BM: Hey Winston, thanks for setting aside the time for an interview with Burning Music and congratulations on your third major European tour promoting your last record “Deep Blue”. You’ve been touring for one month straight now and are just over halfway done. How would you summarise this tour compared to the previous ones you’ve had here in Europe?
Winston McCall: It’s been really really good. It’s actually surprising because this is the last tour for this record and you’d think by this point and time people would be like “Ahh man, we’ve seen them three times – I’ll stay at home for this one”. But we’ve been playing some of the biggest shows we’ve ever played on tour here in Europe and especially in Germany. It’s remarkable really and it’s been blowing us away.
BM: This tour has been a non-stop everyday marathon. Even without a day off can you guys find time during the day to visit the local sights of the cities you’re visiting?
Winston: We love seeing the sights and attractions here in Europe. We really try to make as much time as possible to see things while here. I think this is our seventh time in Munich now and we love coming back each time to have the local beer! We definitely plan the night before with the next day in mind…if you know what I mean. Life on tour can get pretty boring when you’re just looking at the inside of clubs! I don’t want to say I played in the south of France but only saw the backstage and my bunk in the tour bus!
BM: So again, this is the last tour from your last record. What are you guys doing different this time around besides touring with a great lineup on the bill? I guess I want to ask, if fans come who’ve seen you the previous tours – what can they from this tour compared to the previous ones?
Winston: Oh man, lots really. I guess the main thing is that we’ve mixed it up this time. We’re playing some really old shit. Material from so long ago that we even had to relearn some of it! There are even some songs we’ve never played live before from two records ago. There’s one song that’s literally the hardest we’ve ever written but the Europeans seem to love it! It’s a total shredfest and people always yell it and request but we’ve never been comfortable playing it live haha. So now – we’re doing it just for them! We also have a brand new song from our new record we’re about to record after this tour. In amongst that of course we have the “fan favorites” haha.
So far it’s been great playing a different set than we usually do. Things have been orientated towards what people want to hear in a set and it’s been working out really well. It’s much more fun than playing the same songs all the time. Man, there’s never a show that goes by where people don’t yell ‘’Carrion” for an encore. No matter what – we finish and everyone wants to hear Carrion. I can’t believe we’ve somehow had something you can call a “hit single” haha. I don’t know how it happened! If we don’t hear them scream it then we won’t play it and that’s only happened once which is hilarious. Haha I personally think it sounds the same as everything else. Just a confusing anomaly that’s happened to us!
BM: But the trailer doesn’t state a date for its release. Is there a general time period when you think it will be released?
Winston: I don’t 100 percent know the proper release date yet, no. But we didn’t put on the trailer because the edit wasn’t completed at the time. All I can say is that you can expect an official release date now that it’s essentially done so it will be sooner rather than later. Pretty sure we have premiers booked within the next few months.
BM: So that’s still in the works and I’m sure everyone will be pumped for its release. But what people probably are more interested in is the long awaited new record. Deep Blue was released 2 years ago now which seems like a lifetime ago. In my opinion, your original stuff has lots of fast techy guitar riffs whereas the last album was just heavy as fuck and has a better overall flow to it from beginning to end. What directions are you going in now in terms of writing style? You did this whole tour and have been through all these experiences we’ll see on the DVD, so I’m sure that must have taken your song writing to a whole new level?
Winston: Well yea, I mean it’s really a combination of everything. We never really set out with a direct idea or direction in mind like: “Yea this will be techy”. This time around, it’s the same kind of sound you’re used to but this record has more of song by song feel to it.
BM: What exactly do you mean by that? The complete record has less flow from one song to the next?
Winston: Well kinda. For example, during the writing process if we wrote a slow one we’d have the urge right away to write a heavy one– and that’s just how it goes sometimes. So we didn’t so much focus on the specific bits or the specific flow from song to song but instead we just wrote what we felt needed to be written. We were never like “we’re gonna tech the shit outa this part” or “slow this part down a lot” we just kind of tried to write songs that have a good flow to them and then build on top of that. I think the older stuff is a bit more “stoppy-starty”. That’s the way we used to write. Our structure literally used to be: Write a bit, write another bit, now put it all together. These days we’ve strayed away from that style because we like having a catchy part and then coming out of that catchy part in a smoother way. We’ve really just improved a lot in our writing skills in the last 2 years and I think that will show. But we’ve got some really techy stuff in it and then a lot of really stripped back shit too. I don’t think the guitar work is “crazy technical” but really it’s just more intricate that previous material. When we go into the studio we’re gonna try and layer the fuck out of it and see how much we can put in each song. Right now we have 10 songs to the level we want them to be in comparison to everything else but the idea this time around is to have them at that level and then go into the studio and put in more. So we do have ideas to work on. We’ll see how it goes!
BM: So lyrically, what kind of inspirations have you had this time around?
Winston: Oh man. Well the lyrics have always come from varied standpoints for me. The last record I tried writing in a completely different way. I did a lyrical style where I wrote from start to finish of the album. This time around it’s almost the complete opposite really.
BM: Do you have any funny stories that happened during this tour so far? Any memorable moments?
Winston: Well, I guess so yea haha. Back when we played in Birmingham in the UK and they tried to shut the show down because it got too crazy. We finished the gig and thousands of kids are there stomping their feet yelling “Carrion”. So we come back out and the stage manager is there on stage yelling at us telling us that it’s too dangerous and crazy to keep playing. By this time all the house lights are turned on and the whole crowd is just standing there and I just look at him and point to the kids and say “Look man, if you don’t let us play this one last long they’re gonna seriously freak out and cause some shit”. Anyways, we start playing and kids are just freaking the fuck out after seeing the manager yell at us onstage. Then this guy sends his security over to our sound guy and they’re trying to shut the sound boards off. By this time the kids around them see what’s happening so they jump on them and throw them off of the boards. They’re surrounding our sound guy and protecting him while we’re on stage rocking out to our last song! Then the manager of the club comes up to me saying he’s sorry but we had to shut down the show. So I look at him and tell him “Hey if you aren’t the police or the stage manager then back the fuck off- we’re doing this right now”. We ended up getting through the whole song and right after they told us to get the fuck out the back door. Awesome show though!
BM: Man I don’t think we should say anything more about this tour because nothing can top that! Let’s talk about the new trailer for your upcoming DVD “Home is for the heartless”. There’s a quote in the trailer; “Up until this year – we thought we’d seen it all. But I guess it takes something really special to open your eyes. And for us, this was it.” What exactly are you referring to?
Winston: Well I can’t give any major spoilers buddy! But I can say that the tour was filmed for a little over a year and we wanted to film as many places as we could and at as many places that didn’t usually get shows and acts like us. More importantly, we wanted to shoot and document the life and times of the people which lived in all these areas we played in.
BM: You mean the people and fans in some of the third world countries that went to see you guys?
Winston: Yea exactly. We filmed in 42 different countries. Man we went everywhere: to pretty much all of South America, South East Asia, China, India…the list goes on and on. Some of these places had never had shows and gigs like us before. Places like Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama – it was really surreal to play in places no bands usually go. But wow, some of the sketchiest and most awesome shit we’ve ever done. For example, the venues were pretty bizarre sometimes. It might sound stupid but I’ve never seen a band documentary that compares to this because people don’t document the sort of places we were playing in – and that’s why we wanted to make it. Playing Guatemala and seeing the security being in bullet proof vests and being armed was pretty wild haha. It was a knarly year and it was also filmed really fucking well. We took a good friend of ours James Hartly, who’s an amazing photographer and he took great gear with him so it’s all in high definition and shot perfectly. I’m really just stoked about how it’s turned out so far. Just the other day I saw a 99% completed version and even though I was there during the filming, it was neat to see it in high definition and relive the memories. It reminded me how awesome and out of this world the whole experience was.
BM: Meaning you’re writing lyrics to each song individually so they stand on their own?
Winston: Yea that’s exactly it. If you read Deep Blue from start to finish…it has more of a storytelling vibe. You can still take it apart song by song and understand, but overall it has a flow from the start of the album to the end. This time though – if the song is heavy and dirty, it’s just going to be fucking pissed and that’s it. The song next can immediately have a slower vibe to it and a completely different lyrical feel and delivery. So that’s kinda the way it’s working. As for the stuff I’m singing about? There’s a bunch of shit that’s affected me and the guys deeply over the last few years: being away, family stuff, friend stuff. That happens with everyone I guess but in terms of the song writing sometimes you’ll have to wait till the end of the song to understand what it’s all about haha.
BM: You mentioned you have 10 songs almost completed now. Can you tell us about any potential guest vocalists you have in mind?
Winston: We have some great ideas yea. But we still have six and a half weeks left for writing and we definitely want more than ten songs. There are some ideas for both guest vocal and musician collaborations already and we’d really just like to go a little different from what we usually do. For example, I’m a big fan of using a guest vocalist that has a bit of a different vocal style and voice than I do. I really find that more interesting than hearing someone with the same scream or style as I have. It’s the record where we have a bunch of ideas for music that we’ve never used before so we just said “fuck it. Let’s just try anything”. We’ll go into the studio and throw rocks at keyboards and smash guitars to get sounds if we want to. So if the record works- it works. But don’t worry; you’ll have a parkway record no matter how bizarre it is haha.
BM: Yea I’m sure the fans will love it either way! I doubt it’s going to be one of those records where you release it and people go “Oh man – they sold out and went too main-stream”.
Winston: No, no it’s definitely not gonna be like that. No matter how much we “experiment” we still love the core of what we do. No matter how much we change as a band it’s just gonna get heavy and faster with time. I guess it’s just that the nuances around those core sounds and style will change in some way or form and that’s the fun thing for us.
BM: Awesome. I’m sure fans will be in for a good year with both the DVD and record coming out this year! Alright thanks for the interview Winston and good luck with the projects and the rest of the tour!