Parkway Drive and Jack Harlow to lead Fox League’s 2022 NRL Finals campaign

“Whenever there's a break in [the match], you're going to see our heads screaming at you and playing songs,” Parkway Drive frontman Winston McCall tells NME

Fox League have shared the first details for their promotional campaign ahead of this year’s NRL Finals, with performances from Parkway Drive and Jack Harlow at the forefront.

Speaking to Mediaweek, Fox League host Lara Pitt said that having players involved in the campaign was pivotal. She explained: “The players absolutely love it. First and foremost it is what gets you pumped up for having that month of footy where only eight teams are left. Charlie [Lambert, Fox Sports’ creative director] and his team put something together each and every year to try and make it different. I think we’ve nailed it.”

Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert
Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert

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Lambert himself described the campaign as one of the biggest he’s worked on, noting that this year’s edition will feature a total of four songs. “Usually,” he said, “it’s just a one-lead single that we push but we wanted to make this a campaign that lasted for six weeks, from now all the way through to the grand final. Rather than having one song, we thought why not give three of the new songs [a go] and then one of their older songs? We’ll have way more variety in all of our edits and promos.”

Fox League are yet to announce the full list of songs that will feature in the campaign, however NME can confirm that four will be pulled Parkway’s forthcoming seventh album, ‘Darker Still’ – singles ‘Glitch’, ‘The Greatest Fear’ and the title track, as well as the album’s as-yet-unreleased opening song, ‘Ground Zero’.

Speaking to NME, frontman Winston McCall explained: “Whenever there’s a break in [the match], you’re going to see our heads screaming at you and playing songs, and when someone’s getting getting tackled, you’re going to be hearing ‘Ground Zero’. Apparently they’re using ‘Darker Still’ as the soundtrack to the [opening] ceremony at Allianz Stadium.”

Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert
Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert

McCall expressed shock over the scale of the production, describing the experience as “some crazy shit”. He continued: “When this got presented to us, I was like, ‘Oh yeah…’ Like, you know when you hear Fall Out Boy on a Channel Ten ad for the footy and you’re like, ‘Woah, that’s pretty mainstream’ – I thought, ‘They’re probably going to do that with a couple of [Parkway] songs and it’s going to be, like, just some background music.’

“But then we got down there and [the organisers] were like, ‘You’re launching the stadium. You are the promotion for the stadium. Here’s the NRL trophy with the Penrith Panthers all lined up around it – you’re playing around them.’ And then the presenter for the full promo of the Finals series is walking in-between us, doing his whole spiel while we’re fucking headbanging, pyro’s going off and everything, and I’m like, ‘You’re not editing us out of this?’

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“They’re literally leaning the other way, like, ‘Nah, we want you to be the face of this thing.’ I’m like, ‘Huh!? That is highly mainstream, man, you know what we sound like?’ And they were like, ‘This is what it’s got to be.’ And it suits it. They’ve got some balls for going for it, but apparently they’re fully behind it, so I’m just like, ‘Fucking send it!’

Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert
Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert

In his chat with Mediaweek, Lambert noted that Parkway “chipped in financially” for the production of the campaign’s visual aspect. “From lighting to pyro, even flights and accommodation, we’ve split it down the middle,” he said. “That’s rare in this type of thing. Bands don’t usually chip in, they want to be paid and that’s something we’re trying to build at Fox by collaborating more and making it more about 50/50 and them getting exposure and us being able to make some great content.”

Lambert confirmed to NME (via Parkway’s publicist) that the band had been in talks with Fox League since 2019. The concept evolved from that year’s collaboration between Fox and Bring Me The Horizon, whereby their song ‘MANTRA’ soundtracked the NRL Finals’ ad campaign.

He noted that Parkway’s performance was filmed with all eight of this year’s competing NRL teams on-set, marking the first time Fox had ever accomplished such a feat. They shot the performance over two nights – partly in the centre of Allianz Stadium, and partly in front of the mega screen at Accor Stadium in Homebush.

Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert
Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert

The first footage from the shoot will premiere this weekend, with ‘Darker Still’ soundtracking a tribute to the old Sydney Football Stadium starring actor (and Fox League spokesperson) Matt Nable.

Speaking with Mediaweek, Lambert touched on the dissonance in sound between Parkway and Harlow, noting that “a lot of the Panthers players are right into” the latter. He continued: “They came along to the gig where we filmed it. With the team that’s dominating the last couple of years and sitting on top of the ladder, we just thought that was an appropriate music choice. He was out here on the back of Splendour so the stars aligned.

“It doesn’t matter about who the artist is or what their image is, as long as the music works with sport. Rugby League is so tribal, it doesn’t really matter who the artist is, as long as the music works and it matches up with all our footage and the shoots with the players. It’s just cool and if we can help engage fans or inspire some kids watching at home and I think we’ve done our job.”

Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert
Parkway Drive on the set of their Fox League shoot. Photo: Supplied to NME by Charlie Lambert

Parkway Drive will release ‘Darker Still’ on September 9 via their own label imprint, Parkway Records. They shared lead single ‘Glitch’ back in June, before ‘The Greatest Fear’ arrived last month, and the title track yesterday (August 23). In a press statement, McCall teased that ‘Darker Still’ represents “the final fulfilment of [Parkway’s] ability to learn and grow, catching up with the imagination that we have always had.”

Meanwhile, Harlow said earlier this month that his dream collaborator would be Outkast’s André 3000. “That’s a big one I’ve been manifesting for a while,” he said in a recent interview. “A lot of the collaborations … are ones that [I said] in interviews over the years I hadn’t done yet. I was like ‘Man, I just want Pharrell, Drake…’ And then they would happen. I’m just gonna keep saying André 3000 with faith that it will happen.”

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