We caught up with NATIONAL PARKS who were recently awarded 1st Place in the International Songwriting Competition for all unsigned artists. Formed in Provo, Utah in 2013, the band’s debut album (Young) climbed to #13 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart and follow-up single, “As We Ran,” saw even more chart and streaming success – now closing in on 2,000,000 Spotify streams. The folk pop group has matched their digital success with energetic live shows in 50+ cities coast to coast, including appearances at SXSW, Canadian Music Week, CMJ Music Marathon, MusikFest and Snowmass Mammoth Fest. Since September 2015 The National Parks has been touring their sophomore album Until I Live (which once again climbed charts – iTunes ‘ Pop and Billboard’s Heatseekers) to capacity crowds in clubs across the US. Big things to come from the band in 2016!
Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?
Today I’ve been designing concert posters for upcoming shows, I ate a nice tuna melt, now I’m doing this nice little interview and I’ll working away on some demos of new songs.
To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
I would describe our music as a blend of a big indie pop sound with roots of folk music.
What are the 5 most influential albums that have influenced you the most?
1. Elizabeth by Isaac Russell
2. Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay
3. Bon Iver by Bon Iver
4. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
5. Last Night on Earth by Noah and the Whale
Which other artists are you into at the moment and why?
I’m currently also into Brandon Flowers, Bleachers, The Avett Brothers, Brett Dennen, and M83. These bands speak to me. Some have new albums out that are amazing and some are coming out with albums soon that I can’t wait for.
Are there any key pieces of equipment that you are using to define your sound?
I would say that the way the violin blends in with our indie pop sound is something that sets us apart and defines our sound a lot of times.
What would you say some of the challenges artists face today in the music industry?
I think a tough thing for bands and artists is just getting out there – hitting the road and getting exposure. It can be hard driving miles and miles to play to 3 people, but things pick up and grow and that’s a fun thing to see.
Where do you gather songwriting inspiration?
I gather my inspiration from all over. Usually it comes from the people around me and my relationships with them. Love, friendship, loss, adventure, etc.. I think that all comes out in the songs I write.
Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when put music together?
I used to write solely on my guitar but now I have become open to seeing songs come from different mediums. Usually it starts with an idea or an emotion and then from there the music and the melody and words all kind of happen together. I guess I don’t have a real formula for it.
What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?
That’s a hard question. We’ve been so lucky to play in a lot of different places for great fans. I have a lot of shows that stick out in my head so I don’t think I can pick one favorite. Some are big and some are small and looking back, they hold a special place in my heart for different reasons.
And the worst?
There have been some frustrating ones for sure mostly because of sound issues or technical difficulties, but I try to just put those ones behind me.
If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
I think I would be in advertising or graphic design. I love the creative outlets. Maybe I would go to the NBA. Who knows?
Do you have any particular gigs or festivals that you dream about playing?
Definitely. I think since we started the band we have cultivated a nice bucket list of shows we would want to play. It is a dream of mine to play at Red Rocks in Colorado. Playing the big festivals like Coachella or Bonnaroo would be a dream as well.
If you could perform alongside any other band or artist, who would it be?
I think I would pick Chris Martin and Coldplay. I’ve been inspired by their music for so long, it would be amazing to get to play alongside them.
Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
We have been busy busy. Be on the lookout for some new music videos, a lot of touring in the near future!