Songtrust Spotlight: The National Parks

In nature, wildflowers signify freedom. Nobody plants them. Rather, they blossom on their own. The same could be said of THE NATIONAL PARKS. Since emerging in 2013, the Provo, UT quartet - Brady Parks [vocals, guitar], Sydney Macfarlane [vocals, keys], Cam Brannelly [drums], and Megan Parks [violin] - has quietly grown into a phenomenon with roots embedded in rock energy. Racking up over 90 million total streams, selling out headline shows on tour, the group has bloomed like never before.

The National Parks introduced itself of 2013's Young, staking out a spot in the Top 15 iTunes Top Singer/Songwriter Albums Chart. Following the release of Until I Live in 2015, Salt Lake City Weekly proclaimed them Utah's "Band of the Year." They unveiled Places in 2017, yielding a series of fan favorites. 2020 has brought us a series of new singles and now the release of their new album 'Wildflower' out everywhere.

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What’s the origin story of The National Parks? How did you all meet?
 
It all started back in 2011 in Provo, UT. I [Brady] had just moved to Utah for school and started playing open mics around town and decided I wanted to throw my own little show at my apartment complex and Sydney happened to be there. After the show she sent me a FB message and asked if I wanted to jam because she was a piano player. We started playing together all the time and decided to record an album as The National Parks in 2013. After that we were looking for a violinist when some friends introduced us to Megan. And after that we met Cam through some mutual friends in the music scene in Provo. It feels kinda crazy looking back on how it all came together and it's amazing where the road has taken all of us since then.
 
What is your writing process like?
 
Our process is actually pretty smooth for the most part. I write all of the songs for the band and it usually starts with sitting down on guitar or piano. Along the way I mess with chords and melodies and lyrics that are usually triggered by some emotion that I am feeling. After that I make a demo of the song and mess around with production ideas and send it off to the band. From there, everyone starts thinking of their own parts and messes around with ideas before we take it to the studio and make it all come to life.
 
Solo songwriters often only have to deal with themselves or the occasional co-writer when writing a song. As a band, there are more songwriters working together consistently -- has there ever been a time where you didn’t agree and, if so, how do you work through those times?
 
I feel extremely lucky to be in a band with my wife and closest friends. It feels like a family and although we don't always agree on something we are able to work through and try every idea before coming to an agreement on what fits the song best. I think everyone has the same goal - to make the best music we can - and we all know that our own ideas might not be the best for every song.
 
How has touring treated you? What was as you expected and what did you learn from your time on tour?
 
We absolutely love touring and being on the road. We have definitely had our ups and downs. We've had van breakdowns, health problems, long nights and tornadoes but those crazy times don't even matter when you get on a stage in front of a room full of people singing along, smiling and dancing. It's the best. I think the hard times have been as expected, there are a lot of trials and surprises but it's all part of the journey. I think the energy and love that can be found in a room on tour has exceeded expectations. I've learned that there is more light than darkness in the world and that so many people are good, and kind and loving.
 
Did any of you have previous knowledge of music publishing? After having more experience with it, how important is music publishing to the band?
 
I didn't have any previous knowledge of music publishing before the band formed but after pursuing this dream for a while now, I can say that music publishing is huge. Being able to get your music out there to a wide audience and generate royalties is essential for a band in these times.
 
How did you hear about Songtrust?
 
We are lucky to have a wonderful team that we work with and our management connected us with Songtrust. It's been an amazing experience.
 
How have you shifted during this period of virtuality? Has the recent pandemic changed the way you’re thinking about the band as a business, and how?
 
I think these times have forced us to think outside the box and come up with new and creative ways with how we engage with our fans and get our music into the world. We've had a lot more opportunities for virtual concerts, social media contests and small intimate backyard shows around a campfire. It's been a huge shift from our original plans but a lot of cool opportunities have come up along the way. I think it's helped us see that there are a lot of ways to reach people and sometimes you have to be creative in that approach and adapt with the times.
 
What advice would you give to up-and-coming bands in navigating the music industry?
 
I think my advice would be to create what you want to create and don't worry about fitting into a certain box or mold that others might want you to fit into. Stay authentic to who you are as an artist and things will fall into place. Surround yourself with a team that feels passionately about you and your future and work harder than anyone else to get to the places you want to get to.
 
Lastly, what are your go-to songs or albums keeping you company?
 
We are huge fans of Phoebe Bridgers and her new album Punisher. We also love the 1975, Bon Iver, Kacey Musgraves, Coldplay, The National, Glass Animals and more! So much good music out in the world right now.
 
 

 

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