The National Parks, a Provo band with a Park City connection, finds its folk-influenced pop sound
Brady Parks and his wife Megan Parks have a special connection to Park City.
The respective guitarist/vocalist and violinist for the National Parks, a folk-influenced independent pop band, got engaged at Hotel Park City in the early 2010s.
“I wrote a song and played it for Megan on the hotel’s grand piano as part of the proposal,” Parks said. “I would love to come back to play somewhere in Park City again.”
As of now, however, the Provo-based group, which has become a national act in the past three years, is currently on a tour of the Intermountain West as dictated by COVID-19 protocols. And the closest gig to Park City is a sold-out appearance on Tuesday in a backyard in Midway.
“Since all the tours and festival bookings have been postponed, we brainstormed about how we could still play our music and support our new record that was coming out,” Parks said. “We came up with his idea of doing little acoustic and intimate campfire shows in people’s backyards. We offer 40 tickets to make sure we stay within the 50-person gathering size and allow for social distancing.”
The new album Parks referred to is “Wildflower,” the band’s fourth, which was released on June 19.
Parks said “Wildflower” is another step in the band’s musical evolution.
“Our first albums are really on the folk side of the spectrum, while the album ‘Places’ that came out a couple of years ago is more an indie-pop album,” he said.
“Places” also featured Caleb Chapman, director of Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse music school, who played saxophone on a couple of tracks.
Chapman is a Grammy-nominated music producer who works closely with Chris Taylor, Park City High School’s director of bands.
“Caleb is a great friend, and we were able to get him to play a few songs on ‘Places,’” Parks said.
When The National Parks entered the studio to record “Wildflower,” the band members knew what kind of album they wanted to make.
“We took our time and worked to find the sound, and we didn’t just settle for something we didn’t like,” Parks said. “In that regard we’ve been able to push ourselves through the playing and the songwriting.”
Parks says songwriting, while cathartic, needs to tap into his emotions.
“I feel if I’m not feeling something as I write a song, how can I expect others to connect to it as well?” he said. “So, I allow myself to go as deep as I can, because I have to in order to get that emotion.”
Sometimes revealing too much of his personal life in the songs makes Parks uneasy.
“It can be a little intimidating to know I’m pretty much an open book, so I tend to hide behind metaphors,” he said. “Nature is a big metaphor that I use to dress up the things I go through.”
When it comes to the music, Parks looks to his bandmates who include his wife Megan, keyboardist Sydney Macfarlane and drummer Cam Brannelly.
“It’s been great to be in a group with all of these incredible musicians,” he said. “They lift me up, because I constantly try to up my game to reach their level.”
The National Parks’ origin story starts in 2011 at Brigham Young University where Parks met Macfarlane.
“We just started jamming,” Park said.
By 2013, the group settled on the current lineup, and quickly became a staple in the Provo music scene that launched the careers of bands such as Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees and The Used.
“Provo is a melting pot of a lot of talent, and it is cool to be part of that scene and have those types of artists to look up to,” Parks said.
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