Off The Stage: The National Parks

Photo credit: McKenna Chatterley

For most casual fans of music, the forty-five minutes that a band spends on the stage is all they can see. However, when the guitar cases are closed and the venue’s floor is littered with empty beer cans and trash, most bands load their gear into the van and return back to their normal lives.

Mother Church Pew’s Off The Stage is a series that celebrates artists’ paths to where they are and the things they do behind the scenes to stay there.

Utah-based outfit The National Parks, whose music delightfully lives in the intersection of poignant folk, anthemic rock, and harmony-laden pop, will release their new LP Wildflower on June 19th. The process of releasing an album can be an emotional rollercoaster at times when the world is “normal,” and the four-piece outfit is unleashing theirs amidst a global pandemic. Thankfully, the band is forging ahead, supplying eager listeners with some sonic escapism, encouragement, and hope. We caught up with band member Sydney Macfarlane (keys, vocals) about how The National Parks are maintaining their sanity at the moment, and here’s what she said:

“Oh man, what a crazy time to be alive! When we had planned last year to release our album for this spring, along with our own music festival ‘Superbloom’ in Zion National Park, we had NO idea what we would be up against! It has been a whirlwind for sure pushing back tours/album releases/festivals, but we have found that it hasn’t been all bad and scary and that we have actually seen a lot of good things come from this time! 

Not only have we become ‘closer’ (in a sense) as a band with having more discussions and brainstorming sessions via Zoom, but we have also had to come up with unique ways to engage with our fans that we never would have before! And it’s been really fun for us. Some of those include unique styles of live streaming, six feet apart, and our popular ‘campfire’ acoustic session, doing a dance challenge to our new song ‘Wildflower,’ launching a new podcast (The Wildflower Podcast), premieres on YouTube and chatting with fans before, and more on the horizon! And I honestly don’t know if we would have come up with any of those ideas if it hadn’t been for the virus.

To be honest, this time has been a little bit harder to me mentally, on a personal note. Being a mom is one tough job. The band gives me a lot of mental release, and so to have a lot less of the live shows and touring going on has taken me a step back. But through some of the hard times, I have figured out a few ways to help myself, and hopefully, they can help others too!

Some mental health tips that have helped me are:

  • Giving myself grace. Realize it’s okay to not feel okay, and no one has ever done this before. When we put too much pressure on ourselves, I think it makes it harder than it needs to be.
  • Getting OUTSIDE! I mean, with the band name you have to know that comes with it, haha, but I honestly have a lot more joy in nature and my outdoor surroundings since being quarantined. And also, isn’t the earth just a lot more bright and shiny?!
  • Writing out my feelings. Journaling has been a cool process for me lately, especially with less and less social gatherings going on. It helps just to get the feelings out, and sometimes it makes a lot more sense that way. And if I don’t feel like journaling, I can always type things out on my phone or laptop.
  • Self-care routine. How come it’s so easy to forget that taking care of ourselves physically helps us mentally? This could be washing your face, showering, taking a nap. But also it could mean saying ‘no’ to certain things, going to bed early, giving yourself a nightly treat.
  • Serve someone else. The quickest way to get out of our own head is to go and do something for someone else. Sometimes it helps me realize things aren’t so bad after all!

We are as excited as ever before about our new music coming out! We have worked super hard on this new album, and even though the release hasn’t gone as planned, I have a feeling it was always meant to be this way anyways. We can’t wait to share it.

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