Back in November at Saint Vitus, we were enchanted by Atlanta rock/metal band Royal Thunder (who play the Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight). After their set, we asked lead singer and bass player MLNY Parsons to chat with us. It was cold outside and loud inside the bar, so she invited us to sit in the band’s van (which, incidentally, is lined with a sort of faux red velvet blanket).
Before we go on, there are several things you should know. Parsons, 32, and guitarist Josh Weaver have been married for 11 years. Their four-piece band sleeps in this van–two in the back and two in the front seats–every night on the road. And the van has a seriously creepy history that may make you think twice about eating fruit in New York.
When did you and Josh Weaver meet?
When I was 14 or 15. He’s a little older than me, not even a year, but he thought I was in my 30s when I was 14. So, he was really scared of me and intimidated because I was skateboarding and stuff and fuckin’ cursin’ like a sailor and doin’ a bunch of drugs. Just one of the guys kind of thing. He’s said he was always in love with me, but he was freaked out and thought I was way older and would never like him. We had a friendship first, and we were best friends and just kind of evolved, without even talking about it, into something incredible. And musically we’ve always had a really good connection.
When you sing, it seems very natural and from the gut. What are your songs about, and where do they come from?
A lot of them are pretty raw, honest experiences that I’ve been through in life. But I pull back on the lyrics a lot so that they’re open to interpretation because I’m not super open about stuff. Maybe one day I’ll be, but for now I’m like, man, it’s not about me. It’s about the music and not necessarily what I’ve been through or what I’m going through.
I’ve had a lot of people say to me, “Your music’s kind of like therapy for me,” which is weird because it’s unintentional, but it’s kind of where my heart is. I want people to process stuff because processing is healthy, and you can grow and go places and give more if you deal with yourself and work it out.
Tell me about this van.
[Laughing] It actually has a really good story. This van used to transport deceased Jamaican bodies from wherever they were in the U.S. to New York. And then from New York they would take them out and ship them to Jamaica to be buried. So, needless to say, I sat in here with a bundle of sage and a six-pack for like three hours. I was sageing and doing all this shit. Just in case, you know, because that’s pretty intense. But when they weren’t transporting the Jamaican bodies, they were transporting fruit all over New York.
How do you know that story?
The guys who sold it to [Weaver] told him. He was like, “So what kind of wear and tear is on the van?”…I was surprised they were honest about it.