Have you visited The National Parks? If not you’re long overdue. This Utah band is releasing their latest album Wildflower on June 19. The National Parks are Brady Parks on guitar & vocal], Sydney Macfarlane on keys & vocals, Cam Brannelly on drums, and Megan Parks on violin. Wildflower marks a stronger rock and pop sound to this band, and they’ve never sounded better. Wildflower is produced by Scott Wiley. Wildflower is the band’s fourth album following Young, Until I Live and Places. The singles from the album include “Wildflower”, “Time.” And “Waiting for Lighting”
The National Parks is led by Brady Parks who also does the songwriting. In launching the band’s new sound The National Parks have started The Wildflower Podcast which gives insight from every member on the formation of songs.
We saw The National Parks live last year and it was one of the most exciting live shows of the year. We were thrilled to talk to Sydney McFarlane about the album. For info visit https://thenationalparksband.com/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge in making Wildflower?
SM: It’s funny you ask, because this album was probably our least challenging one to date. In album’s past, it has taken us a lot longer, a lot more instruments, a lot of reworking, to get the sound that we wanted. And even then, going back I think there were still a few songs we wished we could have reworked. But Wildflower was seriously seamless. Everything just seemed to flow together perfectly and we really feel that this album is the truest form of us to date. We are stoked about it!
FEMMUSIC” You worked with Scott Wiley again on this album. What does he bring to the project to want to work with him again?
SM: Scott is amazing. He creates such a chill/beautiful creative space (June Audio in Provo, UT) and it really helps to take the pressure off of us as creators. He is the perfect balance of being a producer that will step in when we might be going off course, but also knows when to just let us do our thing. He also has some really amazing ideas. He knows us so well, and it’s like he knows where the music can be before we even do and he helps us get there. Scott has been a huge key factor in any success we have had so far.
FEMMUSIC: I just listened to the Wildflower Podcast. In regards to the song “Wildflower,” how much of what you did was organic in the studio vs pre-production? Tell me how you view the song and its elements.
SM: “Wildflower” was pretty much our rockiest song. When Brady first showed me, I knew that it was going to be a leading track to the album. It just sounded a lot more refined to me! We had a full demo going into the studio, but we pretty much stripped the whole thing and replaced it with elements in the studio. Giving it a lot bigger feel. One of my favorite parts of the song is the line “I must be planted for a reason.” That line is sort of the message we wanted to share about ourselves, as well as to all of our fans listening. That everyone is super unique and has an individual purpose in the world. We all have a reason for being here and we want to help others to believe that too.
FEMMUSIC: Both videos for “Wildflower” & “Time” were done by Jeremy Prusso. I love the theme and place within them. How were the videos to make? How much collaboration did the band have in making the theme?
SM: Jeremy was awesome to work with. We have worked with him for a few years now, actually! He has a super chill vibe about him. His ideas are really organic, but he is also really open to taking ideas from us as well! We four are creators as well and really have a vision behind our band and our message, and so it’s important to us to have people who will see that same message and convey it too. We really wanted to have a western vibe to these videos, especially with “Wildflower” being a more rock feeling, and so we took that idea to Jeremy. But he went above and beyond with hidden Easter eggs, each video connecting to each other, making sure the costumes and scenery were perfect. He spent days looking for the perfect spot to film them in Southern Utah and even painted the boat Cam used, as well as made me my own knife to defend myself against the bad guys. He made sure that Meg could actually ride the horses, not just pretend to, etc. So many thoughts that were just above and beyond! We are lucky to work with him.
FEMMUSIC: 2020 is to be the first year for Superbloom Music Festival. What challenges, pre-COVID-19, have you had putting it together? What made you decide to put on a music festival?
SM: Sadly, we have had to cancel our Superbloom Fest this year due to unseen circumstances. And, I guess those are the challenges that you face as someone trying new ideas. Things happen that you don’t really have control over. But I think the biggest thing we have learned through all of this is that being flexible really can work to your advantage. We have had so many other opportunities to connect with our fans that I don’t think we would have otherwise if not for COVID-19. And we still plan to have the music festival next year and we are planning to make it even more special.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? Individually and within the band?
SM: So, I’m actually not a big songwriter. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t given it enough time, or it just doesn’t click for me. But I see myself as more of a supporting role to Brady’s songwriting. And I think that’s why we have worked together so well for almost 10 years now. Brady’s songwriting is out of this world. The fact that he can bust out the catchy songs that he does in such little time amazes me. But sometimes he still just needs a tiny bit of help, haha. Not a lot! Whether it’s cutting out a chorus, suggesting a bridge, longer intro, songwriting ideas, not a whole lot. But I think mine and his roles are so formed and we know how we fit with each other’s musicianship really well now.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
SM: “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. I think a lot of us doubt ourselves from time to time, wondering if we are on the right path or if everything is going to work out. I struggle with some anxiety and depression, and so sometimes those “voices” in my head are a little bit louder and a little harder to sort out. She speaks about God saying all the right things about her that she doesn’t believe herself, and it’s enough for her to fight the voices off. It has really helped me in hard times. Recently I have also pictured my future self being the one believing those things. Like that person is cheering me on and supporting me, knowing that I will make it through anything. It’s a cool experience. I don’t listen to it all the time, but it definitely has had a big influence on me.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
SM: I think the biggest challenge as a woman in the music industry I have had to face is being a mother of two children while also touring across the country. My boys are 5 and 1, and I have been touring their whole lives. There was even a tour where I nursing. My son was only 2 months old. I had to pump at gas station stops and grab ice from the fountain to store in my mini cooler. It’s crazy to look back on it now! But not only was it a challenge to try and figure out babysitting schedules while I am away, since my husband still works full-time, but I think it was more so the shame and guilt I felt. I didn’t really know anyone else that was doing what I was doing. I didn’t have a role model or someone to ask advice for. I kind of just had to pave the way myself. Luckily, I never really gave up and I am still going strong, and I have realized I am my boys’ mom for a reason, and I am enough as I am.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
SM: Oh man, so many! It’s hard to narrow it down. But I think one of my favorites would have to be Post Malone. Haha. I love his unique and creative personality. He can do in your face but also super lyrical and gentle. I can picture me and him doing a mashup that would be really unique and maybe something that hasn’t been done before.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
SM: One thing I wish I could change is the saturation of the market. There are SO MANY amazing and talented artists out there that, if given the right audience and the right team, could really change the whole game. But sometimes I feel that there is a little bit of a game to play, some hoops you have to jump through. And that’s okay. I’m just grateful I get to create awesome music with my best friends and also share it with our amazing friends and fans.