Ask Austin Brown who Parquet Courts listened to when putting together its taut, twitchy punk rock, and he gives a nonchalant response.
"It's all the usual suspects, all the great records that everyone seems to like," says the guitarist. "I'll bet you can name them."
Let's start with Pavement.
"Pavement is definitely in there," says Brown, whose band came together in late 2010. "Pavement and all the records they listened to. It's not like they were doing all that different than what had come before. It's anything starting with the Velvet Underground."
Toss Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers into the mix along with the Feelies, the Strokes and even a little Sonic Youth, and it's easy to connect the dots from the '60s to Parquet Courts.
"I feel like we're just continuing the natural line of evolution. We're not trying to fit into any category. It's just something homo sapiens passed on from caveman straight to today."
Which is not to imply that the band's sound is consciously calculated.
"It's not premeditated," says Brown. "It's just the kind of music we listen to and the kind of people we are. It's not like we've reinvented anything, but we seem fresh to some people anyway. I wouldn't say we're the only band doing it. But we're one of the only bands getting credit for it, which is fine with me."
That credit has led to Parquet Courts becoming one of the most widely hailed bands of 2013, enabling them to get shows across the country and plenty of media attention. Again, that wasn't the band's intent when it initially came together two and a half years ago.
"We didn't have any ambitions for celebrity or rock star status or to try to sound different," says Brown. "It was us having good taste with what we created, making it well and tastefully and having a good live show. It turns out not too many people do these things."
The evolution of Parquet Courts began in Texas, where the band members — Brown, singer-guitarist Andrew Savage, bassist Sean Yeaton and drummer Max Savage (Andrew's brother) — all grew up. But they actually came together in New York, eliminating much, if not all, of the Lone Star State influence from the music.
After releasing a cassette-only debut, the four musicians spent a few days in the studio to make the 2012 release, Light Up Gold. The group's first proper album, it's a 15-song, 33-minute blast of existential angst and biting guitars that instantly caught ears, first in New York, then around the country.
That attention caused the band to shift the album from Andrew Savage's Dull Tools label to the slightly larger indie What's Your Rupture?, a move that Brown says kept the record that still maintains the band's basic philosophy.
"When you carry out the idea, it's kind of a back-to-the-basics, DIY perspective," he says. "I can't imagine doing it any other way."
Even so, the instant attention has some labeling Parquet Courts as the latest overnight indie rock success. But that's far from the case, Brown insists.
"We were a band for two years before Light Up Gold started getting national notice," he says. "By that time, we were satisfied with where we were and what we were doing. It was not as quick as people want to believe."
New gold standards
Now that Parquet Courts has been on the road for most of the past year, don't expect the songs from Light Up Gold — or the four new tracks that can be found on various websites — to sound the same way in performance as they do on record.
"We don't try to re-create the record," Brown says. "There is some element of danger there. We're four dudes playing guitar in a room. There's always something that can go wrong. We'll do an extended version of a song or a really short version of a song or make it somehow different. That's how it becomes a show, not a listening party. A lot of indie rock bands just reproduce the record. If that's the best you can do, it's pretty boring."
Brown, who writes lyrics along with Savage, is happy with the attention that the band continues to receive. But he's realistic about it as well.
"It feels good, but at the same time, we know all too well how the music industry works," he says. "By next year, we could be boring and we'll still be out there making records and playing. To tell you the truth, we're all still real good friends and love hanging out with each other even though we've been touring like crazy. We like playing together and we like what we've done. All the press and whatever anyone else says doesn't make that much difference to us."
This show at Stargazers with the Charlie Milo Trio will be broadcast live on local…
This is awesome! Excited about the new music and adventures for his year!
Thanks so much!!!