In Conversation with Parker Lee
Photos by Gregor Forrest
In between sets at the Circulation Winter Launch Party, we caught up with Parker Lee, four York students who describe themselves as “lo-fi for the dividing nights” and are one of the most up-and-coming bands on the local scene.
Parker Lee have been busy so far in 2017, having experienced a line-up change, released their first EP, No Good Mornings in May, and then toured with Leeds emo band, Baby Names over the summer. The tour took them through Manchester, Cambridge, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leeds, and York – with their favourite show being Nottingham, at the intimate DIY venue called JT Soar. This end of the year sees them headlining Fibbers in York, along with three other York student bands – and although the band members seemed sceptical about this turn of events, it is hard to see how Parker Lee could disappoint a live audience given the catchiness of their songs.
Indeed, it seems as a live band, Parker Lee seem to have a lot of songs – however, as guitarist and vocalist Jowan Mead pointed out, they haven’t recorded many yet, and they are looking to do some more recording in the near future. This December will see them release two tracks on a compilation CD, and the band emphasised that they are keen to start recording an album in the new year for release next summer. They are also looking to do some more touring with the lovely Leeds-based band, PEACH, in February 2018 for a week and a half, where they’ll be heading to the same cities and more – even venturing to the south (although they didn’t seem too excited about the prospect, commenting, ‘”is there really much of a scene down there?”).
Although they claimed that they “don’t actually have that many friends”, Parker Lee seem to be close with many different bands – Baby Names, PEACH, Possum (‘upbeat emo’ from Leeds), Foreign Lives, not to mention the friends they’ve made among local promoters, venues, and in their other musical projects. Indeed, with three of the band members currently studying and working, and Mike Gardner (bass) training as a virtual reality developer, it seems incredible that they could have time for more projects but this is certainly the case. Ben Woods (guitar) is in Camel Cocktails, whilst Alfie Prior (drums) is also a member of Seven Hour Darkness Invasion and Seatbelts, as well as Wooly Mammoth with Jowan, who is also the guitarist in Fawn and currently running local gigs under the moniker, Eroticoffee Records.
In terms of their musical influences, Ben noted that they are always being compared with Modern Baseball, so would have to say them, with another favourite band being Tube Lords – who are key proponents of ‘math rock,’ described as “really intricate guitar-playing, with funny time signatures” and a sound which Parker Lee are bringing into more of their songs. They certainly seem keen to continue to experiment with their sound and live performances – even joking that given Mike’s work, they should move into creating a “Parker Lee Virtual Experience” next year.
As we finished with the killer question, “what would you say is the overall vision for Parker Lee?”, the band continued to show a laissez faire attitude. Jowan claimed, “we want to earn so much money that we can’t even talk about it”, before saying he’d like to tour a lot more and then accepts that “it will probably run its course and come to an end, being realistic”. Ben joked that “I guess now that Modern Baseball have split up, we could always steal their personalities as we get compared to them so much” – he then started quoting Hannibal Burress on an Eric Andre Show sketch, “we’d move to Philly, buy a loft, get six or seven roommates…”
Staying in this vein and joking that they could call their future album What a Shame, Ben interrupted with, “so I was thinking we could call it If You’re Not Serious, Don’t Say It and on the front cover, we just have the words against a blank canvas, coming out of a massive loudspeaker. So yeah, basically we rip off the Franz Ferdinand cover”. Everyone disagreed immediately – however, considering their unique sound and their success so far, a full Parker Lee album leaves a lot to look forward to in 2018, despite their jokey, self-deprecating visions of the band fizzling out or being forced to morph into other bands.
On that note – look out for the upcoming December compilation and their tour in February – “we’re going to be touring in every city in the UK…and if there’s a city that’s not on the list, then there will be a secret set instead. Oh, and at some point, there’ll be a 2018 Parker Lee virtual reality album”.
You heard it here first – catch them next in York on 12th December at Dusk!