on the grindcore genre. And after a solid recent run of touring the States, the King Parrot gents are now poised ready to end 2018 not only with a nom in the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal category at the upcoming ARIA Awards, but also with a few shows in the very near future, including next weekend at the inaugural Halloween Hysteria festival taking place in Brisbane on Saturday October 27th.
Headlining alongside The Bennies and a whole horde of Aussie heavy acts, Halloween Hysteria proves to be the perfect homecoming for King Parrot, and before the scare-fest takes place we grabbed a few moments with the insightful frontman himself Matthew Young to chat positivity, recognition and the enduring journey behind this atypical bunch. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hi Matt! Thanks so much for chatting today, let’s kick things off and firstly talk about the epic-ness that is Halloween Hysteria on the horizon. How keen are you and King Parrot to have some spooky times next weekend?
MATTHEW YOUNG: Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome! We’re really excited, Brisbane’s like our second home so we’re really excited to get back up there. And the line-up for the show’s just incredible. We just got back from the US, so it’s nice to get back out and see some Aussie audiences before we bunker down for summer and start writing our new record.
TIANA: Well that’s quite exciting to hear! And the line-up is MASSIVE hey! Are there any bands in particular you’re keen to check out on the day?
MATT: I am excited to see the Hard-Ons, they’ve always been a favourite band of mine, and just awesome, lovely dudes. Our buddies from Black Rheno are always putting on a killer show. Plus Void of Vision, Blind Man Death Stare is another friend’s band that I’m excited to see. Bare Bones are really cool, and From Crisis To Collapse as well, they’re friends of ours as well so that’ll be cool.
TIANA: I interviewed another band recently about the festival, and yet again I’m struck with an extreme case of fomo, I’ll be in Sydney while all this is going down…
MATT: That’s alright! You can come and see us play at Frankies on the Sunday, we’re doing Frankies on Sunday the 28th October as well.
TIANA: You’ve made me feel much better now, thank you!
MATT: Awesome mate, yeah come along, I don’t have to put you on the guest list because it’s totally free (laughs).
TIANA: As you mentioned just before, King Parrot recently just came back from a run of shows in America, were there any particular standout shows while you guys were over there? Or was it just an overall epic occasion?
MATT: It was pretty much overall epic! Yeah, it was great! We toured with Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals, an amazing band, they played quite a bunch of Pantera stuff from the old Pantera catalogue which was really cool to see live. The shows were amazing! It was one of the best US tours we’ve done, I couldn’t really fault it at all. One of the shows that we played was at the Saint Vitus bar in New York, and that was sold out. It was also streamed live on the internet by Revolver magazine, so that was a really cool one! We also played a big thing called Berserker Fest up in Michigan and we were joined by Negative Approach and Macabre…our old friends Child Bite, who actually run the festival! That was amazing. Those were some of the highlights, and we just had such a great time over there this time, it just seems that every time we go back we’re getting a better response, and more people getting into the band. We’re no strangers to the road, we love getting over there and just building our fan-base and trying to improve as much as we can every time we get out there
KING PARROT WITH PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS IN THE STATES//photo: King Parrot instagram
TIANA: And is there a really significant difference between the Aussie and American fans when it comes to a King Parrot show?
MATT: I would just say the Aussie fans have probably seen us a little bit more so they know what to expect a little bit. And the shows are probably just a little bit crazier. But I would have to say they’re definitely catching up, that’s for sure!
TIANA: Excellent to hear! And beyond the festival next weekend, there’s another little thing that’s quite exciting for King Parrot with you guys scoring a cheeky ARIA nom for your rececnt release ‘Ugly Produce’ – the second time for you guys now! What are your thoughts going in this time round?
MATT: Well, I think for us, it’s just amazing to get nominated. We’re under no allusions about the sort of music that we play, it’s very nasty and abrasive, and it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. But to be recognised for the hard work that we put into the band by the recording industry at large – it’s kinda cool, you know? I see a lot of backlash from metal people and all that saying the ARIAs are a joke and that sort of stuff. But at the same time, I think if their band was getting nominated they’d be pretty happy about it as well. There’s always that sort of chip on the shoulder a little bit sometimes with Aussie stuff, I think it’s just ingrained in our culture that they….(laughs) I dunno, they get a bit of a bad taste in their mouth about all sorts of things. But we just try to take a more positive approach to it, and we’re just really grateful that we get mentioned in the same breath as some of these bands that are obviously much bigger than us, playing music that’s much more accessible. The fact that we’re even mentioned and that our fan-base have been able to support us so strongly and passionately – album sales and merchandise, and the number of people that come along to our shows….it’s really incredible! And we’re really grateful, and we’ll keep working hard, doing what we do and it’s nice just to get a little bit of that recognition sometimes. We’re stoked on it.
TIANA: It is nice to see a bit of sonic diversity, if everyone in that category sounded all the same I’d start to query it, but it is a touch of proof that it’s not rigged or pre-ordained as a lot of people suspect. I’m excited!
MATT: Me too! And it’s not often…obviously the ARIAs are our main music awards and that sort of thing, and it’s not often around the world, maybe some places in Scandinavia where extreme metal is actually part of the hard rock/heavy metal kind of thing…but for a band as extreme as King Parrot to get a nomination in that mainstream kind of thing is really cool, and it shows that extreme metal is really strong in Australia.
TIANA: And seemingly going from strength to strength! Now, King Parrot - you guys work your asses off and you have a sturdy reputation for doing so, obviously you’ve been around as a band for a fair while now…casting your mind back to those early days, which I believe weren’t necessarily always smooth sailing…was there a mission statement for King Parrot as a band in those really early days? Or were you just doing what you loved, and it evolved into this?
MATT: I think initially the band was just a bit of fun for us, and then as things sort of picked up, we noticed that we had a distinctive sound, and it was translating really well in the live shows. It didn’t happen overnight, there was a lot of shows and a lot of touring and a lot of playing around regional areas and stuff to hone our shows. But we just wanted to step it up a notch in terms of the live performance, and we wanted to have that audience interaction and participation at our shows. And that sort of picked up pretty quickly as we went along! And then it just sort of snowballed from there, it’s been really great to just watch it grow, and to watch it develop and evolve. And I think when people come to a King Parrot live show now, they kind of know what to expect and they’re ready to go! And that’s really cool. When we first started, we kind of had to really encourage the crowd, and I would jump in the audience and really push them around, make them move and get them involved, whereas these days it just kind of happens now, which is great!
TIANA: King Parrot Fan Autopilot!
MATT: Yeah, exactly! It’s awesome, and that’s what we wanted (laughs). And it just kind of happened on its own.
TIANA: And from everything I’ve seen from afar because, cards on the table, I’m one of the unlucky ones who still hasn’t caught you live in action….but it does seem like everyone just gets SO into it, and it is so infectious and so hectic, but still fun. It doesn’t look like an antagonistic environment.
MATT: It’s a fine line to tread when you’re playing this sort of music (laughs). But I think for the most part, everyone’s looking out for each other, everyone’s having a fun time – and it’s a real outlet for people to have that sort of music as the soundtrack behind getting all their frustrations of the world out. And we’re happy to be a part of that, and assist in that process with people (laughs).
TIANA: Entertainment with a side of catharsis! Always a good thing.
MATT: I think so! It’s definitely very therapeutic for me, that’s for sure.
TIANA: Now correct me if I’m wrong, but King Parrot marked the first time you stepped up as a frontman, you were a bassist before that?
MATT: Yeah, I played bass in a bunch of bands, and a bit of guitar and stuff!
TIANA: That whole transition, was it easy for you? Were you just naturally this enigmatic when you jumped up onstage with King Parrot, or was it a case of “fake it til you make it”?
MATT: It was kind of tricky! When you’re playing guitar, you’re kind of just standing behind your guitar. And when you take that off, it’s like “well, I’ve got nothing to hide behind anymore” (laughs). But not to say that you’re hiding! It’s just a different thing. It was more like “oh, I can’t look like I’m preoccupied by playing my guitar”, because you can’t really do that with a microphone. So the first few shows that we did years ago, I was quite intimidated and wasn’t able to actually make eye contact with the audience, and that kind of stuff. But obviously, I came out of my shell pretty quick (laughs).
TIANA: You made up for it in spectacular leaps and bounds!
MATT: (laughs) Yeah, it’s so much fun. We just have so much fun doing it, and I really love that energy from the audience.
TIANA: You guys are so notorious for this brutal hilarity and ferocity in your live shows, and in your songs as well obviously. Is it easy to maintain this sense of cheeky belligerence after all this time from a performance and songwriting perspective?
MATT: I think that just sort of comes naturally to us now. That’s just who we are and that’s just what we do, so we just do our thing! We don’t have to do anything other than just be ourselves, we’re not trying to go for any angle other than that. And that’s the great thing about being in a band like King Parrot, there’s no kind of preconceived idea about “this is the way it’s gonna be presented” or “this is the way it’s gotta be”. We’re just ourselves, and that’s what you get!
TIANA: As someone so heavily associated with the grindcore/thrash/sludge/whatever-you-want-to-call-it world…what kind of music did you grow up listening to?
MATT: I grew up as an 80s kid, so the first stuff that I was into was glam metal and stuff like Poison and Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses…all that sort of stuff. That was where I started off, but as soon as I got into my teenage years it just got heavier and heavier and heavier. So I’ve always had that relationship with heavy music, and always played heavy music too! I listen to everything these days, I listen to all sorts of music, I love my vinyl collection very much. And it’s not all I listen to now, but obviously with King Parrot that’s the sort of music that we play, and we certainly do love it.
TIANA: It’s a good backbone, and it’s always nice to have a few things outside of that to dabble in!
MATT: Exactly, exactly! It’s nice to pull different influences in from different genres, and see if you can meld those things into the grindcore kind of sound that we are. That’s been something that’s sort of helped keep us a little bit more original and a bit different to other straight-up grindcore bands.
TIANA: And way back at the start of our chat you mentioned that you guys will be potentially bunkering down for some new material beyond the next little run of shows...?
MATT: Yeah, we’re gonna do these shows, these will be our last shows for the year and then I think over summer we’re gonna spend some time writing and jamming. We’ve already got a fair chunk of the new album underway, we’re just gonna keep chipping away at it and hopefully by the time summer’s done we’ll be ready to knuckle down, start recording and get something maybe next year, or maybe even 2020. Depends on how the creative juices flow!
TIANA: Yes, you cannot force that process can you!
MATT: No, that’s it! But we’re always kind of creating and working and doing stuff so we’ll see what happens! But I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later.
TIANA: Awesome to hear, and I speak on behalf of everyone who will be attending Halloween Hysteria how exciting it will be to have you rip up the stage, I know you guys will put on a hell of a show. Thank you for your time!
MATT: Thank you so much for your support, have a good one mate.
KING PARROT WILL BE HEADLINING A HORDE OF AMAZING HEAVY ACTS AT THE ICONIC JUBILEE HOTEL IN BRISBANE FOR HALLOWEEN HYSTERIA 2018 ON THE 27TH OF OCTOBER
FOR HALLOWEEN HYSTERIA 2018 TICKET INFO, HEAD HERE.
AND FOR EVERYTHING KING PARROT RELATED, HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER