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Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall Talks Touring, Best Surf Spots And His Love Of Byron Bay Australia

Parkway Drive's Winston McCall Talks Love of Byron Bay
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

For some bands, it’s been years since they’ve been stateside due to the pandemic. For Parkway Drive, it was four long years after a canceled 2022 tour but they are back and sound better than ever.

They recently took ShipRocked by storm as one of the headliners and returned to the US in February for a cross-country tour across America with support from Memphis May Fire and Currents. 

The band immediately became a ShipRocked fan favorite with their dynamic live sets and interactions with fans while onboard the boat. Everyone we spoke to on the boat wants them back on board asap.

The band will soon be returning home to Australia to blow the roof off  Knotfest Australia in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane next week on March 24-26, 2023. They will embark on the European festival circuit in early June. Fans all over the world will be able to see the band as they get back to business playing shows across the globe.

We had a fun time catching up with frontman Winston McCall to talk about what life looks like post-pandemic, the best surf spots in the world, and  what 2023 has in store for Parkway Drive. 

Parkway Drive's Winston McCall Talks Love of Byron Bay
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

So we’re going to talk about Australia.

Oy. G’day.

Maybe we need a translator. (laughs)


Where is your hometown in Australia?

We’re from a town called Byron Bay. That is the most easterly point of Australia. Small town eight  hours north of Sydney. We’re on the Queensland border. It’s on the coast. 

Where should people visit off the beaten path in Australia?

You ready for the most cliche thing in the world? If you are ever visit Australia, visit Byron Bay. 

You’re the official spokesperson now. 

Yeah, but I’m not bullshitting you. It’s stunning, absolutely stunning. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You’re talking about a continent that is almost the size of North America, but we have like five cities and the rest is wild. There are beaches, deserts and mountains and it’s all stunning.

I love Australia because it’s very wild. Go to Australia and everything will kill you. That’s always the saying right? That makes it kind of cool. (Laughing)

There’s just something awesome about being able to go to a beach or anywhere and just genuinely not see another soul.  

My favorite thing about Australia is that everyone says “No worries.”

Yeah. I mean, the vibe is always cool. The vibe is awesome. It’s a nice place with a beautiful population especially in Byron Bay. We have mountains, we have beaches that are nice any day of the week because of the geography of it. It’s a cape, so the way the wind blows. No matter what there is always a beach that’s nice. You will find a beach which will be stunning. Forests, waterfalls, mountains, beaches. 

Rainbows, unicorns.

Unicorns, 100%. Got a couple of them.

Parkway Drive's Winston McCall Talks Love of Byron Bay
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What’s your favorite song to play off Darker Still?

Thus far, we’ve only done one tour with that album. It’s a combination of either “Glitch”, because it’s an opener and we wrote it as an opener. I love playing the opening of that song. Or the title track, “Darker Still”, because I’ve never played a ballad before and that’s really cool. Also, I get to watch Jeff do like three guitar solos and that dude can riff hard. I also play a tambourine for a bit and that’s sick. 

What’s the story behind the album title? It sounds pretty dark and you guys are pretty fucking happy every time I see you. 

The whole darkness thing with the band in general is like, I’m the guy who writes the lyrics. The reason you get the happiness when you meet us is because we are happy people. But that’s also because music is an outlet for me; I deal with a lot of stuff through the lyrics. I’m living my happy, good life and I get to deal with the bad stuff through what I write. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Is it hard to sing those lyrics every night?

No, because I need to, to be honest. For all the happiness we’ve seen, we’ve also gone through some really heavy sh*t. Like really, really, really heavy sh*t. And there’s only so much that you can talk to people about that stuff, you don’t necessarily want to relive it. 

I deal with it through lyrics. The album title itself comes from the concept of the dark night of the soul. That’s what the album actually is. It’s a period of being confronted with a part of your life that destroys your perception of your world and where you stand in it, then the journey through to the next part of your life and picking it all back up and putting yourself back together in a new way. 

Parkway Drive's Winston McCall Talks Love of Byron Bay
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

I’m sure fans tell you all the time how much your music speaks to them too.

I’m actually shocked that people get it so much, which is really nice. I mean, I think that’s what connects people with heavier music in general because it is darker and it’s an outlet for that and you don’t get that necessarily when you’re aiming for just sweetness or that dopamine hit of pop music. That doesn’t hit the same spot as catharsis. 

What has been a tour highlight when you have toured with Memphis May Fire?

Oh, lord, the last time we toured with them was in Australia, which was absolutely mental. But that was a long time ago. I haven’t seen them for ages. They crushed every single night. That was our biggest tour that we’d done at that point in Australia. I think it was the first time we were playing arenas. 

The biggest highlight was not only their accents, because it’s really cute and they’re really nice guys, but Matt’s dress sense is really good as well. Just watching them smash it every night to thousands upon thousands of people. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Any memorable cities?

Brisbane was insane. Up until that time, we’d done a couple thousand and we played the river stage and it was like 8+ thousand people or something, on a hill. It was a proper arena vibe for the first time. 

You just came back to the US for a tour in February. How was that after the pandemic?

It’s been really hard not being able to tour, to be honest. We hadn’t been there in four and a half years. We’ve been in a cycle of being in North America, like almost twice a year for 17 years straight. And all of a sudden, we didn’t get to leave Australia for three years.

Where did you quarantine?

In Australia.

They had the hardest lockdown.

We were lucky because we were in Byron and they’re just like, oh, you can’t leave the country and no one can come into your town. They cut the roads off to our town. But there was literally no COVID at that point in time and there was no one there. So, the surf’s pumping and the sky’s blue and it was like, well, if I can’t leave, I might as well just chill. 

Parkway Drive's Winston McCall Talks Love of Byron Bay
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

And you’re in a nice place. 

Exactly. We were literally like, this is the nicest place on planet earth to cop this shit. So we can’t complain. But at the same point in time, we didn’t get to tour and that’s our job, our career and our passion. So we’re f*cking psyched to be back. 

I’m just psyched to gig again. You haven’t even seen the way I’m interacting with people. I’m so stoked to be here. I’m like, f*cking hell, we played fourteen shows in four years. ShipRocked was the first show of the year for us. To be on a boat in the Caribbean with a bunch of pub people was cool. I’d never done one of these before.

What did you think of it?

It’s awesome. It’s so sick.

Some bands are scared of it at first. To be on a boat with their fans for a full week.

We were scared, too. We got offered to do ShipRocked before COVID hit and at that point in time, we were like, this sounds like too much. We’re used to being in tour buses and everything, but to be on a boat for a week…that would do my head in. And now on the other side, we’re just like, let’s just go for it. You never know when you’ll get another shot at this experience. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Now you want to come every year.

Yes. It’s fucking rad. It’s so fun. Rolling up, honestly, I was like, I don’t know if people are even going to remember who we are after four years. But it wasn’t like that. It seems like everyone knows who we are and that’s wild. 

What are your top travel items for the road?

I’m able to travel really light. Like, three t-shirts. I’ve got a black one and two white ones. I wore one of the white ones yesterday,  so I was like, better wear the black one today. My wife is like, okay, maybe make some room in your suitcase. 

I didn’t pack anything extra though, so I’ll hit up the gift shop a little bit later. Headphones, and noise-canceling if possible. They’ll get you out of most situations to deal with, like kids screaming on an airplane or bus. A hoodie because it can be used as a hoodie or a blanket or a pillow. Sunglasses. That’s kind of it, really. If you’ve got those things you can get through most stuff. 

This is coming from someone who literally got left in Hawaii with just those things when my bag got stolen – no passport, no wallet, no money. I had my hoodie, my headphones, an iPhone and that was it. And I got home. I made it through immigration with just those things. 

Parkway Drive's Winston McCall Talks Love of Byron Bay
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

My friend Liz tells me that you’re scared of running out of water.

Yeah. Oh, yeah. 

I don’t know what that’s all about, but maybe it’s because you’re from the Outback and you had a traumatic experience. 

We had a drought! We had a drought in Australia for a long time. I’m definitely not scared of running out of water now because we had floods for the last two years. 

You have Knotfest Australia coming up at the end of this month. That’s going to be wild.

It’s going to be fucking nuts. Co-headlining Knotfest in Australia and that shit is 99% sold out at this point in time. It’s going to be mental. Like, for real mental. We’re talking about moments? That’s going to be a moment. I’m like, well, Slipknot’s playing so you’ve got to really up your game. If there’s one place we can up our game, it’s in Australia. So, prepare for riots. 

You guys always put on a great live show. How do you stay in shape? What are you doing?

I’m 40, so I’m doing stuff now. (laughs) We’re all pretty active anyway. The last few years, we’ve realized that your body doesn’t stay good unless you take care of it. I’m at the gym 4-5 days a week and that’s mainly because when I’m not on stage wanting to operate at 110%, and when I’m at home I want to be in the surf operating at 110%. 

I’m the person that wants to push myself to be at peak until there’s no longer an excuse to do that. There’s plenty of bands around who go just as hard, who are just as old or older than we are. There’s plenty of people in the surf who go harder than me who are older than I am. 

Parkway Drive's Winston McCall Talks Love of Byron Bay
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

So you surf?

Yeah, the whole band does. 

What’s the best surf spot in the world that you’ve done?

I love Hawaii. I’ve been to Hawaii many seasons. 

North Shore?

Yeah. I love Hawaii. I love Pipeline. I love Tahiti, the waves in Australia are good. But the best waves I’ve surfed were in Hawaii.

Final question. What is your perfect vacation day?

Any place that I’m with my wife is the perfect vacation day, to be honest. We’ve been together for 20 years. She came on the boat and we played bingo. I’ve spent so much time away from her over the years that any time we get to do anything together, it’s the perfect vacation. 

I’ve seen so much of this planet and I’ve realized it’s all unique and it’s all what you make it, and it’s also the person you’re with that makes it special. 

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