DFW Music News

TikTok Star Parker James Commits to Rock ‘n’ Roll With New Band Olive Vox

Parker James and his brother Caden Shea get serious about rock with Olive Vox.
Heidi Yowell
Parker James and his brother Caden Shea get serious about rock with Olive Vox.
Mansfield-via-California TikTok star Parker James, 20, and his brother Caden Shea, 15, are sitting in their North Texas apartment surrounded by posters of Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and Cage the Elephant, discussing their new band Olive Vox, whose debut single “Bury Me Low” is out now.

“I don’t know, I just really like olives," James says of the name.

The song is a smooth groove machine of a rock ‘n’ roll tune, evoking the gloriously sludgy grunge psychedelia of Screaming Trees, Temple of the Dog and Stone Temple Pilots. Parker’s voice rings out like a young David Gilmour "standing by the Nile" in 1969, while Caden’s guitars purr with the finesse of a freshly refurbished muscle car.

“We originally named the band Hoof after Caden’s fuzz pedal,” Parker says. “But we found out there were some other bands with that name, and they’re all metal bands, so I told Caden I was going to start thinking of a name. I went to my room and started eating olives, and was like ‘Olive, huh, that’s kind of cool.’ And the talkback mic in the studio says ‘Vox.’ I told Caden that it should be ‘Olive Vox’ and he said, ‘That’s a stupid name’ but I said, just give it time, it rolls of the tongue well.”

Caden did eventually warm up to the name. “It makes sense now. I just don’t like olives,” he says.

James laughs and says, “Hey, I eat olives all the time. If there’s any branding with olives, I’ll love it because I’ll get to eat a bunch of olives.”

One can imagine a full-page magazine ad for the duo’s new album whenever it comes out featuring James eating olives out of a jar while Caden simply scowls at him. Make it happen, Don Draper.

Parker James first gained fame on TikTok through various comedy videos involving his character StEvEn, eventually amassing over 8.1 million followers on the platform. While his comedic origins are largely spontaneous, James says his music is something he tends to plan out.

“I like taking time on it to make sure everything’s perfect lyrically,” he says. “There are lyrics that I go back to and think ‘Why didn’t I word that differently?’ but everything’s way more planned out. Because my [TikTok] videos are super spontaneous and not thought out at all. My lyrics are thought out, storied, in-detail kind of stuff.”

Caden, on the other hand, is not a planner.

“I’m more spontaneous, I just kind of write things on the spot," he says. "I plan things out, too, but when I go to the studio, things turn out completely different from what I thought they would sound like.”

The brothers grew up in California's Orange County, and moved to North Texas when James was 11 and Caden was five because of their father’s job.

“I didn’t have any electronics growing up, so I just had this imagination where I would run in the background, pretend to play with guns, and have these fake wars with imaginary people,” James says.

A childhood free of electronic distraction, bolstered by a runaway imagination, is a rare occurrence in the 21st century. After a brief moment of introspection, Caden chimes in with a rebuttal and a chuckle.

“I was boring," he says. "I just followed my parents wherever they went and played on my phone.”

Although the brothers grew to love DFW, there is still at least one part of Orange County that James carries with him.

“I’m a big Angels fan, I love watching baseball," he says. "I went to Globe Life Field to see the Rangers play the Angels, and I didn’t want to make it obvious I was going for the Angels and wear Angels attire, so I just wore red, but the Angels ended up winning, so I was silently going ‘Yes!’”

The duo recorded their debut material at the Echo Lab with producer Matt Pence. Rather than make a jump into pop or hip-hop music like many of their TikTok peers, the brothers in Olive Vox are firmly committed to making rock ‘n’ roll music.

“There’s been a giant resurgence of rock, if you haven’t noticed,” James says. “On TikTok, the Deftones started coming back as ‘sounds.’ Especially since they have that shoegazy quality. Not to mention we grew up on the grunge thing, bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains.”

Although the brothers indulge in a steady diet of the classics, they do keep up with many contemporary artists as well.

“I love Twenty One Pilots,” James says. “When I heard ‘Trees,’ I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I need to scream like this guy’ and I got really entangled in Tyler Joseph as a lyricist and a screamer. The depth that he goes into while performing is insane, he makes everyone in the audience feel involved.”

“Cage The Elephant is amazing live too,” Caden adds. “There were flames, and Matt Schultz crowd-surfed from the front to the back up onto the back wall. He’s a wild guy.”

“There’s a lot of creators that make music and just throw it out there and go back to making videos ... I don’t want to be thought of as ‘Parker James, the TikTok creator-that-also-has-music-but-mostly-does-videos.’ I want them to be separate worlds." – Parker James

tweet this

“Oh yeah, he’s definitely an inspiration for stage presence,” James adds.

Talking to the brothers, one can feel a genuine passion for music. It's clearly their main focus, not just as a side project from Parker’s gig on TikTok.

“There’s a lot of creators that make music and just throw it out there and go back to making videos,” James says. “I don’t want to be thought of as ‘Parker James, the TikTok creator-that-also-has-music-but-mostly-does-videos.’ I want them to be separate worlds. I want Olive Vox to be me and my brother’s band, but I do want it to be part of what I do. You know what I mean?

"I want both worlds to be uplifted by the other. That’s our goal, and we don’t give up on goals. Especially Caden — once he thinks of something, he’s gotta follow through until he does it.”

Caden agrees, giving a quick Max Scherzer-like nod of approval.

As the band continues to record and release singles throughout the fall, Olive Vox plans to start touring with a slot at Levitation Fest in Austin on Oct. 28, and a headlining show at Tulips in Fort Worth on Oct. 29.

Olive Vox is currently operating independently from a label, only using the assistance of Parker’s talent agency, Outshine Talent.

“I’ve never looked at my management and asked, ‘Where’s my creative team?’ No, Caden and I like doing everything ourselves," James says. "We like the independence.”