AN INTERVIEW WITH PARSNIP
The Melbourne-based band Parsnip hasn’t been around long, but they’re already intent on cementing themselves on Australia’s roster of A-plus rock outfits. Parsnip, an all-female four-piece, emerged with the release of their self-titled EP in 2017. The EP acting as a short introduction to their punchy sound, Parsnip released their follow-up and debut album, When The Tree Bears Fruit, in August on Anti Fade Records and Trouble In Mind Records.
On When The Tree Bears Fruit, Parsnip borrows both from the punk and the psychedelic, balancing overdriven guitars with sweet-sounding organs. In support of the album, Parsnip has made their first trip to the US, playing everywhere from Brooklyn to Minneapolis. We caught up with the band at the tail-end of their tour, talking Australia, early influences, and root vegetables.
HOW DID PARSNIP FIRST COME ABOUT?
Parsnip came together about 3 years ago. We’d all been in bands before and knew each other through playing shows together, as well as living together and hanging out. I think Paris and Stella had the idea and they approached me at Jerkfest and asked if I wanted to play in this band. We originally had a different keys player (Sequoia from The Clits, the best Melbourne band ever!) but by the first 7-inch Bec had joined us, who had played with Stella in the Sydney-based band The Dandelion.
AUSTRALIA HAS SUCH A RICH MUSIC SCENE - CAMP COPE + JULIA JACKLIN ARE NAMES THAT JUMP TO MIND, THOUGH THE LIST IS ENDLESS - WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE COMING UP AS ARTISTS IN AN ENVIRONMENT LIKE THAT?
We’ve found the local music community to be really supportive -- Stella and Bec are originally from Sydney, Paris is from Geelong, and Carolyn is from Melbourne. The music scenes in all of those places are really strong and interconnected. Some of our favorite Australian bands at the moment are the Shifters, G2G, the Faculty, Angie, UV Race, Girlatones, Cereal Killer, and Thibault.
SOME OF YOUR TRACKS HAVE SUCH A JANGLY, ALMOST FUNKY FEEL TO THEM. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT FORMING THAT SOUND? WHO WERE SOME OF YOUR EARLY INFLUENCES?
I don’t think it was particularly a conscious decision to end up sounding the way we sound. Be yourself and embrace the mish-mash. But if we had to name influences I think garage comps like Teenage Shutdown and Back From The Grave were a good starting point. We also used to do a cover of 52 Girls back when we started, but I don’t think we got too hung up on nailing a particular sound.
DID YOU APPROACH RECORDING YOUR ALBUM ANY DIFFERENTLY THAN YOUR EP?
Hmm, I guess we were a bit more organized for the album because we had to book a place out for three days, and our friend Tim came down from Sydney to do it. The first EP was recorded in a weekend at Billy from Anti Fade’s place in Geelong. But, in terms of the recording process, it was still quite relaxed. We were all going a bit stir-crazy after three days recording the album in a windowless room, though!
THE ALBUM IS FILLED WITH WARBLY, PLAYFUL PIANO RIFFS THAT ARE REMINISCENT OF THE KINKS AND OTHER 60S ACTS. IS THAT AN ERA OF INFLUENCE FOR YOU? HOW DO YOU BALANCE OLD + NEW INFLUENCES IN YOUR MUSIC?
Yep -- 60s acts and beyond are influential. Today’s tour van tunes have been The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society and Safe As Milk by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. But we’ve also been hitting up some guilty pleasures, too. We don’t really have a method as to how to balance influences. If it sounds good, then we just do it.
PARSNIP IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR FIRST US TOUR. HAVE YOU ALL PLAYED ABROAD BEFORE? IS THERE ANY PRESSURE TO MAKE A ‘FIRST IMPRESSION’ ON AMERICAN AUDIENCES?
This is our first time touring overseas and we’re having a blast! Everyone has been so nice, the bands we’ve played with have been great, and we’ve had time to do some fun things like hiking and swimming and looking through giant thrift stores. I don’t think we think about the ‘first impression’ thing too much -- we have a lot of fun playing, and hopefully that means the audiences do too.
IS PARSNIP YOUR FAVORITE ROOT VEGETABLE?
Pumpkin spice latte is our favorite vegetable.