The world of Metal can be an interesting place. If you really want to, you can cover so much ground for anything you enjoy. That's exactly what Parker Yowell does. Be it behind the kit with his bands, filling in for a band in the studio or live, or doing work behind the board in the studio, Yowell can do it all and so much more. With that, his new band Seas of Malice, captures a sound of brutality, yet covers so much musical ground that you don't hear in a lot of other bands today. I recently got to ask Yowell a few questions about everything he has going on.
And for the very first time, I will be premiering a BRAND NEW SINGLE. The second Single from Seas of Malice, Our Own Eradication, which will be available at the very end of the interview. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.
No problem, man. Thanks for having me!
For those that may be familiar, tell us about your background as a musician up to this point?
So, I've been touring for about four years both in bands and crewing. I've played for Jungle Rot and worked as a tech for Suffocation, Kataklysm, Carach Angren and Dying Fetus. For a number of years I took drum lessons from Kevin Talley, and he actually got me my first tour when I teched for him when he was in Suffocation. Currently I'm in the bands Seas of Malice, Skin the Lamb and Serpents Whisper.
The first time that I saw you play was playing with Jungle Rot a few years back, opening for Dying Fetus. Knowing your capable skills, what’s it like for you to be able to either fill in or guest spot for bands behind the kit? Is every situation different or do you got things down to a science on how to learn songs quickly enough to make the show the best you can get it?
Sick! That was my first show in my home city! It was rad to shred it up in Minneapolis! Every situation is for sure different, but typically I like to keep things as consistent night to night as possible. That means click tracks, reference tracks and sometimes (I stole this from Kevin Talley) reference notes of the song structure. It also depends on the band. Jungle Rot was a much more straight forward death metal band so learning the songs was fairly easy. It also meant I could have much more fun live and put on a show. When a band has insane tempo and time changes you have to concentrate much more live and it can limit your ability to get into the performance. Seas is going to be a fairly complicated band in terms of our live production, however it will mean that our performance will be as flawless as possible. We want to be able to bring a level of intensity to the fans that will get them hooked on our live shows.
Among all of the cool stuff you’ve been able to do up to this point, you started yet another new band, Seas of Malice. How did this band come together?
I had met our keyboardist Katie when she was on tour, and we wanted to start (what at the time was) a side project. I wrote a few songs and I could tell we'd need a fairly dynamic vocalist. I had played in a band with (frontman) Kyle Carpenter a few years ago and got in touch with him to see if he'd be interested. He threw down some vocals on what eventually would be “Up To My Neck” and we went from there. I had about three songs but they all turned out really great so we decided to just tackle a full length record instead of starting out with an EP. We were originally going to release a few songs online but it became pretty apparent that we had something pretty sick so we decided to devote our time to this as a full time band, not just a studio project.
For anyone yet to check out Seas of Malice, how would you describe the band?
This is probably the hardest question to answer. We have elements of a lot of different subgenres of metal. We've got some death metal, thrash, deathcore, black metal and even slam. So if I had to pick, I'd say we're just a metal band. The best thing I've heard someone say is that we sound “new, fresh, and heavy.” Since I'm the primary writer in the band, the danger of that is all the songs sounding similar. I tried very hard to make sure that each song was unique and had it's own feel to it. I also didn't want to sound like we were trying to copy our favorite bands.
What is the full lineup of Seas of Malice; both in studio and going forward?
In the studio, I write and record all the guitars, bass and drums. Live I'll be playing drums, however. Kyle does all the vocals and Katie does the keyboards and orchestrations. Live, Jeff Golden (ex-Crowbar) will be our bassist and we're currently auditioning full time live guitarists.
The first single released is Up To My Neck, featuring CJ McMahon of Thy Art Is Murder. How did you get him involved in this song, and how was this song chosen as the first single?
I was talking with Kyle about if we could get a guest vocalist on the album, who would we want to work with? Being massive Thy Art is Murder fans, we both thought of CJ but we also knew that was fairly unlikely to happen. Shortly after, I wound up crewing for Dying Fetus on a co headlining tour with Thy Art is Murder. I became friends the Thy Art guys pretty quickly and asked CJ if he'd be interested in doing a guest spot on this record. We actually went over the lyrics together, some of the structure and all that. It was pretty surreal to have a writing session with one of my favorite vocalists. He ended up recording when the tour wrapped up and did an incredible job. We wanted this song to be the single before CJ was even involved. We feel it's a pretty good representation of what we do. It's got fast parts, a slamming break and killer keyboard elements as well. Once CJ said he was down to work with us we knew that this was the song we wanted to do with him.
What will be the next single released from Seas of Malice?
The next single is called “Our Own Eradication.” I think people will dig it, although it's definitely different than “Up To My Neck.” After that people will have to wait to hear the album. I wouldn't say this is a concept record, but I will say that it has much more of an effect when you listen to it from start to finish. And we definitely finish it on a strong note.
Did you change your drum setup at all for Seas of Malice compared to other bands you are in?
I did! And I will be changing it again before you guys see us live! Haha. So, for Jungle Rot I used pretty much a 6 piece kit. Two kicks, three toms (10 inch, 12 inch, 16 inch) and a snare. For Seas I added a third rack tom (8 inch) because the music is a lot faster and has busier drum parts. Believe it or not I actually down sized the Seas kit from what I used to record the next record for my other band, Skin the Lamb. That session I had two floor toms, one on each side, double ride and pretty much anything else I could think of. I needed to have some extra layers on that album. Hopefully that will be released next year.
With Seas of Malice, you actually do way more than just play the drums. What is like for you to have such control creative input in a band with such talent all around?
There's good and bad with that. The good part is I don't have anyone going “man, I don't really like that riff,” or “I think this part should go this way.” Not to say that I don't value my bandmate's input or ideas, but we pretty much just write our own parts and give each other some feedback. None of us play each others instruments so we trust everyone to come up with their own parts. The down side to being the only instrumental writer in the band is if I get stuck on a part, there's no one to bail me out. I don't have another guitar player to go “I have this riff and it would fit perfectly here.” If I get stuck in a musical maze, I've gotta figure my own way out of it. It's funny because when you're the only writer, sometimes you write a song and you know it's awesome, and other times you kind of go “so...what do you guys think of this?” Both happened on this record. I was really stoked on Eradication, but the first song on the record I was on the fence completely. I sent it to Kyle and he sent it back with vocals and it completely changed my mind. From there Katie laid down her keyboards, and it gave it another layer that made the song so much darker than it was before. It's one of my favorite songs on the album now.
When you do so much in a band besides play drums, are you more perceptive to how everything should sound or do you let things happen more naturally?
I think that's definitely accurate. I pretty much have an idea of what parts I want in the forefront of the mix, what parts should be layers and what the overall mix should be. I think a lot of times guys know what they want their parts to be, but overall they sort of leave it up to the engineer. Since I'm the guitar player, drummer, and handle all the pre production, I have a pretty good idea of where I want the song to go as a whole. As I'm sure our engineer, Joe Cincotta, would tell you, I have some fairly specific ideas about the mix haha. I actually do a rough demo mix as a kind of reference so he knows “keys should be more present here, this guitar line should go this way” and so on. He's doing a great job on these songs, and they're turning out exactly how I had envisioned them. Because I do play multiple things in the band, I think that when I write a song I not only know how I want to instruments to fit together, but I actually can put them together. A lot of times you'll see a guitarist tell their drummer “go like this...” and they'll try and sing some drum beat, and the drummer is like “what?” Because I'm both people in this scenario I think it's easier for me to know the map of the song from start to finish.
With that, what would you say is the biggest thing(s) you’ve learned about being in a band outside of just being able to play?
I think the biggest thing I've learned is how to be professional. Being in a band and playing music is fun and everything, but if it's your job you need to handle yourself as a professional. I think because my first tour was with Suffocation and Kataklysm, I learned right away a lot of tour etiquette, tricks and tips and just how to survive on the road. Every tour you learn things, though. I think a big thing is learn from other people. I've gotten to tour with some very experienced bands and I've basically picked their brains for tour tips.
After this coming release, what is next for the band?
Tour! We're going to be looking to get out on the road next year. We want to be out there a lot, and are already looking at some possible tours and bands we'd fit in well with on a package.
What’s coming up with you besides Seas of Malice?
Apart from studio work, I'm still working on the full length Skin the Lamb record. We're currently looking for a label to release the next album. I'm also hoping to be able to finish up the Serpents Whisper record next year.
Outside of playing music yourself, you also do a lot of incredible work behind the board. How did you get interested in doing engineering/production work?
Thanks man! I didn't even know bands could self produce when I was first getting into music. The first time I even heard the term was when I was watching the Killswitch Engage DVD and saw Adam D in the booth recording them. It was kind of a revelation to me that a band member could also be involved in the overall production of the record. I was really interested in how involved he was with the band, and once I started forming bands myself I looked into recording and the production side of things as well. Some guys like to just play their parts and leave, but I like to be more involved in the whole process.
I kind of felt like being able to edit your music and work on it was important if you want to have a product go the way you want. I have edited every release I've been a part of so far. If I can have my sessions clean, then the engineer can save time editing and just focus on tones for the album. This way I think the record is going to be more along the lines of what I want it to sound like when I begin writing. I also will help bands edit because sometimes you hear a band you know is good but they don't have good recordings. It honestly doesn't matter how good your band is if your demo sounds like garbage. Having a professional product is part of being a professional band.
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on music?
Not much! Haha. Other than decompressing I'm a total MMA nerd. Chances are if there's a UFC or Bellator event going on, I'm watching. A lot of fighters are into metal as well which is pretty cool. It's always rad to talk to a fighter you're a fan of and have them tell you that they're a fan of your music.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. You have accomplished a lot of incredible things in this field we call Metal and I can’t wait to see how Seas of Malice takes off and explodes all over the world. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
Thanks so much for having me, man! I just want to thank all the companies who have endorsed me throughout the last few years. MEE Audio, who makes great in ear monitors which my whole band relies on. Axis pedals, which I've been playing since I was 15 years old. I never imagined myself being an Axis artist so that was a dream come true the day I got the green light from them. Scorpion drum sticks make durable stuff. I go through sticks like a wood chipper. Pretty awesome I have my own sticks through them! Long story short, Mike who was filling in for Thy Art on that tour gave me the nickname “Parkolepsy” because every time I would take a nap in the green room, one of the Thy Art guys was inevitably always there to take a picture of me sleeping. I think Lee was the first one to take a selfie with me while I was crashed out haha. Marshy even started the hashtag #ParkerYowellSleeping. Anyway, the nickname stuck and now it's on my drum sticks and my in ear monitors haha. I also want to thank Dean Markley! I've played the Blue Steel strings for a long time so for them to endorse me meant a lot, especially because I'm primarily a drummer. But I've used their strings on the Skin the Lamb releases and the upcoming Seas release. Last but not least I want to thank anyone who's ever bought a CD, shirt, or supported me in any way. People always say “without the fans we wouldn't be here” but it's totally true.
PREMIERE: SEAS OF MALICE- OUR OWN ERDICATION: