Turntable Interview: Parquet Courts
Parquet Courts songs are riotous affairs, by turns blistering, bubbly and intense, but their albums are nothing compared to their live shows. The hard-touring Brooklyn four-piece has developed a reputation for raw, boisterous, and wild shows, although it’s hard to tell who is enjoying them more — the band or the audience. The band has been on the road for months, but during one of their stopovers in New York, we talked to Austin Brown —one of the quartet’s two vocalists — about his worst show ever, writing songs, and find out where he weighs in on the eternal tacos versus burritos debate.
STEREOGUM: Hi Austin!
PARQUET COURTS: I’m just finishing up my granola.
STEREOGUM: Ah the most important meal of the day.
PARQUET COURTS: Yes yes, sometimes I forget about breakfast, and skip straight to lunch, always regret it. Can our avatars dance?
STEREOGUM: Yep! Do you have songs ready, Austin? If so, we can start once you finish your healthy breakfast. Or, I can keep watching Murder She Wrote.
PARQUET COURTS: Oh well maybe we can wait until you’re at good stopping point.
STEREOGUM: I already know who did it, so I’m good.
PARQUET COURTS started playing “Be Yourself” by UV Race.
PARQUET COURTS:How do I get points though?
STEREOGUM: You get points if I like the song you’re playing.
PARQUET COURTS: Ohh okay. I hope you like all of them. Did you pass out flyers for this show? There’s only one guy in the club.
STEREOGUM: Don’t worry, you’ll get your beer tickets.
PARQUET COURTS: OK.
STEREOGUM: What’s the worst show you have played?
PARQUET COURTS: I’m just worried about what’s gonna happen when I play “C’mon And Ride The Train” and there’s not enough people for the train. The worst show I have played…. ever? Hmm…
STEREOGUM:There’s three of us! More than enough for a Human Centipede or a “train” as you call it.
STEREOGUM started playing “After Hours” by The Velvet Underground.
PARQUET COURTS: A few come to mind immediately, but in my most recent memory, Parquet Courts played in a basement in Kansas City in December, we weren’t even on the flyer for the show, we played for basically three hammered dudes who lived there.
STEREOGUM: Did you get paid for that?
PARQUET COURTS: We got paid with a sock full of change and a Taco Bell gift card that when it was purchased had $5 on it, but when given to us it had already been used a couple times.
PARQUET COURTS started playing “Real Shocks” by Swell Maps.
STEREOGUM: Thank god for the dollar menu, eh?
PARQUET COURTS: It should be noted that the house had no heat.
STEREOGUM: I feel like that went without saying. Was there also an aroma?
PARQUET COURTS: It was actually colder inside than it was outside, where it was about 30 degrees F. We got there a few hours before the show even started, and the toilet AND the sink were clogged with I don’t even wanna know what. I puked from the smell.
STEREOGUM: That sounds FANTASTIC. Is that what people consider “putting in dues”? Will you ever look back fondly on that and smile?
STEREOGUM started playing “Schizophrenia” by Sonic Youth.
PARQUET COURTS: I never had any real bad feelings about that show honestly. It was more funny than anything.
STEREOGUM: Just another day in the glamorous life of a rock star?
PARQUET COURTS: The cold part was pretty miserable, but it was such a ridiculous situation. I think the day before and after that on tour, and for pretty much all of that tour we had great shows. There was just a little mix up. Maybe it was our fault? Maybe we went to the wrong house?
STEREOGUM: So you just set up in some random dudes’ basement?
PARQUET COURTS: I would hate to think that’s what happened, I mean there was definitely some sort of party.
STEREOGUM: Maybe those three guys were your biggest fans ever?
PARQUET COURTS: I don’t think so.
STEREOGUM: You should have bought them a chalupa with your gift card.
PARQUET COURTS: Yuck.
STEREOGUM: Are you dissing chalupas?
PARQUET COURTS started playing “Black Change” by Country Teasers.
PARQUET COURTS: I guess so. I don’t think they’ll get their feelings hurt.
STEREOGUM: Taco-ist. What’s it like returning to Texas these days?
PARQUET COURTS: I don’t get to Texas as often as I like, but it’s nice I guess.
STEREOGUM: So how long have you been on tour?
STEREOGUM started playing “Hanging On The Telephone” by Blondie.
PARQUET COURTS: Well I’m at home at the moment, but Parquet Courts was on tour since May for the most part.
STEREOGUM: That’s a lot of touring! What do you listen to in the van?
PARQUET COURTS: Sometimes just cassettes, if we don’t have a cassette adapter. There’s a few good mixtapes in rotation. When we’re in the south I really enjoy classic country radio when I can find it.
STEREOGUM: Are they leftover mixtapes from the 90s? Or do people make you new ones?
PARQUET COURTS: I don’t have any mixtapes from the 90’s personally, but we make them for ourselves.
PARQUET COURTS started playing “Just Step Sideways” by The Fall.
STEREOGUM: You put your albums on cassette, right?
PARQUET COURTS: Yeah our first record, American Specialties, was released initially on cassette only. It’s only until later was it released on LP.
STEREOGUM: So do you have a WalkMan for easy on the go cassette listening?
PARQUET COURTS: I did, but it broke believe it or not.
STEREOGUM: I didn’t think it was possible to break those!
STEREOGUM started playing “The Grip Of Love” by Tom Verlaine.
STEREOGUM: Your song “Borrowed Time” was about writer’s block. Do you struggle with that?
PARQUET COURTS: In a sense I might, writing isn’t always easy, and inspiration doesn’t come on demand.
STEREOGUM: I heard three new songs on NPR a few weeks ago. Do you guys have a new album in the works?
PARQUET COURTS: We have a new EP that should be out soon, I actually got my hands on a copy myself last night. We’re also headed back into the studio this week to wrap up a full length that will be out next year.
PARQUET COURTS started playing “She Cracked” by The Modern Lovers
STEREOGUM: Nice! Who is releasing it?
PARQUET COURTS: What’s Your Rupture?, a great NYC label.
STEREOGUM: Awesome. Man, I love the Modern Lovers. There was a movement to make “Roadrunner” the official state song of Massachusetts.
PARQUET COURTS: Yah this Live at the Longbranch record is great, it’s the first one I heard from them actually. I would support that, our bass player Sean is from Boston. Beverly, Mass to be specific.
STEREOGUM: Really? I would totally draw comparisons between you guys and this band.
PARQUET COURTS: I’ve heard that before, but when I write musically, or lyrically, I’m just writing a Parquet Courts song, I don’t think about wanting to sound like any other band besides ours.
STEREOGUM started playing “Magic” by The Cars.
STEREOGUM: It’s interesting that while I was researching for this interview, so many posts have been written about who you sound like, when I don’t think you really sound like anyone but you. Is that frustrating at all?
PARQUET COURTS started playing “(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)” by The Stranglers
PARQUET COURTS: It’s more curious than anything really, because I don’t think about our music in the same way that someone reviewing our music thinks about it. When we get compared to certain bands sometimes I can think “oh I like them I’m sure that made it’s way in there somehow” and sometimes it’s bands I don’t listen to and it makes me wonder what they’re hearing that makes them think that. It’s never frustrating, I don’t ever feel like people don’t “get” us.
STEREOGUM: Do you ever look up those bands?
PARQUET COURTS: No I don’t need to look up the Strokes.
STEREOGUM: Ha! No, no you don’t. But that is one band you guys do get compared to a lot.
PARQUET COURTS: Curious.
STEREOGUM: Out of curiosity where does the name “Young Doc Gooden” come from?
STEREOGUM started playing “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads.
PARQUET COURTS: That’s my DJ name! I DJ’ed when I was living in Denton, Texas.
STEREOGUM: Oh yeah? Do you ever DJ in NYC?
PARQUET COURTS: I’m actually credited as that on the first Parquet Courts release, American Specialties. I DJ’d when I first moved here, made some cash on the side. I was DJing at a fancy hotel, but then Q Tip stole my DJ night and I don’t think I DJed after that.
STEREOGUM: * shakes fist at Q Tip * Now it would probably be billed as “Parquet Courts (dj set).”
PARQUET COURTS: Maybe it would …
STEREOGUM: Of the new songs I heard on NPR “Dear Ramona” particularly stood out.
PARQUET COURTS: I’d like to think the name Young Doc Gooden still means something to someone, somewhere.
PARQUET COURTS started playing “Mother Of Pearl” by Roxy Music.
STEREOGUM: It sounds like someone who was killed in a saloon shoot out.
PARQUET COURTS: That sounds cool.
STEREOGUM: You do reference a lot of the wild west in your album art.
PARQUET COURTS: There is a little bit right? I guess the cover.
STEREOGUM: But going back to “Dear Ramona,” did you write that song together? Are all your songs written as a group?
PARQUET COURTS: That is a song that I brought to the band. We jammed it out together and everyone added their own parts, but the lyrics, structure, melody I brought.
STEREOGUM: Well done.
PARQUET COURTS: Sometimes it happens like that, and sometimes songs just come out of us riffing on whatever
STEREOGUM: Do you have regular band practice?
STEREOGUM started playing “Spanish Bombs” by The Clash
PARQUET COURTS: Whenever we’re at home we do, but lately we’ve been on tour for a while. Before we started touring we were practicing once or twice a week.
STEREOGUM: Okay last question: Tacos or Burritos?
PARQUET COURTS: Yesterday I had tacos the day before I had a burrito.
STEREOGUM: Whoa. Well, now I’m hungry.
PARQUET COURTS: Me too.
STEREOGUM: Thanks for chatting with me!
PARQUET COURTS: Of course!
Parquet Courts’ Tally All The Things That You Broke is out now on What’s Your Rupture?