The Parkington Sisters’ musical beginnings may lay in the town of Wellfleet, MA; a place more famous for their oysters than their music scene, but the group has accrued quite a resume since the days of busking in Cape Cod.
Last year alone, Ariel, Nora, Rose and Sarah Parkington hit the road with Dropkick Murphys for tours on both coasts, as well as Canada, played festivals like Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA and Bonnaroo, and even appeared at CMJ’s annual showcase in New York City.
With a new album in the works and a tour coming up with Dispatch and Good Old War, which includes a stop in Philadelphia, I got a chance to ask Sarah Parkington some questions about the group’s cool collaborations, what it’s like to be in a band with your sisters and why you should always be nice on tour.
The Parkington Sisters are chock full of talent, each being musically trained individually and growing up practicing with each other. And even though, as with any relationship, the girls take some time off from each other, Parkington remarks that the benefits of getting to share her musical experiences with her sisters far outweigh any cons of needing to get some space.
“You have totally constant feedback being in a group with your sisters,” Parkington says. “You know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and know how to work together in the best way possible. It can be challenging sometimes, but we are a bunch of nerds and have a good time together. Sometimes we get off a tour, or have a break from recording for a day and I still find myself making plans to hang out with a sister to go to the beach.”
The Parkington Sisters’ main goal is to always stay true to their vision and they are always experimenting with new ways to do things to produce the best music they can.
“We’ve tried writing a lot more collaboratively on the album we are currently working on and it’s been really cool to experiment with how each song is written and put all four of our energies into finding the best way to present the material,” Parkington says.
As far as the Parkington Sisters vibe goes, they never find themselves trying to fit into a single genre or formula, and never try to force the creative process if it doesn’t feel natural. Instead, they focus on each song individually and tend to its unique needs, often re-working old songs they’ve rediscovered.
“We have never really thought of our songs as any ‘genre,’ which maybe sounds pretentious, but we’ve always just totally written the songs that resonated for us as a group and always just followed what feels sincere to us,” Parkington says. “We try not to worry about what’s going to ‘fit’ a genre or try to restrict ourselves to anything. We try to keep our focus on making good music.”
And they have plenty of ways to keep their sound fresh, including collaborations with fellow musicians and friends Mieka Pauley, Horrible Crows and State Radio.
“We’ve always had great experiences working with other artists on their projects and we’re psyched and honored to bring in friends and new energy to our sound,” Parkington says.
One of their most serendipitous pairings came when Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys saw a Parkington Sisters show in their hometown, afterward offering them the chance to record on a Dropkick Murphys record and then offering up a slot on tour shortly after.
“They are a second family and we feel very fortunate to have joined their recent tours,” Parkington says. “I think you come into these opportunities by being true to your music and generally just being friendly people to tour with. People you meet along the way remember that.”
And although the Parkington Sisters might have a vintage twinge to their tracks, they, like so many other independent musicians today, are no strangers to the impacts of technology on the music world.
“The internet has changed everything,” Parkington says. “People can get their music out there in so many different ways now, so the pressure to have a hit single on the radio in order to be successful doesn’t exist so much anymore.”
They also recognize the benefits of releasing a mix of EPs and full length albums to extend their fan base.
“It’s nice to have both EPs and full length albums available,” Parkington says. “The variety is interesting and someone may be able to afford the five dollar EP if they can’t afford the album. Therefore, there is more access to the music.”
With two EPs and a full length album already on the books and both an upcoming tour and album on the horizon, it would seem that the Parkington Sisters show no signs of slowing down anytime soon and no lack of ideas on how to keep their unique sound ever evolving.
“My sisters are some of the most talented artists I know, so I am truly inspired by them,” Parkington says.
Written by: Carol Mannix