Interview with The National Parks

Interview By Angel Evans

Since emerging in 2013, the Provo, UT quartet — Brady Parks [guitar,

vocals], Sydney Macfarlane [keys, vocals], Cam Brannelly [drums], and Megan Parks [violin] — has quietly grown into an independent phenomenon with roots embedded in blissful pop, cinematic electronics, organic orchestration, and rock energy. Racking up over 90 million total streams, selling out headline shows on tour, and catching the attention of many in the music industry, the group bloom

like never before on their aptly titled independent fourth full-length, Wildflower.

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Brady Parks and what an honor that was. We spoke on influences, the creative process behind Wildflower, and how to stay encouraged during these trying times in our society. 

Who are your biggest musical influences?

I think all of us in the band would tell you different artists and bands, but for me, two of the biggest musical influences have been Bon Iver and Coldplay. When I listen to them, I feel like I am transported to a new place and I love that. 

Growing up, what were the first concerts you ever attended?

The first concert I ever went to was in high school and it was Foo Fighters with Weezer and Kaiser Chiefs. It was the best first show.

What is your creative process like?

Usually my creative process starts with an emotion of some sort. That emotion usually triggers an idea and then I'll typically sit down with the guitar and start messing around with chords and melodies and lyrics until something sticks out. From there, it just builds into the song. There is a lot of trial and error and perfecting the song as I go. I then make a demo of the song, send it off to the band and they start thinking about their parts and messing around with ideas. We then take it to the studio and bring it all to life!

In the near future, who would you be interested in collaborating with on a project?

I'd love to collaborate with Brandon Flowers, Phoebe Bridgers and Post Malone, tbh. They're all musical geniuses. 

What are some of your favorite songs to perform live?

Our last full band show before Corona was on NYE in Salt Lake City. It was the first time we played our song "Wildflower" and it was insane. It quickly became my favorite to play live and since then we've been dying to play it again. 

What’s your favorite part about touring?

There's no better feeling than stepping onto stage and seeing a crowd full of people smiling and singing along. You get to feed off of that energy and I feel like the room just fills with love. It's such a surreal and emotional experience at times and that's something I really miss about touring and being on the road. 

What are some of your favorite venues you’ve performed at? And what are the DREAM venues you would absolutely love to perform at?

One of our favorite venues is our home venue in Provo, UT called Velour Live Music Gallery. It's such a special venue and is truly the heart and soul of the music scene in Utah. A DREAM venue of ours is Red Rocks in Colorado. That venue is #1 on our bucket list and we can't wait to make it happen. 

What do you love the most about creating music together as a whole?

Creating music with my wife and best friends is such a magical experience. My favorite part is seeing how the song builds from nothing to something. We pour our hearts into making it and together we get to see it grow into something that's bigger than all of us. 

What are your favorite tracks on the new album and what do they mean to you?

It's so hard to pick! I think my favorite changes all the time and it's fun to always have a different song from the album stick out at different moments for different reasons. Right now I think I would say “Wildflower” because in a way it has always been one of my favorites. It was a song that we stretched ourselves for and that song has become a symbol of being authentic to who you are and knowing that you are planted for a reason. I also love “Mother Nature,” “War Cry,” “Painted Sky,” “Time,” “Chance”...okay fine tracks 1-15. 

Express to me how you felt when Wildflower was released for the world to hear?

We've never been more excited about anything we've created. We poured our hearts into this music and we were sitting on it for a while before we released it. When it was finally out, we all felt this wave of excitement and relief. Overall we were just so happy that it was in the world and that people would be able to hear it and we couldn't wait to hear what their reactions would be. That was such a fun day.

Was the creative process different this time around with Wildflower compared to when you created PlacesUntil I Live and Young.

The process was very different this time around. For the first 3 albums, I would mostly write the number of songs that ended up on the album. With some past albums I felt pressure to chase trends or to fit into a certain box of some sort. With Wildflower, we broke away from that. I just wanted to write for the love of writing and wrote over 40 songs before we narrowed it down to the 15 that made the album. We also got to be very patient with ourselves and with the music on this album. We took our time, didn't set any specific timelines and we got to be very patient in making the music we wanted to make. I think that's why we feel so strongly about this album and why we are so happy to finally have it out in the world. 

This album oozes with passion and hope. What kind of an impact do you wish Wildflower to make on an individual's life?

Ah thank you! When we were creating this album, we couldn't have foreseen the time in which we would be releasing it. It's strange to release an album in the Covid world with everything that is going on but in a big way it feels like it was meant for this time. We hope that the messages and themes in this album can help people feel hope and feel uplifted. We hope that through this album people can know that even though life has struggles and dark times that there is also so much beauty and joy that can be found in all the seasons of our lives and that the best is yet to come. 

For someone who is deeply desiring a brand new start or is searching for a glimmer of hope in this world (especially with all that’s occurring in today's society), what advice would you give?

I would say start with gratitude. It can be so easy to get down on ourselves and the world. It can seem like such a heavy place and we all go through our own battles and struggles. If we start listing and acknowledging everything around us that we are grateful for I think we start seeing the good in the world and the good in our own lives. It forces us to think outward and look at how we can help others around us. It can be so hard to do but it's also so refreshing. I would also add to get out in nature. Nature has a way of centering us and reminding us of all the beauty in the world. 

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