Ten years ago, an album called Bite Your Head Off was released by a little-known Australian grindcore band called King Parrot.
When I say little known, they already had a passionate and loyal fanbase that was growing by the minute, but the band had yet to reach the almost crossover mainstream acceptance which surprisingly opens for them today.
Their debut EP the previous year, The Stench Of Hardcore Pub Trash, had offered glimpses of King Parrot’s ferocity and musicianship, spawning the singles Epileptic Butcher and Psychotherapy & Valium, but at that stage that’s all it was.
Then Bite Your Head Off landed and smacked every person within wingspan square between the eyes with its blending of metal, punk and attitude that pretty much overnight created a new genre all of its own, and King Parrot were well and truly on their way to taking flight.
The first single from that album, Shit On The Liver, came with a film clip that was both brutal and downright hilarious and introduced the Parrot boys – and particularly the hairy walking one-line machine that also happened to play bass – Mr Slatts Everyday to a generation of music lovers that had previously only ever flirted with music of such extreme nature.
That film clip racked up the numbers practically overnight, and King Parrot started touring their proverbial asses off not long after, seemingly not content until they had converted the entire planet to their way of thinking.
Now, ten years after that initial shot fired in anger, King Parrot are inviting the King Parrot Army to celebrate the birth of what will be – if not already is – an Australian metal band of world repute comprising a bunch of five larrikins who just want to have fun and play music together with a special anniversary show at Max Watts in Melbourne on October 29 where the band will play that album in full for the first time ever.
HEAVY sat down for a special one-on-one with vocalist Matt Young to discuss the journey so far.
With King Parrot playing the ferociously quick debut album in its entirety, we start by asking Youngy what the band plans on doing after that 20 minutes of album time is done.
“We’ve been jamming the last few weeks,” he laughed, “getting all the songs together. There’s a bunch of songs on there that we’ve never played… we’ve never actually played the title track of the album (laughs). So we’ve been working on that, which has been great. We’re playing that for the first time and there’s a bunch of other songs on there that we haven’t played in close to 8 or 10 years, so it’s been great just re-learning them all and putting it all into a set and a way that flows really well. Just going ‘fuck, that’s actually cool and works well’, and it doesn’t have any of the songs from the other two albums or the latest EP, so we were really happy with how it’s come out. The running time obviously drags out, we might play a couple of other bits and pieces at the end… We just love playing live, that’s the main thing for us. We just love getting up there and doing it. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. We’ve put a lot of work into it, so it’s gonna be good.”
It’s fair to say Bite Your Head Off was – and still is – unlike anything heard in Australian metal for a long time, so we press Youngy on whether the band intentionally set out to shock and redefine music in this country or if it was more a case of satisfying themselves.
“A little bit of both,” he smiled. “I think initially there was a lot of tension and anger. We used the band as an outlet to express all that stuff that we were… me in particular, I was having a lot of life changes at that time. I was getting clean off drugs and booze around that time when we were starting the band and writing that record, so there was a lot of stuff coming out of me. It was like projectile craziness. It was such a good outlet and to be able to play it live as much as we did at that time around Australia and hone those songs in the live setting – probably before we even recorded them. It’s like when you do that first album, as a band you get the opportunity to write the songs, play the songs live, and you probably haven’t quite recorded it yet, so you can kind of get away with it. Then, when you go to do the subsequent albums it changes, you know? You get to do that and hone those songs for the first album, and you get to play them live a lot, road test them and that sort of stuff and people don’t know who you are, and then when you get past that you go ‘we’ve gotta write these new songs, and we’ve gotta do it all in the studio, and we might be able to play one or two live here or there’, but you don’t get to road test them as much as what you would with the first record. That’s been my experience, anyway.”
In the full interview, Youngy talks about the other bands playing at the anniversary show and why they are there, the thought process between the EP and album and how they capitalised on its success, the video for Shit On The Liver and how it came to life, King Parrot’s first ever chaotic show in Far North Queensland, some of his memories of making Bite Your Head Off, the opportunities it created, a thing about each of his band mates that you might not know and more.
Tix to King Parrot’s 10th Anniversary at Max Watts on October 29 available from www.kingparrot.oztix.com.au