Parquet Courts’ 2016 album, Human Performance, received widespread acclaim upon its April release, as well as year-end love from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and other esteemed outlets. All those accolades took a backseat, however, when the Brooklyn rock quartet’s guitarist and lead vocalist Andrew Savage earned a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package alongside albums by Rihanna, David Bowie, Reckless Kelly and Bon Iver.
A visual artist outside of Parquet Courts, Savage also handles all of his band’s graphic elements. The original painting on the cover of Human Performance started off as something auxiliary to his music, but as time wore on, Savage says it became more apparent that it was necessary for him to include the piece, so it worked its way in, along with plenty of other creations.
“[The recording package is] a gatefold with a 25-page book inside. There’s a lot of stuff in there, so it was a couple months of my life,” Savage says. “The album had been recorded at that point, and I was just binge-listening to [it] and trying to totally immerse myself in it so I could make this artwork.”
The show will go on for Parquet Courts at The Grey Eagle on Friday, Feb. 3, but the band had canceled its Feb. 12 performance at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro so Savage can attend the awards ceremony that night in Los Angeles. (“Sorry to the people of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, but I’m going to the f**king Grammys,” he says.)
Part of a whirlwind 24 hours, Savage will play in Atlanta the night of Feb. 11, then fly to California and make his way to his hotel, where he’ll have an hour to get dressed and get to the Staples Center. Once all the awards have been handed out, he’ll mingle at the after-party and then board another plane for Washington, D.C., where Parquet Courts concludes its tour on Feb. 13. (“I’m fully booked. Sorry everybody in LA — I can’t hang out,” he says.)
As for the benefits that come with a Grammy nomination, Savage says concrete examples have yet to make themselves known, especially since he’s having to foot the entire bill, including the ticket to the event itself. “Maybe the perks will become self-evident once I’m at the ceremony, like, swigging Champagne with Paul McCartney and Kanye or whoever goes to that sort of thing,” Savage says, though he notes that just being included truly is an honor, albeit a definite surprise.
“I can’t say it was something I was expecting. Speaking as a visual artist, it’s not like being nominated for a Grammy is every painter’s dream, you know? But, after a lot of consideration of it, I’m definitely excited to be in that category because, I guess I’ll put it this way: I’d rather lose to David Bowie’s art director than to Blink 182’s sh**ty music,” he says.
Looking back on the year that made the nomination possible, Savage says 2016 was a notably good 12 months for Parquet Courts. The band played its biggest and some of its best shows to date, thanks to larger venues in New York, London, Australia and Mexico, and got to spend most of its time putting into action its philosophy that rock ‘n’ roll needs to be experienced live. The musician’s plan is to keep sharing the group’s music with audiences as long as they can do it well, establishing and maintaining what Savage calls an “emotional or cerebral connection” with concertgoers.
Now that some songs off Human Performance are two years old, Savage is ready to record new material so the band can work it into set lists, but whatever praise these future works may garner, he doesn’t think a Grammy nomination in a recording category will be one of them. “There’s so much involved, specifically with rock music, in regard to the Grammys,” he says. “I think that there has to be a level of general banality that Parquet Courts hasn’t achieved yet before you get nominated for a Grammy, and on a pop-music scale, we’re just not anywhere in the same ballpark as those people.
“Like I said, I’m totally fine with that. I’m not trying to get us a Grammy,” he continues. “By no means has that ever been a goal for Parquet Courts or has that ever been a goal for me. But it is nice to be nominated alongside some very prestigious, elite art directors, and it is very nice to be able to say I’m the only one in that nominee group who’s actually in the band.”
WHO: Parquet Courts with Mary Lattimore
WHERE: The Grey Eagle, 185 Clingman Ave., thegreyeagle.com
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 3, 9 p.m. $17 advance/$20 day of show