We wanted this to be more than just a little pointless intro. I see this more as a beginning rather than an introduction. We tried to write this record as a full album instead of a bunch of songs so we wanted this to buildup, but also hint at what is to come, hence the variety of instruments used.
“Old Ghosts/ New Regrets”
This is to-the-point, heavy, angry, smash-shit music. The lyrics reference the human race’s self-removal from the planet’s ecosystems. We have become a force unto ourselves which has created blight on the planet and a void in our existence. We no longer fit into our surrounding environment; we simply dominate it, and are worse of for it.
From the outset, we wanted this song to have a different feel than anything we had done before. When the chorus hits, it's like no other Parkway song. We wanted it to be uplifting and melodic, without resorting to pop and having a song that didn't sound like us at all. I really love this one. The lyrics are a bit strange, as is the title. I have been having very vivid, recurring dreams about the world’s ending. You know, the kind of dreams where you wake up and it’s like you experienced the whole thing, and the emotions stick with you. The thing is, every time the world ends, I don't feel scared, sad or guilty; I feel fulfilled. This song builds on the concept of living like there is no tomorrow. There have been so many times when I am running on a deadline with the knowledge I have to leave the people and places I love very soon. This song is about making the most of the time you have.
First off, for anyone that has seen the Home Is For The Heartless DVD, yes, we did get this chant idea from South America (Thanks, guys!) Musically, this is a standard Parkway song. Lyrically, this song is about power and where it is placed. The way the world currently works, decisions for the masses are made by the few, and the futures of the youth are held hostage by the greed of those who have grown into power through selfish means. The systems we champion have become the chains that hold us back. The majority have become the underdogs to the few that hold the keys to true freedom.
Jeff [Ling, guitarist] hit a pot with a spoon for this intro. Who needs a cowbell when you can hit a pot? He also made the last sub drop by punching an acoustic guitar and warping the recorded sound with some effects. If you haven't figured out the meaning of the lyrics and the reason behind them, then you need to wake the fuck up.
This song is about death. It is a narrative about the passing of a close friend of the band and what we went through during this time. The gospel vocals you hear on the record are sung as the character of death. I wanted it to be beautiful. Death is something most people fear, and yet it is a constant in this life. We fear it because we don't know anything else but life. Death is the ultimate question, but it is also the ultimate release. Every person I have lost in this life, I feel grateful for having known, but no one lives in vain. How do we judge our lives? A friend once told me, "It's not the years in your life, it's the life in your years." and life and death are what you make of them.
Use your head. Open your eyes. Think for yourself. That’s pretty much it. Western society has grown faster than anyone could have imagined, and yet we still have to evolve to a means of governance that rises above human greed and corruption. Changes need to be made, but we hold faith in systems that effectively remove the power from the masses. All right, now that rant is done, let’s talk about the music. It's heavy, and during that last breakdown, you better be moshing.
“The Slow Surrender”
When Jeff busted out the first riff of this song, we thought it sounded like Nirvana. This is a weird song for this band. Every part other than the middle breakdown (again, you better be moshing) sounds pretty different from anything we've done before. It has a nice groove to it, and Jeff layered some crazy crybaby-guitar lead over the chorus. Oh yeah, then we scratched the vocals up on a turntable. Believe it or not, this bit wasn't inspired by nü metal. Never been a fan. The inspiration actually came from watching Public Enemy play a fest this year. It was fucking awesome, and I just thought it fitted the song. I like scratching, and I'll take that over the same-old dubstep wub-wub that every band is jumping on these days.
This song took two years to finish. It was the first song we started, and it wasn't completed until the last day in the studio. We knew it was a departure of sorts from the sounds we usually make, but at the same time, it contains everything we love about this band, just in different forms and ways of playing. Watching the strings being played was insane. The lyrics were written before the music was formed. It is a song about the effects of touring on my life. I don't like complaining, but it is damn hard to place the entire world between yourself and the person you love, and to feel the love of thousands of people only to have the one person that matters most to you be the one you must leave behind.
“Sleight Of Hand”
Firstly, thank you Hatebreed and Slayer for the inspiration for this song. The song is not written out of spite or anger. I have spent my life travelling the world. I do it with open eyes and an open mind. I am content that no human on earth will ever know or comprehend every facet of our existence. I have however seen the results of fear, ignorance and guilt. How many lives have been lost, how much blood has been spilled and how much wealth and power has been placed in the hands of so few, in exchange for a human construct designed to control and provide justification for human existence? When you step back and look at where we have placed our faith and the hands in which we place the power, is this really anything like a world that a god would wish his/her children to live in?
“Snake Oil And Holy Water”
We wrote this in the studio. Somehow Jeff pulled these riffs out of the tool shed he was forced to write in and I love it. We wanted something that thrashed from start to finish. The lyrics are pretty pissed. We've been doing this band for 10 years now so here comes an old guy’s rant. Music used to count for something more than clothes, looks, empty threats, tough-guy posturing and pointless hollow intent. I accept that everyone likes different types of music and has their own ways of expressing themselves, but some of the bands I see and hear these days—I can't believe people buy into it. There is so much shit out there that is done with no heart, no soul and no mind, just for 15 minutes of fame and a quick buck. It just annoys me. Yeah, I get butt hurt about stuff.
“Blue And The Grey”
Trumpets! When Jeff said he had the idea for this, we really said, “What the fuck, but I love it. This song is pretty abstract from a lyrical perspective” It’s about dealing with distance, again, but I guess I've been writing about this topic for a while because I'm still struggling with it. We wanted to end this record with everything. For the last minute of this song, we tried to highlight everything (except bass, everyone knows [bassist, Jia “Pie” O’Connor] can't play bass to save his life), which is why it’s so long, but I think it's a fitting ending for the record. Also the trumpets remind me of elephants in a jungle for some reason.
Track By Track: Parkway Drive, ‘Atlas’