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For some bands, comparisons to other groups that came before them are unavoidable. For members of the press, it just can’t be helped; in order to describe to other people what a band sounds like in print without the benefit of allowing readers to also hear what they’re talking about, the names of established acts that everyone has heard get dragged out in order to increase interest in a group that is just beginning to break out. It could be viewed as a sloppy shortcut to thinking to invoke venerable names in order to describe a new album but, in the case of The Parlor Mob, it’s totally impossible to not at least mention Led Zeppelin in passing; in fact it might even be considered the height of irresponsible journalism not to do so.
Formed in 2004, The Parlor Mob started out as a very different creature from the hard rocking entity they are today. Initially called What About Frank?, guitarists David Rosen and Paul Ritchie, bassist Nick Villapiano, drummer Sam Bey and singer Melicia drew notice as a progressive rock-influenced band that also won some punk rock hearts on the Warped Tour in 2005. In 2006, the band changed its name to The Parlor Mob (a name the band felt was more in keeping with what they were doing musically) and signed to Capitol Records where they recorded a four-song EP. Unfortunately, the label was experiencing difficulty and the EP was never released and soon – when Capitol and Virgin records merged – the group found themselves lost in the shuffle and without a label. At that point Roadrunner Records stepped in and saved the day. Now gearing up for a tour across Canada, The Parlor Mob is poised to remind a record buying public that, while it might have bee n a long time since they rock n’ rolled, there are still some bands that remember how.
Bill Adams vs. Mark Melicia of Parlor Mob
BA: Hey Mark, it’s Bill Adams calling.
MM: Hey, nice to hear from you Bill.
BA: Yeah, nice to talk to you again.
MM: Yes definitely. How’s it going?
BA: Not too bad, how’re you? You sound like you’ve got a cold.
MM: I just woke up. I just got in to visit my mother down in Florida so I’m just kind of groggy because I was up late.
BA: Oh, okay. Are you originally from Florida? I thought the band was from New Jersey….
MM: I went to high school down here. I grew up in New Jersey and then my family moved to Florida around when I was in eighth grade so I was here for high school and then I moved back afterwards.
BA: I see. So how has the tour been going since last I talked to you?
MM: Actually we just had the one date in Toronto and we’ve been off since then. We start back up again on the twentieth in Quebec. We’ve had a little time off, but after we start again in Quebec City, we’re out until November first. I think that works out to a little over ten weeks.
BA: That’s cool. How’d the Toronto date end up going?
MM: Oh, it was amazing! It was really, really cool. It was a Roadrunner party, but it was also a party for the Mayhem Tour; all those bands happened to have a night off so they came out and there were a bunch of people there – it was fun.
BA: That’s cool. I’m assuming that you’ve played in Toronto before….
MM: Actually it was our first time there. We’ve been to Canada before – we played Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver in July – and that was our first time in Canada, and this was the first time we ever played Toronto. It’s a really cool city.
BA: Wow. So was it a productive show? Did you get any feedback afterward?
MM: Yeah, we got to meet a bunch of people in the crowd. There was a lot of industry people and a lot of writers, but there were a lot of kids too and they were doing lots of giveaways and playing a lot of new Roadrunner music and there were a lot of kids there that actually showed up to see us so it was really awesome.
BA: That has to be a pretty heartening beginning. It must feel like it could be a good omen.
MM: Yeah, definitely. Canada’s been really good to us on the three dates we’d done prior to that and it just seems like everybody in Canada is really open to rock n’ roll and likes to go out and have a good time. In the States, it can be hit and miss depending upon the city, but Canada’s a lot more consistent.
BA: Well, that’s pretty true. You could look at it from the standpoint of, because the population’s so spread out, it’s not such a problem to turn up amplifiers.
MM: [laughing] Yeah, maybe that’s it. And the thing is, this band that we’re going out with, Airborne, do really well there too. We were talking to them about it and they had nothing but good things to say; like Canada – and Europe too – are both amazing and everybody just seems interested in coming out and having a good time.
BA: That’s cool and pretty understandable when you think about it. Please don’t take offence when I say it, but having Airborne and Parlor Mob seems very funny to me because the the first time I heard Airborne, I mistook it for the new record that I just heard is coming out from AC/DC….
MM: Uh huh. Us too. We felt the exact same way [laughing],
BA: [chuckling] …And please don’t take offence to this but, it almost seems like classic rock come again. I mean, they’ve got the AC/DC nailed, and you guys have the Led Zeppelin. I know it’s not something you can help, your voice sounds the way it sounds and you like to make the kind of rock n’ roll that you like to make, but it’s kind of unavoidable.
MM: We get that comparison a lot and while we’ve always been really adamant that we’re our own band and we never set out to sound a certain way and while we do love Led Zeppelin, we do have tonnes of influences. We do appreciate the comparison though, because, just by popular opinion, they are the best rock n’ roll band of all time so if we’re going to draw comparisons to anyone, I think it’s pretty cool to be compared to Led Zeppelin.
BA: I’d have to agree with you. I mean, there are far worse bands to be compared to.
MM: Yeah – and I mean, lots of other bands have drawn that comparison and taken it as praise like Guns N’ Roses and Blind Melon. Every time a band plays hard rock n’ roll and the band’s singer yells over it it comes out; Mars Volta has gotten it, Wolfmother has gotten it, there are tonnes more too and they tend to all be really good bands so we appreciate the comparison and take it with a grain of salt. As we develop as a band, I’m sure people will see other sides of us that are completely unique to us; there are some of those on the record already. Anyway, needless to say, we totally take it as a compliment.
BA: Sure – and you were talking about other influences as well and I don’t mean to make this sound like variations on a theme but I do hear some Soundgarden in there too. Other than Zeppelin though, what does Parlor Mob cite as influences?
MM: Well, I guess bands like At The Drive–In, MC5 for sure, old hardcore bands like Bad Brains – I know everyone else in the band played in hardcore and metal bands in high school – I’m a Dylan fanatic as far as lyrics are concerned… we all have pretty eclectic tastes as far as what we listen to. I was also a really big fan of a lot of reggae when I was in high school too and that have filtered into the lyrics a little too.
BA: That’s cool. And the record’s now been out for about two months….
MM: A little over two. I think maybe coming on three.
BA: Okay, and I apologize but I don’t know how the writing process breaks down for Parlor Mob, but what can fans expect tto see in the sets on this tour?
MM: We did a small, independent release really early on – about a year in I think so about four years ago – but we just released it locally and did it with a local producer. It was pretty rudimentary stuff for us but we have built upon it; it was pretty all over the place. We don’t play any of those songs anymore. We were also on Capitol Records for a short stint; we did a four-song EP there and we ended up just giving those songs away because we were on the label for a year and they did exactly nothing with us. We gave the EP away for free via our myspace and via email and then, when we signed to Roadrunner and went into the studio to record an album, we re-recorded those songs as well and they now all appear on the album. Basically, when we play live, we play all of the songs off the record and a couple that we’ve written since. The songs on the album have changed a little since we recorded them; little variations in them have cropped up that don’t appear on the album. I don’t think we’ve ever really played them as they appear on the record; there are different parts and longer parts, we’re always trying to change stuff up.
BA: That’s cool. And I’m assuming that the writing process must be ongoing if you’re already performing some new, unreleased songs.
MM: Yeah, the writing process is always going. We’re constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and trying different things; the creative process is always rolling for us, it’s just how we are by nature.
BA: …And I’m sure that, on a long enough drive, there’s always time to knock out and work on a few things as well.
MM: Well, we’re still in a van pulling a trailer so what usually happens is a lot of talking, but once we get to a venue, there’s always time before sound check or during sound check to shoot ideas around. Even though we don’t know how long it’s going to be before we record the next record, we’re already talking about what we want to do with it, which direction we want to take our sound, and what our next step will be. We’re always talking about that.
BA: So what happens after this then?
MM: Well, we’re going to be in Canada for the next two weeks with Airborne and then we’re jumping onto a tour with another Roadrunner band, Black Stone Cherry, and Theory Of A Deadman. I think we’re doing some dates with Seether as well. This time it’s going to be a lot of covering the ground that we haven’t been able to hit yet. We’re pretty excited about it.
BA: That’s cool, and just judging by the list of names that you were rifling off there, it’s going to be an international bill again; Seether’s from South Africa and Theory Of A Deadman is Canadian.
MM: Yeah – it’s going to be cool because we’re going to be playing for crowds that we haven’t really had the opportunity to play for yet. It’ll probably be a more modern rock crowd, and we’re really interested to see how those crowds react to us. From everything that we’ve heard, they tend to be the kinds of crowds that really get off on an action-packed rock n’ roll show, so we’re pretty excited to see. I think that a lot of people have felt in the last while that certain aspects of rock n’ roll scenes have grown stagnant and a lot of what’s coming out is just recycled sounds from stuff that has happened before. There are definitely grat bands putting stuff out, but there’s also a tremendous amount of crap. This first release is a really great introduction for us I think; we feel really strongly about it and it really gets across what we’re about I think. We’re really looking forward to getting out and playing this music for other people, but we’re also really looking forward to developing more as a band. We have so many ideas and so many places that we want to go and we really feel like we’ve got a contribution to make to modern music.
And You Were a Crow by The Parlor Mob is out on Roadrunner. Buy it NOW on Amazon.com.
"Can't Keep No Good Boy Down" by The Parlor Mob - [mp3]