Rising indie stars Parquet Courts combine scrawny garage-rock blues with tight-fisted riffs, savvy post-punk taffy and brawny honesty. In preparation for their highly-anticipated visit to Madison’s High Noon Saloon June 22nd, we cornered lead singer Andrew Savage for some background on the band.
Maximum Ink: Where does the name Parquet Courts come from?
Andrew Savage: Well, Parquet is a type of geometric arrangement of wood pieces; surely you’ve seen them on the basketball court at the Boston Gardens (home of the Boston Celtics). Sean is from Boston, so it’s kinda an homage to him, since everybody assumes he is from Texas, by association.
MI: You’re a New York band, but have roots in Texas; what prompted the move to Brooklyn?
AS: Three of us are from Texas. Max left Texas to go to college. For Austin and I, it was just getting out of a college town (the town I was born in, I should mention). Also, nothing wrong with college towns.
MI: What sort of day jobs did the band have before they decided to make the band their full-time focus?
AS: Actually, we still have day jobs. I work as a bike delivery boy, Max is a private tutor, and Sean is a freelance writer.
MI: The band’s debut, “Light Up Gold,” kicked around under a different label last year before generating buzz at the start of 2013. Was that frustrating for the band to have material out there but not getting a lot of feedback?
AS: No, because actually, we were getting a lot of great feedback. I never imagined this level of response, so the initial reaction was quite satisfying. We were already playing packed shows last summer in NYC; I think by that point we had garnered a fair amount of attention as a live band. Even outside of New York, I was getting a lot of orders for the records across the country and the UK and Europe. I think that before 2013, it was kinda a cult DIY record, then it became popular in the mainstream indie world.
MI: The band’s songs are a wonderful mix of styles that gel in a way that seems perfectly natural. Did the songs come out fully formed or was there a lot of work getting them to that state of casual brilliance?
AS: A bit of both, though I would never use the term “casual brilliance” to describe what happens in Parquet Courts. “Light Up Gold,” was about half-written on the fly, half-prepared long beforehand. You can tell on the record which songs we had been playing for a year, or at least, I can tell.
MI: The lyrics, in particular, have a scrappy-yet-literate quality to them, does whoever conjured them have a literary background?
AS: Austin and I are the main songwriters, but I think everybody contributed at least one song. My literary background is decidedly non-academic. I read a lot, I write a lot, but I’d be wary to say I have a background in it, other than a layman’s fascination. Same with Austin. Sean has some sort of collegiate certificate related to writing, I wanna say BFA in English? Max is currently studying a double major in creative writing and mathematics at NYU.
MI: What bands influenced PC’s sound that might surprise your fans?
AS: I actually get surprised at what a lot of our fans suspect our influences to be. In the UK, everybody assumes that we get a lot of influence from The Strokes and other indie bands that I’ve never really listened to. I feel like we wear our influences on our sleeve. In, “Light Up Gold,” I hear Ramones, Black Flag, Buzzcocks, The Fall, Guided By Voices, Tyvek… I think a lot of people in the indie world assume we listen to a lot of current indie rock bands, but we really don’t.
MI: You’ve played a lot with lots of different bands this past year, what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned on the road?
AS: Every band deserves your attention for two songs. If they don’t have you by the third song, go get a beer and hang out with your buds.
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