Two stories from Parachute frontman Will Anderson, both involving cars and, in one way or another, journeys.
In the first, Anderson and his bandmates in Parachute left their tour van, Steve Perry—named for the singer of Journey—in a New Jersey Wal-Mart parking lot, because “all the bands do that.”
Losing Sleep, the debut album from Charlottesville’s own Parachute, claimed a No. 1 rank on the iTunes album list and gets a CD release gig at the Music Resource Center on May 23.
“We weren’t the only band this happened to,” Anderson told Feedback during a phone interview, while he and the rest of Parachute were back in town last week. “Somebody wised up that [bands] were leaving vans, and took a screwdriver to a bunch of locks. We had two computers stolen out of our van, and some iPods.”
Two days later, things got worse. “I got in the car to go do some laundry by myself; the other guys were taking a nap,” said Anderson. “I shut the door to the van, and the side window exploded. I hope it’s getting fixed today; otherwise, we’re going to be driving to Florida with the window down. Which isn’t too bad.”
That second car story? Well, it’s the sort of journey that might nab Anderson and Parachute—the local band formerly known as Sparky’s Flaw who nabbed a contract with Red Light Management and a grown-up name last year—a new window down the road. Hell, it might buy ’em a new van—a Steve Perry, Jr. Anderson was driving from Washington, D.C. to Charlottesville on the day that Parachute’s debut album, Losing Sleep, was released on iTunes. (The album gets a physical release during a gig at the Music Resource Center on Saturday, May 23, at 7pm. Tickets are available for $12.)
“I woke up that morning, and it was [number] 55, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ And then I looked again, and it was off. I thought, ‘Oh, well, at least we made the chart for a bit. That’s fun.’”
Then an assistant to Bruce Flohr, the Red Light executive who manages the band, began to call Anderson every hour or so to give updates as the record worked its way steadily up iTunes’ “Top Albums” list to the No. 1 spot.
“So, I found out on Tuesday, and we’ve been really excited,” said Anderson. “It’s been kinda fun to look at it every day and see that. I think once [the new album from] Green Day comes out, we’ll be right down to two or three.”
The appropriate question for any journey, of course, is who’s driving the car? I left the criticism of Losing Sleep to John Ruscher, who joined Parachute on the road in the band’s Sparky’s Flaw days, and instead asked Anderson about the band’s image—not simply the musicians he admires as a songwriter (Billy Joel, Paul Simon), or singer (Darryl Hall) or both (Elton John), but about the musicians whose looks influence Parachute.
“For us, we don’t want to be too trendy,” Anderson responded and, for an act whose song “Under Control” sounds pretty darned similar to Maroon 5’s “This Love,” I was a bit skeptical. When Anderson mentioned a California-based pop group called Augustana as a style influence (“We played a couple of shows with them and were so jealous of how cool they look. ‘Dang it, we were trying to emulate them and then we realized there’s no way we can!’”), I scoped them out later and, subjectively speaking, they looked like the West Coast answer to our boys.
But, skepticism aside, here’s the thing: Parachute exists in a certain pop music trend that’s mobbed by everyone from Augustana to Kings of Leon—another style influence, according to Anderson, and No. 5 on the iTunes album list at press time. That a band, no matter how dreamy, scales any chart in a genre as all-grabbing as “pop music” and lands at the top of the list for a few days isn’t simply a journey; it’s a goddamned miracle. (Just ask No. 60 on the list: Dave Matthews Band’s Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King.)
And, miracle or not, Anderson is humble about Parachute’s success. He’s not sweating a sophomore album (“For me, I’m going to be writing no matter what”) or tours (“It’s just amazing what playing every single night for a month will do for you. You start learning the subtleties of the songs”), but the band also isn’t sitting too comfortably on the iTunes chart. Nor are they acting like it.
“The van is hurting right now,” said Anderson about poor Steve Perry, with a hole in the door and a broken window. “[But] it’s got about 50,000 more miles in it.” Don’t stop believing.
Kielbasa, film festivals and more
In the last week, Feedback has blogged about the following things: The new director of the Virginia Film Festival, Jody Kielbasa; Shaquille O’Neal and Scrabble; the Heritage Theatre Festival’s new schedule; and Jamie Dyer. For more noise, read Feedback.