Analogue Music | The National Parks

The National Parks

By Matt Conner

It was time for a full band summit

At the start of 2022, Brady Parks called his bandmates together from The National Parks to gather on Zoom for a series of conversations about what matters most. It was about vision and direction, goals and messaging. It's the sort of space taken and consideration given that so few bands actually try to access, but according to Brady, it was absolutely the spark needed to reinvigorate the parties involved for another year of making music.

8th Wonder is the resulting album and it's filled with a sense of health and happiness. It's the joy of new parenthood and the beauty of nature, and in these chaotic times fraught with fear, it's nice to have a musical beacon calling us all to look up and out instead of down and in.

We recently sat down with Brady to hear more about the band's musical summit and what they learned in the process of carving out that time.

Analogue: Everything I’m reading about the new album stems from this sort of band summit. Can you take us back to that and tell us what you were focused on?

Brady Parks: It’s been an incredible journey filled with ups and downs, but I think we got to this place where we asked, ‘Okay, what’s the next step for us? Where do we see ourselves going with this next album? With the next few years?’ It was all happening in perfect timing with the new year, so we were like, ‘Let’s get on a Zoom call with each other and talk resolutions.’ It was a perfect time with a blank slate.

I think it was one of the best band conversations we’ve ever had. We were so close that it was just a really natural conversation to have where we were able to pin down who we are and the messaging we wanted out in the world about us and how we come across to people.

So it was a really unique experience to take that into writing an album because I’ve never done that. Usually, I’ll start writing songs and I’ll recognize a theme or where it’s going. But we actually had a direction or a theme or overarching story to the album before the writing process even started.

Analogue: Had you ever worked that way before in any capacity?

Brady: Maybe subconsciously but not like this, not this intentional.

Analogue: I’m fascinated by the details here. Can you take us inside some of those decisions? Was it about not wanting to be a certain way and wanting to change directions?

Brady: We were really just talking about who we are as a band. In that conversation, it was more about our love of outdoors and how nature makes us feel. With our music, we also felt like we could latch onto this outdoor community that loves road-tripping and camping and hiking. We feel like our music really fits there. So that was really the conversation, about how we fit into that space and how our music can lean into that more.

We also wanted to lean into our band name more. Being The National Parks, we want to share with people our love for the outdoors and how we see so many parallels between nature and life and how it helps us cope. There are just so many parallels between love and life and nature. So we wanted to lean into our band name and all of that more than ever.

Analogue: By the way, how much discussion has ever taken place between the band and the actual National Parks Service?

Brady: Yeah, a little bit. We had this rad idea a long time ago to team with the National Parks and have a QR code with our album on it that people could get at the front and drive through and listen to our album or something. That’d be super rad but it’s really hard to get that going. Big government, y’know? But we have good relationships with some individual parks.

When we first got started, we had a song called “As We Ran” and we donated proceeds to the National Parks Conservation Association, so there’s some communication but I wish there was more, actually.

"There are just so many parallels between love and life and nature. So we wanted to lean into our band name and all of that more than ever."

Analogue: Were some of these conversations already happening while you’re together or did you need to pull away to really start to go there?

Brady: A little bit of both. When it’s just us four and we’re together, stuff like this always comes up where we’re talking through ideas of how to grow or ideas for where to go next. But the difference was when we carved out the time, it made it more of a concrete thing. It almost made it more serious because it wasn’t just the conversation that came up over lunch, y’know? We were all going into that meeting with the intention of figuring out what was next for us and where we want to go.

Analogue: So many of these songs seem that they’re coming from a very healthy place and perspective. Does the band feel healthier than you’ve been in a while right now?

Brady: Yeah, 100 percent. Like I said earlier, it’s been a crazy journey with a lot of ups and downs but within the last year-and-a-half now, we’ve brought on new management and we’ve been building a team around us in a different way. It’s been a game-changer for us and there’s a path in front of us now that’s clearer than ever before. All of that happening at the same time when we feel that we’re coming into our own as a band, we definitely feel we’re in a healthier place than we’ve been. We have more vision than we ever have.

Analogue: Congratulations on that. It’s hard to find that, especially mid-stream.

Brady: Thanks. When you start a band, you don’t really have a direction other than you ask some friends who start coming to shows and it starts building. All of a sudden, you’re selling out little venues here and there and you can live off of that excitement. But then you reach a point where you’re like, ‘If we’re really going to do this, we need to do this. We need the team behind us.’ Obviously, there are challenges along the way and we’ve had our fair share, but getting the team we have now is a breath of fresh air and has really breathed new life into us from where we were before.

Analogue: So are these songs you couldn’t have written before now?

Brady: I don’t think so. Personally, too, I was going through a lot of life changes that were massive. I think the album really came out of that, for me, and I wouldn’t have been able to write it unless I was going through those things on a personal level. For example, the writing process spanned the time of my wife having a miscarriage to getting pregnant again to having a baby to becoming parents for the first time. Its this crazy journey of life and I think that all played into the adventure and spirit of this album.

VISIT: The National Parks

Photo: Noah Tidmore