It’s often unexplainable. You never know when a song is going to hit you or a band is going to leave a lasting impression.
Back in 2010 I headed to Bowery Ballroom with friends to see Parachute. One of the first bands I interviewed for You Sing I Write back when they were known as Sparky’s Flaw, they’re a band I try to see whenever they’re in town. I still remember when I was interviewing frontman Will Anderson during my first job out of college. I was on my lunch break and he was headed to class and he told me about the crushes he wrote songs about and whether or not they found out.
Their concert that night was how I was first introduced to Nashville act SafetySuit. Their set was full of energy and I had a hard time wondering why they weren’t the headliners.
Currently on their own headlining tour it seems they’re finally getting the recognition they deserve. Though it’s been a few years I still have several of their songs on my iPod that they played that night and can’t seem to take them off. Songs like “Someone Like You,” “Stay” and the poignant “Annie” hit you in the heart and their followup album, These Times does just the same.
First track, “Believe” draws listeners in with soaring guitar parts and Douglas Brown’s ethereal vocals. “You gotta believe in what you got…If you gotta cry then let it out, if you gotta scream let it out.” Memorable guitar licks alongside Brown’s powerful vocals are just an introduction of what’s to come on the album. In fact, SafetySuit’s introspective and questioning lyrics at times brings to mind that of Switchfoot.
String features introduce “Get Around This.” Asking for forgiveness, it’s hard not to take Brown’s side. Meanwhile, title track “These Times” was written out of a social need. Discussing hard times everyone faces the band manages to uplift without sounding cheesy.
The band worked with several outside producers and writers for These Times including OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and the guys from Espionage who helped write Train’s mega hit “Hey, Soul Sister,” giving the Nashville-based act a more pop friendly release.
On the heels of their new EP Hallelujah and in the middle of their U.S. headlining tour, SafetySuit show no signs of slowing down. Be sure to catch them in New York at Gramercy Theater Wednesday, September 12. To keep up-to-date, visit the band on Twitter.
Jeff Luppino-Esposito of the Newark Pop Culture Examiner just sent me his recent post on Parachute frontman Will Anderson. Before he was selling out venues across the US, Anderson was performing in his college a cappella group, The Virginia Gentleman.
I was lucky enough to attend Parachute’s sold-out performance this past Friday at Bowery Ballroom and was truly blown away. One of my first interviews for the blog, it’s amazing to see their progress over the years and sell out venues where all in attendance are singing the lyrics to every song word for word. The band’s cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” was completely unexpected and remarkably impressive.
You can watch a few videos from Will’s college days below, and for more be sure to check out Luppino-Esposito’s article here. Check out Parachute, currently on tour with SafetySuit.
I couldn’t go anywhere this week without hearing Parachute on the radio! Whether it was at my birthday dinner with friends in New York or the radio on my drive home from a show, Parachute have been taking over the airwaves. While current single, “She Is Love” is heating up the charts, I stumbled upon their latest music video for catchy track, “Under Control.” I think you’ll find the video amusing.
When interviewing frontman Will Anderson nearly two years ago, I asked him about “Under Control,” to which he said:
“I had a crush on this girl for probably about three years all through college. She had no idea who I was. So, I wrote that song in the off chance that she would hear it and realize it was about her. But unfortunately, she did not and she still does not know who I am. I don’t think she has any idea that she has that song written about her.”
You may remember them as Sparky’s Flaw from my interview and concert coverage last year. Since then, a lot has changed for the Virginia-based band. Their name: Parachute. Record deal: Mercury. Released debut full-length: Losing Sleep. Not to mention, their single, “She Is Love” is currently climbing the charts and they have upcoming tour dates with Kelly Clarkson, Secondhand Serenade, and The Script. Watch their video for “She Is Love” below, and if you haven’t yet, read my interview with frontman Will Anderson here.
The rain didn’t stop concertgoers from attending Parachute‘s standing room only performance last Monday night at Mercury Lounge. In fact, if anything, last week was just a preview of what’s to come in the upcoming weeks for the Virginia-based band.
This week, their single “Under Control” is featured as the iTunes single of the week and their debut album (due in stores Tuesday, May 19) is already No. 1 on the iTunes chart! Not to mention, my exclusive interview with frontman Will Anderson was just posted on Marie Claire today. You can read it on the blog as well as MarieClaire.com.
I first came across the band last year while they were known as Sparky’s Flaw. Catching their performance at The Knitting Factory, I loved what I saw and reviewed it for MTV’s concert blog as well as interviewed Will. It’s truly amazing to see their progress over the past year — from touring Thursday – Sundays so it wouldn’t conflict with college classes to a record deal, national ad campaign and now the top of the charts. I have a feeling this is only the beginning for Parachute.
Playing songs off their debut full-length, Losing Sleep, Parachute gave all in attendance a glimpse into the future last Monday. Having been on tour with Switchfoot, Matt Nathanson and O.A.R. the band proved they’re equipped for a headlining show. From the arena friendly pop rock sound of “Back Again” and “Under Control” to the solid saxophone feature in their cover of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” Parachute truly left an impression.
Their eight song set was diverse, showcasing their ability to switch up the faster tempo tracks with the slower ballads. Introducing “She Is Love” Will Anderson said, “I just wanted to write a simple love song and this is what came out.” A beautiful acoustic ballad, the track showcased his soulful, yet angelic vocals.
Quite surprised at the turnout for a 7 p.m. show on a Monday night, Anderson expressed the band’s appreciation to the crowd. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We couldn’t thank you enough for coming out tonight,” he said before ending the night with high energy song “Out of Control.” I have a feeling they’ll be back to New York in no time.
To download Parachute’s song “Under Control” for free on iTunes click here. If you like it, you can purchase the full album for $6 here or buy it in stores May 19th. As if I haven’t promoted them enough, I just bought it myself and it’s definitely one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. Check them out on MySpace and catch a show when they’re in town!
Recommended: For fans of Maroon 5, The Fray, John Mayer, Matt Nathanson, Jason Reeves.
From performing New Years Eve in Times Square with the likes of Lionel Richie and Taylor Swift to having their song “She Is Love” placed in a national ad campaign, the five-piece Virgina-based band is doing pretty well for themselves. Hard to believe that just a year ago the now college grads were traveling to LA during breaks to record their debut album.
Frontman Will Anderson’s smooth vocals, combined with the band’s radio friendly pop rock sound (often compared to Maroon 5 and The Fray), is sure to make the girls swoon, if they haven’t already. Not to mention, having toured with the likes of Jon McLaughlin, O.A.R., Switchfoot, Duffy and Matt Nathanson, Parachute is well on their way.
With debut album Losing Sleep hitting shelves May 19th their lives are only getting busier. Read on for my interview with Will Anderson as he chats about the recording process, stories behind the romantic songs he has penned, and what it’s like being in a band with his four best friends.
What can fans expect from Losing Sleep? It’s a lot of new songs they haven’t heard yet, new material that we’ve been playing live but never had a recorded version of. It’s the same sound they’ve heard live, but it’s finally put into recorded mode. We have 10 great songs that we’re all definitely really proud of.
How was the recording process? Was it everything you hoped it would be? It was a little tough because we were in school so it took a while. Once we got out of school we really got into it this past summer. It was good to work with the producers that we did. John Shanks (Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Jane’s Addiction, Stevie Nicks) and John Fields (Switchfoot, Jimmy Eat World, The Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus), to see the body of work that they’ve worked on. They took our view of recording and helped us shape what we wanted it to be and what kind of record we wanted it to be as it went along. It taught us a lot about the art of making a record.
What’s the story behind first single, “She Is Love?” I wanted to write as straightforward a love song as I could. It really just came to me and took 10-15 minutes to write. We didn’t think it was going to be anything and it really took on a life of its own. A couple of people heard it, our manager and friends, and said we had to put it on the record so we did, not thinking there would be a reaction. Then Nivea picked it up for their ad campaign and it was a great opportunity. The reaction was so incredible that it segued into being our first single. It was a pleasant surprise and the song definitely had a journey that I did not expect it to once it was written.
What is your typical writing process like? I have a really weird sleeping pattern so at midnight I’ll start writing songs. Ninety-five percent of the time it’s stupid stuff that I write and I usually give up after about a half hour. But on a night that something good does come up it’s one of those all-nighter things where at 5 ‘o clock in the morning I’m banging on our drummer’s door, screaming, “I got a good song! Listen to this!” and wake him up and make him listen to it. It’s usually an all night sort of trance where I go into the zone and knock it out as quickly as possible.
Often, I’ll come back and rewrite all the words in a few weeks once I realize how terrible the idea was. Usually the music comes first and lyrics come later. But you definitely know very quickly if it’s a good song or not. I’ll have the entire song laid out, the lyrics and the melody and then the guys will add their opinions to it. It’s just a matter of they add their little twist to it eventually.
I really like your song, “Under Control.” What was going on in your head when writing it, what inspired it? That’s a funny song. I used to do this thing where I’d advertise for shows and I would go into sororities and sing to the girls. I wrote that song with the melody and I had this crush on this girl for probably about three years all through college. She had no idea who I was. So, I wrote that song in the off chance that she would hear it and realize it was about her. But unfortunately, she did not and she still does not know who I am. I don’t think she has any idea that she has that song written about her. It was definitely for that one girl who I met at that one sorority.
How much are your songs inspired by real relationships vs. fantasy? It goes both ways, it depends on the song. Certain songs are very true to something that’s happened to me and other songs I think of something or make a story based off that. For me, it really comes down to a song and the individual. It depends. Sometimes it’s about me or it’s about someone I know or about a fictional thing if I happen to think of a good story.
Would you rather someone hear you first live in concert or your new album? I think live is always the pinnacle for us. That’s what we want people to know us from. We want people to see us. We want to make a great record, but I think in the end, if you can come see us live I think that’s where you can get hooked. Anyway is fine in the end. We’ll definitely do anything to make sure people hear the music and connect to it in some way. For us, it’s more fun at a live show. To be with people and to be listening to the people and hanging out with everybody and just having a good time, you really can’t beat that.
You performed in Times Square for New Years Eve. How was that experience? It was insane! It was unbelievable. We got a call two weeks earlier saying, “Come to New York and play Times Square.” It was really random. We were like, “Okay. Are we playing the side stage?” And they said, “No, you’re playing the main stage.” For us to sit there, this little college band of guys rolling up in a van and playing with Lionel Richie, the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift. Love them or hate them, those are just huge names and to share the stage with them was amazing to us. We were very fortunate and it felt surreal when we were up there. It was probably one of the most amazing experiences in my life, playing for that many people.
You all grew up together playing in high school and college. What is the band dynamic? Has it changed at all since you started? You know, in the end it’s so funny because it really is almost exactly the same as it was. We’re all the same people and same guys and we’re all still the same friends. If you knew us back then and you know us now, it’s very similar. Obviously we’ve grown up and things have changed a bit. But, in the big scheme of things we’re the same guys and we know a lot of stuff about each other that we probably wouldn’t know if we hadn’t known each other for that long. For better or worse, it’s definitely the dynamic of five best friends who have known each other forever. I can’t imagine doing it with people who weren’t your friends. It’s weird for me to think about that. You can watch the Nivea c
ommercial featuring Parachute’s song “She Is Love” as well as the full version from their performance New Years Eve below. Be sure to visit them on MySpace where you can pre-order a copy of their album, due out May 19th.
Yesterday went much faster than I had wished. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and Saturday was definitely bittersweet. As much as I didn’t want to leave Texas and the music heaven that is SXSW, I really don’t think my body could have lasted another day of 10+ shows and endless interviews.
By Saturday I was feeling the stress of too much sun, standing endless hours for multiple shows a day and lack of sleep, but I didn’t mind because I knew I’d be catching Third Eye Blind later that night. What better way to end SXSW then a 70-minute set by 3eb?
I barely made it up by 1 p.m. yesterday and spent the rest of the afternoon preparing for two interviews later that night. At 6 p.m. it was time to head over to Stubb’s to catch Virginia-based band Parachute. With infectious pop melodies and heartfelt lyrics, the five-piece band have been making a splash in the Virginia music scene and it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be in heavy radio rotation. With a mix of pop rock gems and jazzier saxophone-infused songs, comparisons include Maroon 5 and an older, more mature Jonas Brothers. In fact, the band has played with the Jo Bros., most recently in Times Square for New Year’s Eve.
Having their song “She Is Love” featured in a Nivia commercial and their debut full-length album due out later this year, Parachute is a band to definitely keep on your radar.
White Lies was up next at Stubb’s and wowed the crowd with their atmospheric rock and heart thumping bass and percussion beats. A band on most festivalgoers’ must-see list, White Lies reminded exhausted SXSW attendants what live music is all about.
Once their set ended I rushed back to the hotel to catch UK band Dlugokecki perform in the lounge. Playing emotional pop-rock songs, the band’s set was nothing short of impressive with frontman Ben Dlugokecki’s quirky onstage banter. The rest of the band proved to be just as comical when I interviewed them after their performance. A lot of talk about being President Obama’s favorite band, wanting to be the first band to travel to space, and the difference between American and English audiences, each member was definitely a character. Stay tuned for the full Q&A; soon.
After the interview I headed back to Stubb’s where there was quite a line outside the venue to see 3eb. Indigo Girls were performing by the time I walked inside. Playing a nine-song set including new tracks from their upcoming independent record dropping next week, it was evident much of the crowd were fans as they were singing along word for word. I’ve never seen a band change guitars as much as this two-woman band did, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Playing classic American folk, they had the Stubb’s audience’s attention.
At the airport about to board my plane back to Jersey, but I’ll be sure to fill you in tomorrow on Third Eye Blind’s solid 70-minute show last night as well as the songs they debuted off their upcoming release — due out later this year. Hope you can take the suspense until tomorrow to find out!
Both of these interviews have been transcribed in earlier posts, but I thought you might want to listen to them as well. I talked to Martin Smith back in January, just before he and some of his singer/songwriter friends got together to write some songs of which all the proceeds made will be donated to charity. Listen here as he explains his project, Compassionart. Visit the website to learn more about it!
My next interview is with Will Anderson, frontman of Virginia-based band Sparky’s Flaw. (Think a mix of Maroon 5 and The Fray.) He and two of the other band members are in their last year of college, touring Thursdays – Sundays and recording their debut full-length album between winter and spring breaks. Listen to the interview here and check out their website to hear music and get info on upcoming shows.
Some more exciting news! I’ll be going on tour this weekend with Army of Me and the “Get A Life” tour featuring The Used, Straylight Run and Street Drum Corps. I’m not sure if I’ll really have any computer access . . . but I’ll try to update my blog sometime next week to let you know how it went! Feel free to leave questions/things you want to know about in the comments!
Take four friends from high school, add a college roommate to make the band total five, mix in a recent record deal, touring Thursday through Sunday to keep up with classes and you get the current life of Sparky’s Flaw. Frontman Will Anderson took some time out on his way to class for a phone interview and told me all about the band, their album plans and the story behind the band’s name. Listen to the interview here.
Tell me a little bit about Sparky’s Flaw. I read that four of you were friends growing up, did you always want to start a band together? We were all best friends in high school – the four of us – and then our drummer actually started a band with a couple of guys and we all got really jealous. He was our friend and he was playing for this other band. We all played instruments, I played guitar and the other guys play, some of them played or just picked it up for the sake of joining the band. We decided despite our drummer, who was in this other band, we were going to start a band and then he decided he wanted to join our band so it worked out well. We played all through high school, tried to play as much as we could around town. Then we got to college and met our great guitarist, who was my best friend going through college. I’ve known him all four years so it worked out well.
So are all of you in college? Three of us go to school. Two of us go to the University of Virginia, myself and our guitarist, and two of the guys are not in school and the other one goes to Mary Washington which is about an hour up the road.
How do you deal with prioritizing school, touring and working on your record? That’s a great question. We’re still trying to figure that out. I’m going to class at and then we leave for Philadelphia at so I’m going just so I can get the check saying that I was here. We missed a week of school going to L.A. recording our CD. It’s a struggle, but we’ve all sort of gotten the hang of it. And the teachers are pretty cool when we tell them what we’re doing. They seem to live vicariously through us, so we just show up and let them know what we’re up to.
So you just signed with Mercury Records and you’re working on your first album, how is that going? We’re working on it right now. We’re halfway through with it. We did basically six songs over our winter break and we’ll finish up the rest of it this month and then over spring break through the big chunks of free time that we all have at the same time. We will go back to L.A. the first week of March and knock it out.
Do you have a name for it yet? No, we haven’t really thought of it. We still have the other six songs to choose. We don’t even know what songs we are going to do yet. We’ll figure that out when it comes, but definitely nothing yet.
Do you have a tentative release date? It’s supposed to come out in the summer I think. Sometime in the summer, I don’t know when.
What can fans expect from it? Its cool. Its rock, its very rock. Its rock with pop twists and soul. We’re still honing the sound, trying to get some continuity to it. It’s definitely rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s good. I think they’re catchy songs and they’re fun to listen to. We’re just trying to have fun and hopefully when they listen to it they will too.
I read that your song, “The New Year” was featured in the Rose Bowl. How did that happen? Yeah, it was crazy. Our managers got an email from ESPN saying “Hey, we like the song and we want to use it in the Rose Bowl.” We didn’t really think it would actually happen but yeah, we were all watching the Rose Bowl and there we were. They played it during highlight reels and stuff. It was pretty crazy because we had no idea it was coming and thought it was a passing thing and it wouldn’t follow through. We were all watching at home in the off chance that it would and it did. It was sort of out of nowhere. It was a good boost of encouragement.
Since you write all the songs, what is your typical writing process like? I have a really weird sleeping pattern so at I’ll start writing songs. Actually, I sit down and write every night because it’s a good habit. Ninety-five percent of time it’s stupid stuff that I write and I usually give up after about a half hour. But on a night that something good does come up it’s one of those all-nighter things where at 5 ‘o clock in the morning I’m banging on our drummer’s door, screaming, “I got a good song, listen to this,” and wake him up and make him listen to it. It’s usually an all night sort oftrance thing where I go into the zone and knock it out as quickly as possible. Often times I’ll come out with it and come back and rewrite all the words in a few weeks once I realize how terrible the idea was. Usually the music comes first and lyrics come later. But you definitely know very quickly if it’s a good song or not.
I’ll have the entire song laid out, the lyrics and the melody and then the guys will add their opinions to it. It’s just a matter of they add their little twist to it eventually. But I usually come in with a full song ready.
Where do you find the inspiration behind your songs? Everywhere, really. Often times, if it’s about somebody I’m very specific about who I’m writing the song about. If I meet somebody interesting or hear an interesting story about somebody usually that’s a big one for me. And then sometimes just fiction, and random things that I think about.
I really like your song, “Under Control.” What was going on in your head when writing it, what inspired it? That’s a funny song. I used to do this thing where I’d advertise, ‘cause on the east coast sororities, especially in the south, are huge. So to advertise for shows I would go into sororities and sing to the girls. It’s like 130 girls, college-age, it’s the perfect age – who we’re shooting for basically. I wrote that song with the melody and I had this crush on this girl for probably about three years all through college. She had no idea who I was. So, I wrote that song in the off chance that she would hear it and realize it was
about her. But unfortunately,
she did not and she still does not know who I am. It’s kind of weird. I don’t think she has any idea that she has that song written about her. It was definitely for that one girl who I met at that one sorority and who I still see all around and she went to that school.
Is your band really named after one of your friends, Sparky? Yeah. When we were in high school there was this kid who we called Sparky and he was a cool kid, he used to wear tailored suits to school every day so he looked really good every day. The only problem was that he also wore duct tape shoes to school every day. So that was his only flaw. We were desperate for a name and we came up with Sparky’s Flaw and it sort of stuck.
How would you explain your music to someone who’s never heard it before? Its catchy songs, but its rock and roll and soul.
Do you have a favorite song to perform? “Under Control” is probably my favorite song to play. We do some cover songs, “Under Pressure” by Queen. Our saxophone player and keyboardist sings it, it’s an incredibly high song so it’s fun to watch him sing it while I get to sit back and not do anything.
What are your plans for the rest of 2008? We graduate in May. So we’ve been doing Thursday through Sunday touring. It’s crazy, but we’ve been doing that this semester so far. The moment we graduate we’ll hit hard and I don’t know who we’ll tour with. I know they have names in mind but I don’t think we can confirm them. But we’ll definitely be out all summer and through the fall and hitting it hard. Which is fun, we’re excited about that.
For more info on Sparky’s Flaw, be sure to check out their website here.
The Tap Room of the Knitting Factory was packed by the time Sparky’s Flaw took the stage shortly after 9:30 p.m. Friday night. Those in attendance could feel the energy coming off the stage as it permeated throughout the crowd, having many dancing or singing along to their songs. Playing a 40-minute set, Sparky’s Flaw showcased songs from their current EP as well as a few new tunes which will be featured on their first full-length album, due out this summer on Mercury Records.
If Maroon 5 were to have younger brothers, Sparky’s Flaw epitomizes them. A mix of Maroon 5’s catchy beats and strong vocals with a little bit of The Fray’s keyboard style combined with smooth sounding saxophone features encompasses the five-piece band, Sparky’s Flaw. Their songs have strong keyboard and saxophone features as well as catchy hooks in practically every song that it’s hard not to have them stuck in your head long after their performance is over. Frontman Will Anderson leads the band alternating between vocals, keyboards and guitar.
Friday night was just a brief introduction to NYC as to who Sparky’s Flaw is. With their recent record deal and their album being recorded on the band’s winter and spring breaks (three are seniors in college) the world is sure to hear much more from this up-and-coming band in the near future.
Sparky’s Flaw started off their set with catchy pop song “Under Control.” With lyrics like, “Because I’ve kept my heart under control/But lately all this time has taken its toll/I said I tried to but I can’t hold back what’s deep in my soul/So darling please forgive me I want you and you’ll just have to know” they sure know how to make a girl’s heart swoon. What’s great about most of their songs is the saxophone feature. A lot of the time it’s so soft you don’t pay attention to it right away because the drums and guitar sound are a bit stronger, but the saxophone definitely adds to their music tremendously.
“All That I Am,” another song featured from their self titled EP, slowed down the night for a bit while Will started out on keyboards and alone on vocals. You could definitely feel the emotion in every note he sang. “Words Meet Heartbeats” as well as a new song, “Give It Up” had a strong guitar feel to it while extra keyboards and drums helped the strength of the song.
Crowd favorite of the night was their last song, “The New Year.” Interestingly enough, this song was a featured song during the Rose Bowl in January and I could see why as they performed it. The energy just leapt off the stage into the crowd while practically everyone in front of the stage was singing along with Will at the top of their lungs. It was probably the most solid song, both instrumentally and vocally, of their set, definitely a great way to end the night.
First performer of the night was Phil Bensen, playing a 35-minute set. Bensen started out his performance with “High Heels and a Miniskirt,” a soulful number with impeccable vocals and solid guitar and drum accompaniment for a two-piece band.
Bensen’s voice really blew me away. His high falsetto vocals are very soulful, reminiscent of the Jackson Five with a blend of John Mayer or Jason Mraz. He definitely is a musician to be on the look out for, having toured with the Jonas Brothers as well as being featured in New Jersey’s Bamboozle Festival for the third year in a row.
His set included eight songs, some featured on his MySpace such as “Not Good Enough,” and “Bruised”as well as a few songs that will be on his upcoming album and his soulful closer, the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
The Scott Harris Project followed Bensen with a nine song set. Their set was a bit more heavy than Phil’s, and was a four-man band made up of guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard. Scott introduced his song, “Hit” as a song being about the wrong girl. The band’s music revolves around Scott’s vocals, definitely strong and catchy. “Level” had a solid instrumental feature in the middle of the song while he had many fans in attendance singing along to “Live It Up,” a song somewhat reminiscent of a combination of Third Eye Blind and Jason Mraz.