Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Parachute


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We had the opportunity to interview Parachute at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego!

“There’s a subtle power to the music of Parachute, the Charlottesville-bred pop/rock band behind such hits as the platinum-selling, chart-topping “She Is Love.” With their open-hearted songwriting and indelible melodies, the trio reveals a rare ability to pack deep layers of feeling inside the most immediately catchy pop track. And on their new self-titled full-length, Parachute bring that dynamic to a batch of songs exploring everything from love and loss to anxiety and regret, handling each with extraordinary attention to life’s most nuanced moments and intricate details.

Their fifth studio effort and debut release for Thirty Tigers, Parachute unfolds with a more artfully minimalist sound than they’ve ever embraced before. In creating the album, the band worked closely with producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, James Bay, Dawes), reshaping their decidedly pop demos into songs adorned with raw instrumentation and graceful electronic flourishes.

“From the beginning our intention was to simplify everything and keep the songs as stripped-back as we could,” says Anderson. “There’s a lot of space on the album, and Jacquire was really great about reminding us not to take that kitchen-sink approach to the production—to just let the songs breathe.”

On the album-opening lead single “Young,” for instance, Parachute offer up a wistful meditation on getting older, embedding the track with delicate beats, elegant horns, and Anderson’s stirringly self-aware lyrics (e.g., “After all this growing up/I’m only good at being young”). The first song Anderson penned for Parachute, “Young” came to life at a time of monumental transition. “We’d just gotten off the road, and I’d sold all my stuff and moved from Nashville to New York to be near my then-girlfriend, now-wife,” Anderson recalls. “The song just spilled out of me one day, and it came from a place of feeling terrified of growing up but also wanting to get to a point of feeling more settled in my life, and not so out at sea.”  

On the piano-laced “Ocean,” meanwhile, Parachute look back to the period of time before Anderson moved to New York, brilliantly channeling long-distance longing in a hypnotic back-and-forth between hushed intensity and full-tilt expression of lovestruck desire. Next, the piano-led and harmony-rich “Had It All” embodies a different kind of reflection, with Anderson transforming regret into a tender piece of soul-pop. “Writing that song, I put myself back in one of those situations from my past where I’d messed up and hurt somebody,” says Anderson. “It’s sort of my big apology into the unknown, a way of getting out what I’d say to them now if I ever got to see them again.”

Parachute takes on a more triumphant mood on songs like “Finally Got It Right,” a brightly textured track capturing the joyful relief that Anderson felt in finding the love of his life. Elsewhere on the album, the band shows their sophisticated sonic range, diving into Latin-flavored acoustic pop on “Talk To Me” and serving up an unstoppable groove on the deceptively upbeat “Dance Around It.” “That song’s about one of those relationships where you know it’s not going to work out, but you can’t bring yourself to break off something that’s been going for such a long time,” says Anderson. “I wanted to see how sad I could make the lyrics while keeping the music as dancey and happy as possible,” he adds. Another inspired experiment in tone, “Someday” builds a beat-driven and powerfully optimistic anthem from a particularly hopeless moment in time. “I wrote that right after the 2016 election, when I was feeling anxious and just had no idea what to do with myself,” says Anderson. “I was purposely trying to counter what I was feeling, and maybe put some kind of positive message out into the world.”

To close out the album, Parachute deliver a quietly luminous track that stands in stark contrast to the breezy feel of “Young.” Written soon after Anderson and his wife relocated to San Francisco, “Looking Back” gently telegraphs the undeniable ache of missing the life you’ve left behind. “I’ve always been fascinated with that nostalgic stab you get every now and then, whether it’s from a certain smell or a song or something else that just hits you,” says Anderson. “‘Looking Back’ is me struggling with trying to enjoy the moment, but also letting my mind wander to the things I find comforting.”

In the making of such an emotionally honest album, Parachute immersed themselves in a close-knit creative process. “These days it seems like there’s a lot of writing-by-committee, but we wanted to make this album as personal as it could be,” says Anderson. “Most of these songs are just me spilling my guts in my living room and then taking that to the guys, and we’re really proud that now we can all say, ‘This is us.’”

That intimacy echoes the earliest days of the band, which formed when Anderson, Stubblefield, and French were still in high school. After spending nearly every afternoon in Anderson’s basement, dreaming up songs showing an intense affinity for classic pop and heartfelt rock and tuneful blue-eyed soul, the band began landing gigs locally and soon gained a following at the nearby University of Virginia. As their inaugural release under the name Parachute, 2009’s Losing Sleep debuted at #2 on the Billboard Digital Albums chart and climbed to #40 on the Billboard 200. Over the next few years, along with releasing The Way It Was and Overnight (which shot to the #3 spot on iTunes), Parachute toured with such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Gavin DeGraw, and Mat Kearney, and completed three sold-out headlining tours. Now, after a decade of touring internationally and turning out hit singles like “She Is Love” (#1 at iTunes), the gold-certified “Kiss Me Slowly,” “Forever and Always,” and the infectious smash single “Without You” (from 2016’s Wide Awake), Parachute is set to embark on The Young Tour 2019, which will travel to 40-plus cities across the U.S. 

With the release of Parachute, Anderson and his bandmates hope that the album might spark a sense of emotional openness in each listener. “My wife’s a poet, and we talk a lot about guiding people to a certain feeling—the idea of using your words or your music to help them really tunnel down into that feeling,” Anderson says. “I’d love for people to listen to this album and think, ‘I’m feeling something here that I maybe haven’t felt before,’ or even just connect more deeply to a feeling that’s already familiar to them. At the end of the day, it’s always about trying to reach people on that visceral level.”

Will Anderson (vocals, guitar)

Johnny Stubblefield (drums)

Christopher “Kit” French (saxophone, keyboards)

[email protected]


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