ABOVE: PARQUET COURTS. IMAGE COURTESY OF HEATHER STRANGE
“We knew that we were going to be a New York band from the beginning,” says Parquet Courts’ lead singer Andrew Savage, which means a lot considering that three of the four members are Texas transplants. The band is just about to reissue their debut record, Light Up Gold via indie label What’s Your Rupture, which has been steadily gaining steam since its digital release on Bandcamp back in August. When questioned about his home state, though, Savage is less interested in discussing the past than one would think. “You don’t get to where you are now without being from somewhere,” he says, before saying that his new record is “all where we are now.”
Like Savage, Light Up Gold, is by turns idealistic, philosophical, and hard to pin down. While the record has garnered comparisons to artists ranging from Jonathan Richmond to The Fall, it’s clear that the band puts its lyrics first and foremost. “Our music draws from the idea that words should be important, and music should come around them,” he says, which is evident from the moment you hear his barking delivery mixed high above the guitars. It’s an old-school mentality that seems to fit just about everything having to do with the band, from their unorthodox record release to their economical punk sound.
Below, you can check out Interview‘s recent talk with Savage, as well as stream “Stoned and Starving” (“It’s a long song, and it was a long night”), which we’ve made our Track of the Week.
HOMETOWN: I was born and I grew up in Denton, Texas. [Our bassist] Sean [Yeaton] is from Boston.
CURRENT CITY: Parquet Courts’ hometown is New York.
GOOD PUNK MUSIC: We started the band in New York, so it made sense to identify with that. I mean, we identify as an American band; we identify as a New York band. I think the way the songs are written are similar to the bands that get mentioned in regards to us, like Modern Lovers, or any band that’s lyrically focused. A lot of the songs on Light Up Gold, or any Parquet Courts song, really, tend to start with the lyrics and the melody. Everything else tends to serve those. I don’t know if that’s a New York thing or an American thing. It’s just a recipe for making good punk music, really.
THE LINEUP: Austin [Brown] and I went to college together. We lived down the hall from each other, and we met at a record listening club that I started. It was called “Knights of the Round Turntable,” and he came to one of the early meetings. He moved to New York before me. The drummer of the band [Max Savage] is my brother, so I’ve known him my whole life. And our bass player, Sean, and I used to live at a place that did house shows and his band came through. I was so charmed by the guy that we’ve been friends ever since.
ROOTS: Obviously, any writer or artist has a strong attachment to where they are from. Everyone wants to mention we are from Texas and now live in New York, but I can’t tell you how much of the band is inspired by where we’re from, or where we are now.
DEBUTS: It’s different from the tape, American Specialties, because that was mostly me performing and writing the songs. It was kind of my baby. Light Up Gold is the fully realized version of the band, whereas American Specialties was just sketches.
“STONED AND STARVING”: You know, in New York, there’s so many different snacking options and bodegas. I think that night I was in Ridgewood. The woman I was seeing at the time lived there, and I was cat-sitting for her. I got a hankering for something and I couldn’t stop wandering around looking for it. I don’t remember if I ever found it or not. I find myself in that situation quite a bit. [laughs]
ON VINYL: There are people who have records, and there are people who listen to records. And there are people who have books, and people who read books. I think people who are into the band actually listen to them. I mean, that’s what I do—I like records that I can hold in my hands, and have words to read while I listen. A lot of the digital downloads have sold, but I’ve noticed that a few weeks or a month later, people will actually buy the physical copy. Half the fun of making a record is doing the whole layout, making the cover art and everything. That’s the fun of getting records too. You get to have this larger format—I mean, aside from sounding great. It’s a piece of history that the CD doesn’t fulfill, and especially not a Bandcamp.
LIGHT UP GOLD: I would say “Light Up Gold” is like this unnamed feeling, or sensation that we all have—it’s the thing everyone is looking for.
LIGHT UP GOLD IS OUT NOW, AND WILL BE REISSUED BY WHAT’S YOUR RUPTURE JANUARY 15. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR BANDCAMP.