ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
of the Parkas
Western faves hits the big time
By Brian Wong
Gazette file photo
IT OR NOT, THEY'RE NOT FROM THE UK. No, despite their
Brit-style haircuts, the Parkas actually hail from our
very own Forest City.
In the past year, things have really started
taking off for the Parkas, the four-piece London-based pop-rock
band that has built a dedicated Western following (three of
the members studied at Western). Having played opening slots
for Canadian indie-rock darlings The Dears and Hot Hot Heat,
the band went on to sign with Winnipeg's Endearing Records and
are releasing their first full-length album, Now This Is Fighting,
"When Mike broke his tooth on the microphone
at the Barfly in Montreal, we knew from then on there was no
turning back," jokes drummer Greg Rhyno when asked to pinpoint
that mythical "big break" wherein a hard-working band
can finally see a life of music on the road ahead. For the Parkas,
that moment would either be the 2002 Halifax Pop Explosion that
led to their record deal or one drunken night in Hamilton last
"We were having an insane night - we
were arguing, we had all these equipment failures during the
show and consequently, we got drunk and angry. It was a fine
performance with everyone coming out of their shell. We became
a true rock "n" roll band - yelling and swearing and
cursing," Greg says.
After that moment of rockdom realization,
the band ended up at last October"s Halifax Pop Explosion.
"We talked to Heather [Campbell] from Endearing and we
had just opened up for her band Paper Moon," explains bassist
Mark Rhyno, Greg"s brother. "Heather seemed to be
really impressed with what we did and we formed a relationship
there that lasted throughout other shows. Eventually we decided
that this was a record label we really liked and Endearing wanted
us to be part of their outfit so it worked out that way."
To record the band"s first disc, the
Parkas turned to fellow Londoner Andy Magoffin, frontman for
the acclaimed alt-country group The Two-Minute Miracles, recorder
and producer for just about every hot Canadian indie band these
days at his House of Miracles studio. "We listened to a
bunch of albums recorded by Andy, compared them and just thought
that we wanted to go for that kind of sound," says Parkas
guitarist Mike Brown.
Grady Kelneck, guitarist and cousin to Mark
and Greg adds the decision to work with Magoffin was in part
because of his recording technique. "There was a big buzz
going on about him and all the stuff we had heard that he recorded
was really cool. After we got [to the studio] and saw how he
recorded the bands, we thought it was pretty neat because he
wasn"t laying it down track-by-track, but it was live with
the instruments recorded in separate rooms."
The resulting disc captures the band"s
energetic show on ten catchy tracks influenced by sixties rock
(the band name checks The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival
and The Rolling Stones), as well as current bands like Guided
By Voices that are indebted to the music of the past. And although
the music"s pop base is often peppered with some country
elements, the band is a little bit wary of the "country"
"It"s almost trendy to say "country"
right now because of the whole alt-country thing going on,"
remarks Greg. "I don"t know if our music is so much
country as it is a Southern rock sound that we have. It has
something to do with the way Mike and Grady harmonize and how
they play guitar.
"One of our specific goals was just
to make a really good record that we could be proud of. In the
past we"ve all done different recordings and we were never
entirely pleased with the entire product so we wanted to come
up with something that made everybody happy."
The Parkas CD release show with The Two-Minute
Miracles hits The Spoke this Saturday.