King Parrot, a band synonymous with Australian metal. The first time I ever experienced a live show of theirs was in, what I would say is the most appropriate venue for a King Parrot gig - Frankie’s Pizza in Sydney. With a mixture of shock, awe and amusement, I could instantly see why the Melbourne thrashcore band had such a massive following and merch table, with everything sold out in less than two hours. It goes without saying how much the band resonates with it’s fans and they are a heavy force to be reckoned with on stage however they are without a doubt, some of the nicest guys in the scene. So it was indeed a pleasure to sit down and have a cool conversation with King Parrot’s vocalist Matt ‘Youngy’ Young about the band’s first release since 2017, their long-time association with Phil Anselmo, being a band in 2020 and more.
While this year may not have turned out the way we expected, there have been a number of positive aspects and blessings, one of which is the birth of Youngy’s daughter.
“It’s been so amazing and such a nice distraction from everything else going on in the world at the moment. So it’s really good to be able to go home and just snuggle with my little baby. It has been quite a transition for us and definitely, a real blessing. You get so caught up with the doom and gloom of the world at the moment, so it's been nice just to switch off from it all and focus my energy on her.”
Gigs, live music, load ins and load outs, pitstop pies while on the road, somehow seem to be a thing of the past. While there is certainly hope for the future as distant as it may be, I have wondered how other members of the music industry have been handling these significant changes. It certainly has been a massive change for a band like King Parrot but one that has brought Matt Young back into the world of labels and artist management. We talked about how he’s adapted to the new normal and the work he has been doing with his record label ‘Dead Set Records’.
“For me, it’s been really challenging, because I love playing live, performing and being up on stage. It’s a big part of my life and that’s gone now for the foreseeable future so that's been really challenging but I think what a lot of my other creative friends and I are trying at this point is other ways to make it work. For me, it’s been diversifying the way I look at things a little bit. I’ve got a million ideas; I start looking into one, it starts to open up a little bit and gives me a pathway that could work for me. I’ve just started a record label - it’s in it’s real infancy stage but it’s called Dead Set Records. I’m going really slowly with it but obviously the first two releases I’ve been working on over the last few months is the new King Parrot EP and the Crisis Act EP - both bands’ seven inch records have just come out on the label which is really cool.”
“I’m just looking into doing some more stuff like that. It’s cool to already have two releases out and i haven’t really done any sort of social media - other people are doing distribution stuff - it’s more just organising stuff behind the scenes and building the foundation. It’s been so much fun, and I’m starting to see what it could potentially look like. Being able to release music for artists that I really like and believe in as well as my own bands as well - its something that while we were touring so much, playing, writing and releasing music stuff that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do, it is feasible. I’m a massive vinyl collector myself - I’ve always loved records. I think there’s something endearing about vinyl, the artwork, liner notes, package, the way that it’s produced and I’ve always been a huge fan of that medium. It’s really timeless and I’m so happy that it has a massive resurgence at the moment. “
‘Holed Up in the Lair’ which was released in October of this year actually began as a group of tracks written about three years ago while the band was on a default vacation between tours.
“We had no intention of even releasing these songs. They were just sitting there. We started working on the new record earlier this year and those four songs were actually going to be part of the new album. Our drummer lives in Brisbane though so it’s been difficult for us to get together and jam; we’re an old school kind of band in the way that we operate with the writing process. At least we always like to be in the same room and work on the ideas together, trial and error sort of stuff. That wasn't possible, let's just put these out. We got them remixed and then mastered at Deluxe Mastering in Melbourne. From there we just sort of went, let’s just do it and get it out there because it has been a while since we last released something and we didn’t want to leave people hanging for too long. It’s been a weird, different time but it’s been cool to put these four songs out with a 7 inch record. ”
Youngy and I were discussing how life is so unpredictable at times, you can never tell what is going to happen tomorrow when the story behind their latest EP came to the forefront. It involves a cancelled tour, Phil Anselmo and the sheer hard-working nature of King Parrot’s members.
“It’s sort of strange how it all worked out. The way that it was written, how it was written and the timing of what happened for it to come about was really bizarre. We had just been touring around the US with Superjoint, DevilDriver, Cane Hill and Child Bite; it was a massive tour of about 30 states. After that, we were supposed to head over to Europe to do a tour with Decapitated and that’s when all that crazy shit happened where they ended up in jail and had all these allegations made against them. That was it, they pulled the rug from under us, they were in jail and the tour got scrapped completely. We tried to work with the agents and all that to salvage some of the shows but it got completely pulled and we got stuck in America. We lost so much money.”
“We booked an Airbnb for a week and started making plans. We were just on tour with Phil Anselmo and his wife Kate and they run our records in North America so we told them we were stuck and that we wanted to make the most of our time there, and asked if we could go down to his place to do some recording. We headed to Louisiana and went and recorded the songs. The exercise was basically - get in there, write the songs, record the songs and let's just put in our best effort for the time that we have. It ended up working out great. That’s what those songs were. We didn’t intend on releasing them, or maybe rework them for a new album. The icing on the cake of that week was we actually heard Eyehategod and Crowbar were playing a show in New Orleans on Halloween so we called those guys, and said we were in town and asked if we could jump on that show. That was really cool!”
The EP is still the same thrashy, groove-laden tunes from the King Parrot we all know and love - it’ll smack you right in the face but with a few, new twists here and there. From the crushing riffs on ‘Kick Up a Stink’ to the blistering pace of ‘Banished, Flawed then Docile’, each of the four tracks pack a real hammering punch. The track ‘Nors to Yours’ also features the band’s long-time friend, Phil Anselmo who makes his presence known through gritty, rage-fuelled vocals but only just! This is the first time the band is collaborating with Phil Anselmo on a track after having previously worked with him on the production of ‘Dead Set’.
“It’s the first time he’s done vocals on one of our songs and he actually wrote the vocal parts for it. We had the other three songs which were in the King parrot vein which I was working on and they pulled that one out which was sort of a different, weird kind of groove and I was having trouble writing lyrics for that one in a short period of time. So I just said to Phil, I’m running out of time, can you write something for this and he agreed. An hour later he came out and said ‘it’s done! So he did a guide vocal track and I just copied it with my style of vocals and he did some stuff on the chorus and some other little bits and that was that - it was really easy.”
The band have long been associated with Phillip Anselmo and it is a friendship that Matt Young never really dreamt of but is also beyond grateful for.
“You know, it’s one of those things that, if you had told me when I was 14 that Phil Anselmo is going to be a good friend of yours, I wouldn’t have believed you. We’ve had some great experiences with those guys and they’ve opened up a lot of doors for us. They’ve given us so many opportunities to tour with Down, Superjoint and The Illegals. Not only that, we also kind of look at their place in Louisiana as a second home. There’s lots of our stuff there, and they’ve just really embraced us as a band and I’ve thought that it’s because maybe they see that we really love what we do, we’re dedicated to extreme music and we really like working hard. We’re just absurd and I think when you get to know him, he has a huge love for horror films, loves extreme music we just kind of clicked straight away. It just worked out like that for many years now. We had a great tour with them out here last year, it’s been an amazing experience for all of us and hopefully we can keep doing it in the future. It’s really cool!”
Following the recording of what was to be their 2020 EP, the band ended up on a UK tour followed by Japan bringing them up to a total of three months, being on the road. Being a touring musician isn’t always sold out shows and wild parties; it takes a lot of thought, practice, money, hardwork and most of all patience, one aspect that Youngy couldn’t agree more with!
“It was crazy and also so,so stupid. By the time we got to the UK we were like oh my god! We were ready to kill each other and we had a bit of a blowout but we all came back together and enjoyed the last little bit in Japan so it was a learning and bonding experience. You sort of look back and think as well, out of all the stuff we’ve done over the years as a band, far out, we’re always going to be connected to each other by some of the crazy shit we’ve been through over the years.”
Speaking of crazy shit, that’s probably the best way to describe one of the new videos that the band released in honour of the new EP. If you’ve seen a King Parrot video before, you’ll know that they are renowned for their out-of-the-box but rather relevant concepts!
“Not gonna lie, it’s one of the most absurd videos we’ve ever done. We’ve always been a fan of things that are just plain weird, it kind of has an aggressive but funny kind of vibe and our videos have always encapsulated a bit of that. Then we also have Slatts who’s such a natural character in the band and a great actor so he’s always been someone we can rely on to pull off the main role. The plot of the video itself was actually going to be a real video but our video guy Dan Farmer came up with the concept of it- the main focus of the video is poo and the song called ‘Kick Up a Stink’. It’s just a stupid story about Slatts having a little mishap and not having any toilet paper. We also just tried to pull from some of the stupid shit that’s been going on in the world at the moment, into it. It has a tongue-in-cheek vibe because we all like having a bit of a laugh. We’ve also never done a song about poo before so that was the next logical step.”
The band has been together for a solid decade now - playing shows all around the world, wreaking havoc and delivering some of the most insane extreme music there is. Looking back on the ten years past, I asked Youngy what thoughts came through his mind and whether this is something they had always seen for themselves from the beginning.
“I guess when I look back on the last ten years, I think about how quickly it’s kind of moved. It seems like we’ve always been a band that’s always been in a bit of a hurry to get moving. We’ve always had our foot on the accelerator a bit. We’re not the kind to just sit there and think about things - like if a tour offer comes in, we’ll say yes and worry about details later. When you’re in a band, especially when you’re trying to create a presence in the international scene with touring etc, sometimes those opportunities are really few and far between. So you’ve really got to make sure you’ve got the chance to do that if that’s what your goal is. King Parrot’s goal was to create a band that was influenced by all of our favourite Aussie bands - all the bands that we grew up with in the nineties, like Blood duster, Damaged, Abramelin and I think that’s what we’ve done while having a good time doing it.”
King Parrot has toured relentlessly in the last few years and with tour after tour; but there have certainly been some very memorable ones!
“Farout. We’ve done some really strange shows for a band that plays our kind of music. Some of the ones that pop out for me are some of the shows we’ve done in North America. We played at the Housecore Horrorfest back in 2014 in Austin, so there were about 3000 - 4000 people in this huge venue. I remember Randy Blythe was there and he was introducing all the bands. We had just finished our second US Tour and we were kind of unknown but Randy knew about us. We were about to get on stage, the guys were setting up their gear and everything so I was just standing at the back - I had Randy Blythe and Phil Anselmo there revving me up! They both got up on stage and introduced us before our set and I was just standing there going like “What the fuck is going on!”
This is the thing though; it hasn’t always been easy which is an important aspect of touring that bands need to remember, especially newer ones. There will be those nights where you play to the walls of the venue and eventually with enough hardwork and perseverance, you’ll be selling out shows like our mighty King Parrot!
“Only a few months later we went back to the States and Phil asked us to go on tour with Down; that was the third or fourth tour - we did four tours in one year in the States! On that first tour, we ended up doing like forty shows; a few with Cattle Decapitation but then at some shows we were playing to like two or three people. We were rocking up to like Pittsburgh on a Tuesday night and there’s no one there and then you drove to the next place and we played in Chicago and there were like 16 people. Those shows were a pretty depressing point, and it was upsetting. When you’re on a tour like that, it doesn’t take much to get down in the dumps if you do like 3 or 4 shows and no ones there. But by the time December came around we were touring with Down, we played to a massive massive crowd at the Wilton in one of the premier theatres Fillmore in San Francisco - we must have played in front of 10,000 people on that tour. Playing roughly to about 500-1000 people every night, sometimes more, going from that to that was amazing!”
King Parrot has come a long way since their beginnings at the start of this decade. From playing local shows to a handful of people to touring the world and becoming one among the favourites in the genre of extreme music, it truly is remarkable what they have achieved in so little time. Youngy expressed his thoughts on the journey so far, one that has been full of ups, downs and in-betweens.
“You know, I never envisioned us getting this far at all. It was always a goal but for many years for me personally, but it always just seemed so unattainable. I remember we did a few European Tours one year, we did one with Soulfly early in the year and then when we went back we did one with Exodus and Obituary and that year was amazing. I remember when we went to Romania and played in Bucharest at this huge venue with Obituary Exodus, it was mind blowing to see how many metal fans were there and see how hospitable they were especially to us considering we were a new band, people were so receptive and welcoming. Our European label as well, Agonia Records, based in Poland, they’ve done a lot of great work for us over there. So when we got to Poland, people were there with their merch, wanting us to sign it, very jolly people! They love drinking and partying and so happy that bands come there and tour so it was really cool to be a part of that.”
The first time I met Youngy was on tour at the merch desk, just after they had finished playing their set. From seeing this beast of a man unleash on stage to being this calm presence folding tshirts, it was fascinating to say the least to see just how different the two entities were, yet connected, the duality of his persona was fascinating.
“For me it’s about switching off and trying to deliver the songs with that energy and aggression and the vibe it requires but I see a lot of bands that walk around with the stage persona in real life, and I just think, “Fuck, that would be exhausting if I was that guy all the time. I think initially we wanted to be confronting as a band and wanted to put on a really extreme sort of show. In the early days I think I probably took it a bit too far in terms of pushing the audience around and pissing people off but we made sure that anyone that was in front especially, was paying attention.”
“Around that time when we started, I was going to a lot of shows and you just sort of saw people standing around, it seemed like there was kind of a lull in the scene for a bit. I just wanted to make an effort to put on a fun, energetic, confronting show and that definitely got us a wild reputation at the start. I remember we did some tours on the Bastardfest tour that happened in 2011 or 2012 and we got placed in front of some audiences with bigger bands like Bloodduster and Psycroptic - bands much bigger than us then. We brought that energy to the bigger audiences and just as our first album came out we had built up this reputation of being a mental live band.”
Speak with any fan of this heavy act, and you will be met with a response that comes from a place of genuine excitement, joy and pride! Fans of the band love their merch, they love their interactions with each member and their favourite live experiences. King Parrot has created a whole army of dedicated, passionate fans that truly appreciate what they do as a band and this is something Matt Young is really proud of.
“That’s what we always want to have; that’s important for us which is why we love touring so much, getting around, playing shows - we play shows in places where some bands wouldn’t even think about playing. We like to make that effort even if we don’t make much money because we know that there’s going to be a few hundred at each show and they’re all going to have a great time. It’s an awesome experience. We’ll do that sort of shit because we love doing what we do. We just genuinely love it, we love creating content and love every aspect of this whole thing; the records, the releases, the merchandise.”
“We’ve never really put our own money into the band. There might have been a couple of little things at the start where we have to chuck in 100 bucks each. But even with the t shirts, the first bunch of shirts we got, we sold them all and it just kept growing from there; I think we’ve sold thousands and thousands of t shirts now. That’s one thing that I’m really proud of with the band, it’s all sort of just generated it’s own thing - we haven’t been propped up by anyone. We’ve tried to make every part of what we do enjoyable for people and hopefully that comes through to the people that check us out.”
Check King Parrot out on Bandcamp here.
Merchandise available right here on Direct Merch. Check out the full collection here.