King Parrot is an intense Grindcore/Thrash Metal band hailing from Melbourne, Australia. Recently signed to Phil Anselmo’s label, Housecore Records, they are really starting to make waves world-wide. Back in December, Guy Nelson sat down with lead singer, Matt “Youngy” Young, before their show at the Tonic in Portland, OR. King Parrot were in the middle of the Punk Rock but Kinda Not tour with Down and Orange Goblin at the time. We spoke about Youngy getting smashed in the face with pints of beer, the Housecore Horror Film Fest and his hopes for the band’s future. -
Guy Nelson: You guys built up your fan-base in Australia, and then toured the US and southeast Asia gaining more fans there, but recently you have gained Phil Anselmo as a big fan. When was this first brought to your attention?
Matt “Youngy” Young: We met all the guys from Down at Soundwave in Melbourne. We played at Soundwave, which is like the big touring festival in Australia. They have it in all the major cities with millions of bands playing and millions of people going to it. So we played that, and we had been in touch a little bit before then, but met him there and met the Down guys. We stayed in contact pretty regularly over the time and got on this (Punk Rock but Kinda Not) tour as a result of that. It’s all been going along really well. It’s been a huge help. It’s great to have someone like him (Phil Anselmo), you know, who is as influential as him supporting your band.
G: Oh definitely. The biggest thing with Phil is he is a real fan of music in the first place. He picks out bands he likes, such as Portal, and gives them a leg up and some support. Not a lot of people would do that in his position the way he does it.
Y: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve actually ever met anyone who is as passionate about heavy metal as Phil. He loves it. I’ve sat with him many many times and listened to all this bizarre shit that I’ve never heard of, you know. And he’s just like “Have you heard this!? Listen to this!” and he absolutely loves it. So passionate about it and you always learn a lot from him about it. It’s so cool.
G: Speaking on the tour with Down, have you guys had any stand-out experiences that you haven’t had on other ones?
Y: Wow, yeah! I guess the whole thing… it’s kind of surreal you know, because some of my favorite musicians play in Down, and some of my favorite musicians play in Orange Goblin and B’last and they’re all great people and we’re just sort of kicking ourselves a little bit at this early stage of our career that we’re getting an opportunity to play with these great bands on such a really awesome tour. It’s pretty surreal for us but, we are very grateful and feel like it’s a bit of a testament to the hard work that we’ve put in at the start of the band and having only been one album deep… we’re stoked you know, just really happy. And this is hopefully going to mean a bit of a leg up for the band in other areas as well, and more touring opportunities as well. There’s a lot of offers coming in now for next year and we are going to be very busy, which is great.
G: And now days you have to have that drive to continue and stay busy, which seems to be the big difference I have seen for people who actually get themselves somewhere compared to those who don’t. In the US a lot of bands will do regional stuff and wait for something to happen. There is not a lot of support in the music industry for that.
Speaking of which, is this going to be your last activity in the US for a while?
Y: No, no not at all haha. No, we’re going to be busy. I think we are looking at coming back in March, something like that, so nothing has been confirmed yet but we have a few things on the table so somethings gonna happen one way or another. We are going to record in January, and then we’re gonna go home in February and then we’re going to want to make some new videos and do some shit like that, and then we are going to do a couple more tours. We want to try and get to Europe before this new album comes out because we haven’t been there yet. Stuff has been happening for us here, which is totally cool, but as things have been building up here the interest in Europe has been growing as well since we haven’t been there yet. I mean, that’s all I can gauge from the fucking internet anyway, you know. People have been saying “Come to the UK” and “Come to Germany!” and all of that sort of shit so we really want to try and do that before the new album comes out, just to sort of get a foot hold in there. And I guess we will sort of see what happens from there, but yeah man, we are going to be here a lot. We paid for our Visa’s so, we’re entitled to be here! (laughs)
G: Awesome! Speaking of working your asses off, you guys built up your fan base in Australia and then came over here, even though you had put several years in already you were kind of a new band to most fans in the US. Have you noticed any really big difference between the two countries in terms of trying to get yourself out there and emerge as an artist?
Y: Well yeah, you know Australia is a vast country but it’s of few people so it’s a much smaller scene, but we have done a lot of work in the regional areas, the smaller markets, you know what I mean. Like, we’ve played a lot of smaller cities and towns just trying to get the name out there, you know. We found that sort of being one of the keys to us being able to tour more frequently in Australia is getting out to those places and playing them in between the major cities. And that’s certainly helped build our fan base a lot. Where as over here, you can play cities all the time and you can just keep going and going, and for us that makes a lot more sense than touring Australia non-stop. Now that we have been sort of able to establish ourselves over here I guess, and I mean I don’t think by any means we are like a headliner yet or anything like that, you know. We are still trying to find our place in the market here but it’s going really good and I think it’s going maybe a little quicker than what happened in Australia, so that’s kind of cool and we have a bit more of an idea of what we are doing.
G: It seems like it would be pretty tough with the distance you have to travel over there compared to here.
Y: It is tough man. A lot of miles, a lot of driving. We flew a lot over there, you know. Like to get from Melbourne to Brisbane, it’s… a long fucking way. (laughs) You can’t drive it, really. But we just make do man and we won’t have to tour as much in Australia.
G: From an entertainment stand point it seems almost anyone would find King Parrot’s live performance intriguing. Even if they were not a fan of metal, just the sheer intensity of your stage presence coupled with the audience participation would undoubtedly grab their attention. Having said that, have you guys ever had any adverse reactions to your gigs?
Y: Oh yeah, totally! I’ve been smashed in the face with beer pints a couple of times. I’ve had guys who wanted to fight me and stuff. Which is ultimately up to them I guess. I’m not going out there trying to start fights or anything like that. I want it to be an intense and confronting performance, but I’m not going out there wanting to fight people or anything like that, I’m going out there to entertain and not hurt anyone but to get them involved and them feeling that sort of interaction rather than just having another experience where you’re just standing there watching a fucking band, you know? That was our whole thing, especially in Melbourne. There’s a lot of shows and a good metal scene there and people are spoiled. So when we first started I was fucking going to just get out there and get in the crowd and make people do shit. When we were first starting out it was kind of pissing me off I guess. The whole scene in our city was, because I would go to shows all of the time and everyone was sort of just standing there like “I’m too fucking cool… they’re just a local band” and all of this sort of shit and I just wanted to push it to another level in terms of audience participation and just try to step outside of that whole “local band” mentality. That kind of shit pisses me off. There is a lot of that in Australia like “Oh you’re an Australian band?” American bands or European bands are automatically massive, whereas if you’re a local band trying to get out you really have to fucking do something and so that’s what I just chose to do. It was just to get in front of fucking peoples faces and really sort of shake them up a bit, and it took a while you know? Took about a year or so of doing that until people actually went “oh, hold on King Parrot are OK!” It’s alright to have a fucking mosh pit at a King Parrot show, and now it’s just normal. We can go and play pretty much anywhere in Australia and get a good response, just as good of a response as international bands do and as good of crowds as well. It kind of worked I guess, as well as having a cool record and the videos and touring our asses off and all of those things sort of came together. It’s just sort of worked for us.
G: You guys did a great job of getting the crowd involved in Texas at the Housecore Horror Film Festival. You definitely had one of the bigger audience reactions of that whole festival. Do you find being in Australia and having that kind of practice was helpful in getting a crowd of that size involved, that was at first just standing there?
Y: Yeah, definitely. To me it doesn’t really matter what the size of the crowd is, I’m going to do the same thing every fucking time anyway, so… (laughs) Usually if there is a crowd that big they usually move. You don’t have to give them that much encouragement, but they were a little bit stiff in Texas so we had to just put the proverbial rocket up their ass and get it going!
G: And I like that you mosh with the audience. You used to see that all of the time, but obviously events in recent history have made some bands position themselves away from the audience with question to safety and stuff like that, but you can still go to an Iron Regan show or Napalm Death show and there is no difference between the stage and the floor. Seeing the audience react to you getting out on the floor was great. Anytime you go see a band where they are squirting blood on you or physically bleeding on you and just all of those different elements that make it not just another casual show going experience really resonate with people, and same with what King Parrot does. At the same time beyond that, the musicianship that you guys have is amazing as well. Once you get passed the first shock and awe and can appreciate what is driving that energy forward so well, the whole impact of the band becomes realized and you see that it is not a gimmick.
Y: Yeah! I mean, we put as much time and effort into the music as any other band, you know? That’s the bread and butter and that’s what makes people move. And we’ve toured with technical death metal bands like Origin and Beyond Creation, and I see the technicality in bands like Cattle Decapitation, but I think our sort of thing is we have more digestible riffs and more rock ‘n’ roll structures in the songs. We are definitely influenced by that punk/rock ‘n’ roll stuff and have played in those sort of bands before as well. There’s definitely that influence in King Parrot as opposed to the more traditional death metal bands, or whatever might go for the more complex structures. It’s not to say that we dumb it down, but we just try and do what we think works and sometimes that means keeping things a little bit more simple rather than going for super complex, you know?
G: You’ve got to give the people something they can latch onto. Otherwise they are going to be counting your time signatures, making sure you’re doing enough to be classified as some certain band or genre.
Y: Exactly. And we kind of try and steer clear of that sort of genre classification shit. We just do what we do and obviously there is some elements of grindcore and there is elements of thrash in there, and there is also elements of punk so… that’s what it is, you know?
G: Yeah, the extent at which this classification phenomenon has grown and infiltrated metal in particular is ridiculous. Several decades ago when you went to see a band or wanted to listen to a band it was the band themselves that was the focus. Their sounds were their own and no one really cared to file them away in their respective slot. You guys seems to capture that older ideal of the band and it’s sound being unique unto itself and only properly described as King Parrot.
G: Some bands like to break up the monotony of being on the road by sampling various things in different cities as in burritos, beers or hamburgers etc. Is there anything that any of you try out in different cities?
Y: I guess the challenge for me is trying to find a fucking decent coffee in this country. There’s a bit of a coffee epidemic going on in Australia at the moment where everyone does fucking awesome coffee. Even in the small towns there is 10 cafe’s where you can get fucking awesome coffee. But over here it seems people are just happy to drink shit coffee. Like the gas station coffee, I can’t fucking handle that shit so my bare minimum is unfortunately Starbucks, but if I can find a coffee that is better than that, that is always what I am trying to be on the lookout for. I actually found one just down the road here today. It was Marina’s Kafe down the road here. And she was awesome! Really cool older lady, and she made me a nice panini and I sat there and drank coffee and stole her Wi-fi talking to people back home. So that was cool and that’s my little thing.
G: Well I’m glad you were able to find that here! Thanks again for sitting down with us and we look forward to seeing much more of King Parrot here in the states and the rest of the world.
Y: No worries! I really appreciate it. Thank you.
We want to thank Youngy for taking the time to speak with us and for being an all around amazing human being! King Parrot is currently on tour with Weedeater. Check out the dates here. You do not want to miss them!