Parquet Courts are aware that they’ve been portrayed by online media as, “slacker Brooklyn punk stoner dudes”. This was brought upon by the delightfully titled, and breakout hit of last year, Stoned and Starving. The band may not have a Twitter account or an active Facebook page but they are most certainly aware of how the media operates around them. Releasing Sunbathing Animal was a calculated step for the New York City group. Parquet Courts saw the light with Light Up Gold, now they’re trying to mend that path. Jake Wilton spoke in length with Austin Brown one morning about their new album, a possible second Australian visit and how famous writers and artists found a place in their lyrics.
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Austin Brown [guitar/vox] is a premeditative man who chooses his words carefully. His band’s most recent effort Sunbathing Animal, sits in music stores now, piled with critical praise. The record reflects Parquet Court’s last 12 or so months playing shows around the world while Andrew Savage [guitar/vox] watched his cat lounge around his apartment. Light Up Gold’s pounding 30 minutes blurred by too quickly for it to be appreciated as it should. Yet touches of Americana, soft-rock and punk make Sunbathing Animal the work Parquet Courts always intended.
Once a buzz band, now a cult phenomenon, Parquet Courts were pigeonholed far too often during their Light Up Gold days. Comments of falling into the New York City band scene and the aforementioned stoner punk vibe meant the band was victim to unfair and inaccurate music journalism. Parquet Courts were receiving the wrong end of attention and could do little about it. Sunbathing Animal, on the other hand, crushes all those prospects and builds upon the band’s progressive punk rock.
Last in Australia for St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival in February, Parquet Courts already had Sunbathing Animal burning away in their minds while playing their debut shows down under.
“[The turnover] wasn’t as quick as you’d think,” Austin said. “There was just a slow build up of awareness with Light Up Gold throughout the world. So it seems by the time people heard about us, we already had a new record coming out. It just takes a while to breakthrough from the underground.”
In some respects, Austin sees Light Up Gold as the group’s breakthrough record yet recognises the path they’ve taken to reach their current stage. This includes the cassette-only release of their debut record in 2011 titled American Specialities which proves to be a rarity among collectors these days.
Not only is Sunbathing Animal an audible work of art in regards to melody and propulsive punk undertones, but it also excels in its storytelling aesthetics. Austin and Andrew are the band’s primary songwriters and found clear inspiration and content to write about this time around.
“We found an interesting concept for the album of loneliness and the duality of oppression and freedom. It’s a very human element and also very relatable.”
The lyrical content on the record is incredibly relevant and highly intelligent. Possibly a way to one up those lazy journalists, Austin said the the lyrics on the record were positioned at the forefront with the instrumentation working away in the back burner. Austin and Andrew also reference famous artists, composers and writers – see Vienna II – in order to broaden their storytelling spectrum.
“The inspiration for songs are not always personal stories but can be conveyed through other people’s stories, and in this case, works of art. We tell our story through theirs.”
Parquet Courts will be back in the country for one show only at Splendour in the Grass festival. The fly-in-fly-out appearance of the band though, may not be the last one of this album cycle.
“Yeah, there’s plans to get there [again]. We haven’t put it in concrete yet. We do have plans to get there – maybe play some proper club shows and another festival.”
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Sunbathing Animal is out now via Rough Trade / Remote Control and you’ll be able to see the band live exclusively at Splendour in the Grass. Check our lift-out map and playing times for all the details.