Metal Kombat: Parkway Drive and Asking Alexandria go to war

A montage of parkway drive and asking alexandria

This month sees Parkway Drive return to British shores as they approach the end of the cycle for 2015’s phenomenally successful Ire. As if that wasn’t enough action, they’re bringing Asking Alexandria along for the ride. With vocalist Danny Worsnop back in the fold, and playing as a support act in venues they’ve headlined in their own right, Asking have plenty to prove. Ahead of what promises to be an unmissable set of shows, we got Danny, and Parkway’s Winston McCall, on the phone to find out what we can expect.…

How have you guys been preparing for the tour?

WINSTON: “It’s been pretty hectic – we have grand plans for this tour! We’ve been trying to create a stage show that’s crazier than anything we’ve done before. Considering what we did last time [think huge columns of flame, and lights that looked like fireworks], that means we’ve really had to put our heads together to come up with something new. We’re taking some pretty big risks, concept-wise.”

DANNY: “I try to stay vocally in top shape all the time. I’m playing shows all year around, and you can’t really be at the top if you don’t work at staying there. I try to keep myself in the best shape possible, vocally, to remain king of this!”

How about physically?

DANNY: “I’ve made a lot of lifestyle changes. I spent a lot of time dedicated to getting fucked up, but I’ve reached a point, as a businessman, where I don’t have time to do that. It started out as a break from it, and it just felt great. I feel better for it. So now it’s just part of my life – I’m not drinking, I’m exercising, I’m eating good. It was something of an epiphany – I only get one shot at this, so I’ve got to look after what I have.”

WINSTON: “I’ve just participated in a Pipeline contest for bodyboarding. I managed to get an entry this year, which is nice. Generally, we’re on tour around this time of year, so I miss out on this contest, but this year I threw my hat in the ring and they gave me a shot! Stoked!”

Winston facing off at Reading last summer

Winston facing off at Reading last summer

Have you had much downtime on this cycle?

WINSTON: “Yeah, we actually have! This is the fourth month away from tour, out of five. It’s the longest break away from touring that we’ve had in our entire band’s existence. It’s been a nice summer at home, but we have also been writing new music. A fair bit of that! It’s been really fun.”

What can you tell us about the music you’ve been working on?

WINSTON: “The music we’re writing now continues the new era we started with Ire. It’s not that we’re going to sound exactly like we did on Ire – there’s a whole bunch of stuff that we did on that record which went really well, and a whole bunch of stuff we’ve decided isn’t the direction we want to go in. We’re not stepping back from the idea of widening the actual sound of this band – we got to 10 years of bog-standard metalcore, and we loved it, but we’re not going to write songs like our old ones. We’re not going to stop playing them live either, so we may as well leave those songs in the set, and write something that sounds completely different. That’s the theory!”

What have you guys been writing about?

WINSTON: “Everything is very dark, probably for different reasons on this one. The Ire cycle has been the best and worst times of our lives. A lot of this stuff happened around the time of [Architects’ guitarist] Tom Searle passing away, but there’s a load of stuff we’ve had going on personally that no one will ever know about, which was world-shattering. It’s shaped us as people, and that stuff is coming out in the music one way or another. There’s some pointed political stuff in there, but there’s definitely a lot more that’s thematically about love, life and death. When it rains, it pours. And it fucking poured on us last year.”

How about you, Danny? Have Asking got new music in the works?

DANNY: “Ben [Bruce, guitarist] has been writing, and I know he’s booked a studio out for a year. So all through 2017, they’re going to be in the studio and I’ll fly in and out as I have time. So far there are three finished songs, one of which has a music video which we shot a few months ago. I’m still waiting to get the audio back from the other songs, to see if they’re finished. And I’ve got a whole load of drums and guitars in my Dropbox! At this stage, it’s very much just messing around with different ideas – we don’t have a predetermined idea of what it’s going to sound like. We’ll know when we find that one song, where we feel that’s the sound of the album. We’ll sculpt everything else around that song.”

Aw, it’s like they were never apart! Danny back with Asking in Barcelona earlier this year

Aw, it’s like they were never apart! Danny back with Asking in Barcelona earlier this year

Have you chosen a producer yet?

DANNY: “There might be different people producing different aspects of it. Ben is working with Matt Good right now [From First To Last/D.R.U.G.S.]. There’s a possibility of me working with a different producer vocally, just so we can get the best take possible. We’re looking at John Feldmann, who did the last Blink-182 album, but I also have some people out here in Nashville. I did my country record with Jim Kaufman and couldn’t be more happy with how that came out. I’ll probably pick one song, record it with a bunch of different dudes, and see who does it best.”

You guys haven’t actually met yet! What are your impressions of each other?

WINSTON: “No idea! I choose to completely disregard any drama, or anything you read online, or any kind of crap like that. Simply because I know what the online world is like. You’ve toured with a bunch of our friends who say you’re great dudes, so I’m stoked on that. And you seem to be good music, so I’m stoked on that, too! I’ll wait to draw conclusions down the line, but it’s very hard for me not to get on with someone.”

DANNY: “I have none. I try not to go into things with a pre-decided image of what people are going to be like, so it’s a complete open store for me. I’m still waiting on the first impression!”

What do you think of each other’s music?

DANNY: “I haven’t heard much of it. I never really listened to much heavy music – I was always the guy sat at the back, listening to Aerosmith. So it’s going to be another first impression for me. The rest of the band are big fans, so I’m excited to hear it.”

WINSTON: “I’m not super-familiar with it. That’s nothing bad against Asking Alexandria, we’ve just never crossed paths. It’s an interesting scenario, but I’m psyched!”

Who would win in a fight between Parkway Drive and Asking Alexandria?

WINSTON: “Fucking hell, what do you think is going to happen on this tour? Is there something I haven’t been told, or what? Any able-bodied band could probably beat the hell out of us these days. A – we don’t fight in the first place and B – Jeff [Ling, lead guitarist] has blown his knee out again, so there’s a good chance there’ll be a fucking wheelchair on tour again. So you’re already bashing someone who can hardly walk! That being said, I’ve seen Jia [O’Connor, bassist] smash a whole bunch of people – he’s the last person who ever wants to fight, and the first person who ends up getting into trouble defending someone else.”

So it’s more likely that you’ll team up to go and fight other people?

WINSTON: “Oh yeah!”

DANNY: “I feel like you’re being very politically correct with that answer! You’re pussy-footin’ around! I haven’t seen you guys, so I don’t know what the comparison would be. I’ve seen the Asking guys get into a couple of fights, so just from scrappiness alone I feel like Ben and Sam [Bettley, bassist] are going to carry that one. My fighting days are in the past!”

On the tour itself, you’re going to be playing rooms that both bands could easily headline. Is there going to be some competition?

WINSTON: “It depends whether you see it as a contest. I’m sure you’re gonna absolutely kill it, and I’m stoked you agreed to do the tour. It’s a big fucking deal to have you guys along; it’s gonna be awesome. I like to watch the band playing with us and go, ‘Right – they have done that, that means I’ve gotta go to this level.’ It sets a standard, and I’m sure you’re going to set one hell of a standard!”

DANNY: “I think competition is healthy – I’m a very competitive person. I strive to be the best at everything I do, so even when I’m touring with close friends, I go onstage with the mindset every time of, ‘These guys are going to hate following this.’ I think I achieve that nine times out of… nine! If you don’t go onstage aiming to put on the best show you can every night, you’re in the wrong business.”

What can we expect from your sets?

WINSTON: “I don’t wanna give anything away, because it’s on a very different level from anything I’ve seen in a long time. These days, it’s very hard to see something that hasn’t been done before, and every time I hear someone say, ‘We’re gonna change things up!’ I sit there with baited breath, but it’s always, ‘Oh, they’ve got screens as well. Oh, sweet, everyone’s got flames now.’ We’ve tried to design something that people aren’t expecting. We’re an adrenaline band, rather than a TV-watching band. So if you get where that’s going, you might have some idea as to what’s going to happen!”

DANNY: “It’s pretty basic. We’ve got a great light show – it’ll be our first tour with a new lighting guy, who we’ve taken from Marilyn Manson, who always has a great light show. Aside from that, we’re focusing on the performance more than anything. Rather than being a visual spectacle, it’s going to be an audiophile’s delight. We’re breaking it down to basics: it’s all about the musicians and the music… and probably a bunch of my stupid dad jokes!”

Parkway Drive and Asking Alexandria tour the UK from April 8

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