Parker Schnabel exclusive interview: Gold Rush’s dramatic new season, and more info on Parker’s Trail

Parker Schnabel addresses his crew and shares the immense workload ahead of them all, it's met with mixed reactions. Pic credit: Discovery
Parker Schnabel addresses his crew and shares the immense workload ahead. Pic credit: Discovery

Season 10 of Discovery’s Gold Rush hits the small screen tonight. It’s a vexing one filled with paperwork and permit issues, and all sorts of unlikely alliances and heartbreaks.

The Beets’ clan have never worked harder and more in step with each other. But the paperwork mess has the Viking running scared. Rick Ness’s buddies are set to make another run for big money and Parker Schnabel, well, he has his own land now and has no royalties to pay out.

There’s a huge issue: This season a lack of permits and licenses has the three miners scrambling to work harder, faster, and change out and find new claims to mine legally.

Schnabel is mining royalty. He hails from a long line of miners. His youth, capacity to handle a lot of responsibility, and his audacious pluck have earned him a special place with Discovery.

The network gave him a platform to act as a guide taking us to remote and faraway places with a core team in a spin-off of the mother ship called Parker’s Trails — a name we come to find out he’s not so keen about.

His next adventure? Australia. He leaves in a  few weeks to film “all over the continent.”

We spoke to Parker today about that and the new season of Discovery’s number one series:

Monsters and Critics: You always give the impression that you have the most experience, and Tony Beets does as well. But it seems like he has a tribe around him and you are more a sole operator running hires. Talk about that.

Parker Schnabel: You know, mining traditionally is a fairly family-oriented business, a lot of people call it the family farm of the north.  That’s a nice notion. It’s definitely something that has its roots and … [it is] kind of the American dream. A big part of it is to have a family and be able to employ your children, if they so choose. Right?

I was not really raised that way. My dad owned a business, and I worked for him some, but I never was pressured to … there was never an expectation to do that.

And you know, I’m glad. What my dad’s dream was is not mine, and I don’t share that with my father, and I don’t expect my kids to share my dreams.

That’s the whole idea of being able to go out and do whatever you want. I don’t have any family involved in the business, and I think that’s perfectly fine, and I kind of prefer it that way.

Family can get quite messy and complicated at times, and that’s not really what I’m after. I get my downtime, but my dad and I are best friends, but if we worked together, that might not be the case.

M&C: It seems the other aspect of your career at Discovery has really taken off. Parker’s Trails — how much planning goes into where you go next?

Parker Schnabel: It’s a mutual decision between me, the production company, and the network.

I’m really fortunate to have worked with Raw Production company for almost 10 years now, and I’ve never worked with any other production company except for, you know, one-off little commercials and things, but never on an actual show.

I’ve developed a really good relationship with them, and they are some of my best friends. So we are able to brainstorm very openly about where I want to go and what works for them.

Obviously, we have to go to a country that’s safe enough that we don’t think we’re going to get killed

I wanted to go to the Congo. But in terms of safety and in being able to ensure that everybody stays safe, no. There’s a lot of things that have to get factored into it. So we make that decision as a team.

This year we are going to Australia. I leave for Australia here in about three weeks. That’s a decision rooted in a fundamental gold mining aspect. It is not a third world country. Hopefully, it’s not going be as dangerous from a people standpoint. There are more laws, regulations, and enforcement in Australia than in the other countries we’ve been to.

But, it’s a decision based off of gold mining and Australia’s a very gold rich area. So that’s why we’re going there…I think the danger everybody’s worried about now is the amount of snakes and spiders that there are that are all poisonous and can kill you in a hurry.

M&C: What part of Australia are you going to?

Parker Schnabel: All over the place. We are covering as much of the continent as we can.

M&C: Do you miss Rick Ness on your crew?

Parker Schnabel:  Um. You know, I do, and I don’t.

The nice thing about that kind of change is that it lets other people step up and other ideas come out, right?  So that’s always a nice thing, and it keeps you from kind of stagnating, I guess you could say

The flip side of that though, is Rick was very good at getting people…he was a very good people person and a lot of times I’m not. He was a good buffer for me, and that is definitely missed.

M&C: Why was permitting such a big pain in the neck this season? You guys had such a hard time getting licenses for water?

Parker Schnabel: It all has to do with politics in the Yukon right now and
there is a situation going on where … there’s certain kind of special interest groups that are citing that certain types of wetlands shouldn’t be mined and they’re very biased in choosing certain areas that often happen to be the most productive areas from a mining standpoint to protect.

So we are headed for a lawsuit there which I don’t like to say, because it gets everybody’s hackles up. But it really is just a big bunch of politics and hasn’t been dealt with very fairly, or properly, in my opinion by the government.

M&C: So in the premiere, the shoe is on the other foot as Tony had to come to you to ask for a big favor…

Parker Schnabel: Yeah funny how that works, huh?

M&C: It’s not scripted, but it is kind of… and were you anticipating this payback day would come?

Parker Schnabel: Well, no, I wasn’t really… this call took us by surprise.

That is a very unique situation, what happened there with Tony. None of it was scripted, that’s completely how it happened [and] there’s actually a lot more that went on than what they’re able to catch on the show. They got the bits and pieces of it that they could…but it’s a very difficult and dynamic situation that is changing.

I don’t know. I mean, Tony has never done much to help us out in the last few years. When we first we’re starting out he was great, but the last two years he’s been pretty difficult. So it is hard to forgive and forget, you know?

M&C: I feel like genuinely when push comes to shove you guys enjoy each other’s company…he’s a no bulls***er.

Parker Schnabel: He likes to present himself as that way, yes. I would say all three of us are difficult at times.

M&C: Earlier in this interview you said you had a vision of what you wanted your career to be, do you want to get into the production world crafting shows around your own expertise?

Parker Schnabel: You know, doing the Trail, I can’t stand to call Parker’s Trail… Doing the Trail has been has been pretty eye-opening from a TV standpoint. I’ve really enjoyed it. It definitely gets us out of our comfort zone, and we take on a lot … like as far [as the] hours the shows needs to get made, and the miles and distance that we travel and our very small crew. It’s a show designed to be very self-sufficient.

At one point in Guyana, we had two or three packers that had some hard drives in a generator and gaffes on their backs, and we could film for weeks on end anywhere in the world with no power, no internet, no nothing right?

That’s part of it I do enjoy from a TV standpoint

Now the side of it that is frustrating but the most important part is that anybody can go out and make a TV show… I think anybody can…

The side that I don’t really like is dealing with the networks and pitching shows and selling things and being a salesman — including a TV show like I’m trying to do right now, and that side of it I’m not so interested in. I’m definitely more of a field guide.

M&C: This season, how would you describe the ark of the season?

Parker Schnabel: I feel like it has a very different feel than the last few years.

For me personally, it was a season based around kind of a new idea of freedom, in that we were finally not having to pay royalties. We bought a piece of ground that we mined ourselves, nobody was standing over us, and nobody was there to tell us that we’re doing something wrong, which was really nice.

For me,  it was a big change.

That’s the first time I’ve done that ever…and so I like that. I can’t really speak too much for Rick and Tony, but I know they had some ups and downs themselves.

I think it’s a really good season of the show. I think that people will enjoy it, and you definitely will see another side of some guys on my crew that the audiences have followed for a lot of years. You see a lot of them step up and take charge and take responsibility… so that’s really nice.

M&C: In the premiere, when you were addressing your guys, there was one guy who did not have a very optimistic look when you told him it was 115 acres and three years of work in one year. Did you have to bounce anybody from your crew?

Parker Schnabel: I mean, I don’t want to spoil anything… but we definitely had at least one … guy that was an important part of our season walk away, and that’s difficult.

Gold Rush returns Friday, October 11 at 9 PM on Discovery

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