A Conversation with Parking Lots
With a new single release, music video drop, and album on the horizon, Michigan-based band “Parking Lots” is only picking up momentum. The band, composed of guitarist and vocalist Cedric Steed, bassist Brad Schutter, and drummer Zach Ballard, has kept busy since the release of their previous single, “San Francisco, 1955,” back in December of 2018 by playing numerous house shows, releasing CDs and merchandise, and working on their new single, “I Tie My Shoes like Edward Norton.”
On the track, Steed’s crisp vocals, juxtaposed with reckless harmonies and the shrill guitar, make for a song that demands to be played over the credits of a coming-of-age film. Whether or not the boys would take that as a compliment remains ambiguous, but one thing’s for sure: Parking Lots’ creative, melodic take on what Steed semi-sardonically describes as “lizard rock” is irresistibly repeat-worthy. With their budding career only looking up, WVUM sat down with the band to talk about the song, lyrical inspirations, future plans as a band, and how they got their start!
How did Parking Lots form?
Cedric: So, I had the idea for Parking Lots over two years ago now, and I was working with Zach on another project when he offered to work on the debut EP with me!
Zach: I was like, “I can produce your record in my basement... I want to produce your record in my basement!” So I did, and that was how we started working together through Parking Lots. I met Brad when I approached him at a High School Jazz Band concert. I noticed he had a sticker of a niche Grand Rapids band on his guitar case that I also really liked.
Brad: Yeah, he asked me about it and I kind of blew him off, but a few weeks later I ended up coming to one of their rehearsals. I was on guitar for two minutes until I was put on bass.
Cedric: He didn’t even know he was in the band when he came over, we were just kind of like, “yeah, surprise! You’re in the band now.” The first song that all three of us were on together was “Happy Winter Solstice.”
Fitting, since “HWS” is your biggest song so far. The song also fluidly tackles themes of metaphorical adolescent claustrophobia while also speaking upon frustrations with love; “I Tie My Shoes like Edward Norton” follows that trend, but seems to speak on it slightly differently. Where did the inspiration for the song come from, and why did you choose to release this single specifically?
Cedric: Honestly, it may be the most vapid song we’ve ever written. I wrote (the song) last May, and it’s just about being frustrated and the like.
Zach: Yeah, it also seems to follow the natural progression of each single we’ve released so far… it matches the theme and the sound we are trying to produce.
Cedric: It just seemed right. It’s also one of our songs that we love to play live and one that we want people to know when we play it live, so having a recorded version out for the public will be great.
It seems as if you have a pretty clear version of who you want to be, collectively, and it’s evident the type of image you want to project to the stratosphere. Visually, where did the inspiration for the music video come from?
Cedric: Well, with the video, we really wanted to expand upon our artistic vision on a larger scale. We’ve already established our presence and expression on social media, but we wanted to push past that.
Zach: For sure; the video itself is kind of psychedelic, and the visuals represents how we want to build ourselves stylistically.
It’s definitely stylized down to a T. Who shot and edited the footage, and how long did it take to produce?
Brad: We all shot it, with the addition of (Cedric’s brother) Josh Steed.
Zach: Yeah and Cedric edited!
Cedric: I’d say we shot it over the course of three weeks to about a month.
In the verses of the song, Cedric croons, “I’ll pay you to talk about the Beach Boys.” How much would you pay a single person to talk about the Beach Boys?
Cedric: What do we think, guys? Like, 300 dollars?
Brad: Sounds good.
Zach: Yeah, slide up and hit us with the Cash App… Venmo… Reddit DMs, even?1
On the topic of lyrics, what is your favorite Parking Lots lyric?
Zach: Mine would have to be “give up on art before it gives up on you.“
Brad: “I met you in a vacuum now it’s hard to think of things to say.“
Cedric: “The cat is getting sad.“
Great picks. You have quite the range of subject matter to your lyrics as well; how does your songwriting process work?
Cedric: We kind of Frankenstein-ed things together, and we draw from real life experience. For the EP, I wrote each song, but since then, Zach and I have bounced off of each other. It’s a montage, really.
Zach: Yeah, we both wrote “San Francisco, 1955,” together. On the upcoming album, Brad’s been doing a lot of writing, too. He’s pretty good at it, haha.
Of the songs you’ve released thus far, what is your favorite?
Cedric: “Give up on Art!”
Zach: Yeah, definitely “Give Up on Art.”
The sound of your songs all adhere to a steady aesthetic, but I can tell that your past musical experience is rather eclectic… Who are your musical inspirations?
Brad: Mine would have to be King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard… oh, and Soulja Boy.
Cedric: Buddy Holly and Playboi Carti.
Zach: JPEGMAFIA for sure.
Now, you guys have been performing at many shows over the course of this past year. Where's the next place you’d like to perform?
Cedric: There’s a Grand Rapids venue called the Pyramid Scheme, and we’d love to play there!
In regards to your collective aspirations, what’s next for Parking Lots? Do you have any plans for Summer?
Cedric: We’d love to continue doing what we’re doing, and we’re planning a tour around the Midwest in June! Keep an eye out for dates.
Brad: We’ll also be recording for the album all Summer!
Anything else you’d like to say to the readers?
Cedric: We want to say a huge shoutout to the collective that we are a part of, Demon Youth Cult! Special thanks to Edde, the founder of DYC. He’s amazing and helps coordinate a lot for the band. Also, major shout outs to the Garbage Guys, Ugly Flannel, Gimmick, and Angie.
Find Parking Lots on Spotify, Apple Music, and anywhere else one would consume music! Even Napster… I checked!!