When we think of Australia, usually a few key thoughts come to mind. We think of kangaroos, really tall cans of beer and most definitely Crocodile Dundee. But in terms of rock music, the only real bands that stick out are groups such as AC/DC, Midnight Oil, Silverchair, and more recently The Vines. While most of the aforementioned bands have long passed their prime as a leading rock acts, it might come as somewhat of a surprise that Australia actually has rapidly growing rock and metal scenes. In fact, one of the leaders of this recent fuss has been the five piece metal/hardcore band known as Parkway Drive. Despite the fact that the band has only existed for less than three years, Parkway Drive have already built a solid fan base and have established themselves as one of the world’s premier metal acts.
Rock bands that make it big more often than not must go through years of hard work and relentless touring in order to properly establish themselves, yet success has come relatively quickly for Parkway Drive. The band formed during the summer of 2003 in Byron Bay, Australia, a small coastal town more commonly known for its lush scenery and environment, not blistering rock bands. The group, named after a stretch of road in Byron Bay called Parkway Drive, released its debut record (a split CD with the band I Killed the Prom Queen) not long after forming. The split EP, along with an appearance on a Byron Bay compilation album of hardcore bands called What We’ve Built, earned Parkway Drive much respect within the Byron Bay hardcore scene despite the fact that the band had yet to release a proper album of their own.
Talk of Parkway Drive as one of the most promising metal bands in Australia began to truly accelerate after the band dropped its debut EP Don’t Close Your Eyes. The disc introduced listeners to the group’s crushing riffs and it greatly helped in establishing a solid fan base. Because of the buzz surrounding Parkway Drive, more and more fans as well as music industry personnel began paying more attention to this budding Australian band and metal scene. This hype eventually led the band to be put in touch with Adam Dutkiewicz a popular metal producer and guitarist for American metalcore geniuses Killswitch Engage. Not only has Dutkiewicz enjoyed much success with his own band, but over the past few years he has also become one of the most renowned metal producers, working with popular modern acts such as Unearth, Every Time I Die and From Autumn To Ashes. This golden track record undoubtedly made Dutkiewicz’s services an attractive commodity, for in May of 2005 Parkway Drive traveled to Zing Studios in Massachusetts and began work on their debut LP.
The result of Parkway Drive’s collaboration with Dutkiewicz is the band’s debut eleven song LP Killing With A Smile. Working with Dutkiewicz seems to have helped the band really develop as musicians as the album features a diverse blend of thick rhythms, Swedish type death metal guitar riffs and a high degree of technical precision. And while some might write the band off as just another metal act with loud guitars and screaming howls, Killing With A Smile demonstrates that Parkway Drive is also capable of a much more eclectic sound. Songs such as “Gimme a D” and “Romance is Dead” display not only the band’s heavy side, but also the more progressive, melodic aspects of their music.
The public reaction to Killing With A Smile has been nothing short of spectacular. The album has performed extremely well in the band’s native Australia having debuted at #39 on the Australian Recording Industry Association Charts, a significant achievement considering the fact that the chart is largely dominated by major label pop and R&B artists. Furthermore, the buzz surrounding Parkway Drive is now beginning to spread outside of Australia to Europe as well as North America. Having just completed a very successful Australian tour, Parkway Drive is just about to embark on its first ever U.K. tour in support of the recent U.K. release of Killing With A Smile. The summer of 2006 will also see the band move into Europe for a few dates which will coincide with the album’s European wide release. The present and future are looking very bright for both Parkway Drive and the lively Australian metal scene. With Parkway Drive as somewhat of the scene’s unofficial leaders, it looks as though Australia will be the cool place to be in metal music, at least for the immediate future.