Interview: Parachute's Will Anderson!
Picture this. Half of L.A. county is on fire and the popular alt-rock band "Parachute" is escaping to the beach in their rented Suburban before starting a tour with Secondhand Serenade in Vegas. We get frontman Will Anderson on the horn to talk two tours; "Serenade" and one coming in October with Kelly Clarkson. We get the scoop on everything from the band's guilty pleasure love of Shakira's hot "She Wolf" video to the secret of Will's young Paul McCartney look and what a girl must never do it she wants to date him.
Of the band members, Will Anderson (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Johnny Stubblefield (drums), Alex Hargrave (bass), Kit French (saxophone, keyboard, vocals) and Nate McFarland (guitar, vocals) who is the biggest jokester and who is the task master? The guys would freak out to be on a movie soundtrack for which famous actor's film? Let's let Will tell all while the rest of the band coaches him and generally hits the beach.
TeenMusic: Where are you calling us from? You start the tour alongside Secondhand Serenade in Vegas, right? Then, in October with Kelly Clarkson?
Will: Yeah but right but now we're on our way to the beach. We have a day off in Los Angeles.
TeenMusic: I'm here in L.A. too. Don't you just love the smoke from the big fires?
Will: Yeah. There's a nice haze over everything.
TeenMusic: It's better at the beach. So are you excited about launching the first of two tours?
Will: We're always excited to play. We had a week off at home and now we get to go play a bunch of shows so we're excited to get back into the groove of things.
TeenMusic: Had you listened to Kelly's music or followed her career before?
Will: We're huge fans of Kelly Clarkson so when she asked us to come out on tour, it's just a huge honor and we're really excited to be playing shows with her. We get to listen to her every night pretty much so that's the best part of it all.
TeenMusic: Okay, for those who don't know, why were you originally called "Sparky's Flaw"? Who was Sparky and how was he flawed?
Will: (laughs) He was our friend from high school. He used to be impeccably-dressed except for a duct-taped shoe. So when we changed our name, he was devastated. But we're Parachute now and we love the name.
TeenMusic: So, you were in high school when you all met then went to college together or what?
Will: High school. We met Nate in college but Alex, Kit, Johnny and I have been buddies since high school. We played birthday parties and local clubs and really tried to play wherever we could back then. It was definitely a very rough start. We were pretty bad back then.
TeenMusic: What were you listening to when you were 16?
Will: Back then we had John Mayer, Dave Matthews. Whatever everyone else was listening to, we'd pass it around.
TeenMusic: I really liked your video for "The Mess I Made". The girl in that is a Jessica Biel look-alike.
Will: She's an actress out here in L.A. Her name is Jennifer Lawrence. She's on a show called "The Bill Engvall Show" and she's got some great movies coming out. She's awesome. She's one of my good friends. We picked her. It just made sense. We think the video turned out well. We love the director Brad Furman.
TeenMusic: You've got an early Paul McCartney look; the hair, the big eyes. Is that intentional or just lucky?
Will: It's funny, people say we look like the early Beatles back in the Shea Stadium days. I definitely see that. I have portraits of The Beatles on my wall. I have four paintings of each of them from the "Hard Days Night" soundtrack and my friend walked in one time and said 'why do you have four pictures of yourself on the wall?' (we laugh). 'No. That's not me. Those are called The Beatles. I don't know if you've ever heard of them'. It's a similar hairdo that's for sure.
TeenMusic: Your music has been called everything from "Blue-Eyed Soul" to Alt-Rock to Pop-Rock to Pop-Funk. What do you like to call it?
Will: Yeah, all of those kind of fit it so it's weird. It's definitely alternative rock with pop and soul into it. We're a rock band when we get on stage and we play that's very clear but it's definitely very soulful so they all kind of sum it up.
TeenMusic: Your first album was all about the effects of love and relationships. Will this be a continuing theme for the band on the next album or are you reaching for something totally different the next time around?
Will: That happened to be what we were going through at the time as high school students and college students and we wrote those songs then. And we're different people now than we were back then and we will be different people in two or three years when we write our next album. For us, it's a growth process and we hope that we're evolving as a band as we go.
TeenMusic: The best songs come from human experience anyway so you're going to continue to draw from that?
Will: Yeah, undoubtedly and, for us, reality and making that connection that people can relate to is something that we like a lot. It's what we shoot for.
TeenMusic: On your breakthrough tune "She Is Love" you went totally acoustic, one guitar, no big production. Why? It is just more pure and from the heart that way?
Will: Yeah. I wrote that song on one guitar in my room. That's how we performed it. It's just one of those songs where it made sense and was what we wanted to do. We have a full band version of it for the radio and stuff but, for us, the acoustic version is really the way it's supposed to be heard. We love the full band version but we just think the acoustic version goes back to how it was originally played and what it was supposed to sound like. We played it that way in Times Square. It wasn't even supposed to be a single or wasn't even going to make the album and the fact that it did so well and so many people liked it so much, it's just the cherry on the top. To start out with that was awesome.
TeenMusic: What was the biggest disagreement the band has had so far and how did it resolve?
Will: We get along very well to be honest. There's never been any big, big stuff. We've had band members leave and that's always kind of hard. Bringing in new guys is always hard. Those are the biggest changes we've had but generally, we've known each other for so long and we just tend to get along well and travel well together.
TeenMusic: Who is the biggest jokester in the band and who is the task master (i.e. get to work guy)?
Will: I think Johnny is definitely the jokester. Johnny our drummer is a funny dude most of the time. He's actually sitting right in front of me right now, being funny. He's always joking around. Alex puts his head down and goes 'hey, guys' so he's the one keeping us in line, making sure we're doing what we need to be doing.
TeenMusic: What was your darkest period before hitting it big and did anyone almost give up?
Will: We were just kind of ignorant to the fact that most bands don't make it. We never thought about that. We were just so excited about taking the next step forward regardless of what that was. We were just so stoked to finally get in and play bars, then we started playing bars and were excited to go play a real venue and we started getting to play in different cities and people started coming to those shows. So, we never really said 'oh, we're so far away from where we want to be'. It was just looking forward to the next step; the next baby steps that we'd take. If you do that, it allows you to always stay positive and keep going because it's definitely attainable, the next step. You just have to get to it and go to the next one. Our CD took a little longer because we were in school and that was annoying but we all knew this was what we wanted to do and we never really thought it wouldn't pan out. It's been very gradual and we still have a long way to go.
TeenMusic: Good attitude! You have had your tunes on TV's "One Tree Hill" and "90210". What film franchise or fave actor's film would you just be blown away by if you were on the soundtrack?
Will: We love Brad Pitt! Anything he's in I would love to be a part of. He's one of our favorite actors. I think he looks so cool and is just very cool so anything to do with him would be great.
TeenMusic: Fun dating question: What must a girl never do if she wants to date you?
Will: Women have to understand that I'm a very picky eater. There are certain foods I like and a lot of foods that I don't like. As long as she's okay with dealing with that, we'll get along but if she gets really annoyed with that, it's off.
TeenMusic: Okay, hands off your diet! Who in the band is thrilled to go onstage and more comfortable there and who is a nervous wreck?
Will: None of us ever really get nervous before we go on. It's more of an excitement. For every single one of us, it's our favorite part of the day hands down to be with the people. When you do it, you kind of crave it so we play one show, get off and go immediately back on. We also really enjoy getting to do what we do. It's where we feel most comfortable.
TeenMusic: When on tour, do you guys stay in the bus or hotel or try to get out and see the cities you visit?
Will: We don't have too much time often to get around and see a city or go sightseeing but when we do we love getting out in the city and figuring out good places to eat and just hanging out and walking around. At this point, it's hard.
TeenMusic: So, it's probably just sleep or play video games?
TeenMusic: What is your most touching and then your weirdest fan encounter so far?
Will: We had a guy, we did "She Is Love" at a radio thing and had a little contest for winners and he proposed to his girlfriend on the show. That was a very special and cool moment for all of us. We've had some weird older, older women who have taken a liking to our music.
TeenMusic: The cougars love you?
Will: Yeah, the cougars. We've had very interesting experiences with them. They're very aggressive but we've luckily resisted.
TeenMusic: Do you still have the old Steve Perry van or has that gone to auto heaven?
Will: No, Steve Perry is still running strong. He got new brakes the other day. He's doing very well but we're in a big suburban right now. We rented a car. Steve Perry is on his way over. It drove cross country today with our tour manager and merchandise manager. They've been driving it. We pretty much still just drive around in it.
TeenMusic: I'll bet there are some memories in that van.
Will: (laughs) Exactly.
TeenMusic: We understand you like In and Out burgers (we saw it on Twitter). What other guilty pleasures are at the top of your list?
Will: Love, love, love 'um. In and Out is a big guilty pleasure. The song "She Wolf" by Shakira is pretty big right now for all of us. We have a big stash of Tootsie Rolls in our van which is probably pretty bad for your teeth but we love them.
TeenMusic: When you didn't have a handy piece of paper or any electronic device to write lyrics or music down on, what have you used when inspired? (one guy said his girlfriend's arm).
Will: I'll have to remember that. I often keep it in my head if I don't have anything. I'll just keep singing and singing it until I do find something. I've written on paper plates and an article of clothing. It depends on what's in front of me.
TeenMusic: What would you like us to tell your fans or potential fans about these upcoming tours?
Will: It's gonna be fun. We're excited to play. We have some good tricks up our sleeves for it so definitely come out for a show. We're all over the place so there's no excuse not to come!
Check out the guys' tour schedule on their website: www.weareparachute.com