Fame is "completely bogus," says one of indie rock's famous musicians of the moment, Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts.
The post-punk band with Denton roots has a flippant regard for anything mainstream. They welcome judgment that they've got New York City attitudes and prefer to stay in their social circle, as long as they can continue making music without interruption.
Savage, co-frontman and lead vocalist, sometimes ponders becoming a household name, and not in the whimsical sense.
"Parquet Courts has no aspiration to be any indie-rock household name," he says. "The whole fame aspect to me is completely bogus."
Savage and vocalist-guitarist Austin Brown started Parquet Courts in 2009 while attending the University of North Texas in Denton, where Savage is from. They began writing and recording and released their debut record, American Specialties, in 2011.
He attributes part of his musical style to the garage-punk scene in Denton, with bands such as Wax Museums and Marked Men providing inspiration.
"A big part of the person I am today and the music I make is indebted to those years in Denton, between 2004 and 2009," Savage says. "It was a special time to be there and be in a band."
After college, the duo added two other members to the mix: drummer Max Savage, Andrew's younger brother, and bassist Sean Yeaton. The foursome moved to New York City, and the wide release of sophomore record Light Up Gold in early 2013 grabbed the attention of indie-music lovers outside the NYC scene.
That record, built on post-college angst and a stoner sensibility, features the accurately named single "Stoned and Starving," a more structured track with a fluid guitar hook and reverberating lyrics that could get stuck in your head for days. This song began their journey to what is considered today's indie-rock stardom, where the band can actually profit from a national tour and work on new material out of desire instead of necessity.
But Andrew Savage says Parquet Courts hasn't embraced the success like other independent bands have.
"Something about the nature of 'Stoned and Starving' changed for me when it attracted a strange element. Seeing college bro dudes requesting it - it just got weird for me," he says. "I guess I didn't like the attention to it. It was supposed to be a deep cut, a B-side."
To hold true to the band's values and not let newfound popularity change their music, Savage says they plan their tours accordingly.
"Our main point is to play the shows we like on our own terms. For every big show we play in New York, we like to do two smaller ones. In December, we sold out Webster Hall, which is a 1,500-capacity venue, and in a few weeks, we're playing the Palisades in Brooklyn, which only fits 200," he says.
"The type of person who goes to a show at Webster Hall is very different from the person who goes to a show at Palisades," he says. "It's important to me to keep things fresh. Don't get me wrong, it's fun playing at big venues like Webster Hall, but to me, that's not the heart of playing a show."
The band has been furiously releasing music. Back-to-back releases of Content Nauseaand Sunbathing Animal helped Parquet Courts earn the title of Spin's 2014 band of the year.
What about overcoming growing pains? The band temporarily lost two members but kept it going.
Yeaton started a family and Max Savage wanted to focus on his studies and graduate from NYU, so Andrew Savage and Brown wrote and recorded Content Nausea on their own, much like they did way back when at UNT. But the band is still intact; both members are back for all 2015 tour dates.
Longtime fans can appreciate the fact that both records reflect the band's growth but stay true to its signature frenzied tempos. Most tracks are flooded with lyrics and contorted, squeaky riffs. Then there are sleepier songs like "Instant Disassembly," where the electric guitar leads and Andrew Savage's heavy-footed vocals trail behind.
This constant, subtle evolution has helped Parquet Courts (sometimes spelled Parkay Quarts, just for the heck of it) make a name for itself, whether members like it or not.
Surprisingly, they're playing at this year's sold-out Coachella festival in California. Savage calls it "the buffet style of consuming music," and that isn't a good thing.
"I'm sure it will be fun, but it's not like a dream come true or anything," he says. "To tell you the truth, festivals are not the ideal way to see Parquet Courts. Rock music just belongs in a bar."
Savage says he has already achieved a lot of his musical dreams. He cites touring with bands like PC Worship and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) as examples, and says that being able to tour sustainably is a major hurdle overcome.
"I've toured for years without making a dime. That was something I had resigned to doing for the rest of my life," Savage says.
"And the fact that, at this moment in time, I'm able to do it and not come back empty-handed is nice. ...I'd gladly come back empty-handed, though."
Brenna Rushing/Special Contributor