Baltimore’s Parks Landing

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Flying into the Uncertain Landscape

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Highlights from the Artist-Run Art Fair at Artscape

On Friday, July 15th, Parks Landing will be taking the John’s Hopkins University Station North stage at 6:30 PM for Artscape 2016! After getting a chance to sit down and speak to the band I learned that everyone is obsessed with the new Pokemon GO! game, and this band has more to offer than just their sweet tunes. They are incredibly funny. Their small band is reminiscent of a family bantering back and forth over a late-night pizza and a couple beers.

Photo credit: Taylor Morden

We kicked off our chat with some small introductions: 

Niki: I’m the lead singer. I write lyrics and stand around Snapchatting while everyone else tunes their instruments. Sometimes I play guitar too.

Dan: I’m Dan, and I play guitar and sing backups. I also assist with a lot of the day-to-day stuff bands need to do in order to stay afloat. But that’s something everyone else in this band does, too.

Rachel: I’m Rachel, I just started playing with Parks a few months back. I play keys, sing backups, and chime in with other assorted things like melodica…. Niki’s favorite by the way.

Tom: Hi, I’m Tom and I play drums, other percussion instruments, own a cat, and drink more coffee than anyone else in the band.

How did Parks Landing begin? Who was there when it first began and how has it grown since it then?

Dan: Last year, I got fired from a firm run by a sentient testicle with a goatee. I’d spent much of the time preceding that moment neglecting music, and I learned the hard way that living like that was a mistake. I wanted a new musical challenge, and I wanted to do it right.

So I texted Niki, an amazing singer who I’d only met a few times, and we always talked about “jamming sometime,” but never did. After she responded to my text with a “who is this…,” we eventually spent all day talking shop and played together shortly after. Tom is one of my oldest friends and the best drummer I know, so I somehow coaxed him into joining. Rachel is a jack of all trades, but a master of ALL OF THEM, and we’re so glad to have her.

Niki: I’ve always loved music and always dreamt of pursuing it seriously, but I just needed a push. Dan texting me and literally saying “I want to start a band with people who seriously want to pursue music” was the moment I realized I couldn’t make excuses anymore. So I said YUP.

How would you describe Parks Landing’s music and the process of creating it?

Photo credit:
Photo credit: Outcalls

Tom: Our sound has thus far we can describe as a blend of 90s alt-rock with pop hooks. For the EP, Little Planes (now available on any major streaming service!), the majority of the songs began with an idea for a song Niki had, which was then pitched to the rest of the band. The majority of the time the songs come out sounding completely different than originally imagined in Niki’s head (i.e. structure, chord progressions, rhythms, etc.).

What is it like for you to be a part of a band in Baltimore? How does Baltimore influence/affect your music?

Dan: I think we all take different things from it. For me, Baltimore is my home and it’s served as a backdrop for so many meaningful relationships, including the one we all share as a band. It’s a diverse city, it’s familiar, it has so much character, and no other city is like it at all. To even be associated with it in any way is a privilege that isn’t lost on us.

Rachel: I grew up in Baltimore, but I moved to Virginia for college. When I graduated in 2015, I was hesitant about coming back, but Baltimore has taken on a whole new meaning for me in this past year. The Baltimore music scene is a place where I have met some of my very closest friends and been introduced to some AWESOME music I never would have been exposed to otherwise. Joining a band was never something I even thought about, until I saw how much fun my boyfriend was having in his two bands (shout out to Outcalls and Strum the Fox ;)). Tons of my coworkers at Mikes Music are also involved with bands so I thought, hey, why not? Parks Landing has allowed me to explore so many sides of my musical self, and I’m so thankful that they took me in. I think I speak for everyone in saying we are all pumped to continue writing and creating music together and sharing it with the people of Baltimore.

Tom: I’ve always had fun playing gigs in Baltimore and connecting with other local musicians. I think the talent pool has been increasing in recent years (or maybe I’ve gotten that much worse!) For the record, I would love for to come back!

What is the most memorable moment you have being a part of Parks Landing?

Rachel: Definitely one of the first times I busted out the melodica. Niki burst out laughing and Dan got this look on his face like “I don’t know what this is, but damnit I’m going to find a way to use this thing” (Dan likes weird instruments :))!

Dan: And we have used it!

Tom: I would say our road trip to play a show in Manhattan this past January with our friends No Nets. We loved taking a bite of that Big Apple!

Niki: I have a vivid memory of being in the studio, recording Little Planes, and hearing a piece of the mix for Voices in My Head for the first time. This is a song that I wrote years ago, and was the first song I brought to the band. It was originally just me with my guitar, but it was given new life with the full-band sound. I remember being so happy when I heard it and I thought “damn, we just made something really cool” :P!

What has been the most challenging part of being in a band/Parks Landing?

Rachel: I think one of the hardest things is understanding where everyone is coming from during band practice. The cool and difficult thing about Parks is we all have extremely different musical backgrounds. Like, for me, I primarily live in the classical genre, so I tend to get super pissed when practice is too loud. I’m just not used to all the microphones. But then Dan will be like- my tube amp doesn’t sound right if it’s not turned up a certain amount. Like…. I didn’t know that. This is a learning experience for everybody! The great part is we are all very sensitive to each other’s backgrounds and we aren’t afraid to have an open conversation when things get tough.

Tom: Convincing Dan to let me play a drum solo in every song.

Niki: Convincing myself we are not an Eminem cover band.

What is the most exciting part of being a part of Artscape 2016!?

Dan: I’m just looking forward to being around other weird people.

Rachel: And maybe finding some Pokemon. (Dan’s thinking it too…)

Dan: So is Tom. We are far from alone in having this thought.

Tom: Not sure what a Pokemon is. Definitely don’t have any of those.

Niki: GUYS I’m playing Pokemon Go!

Niki revised: I’m excited to sweat profusely in front of (hopefully) hundreds of people.

Photo credit: Niki DiCarlo
Photo credit: Niki DiCarlo

What are Parks Landing’s plans for the rest of 2016 and 2017?

Dan: 2016 has been a ridiculously busy year for us so far. We’ve been playing out a ton, whether it’s around Baltimore, Pennsylvania or New York City, and we’re really grateful to have had those opportunities and make friends along the way we otherwise wouldn’t have made.

But after Artscape, we plan on taking a break from playing out as much and will instead focus on writing and recording our first full-length record. That can be expected out some time in 2017. Side note – listen to Malicious Code.

Niki: Good job, Dan. BYEEEE!

Emma Jo Shatto is a senior at MICA and an editorial intern at BmoreArt. She likes toasted bagels with cream cheese and is deadly allergic to cats.

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