April 30, 2009

Parachute on PensEyeView.com

We have something around here at PEV we call “Saving Abel Syndrome” – a feeling we get when we interview someone that seems right on the brink of huge, out of this world accomplishments. We caught Saving Abel just before they rocketed onto everyone’s radio station and now we’re catching Parachute – a group of artists who are about to take us all (as well as your iPod) by force. 

Much like Saving Abel, it doesn’t seem like fame and fortune is going to affect these guys much. They talk about breaking into the business in the early days, “Looking back on it, it was hard breaking into the music business because we didn’t have any press, gigs and we didn’t have any recorded music. We didn’t even notice it really because we were just having a blast playing music so we would play anywhere: birthday parties, frat parties… where ever we could set up and play.” Things have changed a lot since then, as they prepare to release their debut album off of Mercury/Island Def Jam Music Group; a collection called “Losing Sleep.” You may have heard “She Is Love” already – it’s been on your television in Nivea commercials and has captured the attention of just about everyone with some pop sensibility. And that’s what Parachute music is all about – pop sensibility with silky vocals and musical strut.

The band will no doubt be all over the road supporting “Losing Sleep,” and they have tons of experience doing so, playing in the past with the likes of O.A.R., Switchfoot, Duffy, Matt Nathanson and Jon McLaughin. They’ll be hooking up with PEV alums O.A.R. again for a bunch of shows, so check the schedule. And keep an eye out for these guys – you’ll be seeing a lot more of them after May 5th. Read on and get into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Parachute 

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us how Parachute first came together. Was it an instant connection the first day you practiced together?

Parachute came together when all four of us were High School buddies, before any of us were in a band. We decided to start a band since each of us played a different instrument. Eventually we met Nate in college and he joined to play the electric guitar and we became what we are today. It was definitely a friendship thing as opposed to a strictly musical connection. 
 

PEV: What kind of music were you listening to growing up? Do all the members tend to like the same kind of music?

I listen to a lot of Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Chicago, The Eagles, etc. I know Johnny listened to a lot of classic rock and we had very different influences, but nowadays we all seem to like the same stuff. Like Bryan Adams, Maroon 5, The Fray… Dave Matthews and Ben Folds are big influences. It seems like now whenever one member of the band is listening to something, we all like it. 

PEV: What was it like for the band when you were first breaking into the music business? Before you were getting press, and regular gigs?

Looking back on it, it was hard breaking into the music business because we didn’t have any press, gigs and we didn’t have any recorded music. We didn’t even notice it really because we were just having a blast playing music so we would play anywhere: birthday parties, frat parties… where ever we could set up and play. Doing this, we gained a reputation as a live act and started booking gigs around town and started selling out our local venue and branched out from there. 

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Parachute show?

A lot of energy, a lot of fun, a lot of singing along. Good songs and a great time. We have a great time, too, and love meeting new people. 

PEV: How have your shows evolved from when you first started out?

We used to be terrible! We would stand still and just play our songs through and fairly poorly. I’d like to think we have greatly improved: more energetic, engaging and just a better show overall. 

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist right now that you think we should all be looking out for?

There is a girl named Brooke Waggoner out of Nashville who is one of our favorite artists. She is unbelievable and a really good artist. I’m always excited to hear what she has coming out next. 

PEV: Tell us, what can fans expect from your debut (Mercury/Island Def Jam Music Group) album?

It’s called Losing Sleep and is going to be released on May 5th. It’s a collection of songs that we are really proud of and we think are good. Obviously it is up to each individual listener to decide for themselves. A lot of good influences can be discerned like U2, The Fray and Maroon 5. A lot of melodic and epic songs and are a good representations of our last few years recording music. 

PEV: Your break out song “She Is Love” became a hit when it was featured on the Nivea commercial. How did this all come together and what was your reaction to seeing it on the commercial?

The company came to us. They heard the song and liked it a lot and asked if they could use it in a commercial for their product. We agreed that the commercial was tasteful and let them use it. We really forgot about it until the commercial started airing and we got a lot of phone calls from family and friends who recognized our song. It was a catalyst for us and kind of forced our hand to choose “She Is Love” as our first single. People really started responding to it and it just made sense to put it to radio and push that song first. 

PEV: Is there a certain girl that “She Is Love” is for? Do girls ever ask you to write songs for/about them?

“She Is Love” is not for any particular girl, I’d say that it is just more of a general love song that I wanted to right. I was thinking of someone at the time, and they know who they are, but my main motivation was just writing a good, universal love song.

Yes, girls do ask me to write them songs, but often I don’t. Sometimes I do and I tell them and sometimes I do and I don’t tell them. I guess it just depends if you are worthy of a song or not. 

PEV: When you sit down to write an album what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

The album was mainly written in my room late at night. I stay up real late, I’m a night owl and I can get a very creative space without being distracted by anything else. It is important to clear my head and figure out what the song is about and what it is trying to say. A lot of the record was like that; sometimes Nate and I would go into the studio, turn off our phones and try to figure a song out. That is how a song called “Ghost” came about. “She Is Love” was written in my room aver a couple of weeks where it is very chill and no pressure. 

PEV: You are quoted as saying "I tend to write about things I know, that are happening to me… If it's not really true to us, it doesn't make sense. We try to make music that people can relate to, that they're going to want to hear. We question things, try to get to the bottom of it all." With that, is there a certain topic or theme in your music that you tend to go back to or focus on – love, life, etc.?  

Love and life are two very good examples of topics that we focus on. Relationships in general: how they work, how they don’t and how to fix them. For me, that is what life is all about. Finding out what drives us and what drives the characters in the songs.  

PEV: If it wasn’t for music, what would each of you most likely be doing for career?

I would probably be a teacher or some other type of public servant. Nate would probably be a teacher or graphic designer. Alex would be some type of engineer and Johnny would be a radio dj because he is crazy. Kit is very business minded so he would be into some type of business. Luckily we don’t have to worry about that right now!
 

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Parachute?

The members of Parachute love Britney Spears with a passion! We once did a talent show where we covered her and dressed up like her. We love, love, love Britney Spears and I would die to go see her live. 

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success? What is it like to go home and play in front of your home town?

They have been very supportive but also very good at keeping our egos in check. Our friends and family love to burst our bubble once it gets a little too big. But to come home and play in Charlottesville is unbelievable. It’s out home and where we started. We will never forget that. It’s been great to play for them and have them watch us progress. We will never forget that.  

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio right now, what’s one thing we’d most likely find?

Old posters of ours, really terrible ones from back in the day covering our basement where we practice. Old, terrible posters with bad pictures of us. 

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Good parts? Bad parts? 

Life on the road is tough. We travel a lot and miss our friends and family. On the other hand it is fun. We are basically a bunch of friends hanging out in a van together for better or worse. We can get on each other’s nerves, but we know each other pretty well and know our boundaries when it comes to messing around. Music is the best job in the world and we are just lucky to have it. 

PEV:  In your opinion, is there a certain city (US or International) that you find to be the best city for music?

I love Boston. A lot of people say it isn’t a good music city, but when we’ve gone it has been awesome. New York is fun and exciting and we love playing there. 

PEV: As well, where’s one place you haven’t played, you would like to? Why?

Portland or Seattle. We love those cities and haven’t had a chance to play there yet. 

PEV: So, what’s next for Parachute?

The album comes out on May 5th and touring with OAR in April, so hopefully we will see you out at a show sometime soon.

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