For over a decade, Winston McCall has been at the centre of Australia’s biggest metal band of the 21st century – Parkway Drive. Bringing a typically antipodean level of positivity and enthusiasm to some of modern metal’s heaviest songs, Winston is rightly regarded as one of our most inspirational characters. Here he talks to us about his outlook on life.
“I think it’s really important to be politically minded, but it’s important to see politics for what it is these days. It’s pretty interesting to be on tour in America during this election campaign and see what passes for democracy these days. It’s scary to see the way the world is run and see the fact that this is what we accept. Considering we are people that are happy to put our lives in other people’s hands, it pays to know just who we are trusting with our lives. I’m into the idea of education and knowledge. I’d never say that I’m into the left or the right party, but I will do my best to be educated in the topics and the things that will effect me and the people I care about. It’s a strange system and we’ve let it get to a point where you are born into a system of believing ‘I’m a born Democrat’ or ‘I’m a born Republican’. That idea to me is mental. Surely politics is about coming together to discuss ideas, not being part of a cult.”
“I’m not a part of organised religion. In Australia at the moment there is a huge rogue mission into the Catholic Church and the abuse of the children in their care, and it’s absolutely fucked. This tax haven, under the guise of religion, has protected people responsible for all manner of awful things done to children, and it is disgusting. The way that this religious group has reacted to it is horrifying, and has been a real eye-opener for a lot of Australians. I have a real problem with anyone that can say ‘My belief system is tied into that and that’s where I’m going to base my moral compass.’ I’m very open-minded to things, I think if there is someone that says definitively that there is no god; they’re pretty stupid as well. I think you have to hold your hand up and say ‘I will never know.’ But to put my faith behind what I see in organised religion? You had better have a damned spotless record.”
“It’s so funny that metal, hardcore, and punk were all created to go ‘Fuck the rules… but here are our rules.’ I thought you were about fucking the rules? When you get into something as a younger person you want it to identify you, so you go ‘What are the rules to fucking the rules?’ It isn’t until way further down the line you realise the hypocrisy in that, so it can be plenty dangerous – you have to question anyone preaching a message.
“On our last album we wanted to do something that would make people go ‘You aren’t allowed to do this, this isn’t in the rule book!’ There were so many lightning rod moments where we said ‘The criticism will come here, here and here’. We wanted to do that to encourage individuality, if you end up all following the same path you’ll be walking around in circles forever.”
“It’s very hard to define what typical Australian art is – I wouldn’t expect all Australian bands to act or sound like us. Byron Bay is like a microcosm of Australia, it’s a law unto itself. We have some very progressive viewpoints about nature and the environment, which isn’t what you normally associate with us, but then at the same time we are very active humans and we are very rowdy! It’s a very common trait about Australians, that we notice when we go around the rest of the world; people always say to us ‘Oh man you guys take the piss out of each other so much!’ And we don’t even really notice it. It’s just something that comes from our background. We just don’t realise it until we’re away from home. It’s hard to say what is stereotypically Australian, but I guess an openness and a friendliness is up there.”
“I follow no sporting codes. But that being said I will get involved if someone is playing a game of football or rugby or cricket, and it looks like a fun thing to do. We’re the kind of band that won’t go ‘I don’t know how to do that,’ we’ll just jump in and give it a crack. Again, I think that is very much an Aussie thing to do. But, it’s such a cliché, we’re all surfers. I’m not really so much of a team sports guy, but when I’m at home I want to surf every day.”
“I don’t have much apart from surfing and being in a band. I love to travel and I love to spend time in the environment I grew up in, but when I’m home I just want to spend time with my wife. The portrait that I’ve painted of myself in music media hasn’t really changed – I’m a bit of a hermit. I’m not sure if I want kids, but it is something that I talk about a lot. A lot of my friends have kids and we’re a pseudo auntie and uncle, and we think ‘This is cool’ but my wife is a surfer too and we both like a lie in. So often we think ‘Oh well, we couldn’t do this!’ we couldn’t just leave him on the beach to chew on a rock. And it sucks leaving now when I go on tour. It must be unbearable with a child.”
“This is a bit of a shitty story, but just before I left to come out on this tour our dog died. I know people might think I’m being stupid but we had a dog and a cat, and they were like our little furry children for a while. The absolute grief I went through was a big wake up. It absolutely sucks, it was like losing a member of the family. I’ve never felt grief like it. I’ve lost my grandparents but I couldn’t handle this. And you had this ‘What does life mean?’ moment afterwards. You think that if you feel that for this animal then what would you do if something happened to your wife, you just want to wrap yourself up and never go outside again. It makes the idea of touring in a band seem ridiculous. When things like that happen it makes you question everything you do.”