Brian K & The Parkway Stress the Necessity of Connection in Their New Single “Straight Through”

Hailing from opposite sides of the East Coast, Brian K. Pagels and Stephen Russ of the coastal heartland rock band Brian K & The Parkway, are stark advocates of the importance of friendship and connection, whether it be near or far apart. The lyric video for their latest single “Straight Through” featuring the vocals of bassist and singer Cat Popper, chronicles the duo hiking through a stunning desert landscape and a scenic snowy route until the two finally meet together, embracing and reveling in the escape of isolation. The sped-up nature of the video doesn’t feel gimmicky but rather is evocative of the emotions illustrated and highlighted in the song as we can picture these two friends running through these contrasting environments, all with the motivation of finding each other. The band’s name is similarly heartfelt as it derives itself from The George Washington Memorial Parkway which is the connecting route of the bandmates’ Northern Virginia homes. “Straight Through” is just one song that is emblematic of the universal themes Brian K & The Parkway aim to tackle. Their debut album Killing The Bear set to release March 29, features melodic tales of hope, sorrow, conflict, and resilience all with the intention of helping and healing in times of strife. 

Q. The visuals of your lyric video for “Straight Through” accompany the song beautifully, as we travel through scenic landscapes of Northern Virginia and Texas. How else does the lyric video symbolize the song thematically?

A. Brian: The song is about finding your personal strength to get through whatever challenging situation in which you might find yourself. It’s also about the power of friendship as a driving force, and so I think the “coda” of the video nicely brings that message home. 


Q. You reached out to vocalist Cat Popper on a whim and heard back almost instantly with an eagerness to collaborate. Talk about working with Cat and the importance of connecting with other artists.

A. Brian: First of all, working with Cat was a surprise because I never thought I’d hear back from her, let alone hear that she was down to lend her voice to “Straight Through.” When you are an artist trying to create and perform original music, you get used to rejection, or worse yet, radio silence, pretty quickly. Working with her was such a pleasure. When we initially chatted, she was interested in learning more about the song and was super chill and communicative throughout the process. And she nailed the take, of course. 

Stephen: We are both huge believers in learning from artists who are doing music full-time and promoting others who are making beautiful art. One of my favorite things about playing music is discovering artists I haven’t heard of and then playing shows and/or collaborating with them. There are so many different kinds of musical voices out there and everyone has something interesting to offer. If you follow us on Instagram, be ready for a huge dose of bands you haven’t yet discovered!


Q.Wind The Clock,” your first single has already been called a “best new track” by Unrecorded and “a light, infectious composition” by Mayhem Rockstar Magazine. How does it feel to receive this kind of praise early on?

A. Stephen: Frankly, we are blown away by that kind of praise, the venues who are booking us, and anyone who has pre-ordered the album at this point. We have both been on lots of stages but haven’t played together yet and here we are with reviews and a full tour. It’s surreal. Brian and I, and the wonderful bandmates and team we are building, believe that this music has value and something unique to offer. That belief has had to sustain all of us for so long while we wrote and finished the album, so finally getting that validation is super rewarding.


Q. “Wind The Clock” is a bit heavier on the drums and contains a distinguishable quicker tempo while “Straight Through,” your second single is on the softer side with an emphasis on vocal intricacies and a smooth rhythm. Talk about how these songs exemplify the band’s range. 

A. Stephen: Part of the reason we selected these two songs is that they feature the core band heavily along with added synth parts. The album really takes off from there with more wonderful guest appearances and explorations of most of my and Brian’s shared favorite genres. I wouldn’t call the album eclectic, but one of my big beliefs as a producer is to “lean in” to each song and make it its own. Listeners will take a journey when they listen to this album, for sure. Not like the band Journey, though. I love that band but there’s not much of that here. Sorry “Open Arms” fans!


Q. The simple yet poignant message of “The only way out of the darkness is straight through” is at the song’s core and illustrates the impact music can have on one’s mental health. In addition to music, what else do you find aiding in the combat of hardships and struggles?

A. Brian: Go for a run. Take a deep breath. Sleep on it. Lean on those who love you and let them lean on you. It’s really all simple stuff, but it is important to remind ourselves of it. Recently, I’ve also been getting into Integral Theory, which at its core is intended to train you to see the world through different people’s eyes and at a deep level understand the interconnectedness of everything and everyone. I’ve found that really helpful and soothing when processing interpersonal or group conflict. 


Q. Your debut album Killing The Bear is out March 29 featuring “Wind The Clock” and “Straight Through.” What are some other titles you’re itching for the public to hear?

A. Stephen: “Little Fires (The Parkway Shuffle)” is a ‘70s Springsteen homage that we worked really hard on until it came together at the very last moment, so it’s still very fresh to us. Brian and I adore Bruce and actively worked to tamp that influence down on other parts of the album, but I think it may become a tradition for us to do a song where we just let out our inner The Boss. “Little Fires” is that song, all the way down to recording the drums in a ‘70s style and adding a horn section.


Q. With the release of the album, you’re heading on an East Coast tour. Besides the shows, what are you looking forward to most on the road?

A. Brian: I love traveling and being inspired by new places and people. So, I’m excited for example, to see Charleston for the first time and meet other musicians with whom we’ll be playing. I’m also pumped to play a homecoming show of sorts in Asbury Park, NJ. I grew up not far from there in Freehold. I’m excited to hang out and share a stage with one of my oldest friends, Adam Ritchie, and his band The Lights Out in Boston. 

Stephen: I used to tour a lot and have many friends dotted across the coast who I haven’t seen much since that time. I can’t wait to see them and give them huge hugs. I honestly never thought I’d tour again, so it’s a thrill to have these shows booked and to be working on another tour later in the year!

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