Pulling over and parking up
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Pulling over and parking up

Mon 06 Nov 2017 9:22 AM

A UK study states that, on average, we spend a full four days a year searching for a parking space. Excruciating and at times expensive, especially in Florence with its diktat of blue, white and yellow stripes, the scouting has done some good however, inspiring musical monikers and setting the tone for out-of-the-box songwriting. Hot on the heels of the release of Florentine band Parking Lots’ debut studio album Parking Wizards, I met up with guitarist Antonio De Sortis to find out what makes their parking meter tick.


Michelle Davis: You guys surely aren’t the first thing to pop up on the net when searching for “Parking lots Firenze”! So, Parking Lots, Parking Wizards, what’s so inspiring about this word? Perhaps it has something to do with Florence being a nightmare for the four-wheeled?
Antonio De Sortis: To tell you the truth, luckily parking doesn’t make the list of our daily afflictions {laughs}. Three of us live near the city center, in neighborhoods packed with night crawlers and day crowds, where parking isn’t too much of an issue. Our name is the product of random choice; we noticed that the parking lot is a recurring topos in American music. It pops up in some of our favorite songs, sometimes when least expected. As for the album, we tried to bridle and up the myth, using its innate narrative power to our advantage. On a side note, we’re all really into good old classic cars.


MD: Give us an outline of how everything fell into place for you.
ADS: Formed in 2011, Parking Lots has had four members since 2013: Antonio De Sortis, Alessio Pangos, Francesco Bobi Borselli and Alberto Mariotti. Our main base of operations is Alessio’s recording studio SonicStudio, where Parking Wizards came to life, from the very first note to the final take. The album isn’t the outcome of a linear process as composition and production took place over a fragmented time frame. During the early sessions I was living in Rome, where I met Alessandro, the drummer of Italian alt-rock band Soviet Soviet, and his future wife Claudia. We’d often go to concerts together and rave about music.

A year later, they started their own record label, Coypu Records, and I was fascinated by their international releases, like Silver Swans’ Illusions and A Place To Bury Strangers’ Kicking Out Jams. So, when the album was ready, it only seemed natural to pitch it to them. That was that.


MD: What are your guiding inspirations?
ADS: It’s practically impossible to find a point of convergence when it comes to our musical tastes. None of us would be the ideal spokesperson for the band, but I’m going to give it a try. As we were working on the album, Alessio and I were hooked on Fairport Convention’s LP Unhalfbricking, an influence that might not shine through in our songs, but that nevertheless embodies that kind of folk attitude we aspire to. British dream pop has also played a very important role since Alessio and I were brought together by our love for Madchester pioneers The Stone Roses. An honorable mention goes to R.E.M. for being the greatest band in the past 30 years, plus we also owe some credit to indie-rock ensemble The War On Drugs, who released their album Lost in a Dream just before we began recording. We’re close friends and we manage to keep musical divergences on the side, but we’re all fans of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, soundtrack included.


MD: There’s a subtle leitmotiv when it comes to your aesthetic. Your promo pics and lyrics seem to share a connection with travelling, moving and the systematic geography of maps. Where does this come from and would you consider suggesting your album as the soundtrack for a road trip?
ADS: The pics were taken by Virginia Zoli, a photographer who has been collaborating with us for some time now. A similar concept can be traced throughout our recently released first music video, Big Reaction. Yes, we totally identify with the adventurous imagery of road trips and movies. We love driving and we’ve fully drawn inspiration from this rich legacy of music and images. That said, I’m under the impression that we’re in constant connection with the geographical dimension through maps, namely digital maps, and that this fetish of virtually represented space makes every on-the-road experience even more dizzying. Somehow, this magical whirlwind of ever-changing feelings plays out and is perpetuated in Parking Wizards.


MD: What do you have to say about Florence’s music scene?
ADS: There is a major gap between ambitions and concrete response. Quality venues are lacking and the city pretty much falls off the map when it comes to hosting international and national concert tours. As a band, Parking Lots isn’t the product of a specific milieu—our story can’t really be associated with the ethics of an underground scenario, which usually comes with its own support system; we’ve always been loners. Sure, we’ve found people who have helped us along the way, like Dario Bracaloni of indie band Aquarama, but we have seen so much talent drop by the wayside as a result of this missing link. This year I’ve really enjoyed music by L’Albero and local events by Annibale Records.


MD: Any gigs on the horizon? What’s up next?
ADS: We’re working on a tour starting in late November, but we can already announce the first live show on November 7 at 6pm at the IBS Bookstore in via de’ Cerretani. We’ll also bring along freshly pressed copies of the album! To paraphrase a Sparklehorse lyric, this is but “one first dance in this parking lot”.


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