“Mate, I don’t know whether you’ve seen the photos on Instagram but it was a great time,” enthused bass player and all round larrikin for King Parrot, Slatts, on their last overseas tour. “I had a massive hematoma on the side of my body. I got blackout drunk twice and I haven’t been that way since I was a teenager so I’m really settling in to adult life at 37 years of age (laughs).”
“It was awesome man,” he continued. “We were on tour with people that helped create and shape a genre of music. It was the first time that Exodus and Obituary have toured together. Obituary helped build that whole death metal scene in the States and obviously Exodus, shit, they are massive progenitors of thrash metal. Each of them have been together something like 37 years and you watch them and they are so tight it’s amazing. I actually didn’t even watch them for the first five nights and then when I finally did I was like fucken hell! Every night after that I would watch them play and then get on line and learn more about them. Even though I loved them as a kid it was just amazing. You see them with crowds and they just know how to work their shit.”
Touring through foreign countries can also give a band perspective on touring in local conditions, and when it comes to overseas hospitality compared to that at home Slatts says there are small areas where some, but not all, venues could improve in.
“Fucken oath!” he laughed. “They could all feed you every gig you play (laughs). They could provide accommodation at most venues. They could… nah, just feed me and give me a place to lie down (laughs).”
When I bring up free alcohol as well Slatts laughs before turning serious.
“Don’t ever drink with Polish women,” he almost whispered. “They drink way better than you and that’s how you end up blackout drunk…”
And is this outcome favourable or not?
“I honestly don’t know,” Slatts laughed again. “I’d have to consult the footage! I couldn’t even tell you the dates we did over there but basically we did seventeen countries in just under five weeks. We did about 15,000 kilometers, went through 4,500 litres of fuel and across that we had maybe three nights off. Obviously people who don’t work in the industry or haven’t toured like that say ‘you’ve just been on a holiday’ and I’m like fuck off with your holiday! Sure, I slept 23 hours of the day but it wasn’t a holiday. It’s not like you get to really experience most of the cities. You get to meet lots of great people and you start to get a very immediate sense of how people consume their music in different countries.”
You could be in Germany and the majority of people might prefer to stand and stare and watch and listen to it all but you can drive two hours down the road and play in another country and they are all going fucken spastic and stage diving and crowd surfing and that sort of stuff. It’s really interesting and a challenge for the way you perform – obviously you’ve seen us and we like to get people involved and we like to have people having to watch what’s going on because they never know what’s going to happen – but sometimes you have to work a little harder to make it happen.”
Another thing you learn on tours away from your comfort zone is about each other and what things make you tick or ticks you off, and Slatts says it all boils down to one major consideration. Space.
“We’ve been a band for six, maybe seven years and we’ve been touring together between six and seven months overseas every year for the last three so I think we’ve learnt a lot and certainly the most important thing is respect and giving each other space when no space actually exists. We were sharing a bus with Prong and, again, to me it’s awesome to be on a tour bus with these guys but you realize pretty quickly there’s certainly no privacy and you’ve just gotta… I know my personality and sometimes when I’m in the mood I like to be loud – okay, all the fucken time (laughs) – but sometimes I know it’s time to shut up and leave everyone alone.”
Through consistently good albums and a work ethic that is the envy of many up and coming bands, King Parrot have assumed the mantle as the kings of Australian metal, but Slatts says that although that may be true, it is not something the band members even consider.
“I still don’t feel that,” he countered. “I look at other bands and I get excited and I wanna be around them because they seem awesome. Recently we were in N.S.W and we played with a bunch of different local bands and it always comes back to the fact I am so stoked that I grew up in Australia because all my heroes, all my favourite bands in the world are from Australia. Of course not all of them, but the majority and it was cool to be in Wollongong and have three other bands from Melbourne playing because we never get to play with these guys. In Melbourne music is inclusive. We might play heavy metal but we hang out in places where you are talking to people like Dan Sultan or Dan Kelly or The Drones or whoever. Your peers are a wider group so to answer the question, it’s pretty great that we have established ourselves in bringing an underground, particularly disgusting and awful style of music to the people (laughs).”
So now that he has admitted to being somewhat of a role model to the up and coming metal musical generation, does Slatts feel like it’s time to actually… um… grow up?
“Fuck no!” he laughed. “I do feel an obligation to actually try and not be as much of a mess. I did mention I got blackout drunk a couple of times which I’m not actually proud of. When we started going overseas three years ago and doing shit… to get to the point where we actually respect each other and understand what people need while they are away we’ve fucked up a shitload. I don’t necessarily even drink when we’re away. We stay away from all temptations and that sort of thing because essentially while all of that is fucken great what’s the most important thing? The most important thing is to play our music. Honestly, I fucken love performing. It’s the best thing in the world and I hope that’s how we become cutting edge because of the commitment to actually doing the job as opposed to… I never understand why it’s sex, drugs and rock and roll. It should be rock and roll and everything else is kind of a bonus.”
To answer questions about the eagerly anticipated next album, vocalist Matt Young steps into the chair.
“We’re actually up at Bribie Island at the moment,” he began. “We’ve got a couple of QLD shows and they will be the last shows we play up here for quite some time I reckon. We’re doing a bit of jamming in a mates studio and we’re getting close to having all the writing finished and probably head into the studio in the next week or two and start laying down the real thing.”
For this, their third album, King Parrot return to their native country and local studio, namely Goatsound in Melbourne, with Youngy excited to be back on home turf after recording the last album overseas.
“It’s good to be doing it at home man,” he said happily. “We’ve been keeping a close eye on what Jason Fuller has been doing down there and some of the stuff he’s been putting out of that studio is really awesome. I think the King Parrot sound is really stooped in the Melbourne underground sound and scene and we’re heavily influenced by bands like Blood Duster and Damaged and Beanflipper and bands that came out of that 90’s scene and if anyone knows that sound it’s Jason.”
“We’re obviously not… we try to produce our own original sound but we certainly want to be influenced by the music that came out of Melbourne in the 90’s which is a huge part of what we grew up on. For us it’s very important and feels good to be able to record with someone who was there and right amongst it. For the most part what has come out of the new stuff so far with pre production has been really positive and there’s a few cracking tracks on there already so we’re getting excited to lay it down properly and then have a little break before we fire up again and get the new album machine rolling.”
“The new stuff is straight down the King Parrot direction,” Youngy continued. “I don’t think we’re gonna deviate too much from what we do (laughs). This time around… when we did the last record we had Toddy in the band for probably six months and we got straight into it and started writing and recording. I think this time around there’s a lot more chemistry in the band and we’re a lot more used to each other’s playing style. Obviously your drummer is a main component of the band and can change the feel of everything and I think now we’re much more comfortable with Toddy and we’ve had a lot more time to work on these songs and write them together. It’s been a really cool sort of process and I’m excited to get the songs out there. There’s a few little bits and pieces – nothing straying too far from the King Parrot formula – but I would hope to think there’s a general improvement all round in every aspect of the performance and the playing and the songwriting. I think that has come along in leaps and bounds. I think in some of the songs there’s even elements of simplicity that kind of harp back to rock and roll structures which we have always been a fan of. There’s also plenty of vicious, ferocious stuff as well (laughs). You get the whole spectrum of King Parrot on this new record.”
Written by Kris Peters