Melbourne pop punk trio Drastic Park impressed us so much with their new single ‘Work of Art’ that we kinda wanted to do something special with them. To get you up to speed on these young upcomers from COVID-stricken Victoria first, listening to their music will make you feel like Marty McFly and Doc Brown knocked down your door, invited you into their dolorean and travelled back in time to 2001. Why that year? Sure, it might have been the year I began puberty (ughhh, let’s NOT revisit that), but it was the year iconic pop punk emerged. 2001 gave us Sum 41’s All Killer, No Filler, Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American and the OG, Take Off Your Pants & Jacket by Blink-182.
Fast forward back to 2020 and the music landscape has changed significantly. Guitars no longer belong in the mainstream, so it’s up to outlets like Wall of Sound to keep the punk rock afloat. Especially in these COVID times. Born outta Melbourne, Drastic Park buckled down in iso, charged their creativity engines and recorded a tight 7-track EP that’ll be the best thing you heard since Stand Atlantic’s latest record. Listening to Imposter Syndrome will also make you second guess yourselves and wonder if you’re listening to 2001 Tom Delonge instead.
To celebrate the band’s new release, we got the world first of Imposter Syndrome, which you can listen to below. But before you do, get to know the band first when I caught up with John Stokes (Stokesy) and Chris Tannahill (Tannah) about their beginnings, their other life as Facebook Meme Lords, if they really scored Tom Delonge to do guest vocals and why Drastic Park are NOT a Blink cover band…
You guys kinda burst out of nowhere, so for those of us that are just finding you now, tell us the history of Drastic Park.
STOKESY: It all started when we drilled into fossilised amber and got dinosaur DNA from a mosquito. Nah but really both Chris and I were initially kind of done with music as we had so many failed bands due to other members not being on the same wavelength as us. But after a break, I wrote and recorded a song called “Little Things” and after showing it to Chris, we both knew we just had to do something about it. Originally we never planned on taking it too seriously, so we got in Jordan on drums, who was already a full time drummer at In Deception.
After recording our first EP with Nick Sjogren from Thornhill, and being coached by Steve Cannetelli of Future Artist Development, we kind of realised we had something really cool. As things got more serious, Jordan realised he wouldn’t have time for two busy bands and decided to stick with his lifelong friends in In Deception. We then found Joe through Coach Cannatelli, and the rest is history.
TANNAH: Yeah. I thought I was 100% done with bands before John sent me that rough demo for ‘Little Things’. Honestly, watching “Jurassic Park for the fiftieth time” woulda been more appealing (shoutout Ruby Fields). It’s weird. We realised the other day we started off as this band that didn’t take ourselves very seriously at all, but working with Steve Cannatelli and Maddii Nghtmre from The Venom Collective, they helped us structure our content better and position ourselves appropriately in the industry. And now suddenly we’ve had to take things a lot more seriously as a band, but we still love a laugh, so we’re taking the piss with some of our content lately instead.
Let’s clear the elephant in the room first. Tell us about that time you went viral by reinventing Blink-182’s ‘Adam’s Song’ to be more COVID-relevant. Did you expect that parody to blow up as big as it did online?
STOKESY: Actually we KNEW it would go viral. That is why we did it. I have a meme page on Facebook and Youtube that goes viral all the time, so I kind of know what makes audiences lose it. Usually if you make it as weird as possible, while also making it relevant to what’s trending, then it will take off. Hopefully one day our actual music takes off like that, but for now we are more than happy to take the piss out of anti-mask Karen’s while also appropriating our favourite bands.
TANNAH: We’d already tested the COVID-humour waters earlier in the year with our Green Day parody, ‘Wake Me Up When Corona Ends’. There were a few hundred new followers onboard with all eyes on us after that first parody, waiting for our next move. We knew they were the sharing and caring type as well. So yeah, we honestly expected ‘Karen’s Song’ to do pretty well. And it absolutely did not disappoint!
Your entire EP feels like it was discovered in a time capsule from 2001, left over from the Take Off Your Pants & Jacket recording sessions. It’s hard to believe you’re not secretly Tom Delonge. Or are you?
STOKESY: Shit… you guys are onto us. Nah but seriously I’d be lying if I said Tom Delonge wasn’t a big influence. However, I’m more influenced by his Box Car Racer side project and Blink’s Self Titled album. That being said, there are a couple of songs on this EP where we tried to have a bit more fun with a more pop punk sound and definitely channel that TOYPAJ vibe (e.g. Feels Like Forever and Trouble). All in all, I think we can all agree that aliens do exist because Tom is from another world.
Love that! And I can definitely feel the Box Car vibes throughout the EP. So what pushed you guys into smashing through the EP during COVID, as opposed to waiting til things settled again?
TANNAH: John Stokes inspires everyone around him, because his creativity is absolutely next level… ok… so he pushed us. He’s “a pusher, Cady!” Ahh damn. I kind of just wanna sit and quote Mean Girls now instead of doing the rest of the interview. Is that ok?
Look, I won’t complain about that at all…
TANNAH: “Regina George is not sweet. She’s a scum sucking road whore. She ruined my life”.
STOKESY: Joe had JUST joined the band. We were lucky enough to fit in a gig supporting Antiskeptic and For Amusement Only at The Corner Hotel and were really gaining momentum going into our first EP launch. But all that came to a stop. We are three extremely creative guys, and we just couldn’t bear not doing anything band related. So we thought… you know what. Let’s just write some songs and record them all separately. It wasn’t until we had the first mixes, until we realised… shit… we should probably release these, they are great! This was our first time recording, mixing and mastering and was an amazing learning process. The only issue is now we have two EPs to launch live!
Your latest single ‘Work Of Art’ is an actual masterpiece. Not only is it so well put together, but it feels just as anthemic and iconic as a pop punk song should be. Obviously creative masterpieces take time to perfect, but how long did it take you guys to come up with the song?
STOKESY: This is without a doubt the strangest song on the EP in terms of the songwriting process. I wrote the chorus vocal melody about 4 years ago for a surf pop band that Chris and I were in. That song never developed until now, but I always wanted to do something with it. Except this time the lyrics are darker. The bass line and music box hook were actually “la la la” group vocals originally. So I decided to re-work this song in our ‘Drastic’ style, and it wasn’t until I did the first guitar pro demo that I realised the vocals needed a higher harmony which neither Chris or myself can sing due to our range. So that is when we had the idea to get Cassie in.
I’m a pretty quick songwriter, so the songwriting process didn’t take long. However, I change my mind a billion times throughout the recording process (which was making Joe and Chris go nuts). The music box was a late edition, there was originally no hook after the second chorus and the opening riff was originally completely different.
Tell us more about why you called the EP, Imposter Syndrome?
TANNAH: Well for anyone who’s been sleeping on it, “Imposter Syndrome” is this relatively new term that best describes the modern sensation of feeling like you’re living someone else’s life, or somebody else is living yours. It’s probably more prevalent than ever these days because of social media taking the world by storm and changing the way we all interact, with people feeling this constant pressure to show off or live their “best life” (excuse me, just vomited in my mouth a little).
In my experience of it, imposter syndrome comes about when you don’t feel as though who you are is good enough, so you keep trying to succeed in new ways or even exceed people’s expectations of you. But then you sort of can’t help but know in the back of your mind, ‘everything you’re doing, it’s all been done before’. So you feel like you’re just a clone of your influences or a product of the people you want to please, to the point that you start to lose touch with who you even were and what you wanted out of life to begin with. You can end up feeling like it’s somebody else walking your body around and living life for you entirely. A form of disassociation. Yuck. That’s enough philosophical jargon for one day.
John & I are cousins and we were raised in a pretty isolated environment, away from “the outside world” during our younger years. So this feeling of losing touch with your former self by trying to fit in or impress… it’s not new to us. And we were pretty Stoked (pun intended), to learn there’s a new term befitting that feeling, which is quite thematic throughout our new EP’s lyrics.
Philosophy 101 hosted by Stokesy and Tannah! That was super insightful guys. So which song on Imposter Syndrome is your personal favourite?
STOKESY: ‘Work of Art’ is 100% my favourite, but I think B+ will be my favourite song to play live as I can already picture people singing along to the hook, even if they haven’t heard the song yet!
TANNAH: It’s absolutely gotta be ‘Work of Art’ at the moment, probably just because it’s getting so much love. Cassie is a total pop punk queen in our eyes! A deadset legend to work with too. But I’m actually most excited about gauging the public response to 10 Years, because of the dual-lead and overlapping vocals we haven’t shown off yet. Having said that, I do have a little suspicion B+ is gonna end up being Drastic’s Blur – Song 2; initially intended to be a bit of a piss-take, but ends up being a breakthrough song for the band.
Obvious Blink influences aside, you’ve definitely created your own persona out of everything you’ve done recently. What else influences the band’s music and sound?
TANNAH: Ok, so now would be a good time to go back and rewatch that Airplane Randy, “Shrek is love, Shrek is life” meme video. Now, any time the fella says “Shrek”, just think “Blink 182” instead. And then edit my face onto the swoon-boy. Voila! Essentially what I’m saying is, due to the precursor “Blink influences aside”, I’ve lost my mojo. But Taking Back Sunday & Ronnie Radke should get an honourable mention from us. We both love them!
STOKESY: Yeah, it’s a tough one because while we have so many bands that we love, we can never really put a finger on what influences us. Whenever someone says “hey you sound like this band” I’m always like… “What? No we don’t.” And whenever people ask us what our influences are… we always have no idea what to say.
It’s like this band is a mix of what we are capable of as well as our preferred playing styles. I have a very strange guitar playing style where I do a lot of sliding, and a lot of open note octave chords with next to no power chords. While Chris plays bass the way that any bass guitar teacher would tell you not to play. The bass never sits under the mix and is often the lead instrument, with a lot of chords and sliding riffs. And then you have Joe who is just an insanely talented and intricate drummer always making us look bad. All in all, we find ourselves trying to sound like us rather than sound like other bands. I guess we’re lucky to have stumbled across a sound that has only been done once in the early 2000s.
Absolutely! Those years were iconic, but I can definitely see you guys forming your own personality outside of your influences. So what’s next in store for Drastic Park? After iso that is (being a Melbourne band…)
STOKESY: I have written like 50 songs so basically whatever the guys want to do next from them. If I had it my way I would be recording and releasing a song every week but that would be stupid and the guys keep my creative impatience grounded!
TANNAH: Whatever the “pusher” wants!! Nah, next will hopefully be getting some actual band pracs in and showcasing our two EPs live, post-COVID.
New songs are great, but spacing releases out is good too! Let’s close out with a game of Fuck, Kill, Marry: the band version. Who would you tour with, open for, steal their rider… GO!
STOKESY: Can we keep it with Fuck, Kill, Marry?
Hahaha…sure, if you want.
STOKESY: I’ll fuck Tom Delonge from Box Car Racer, kill Tom Delonge from Angels and Airwaves and marry Tom Delonge from Blink 182. Does that work? Nah jokes. I would tour with Wavves, open for Violent Soho and steal Trophy Eye’s rider because they are used to having things stolen from them (*cough* Chlorine not making the 2018 hottest 100 *cough*)
TANNAH: Ahhh god dammit, John! I was thinking of an answer, then you had to go and bring up Trophy Eyes. Screw it. I’m just gonna chuck my headphones in, hit play and have a sook up singalong. Chlorine is GOAT for me! “I’m still breathing!” Ciao.
I don’t know who loves Tom Delonge more, Stokesy or Wall of Sound bossman, Browny… But thanks for hanging out fellas! We cannot wait to see what Drastic Park comes up with in the near to not-too-distant future. Keep doing you and stay safe!
Interview by Tamara May (@citylightstam)
Drastic Park’s debut EP, Imposter Syndrome is out tomorrow. Pre-save it here, but you can listen to it first right now here at Wall of Sound. Scroll down and hit the play button below…
Drastic Park – Imposter Syndrome EP tracklisting
1. Patience Wearing Thin
2. Feels Like Forever
3. Work of Art (feat. Cassie Sutton of Terra)
4. I’m Trouble
5. 10 Years