SCAD Radio recently had the chance to sit down with legendary pop punk band, The Parasites, ahead of their show at The Wormhole in Savannah, GA.
The band, originally from New Jersey, was one of the most influential pop punk bands to have ever played. Starting off with a 7-inch in 1987, the band has continued making some of the finest punk rock and has played alongside acts such as Grenn Day, Rancid, NOFX, Bad Religion and The Buzzcocks.
Here’s a look at SCAD Radio’s interview with The Parasites.
Kush with SCAD Radio: For people who might not be so familiar with the Parasites —
Dave with the Parasites: You mean…everyone?
Kush: [laughs] What would you say would be a good entry point into your music?
Dave: By us or by someone else? [laughs] We’ll go for the Solitary album. I think that one’s good and we have a whole bunch of them in our merch bin. But it’s because there were a lot of them, not because nobody bought them.
Charlie with the Parasites: So we have both quantity and quality.
K: Is there a sort of message you’d like to send through your music?
D: Generally, it’s been, “Please, someone, will you go out with me,” for the past 32 years. I’m working on it. Really, that’s kind of about it.
K: It’s fun though!
D: Not for 32 years it isn’t. [laughs]
K: So what are the biggest changes you’ve seen affect the pop punk scene over the years?
D: That nobody buys stuff anymore because music is free. Seriously. And although inflation has gone up steady in that time, shows are still, a lot of times, five bucks. This means we’re playing 87 cents in 1987 dollars. Gas is expensive. Food is expensive. Shows are still cheap.
K: Are there any bands that kind of embody what it used to be like in the past?
D: You mean bands that are doing well now like they were back then? Well, the Descendents are about a hundred times more popular now than they were back then. I mean, they played little places back then. I mean now they play like —
C: I think the trick is going away for an extended period of time. A lot of bands get back together and their reunion shows are much better than their original shows ever were. But you’ve been doing it straight for 30 years. You shot yourself in the foot. [laughs]
D: Well. considering the current lineup, I shot myself twice in the foot. [laughs] There was one period of a year and a half or two years where we didn’t play any shows. I moved somewhere and I just wasn’t doing it. But it was very short and we weren’t missed, so we just decided to keep going regardless.
K: And since you guys have done a few covers over the years, was there one in particular that you found to be the most enjoyable to do?
D: I think the Leonard Cohen cover was unusual for us and it came out pretty good.
K: Is there anything you do on these covers to put your own spin on it and make it your own?
D: Completely destroy them. [laughs] And we’ve been successful so far. Like with the Leonard Cohen one, there’s guitars feeding back and we took the guitar stand and threw things at it. And that’s really one of the tracks. Like, for real. We played it with a screwdriver. Then we started throwing stuff at it. So, that was successful.
K: So you guys were born out of the New Jersey/Tri-State punk scene. How would you say that influenced the direction of the band starting out?
D: I was looking to go west to California and that direction from early on. In New Jersey it wasn’t a big thing. There was the Blisters, the Fiends, and us. We were the least popular then and are probably the most popular now. But that’s in 2017 popularity and is nothing like it used to be. So, we still lose. We’re just the ones that are dumb enough to keep going.
K: For those of you who are newer to the band, what do you bring that brings something new and fresh to the band? 6.11
Patrick with the Parasites: Drug use. [laughs] No, we’re younger people so I guess…germophobia?
Alex with the Parasites: Really bad taste in music, according to Dave.
C: Bad puns, I think, is a thing. It has always been a part of the band —
D: Not like now.
C: It’s gotten to proportions that it hasn’t prior.
D: It’s almost equal to corporal PUN-ishment at this point. [laughs]
K: So what would you say led to the meteoric rise in puns in the Parasites?
Alex: None of us are cool?
C: Yeah none of us are cool.
D: I don’t know. Charlie just happens to be weird in some of the ways that I’m weird. We started off combining band names. “Grateful Dead Kennedys” and things like that. The entire trip we’d do that.
D: Our drummer at the time didn’t understand what we were doing and he would just go “Madonna Weezer” [laughs] and think he’d have one. He never understood how to play, so we fired him.
C: It passes the time.
K: So how has the tour been for you guys?
Patrick: It’s been peaceful.
A: We’ve listened to Walter Brennan a lot.
D: No one is going to have any idea who this guy is at all. It’s a guy that was on this TV show in the 50’s that was like this hokey country thing and for some reason he put out records. He doesn’t sing, he talks. There’s people behind him singing. There’s an old cowboy song called “Cool Water” which is about looking for water and being thirsty. And he just goes, “Cool. Clear. Water.” He sounds like he’s about to die. [laughs] It’s really funny. Alex laughs about it when he just thinks about it. That’s been on a lot. But nobody will know who he is. It’s on YouTube if you look for it. You should find it funny.
K: What would you say are big differences between Dave and the newer guys in the band?
D: Uh, age. [laughs] Age, intelligence, and my ability to remember insults for the rest of my life and hold them against the person who said it.
A: Dave just knows everybody. He knows pretty much every band and has been all over the country more than any of us. Experience, I guess.
C: He came from a time before GPS, so he has internalized maps and atlases and he sort of knows where he is at all times. And all of our directional skills have atrophied because of the advent of map apps. So, he knows where we are. And we don’t know. We’re in…uh…Georgia, right?
D: Charlie actually got lost in the van yesterday. We couldn’t find him for about 3 hours.
C: I did lose my shoe earlier today. When I was back at the van and gone for a little while I was actually looking for my other shoe. I was waiting for the other one to drop.
D: So we did luck out in that Charlie doesn’t drive. Thank goodness.
K: So what’s it like to be in a band with someone so influential to pop punk as Dave?
P: It’s cool. All of us are from Chicago but it’s not like any of us are from the same band or anything. So it’s just one of those things where we’re all in the punk scene and met Dave separately. We all joined up because seperately we were fans of the band and it’s a lot of fun to play songs that we’ve been listening to for a long time.
C: Speak for yourself, I’m not a fan of this band. [laughs]
D: In reality, Charlie was recruited through an ex-drummer who drove our van into a pole at a WhatABurger and got it stuck there. He made his parents pay for the van damage. I knew Pat through an ex-girlfriend, who was also the ex-girlfriend of the guy who messed up the band names game. She told me that he plays drums but that he sucked so I never called him. I found out that he didn’t. Alex, I met through our regular bassist who tours when work allows. He has a band that Alex and I both ended up being in. He doesn’t really do anything so I had him do this so he can do something. So, that’s more of the factual side.
C: Which is far less interesting, to be perfectly honest.
D: Or to keep it simple, I lost three bets. [laughs]
K: So, what’s next for the Parasites?
D: Something to eat, then we’re playing here. A nicer, cleaner house to stay in than we did last night. The first beach that we can run right into because the water’s not too cold.
C: [towards Dave] This guy’s writing songs. I have it on good authority that the next album will be quite good.
D: The songs are about them and it’s called “I Hate My Bandmates.” [laughs] It’s going to be great. Four songs apiece, all the ways that I hate them.
C: And you can of course reach us at www.facebook.com/officialparasites, @parasitesnews on Twitter, and parasites_official on instagram.
Stay tuned to scadradio.org for more music news and interviews.