Q&A with Parachute Musical
Parachute Musical hails from DC originally, but as of the last few years has taken to calling Nashville its home. The band is a handsome collection of four very talented guys, including Josh Foster, Tom Gilbert, Andrew Samples, and Ben Jacoby. The “Musical” part of their name represents their sound without an inch of over-exaggeration, as the band has seamlessly crafted fun and soulful music with a heavy dose of piano. Having released two full-length albums and an EP in the last seven years, the band has developed a reputation for incredible live performances. The Blue Indian is proud to showcase Parachute Musical on Feb 26 at the 567 in Macon, GA.
The Blue Indian (Beth Yeckley): There was a huge lapse in time from your first self-titled album in 2003 to Everything Is Working Out Fine In Some Town, which released in 2008. What was happening during those five years?
Parachute Musical (Josh): Nothing. It’s a great question. Sometimes I look back and wonder what the hell I was thinking… what I was doing with my life. After we recorded the self-titled album I became totally consumed with finishing college and getting married. Only one of those two things happened… and it wasn’t get married. So I lost my mind. I traveled a lot… I blew my life savings by moving all over the states. I would leave, only to get home sick and return, only to get sick of home and leave again. After graduating, that’s what I did and there wasn’t time for much else. Not to mention that Tom moved back to Murfreesboro, TN for school and Ben was in Milwaukee. I was tire of the revolving door of band members and so I didn’t take PM seriously back then.
TBI: Having toured together for years, you really benefit from knowing each other and what works best for your chemistry as a band. What have been the benefits and downfalls (if any) of touring with other bands for multiple dates?
PM (Josh): We’ve been lucky enough to get with some bands that are drawing well in areas we’d like to be drawing better in. All Get Out was one of those bands. Those mother f*ckers tour like 300 dates a year… they’ve got people, you know?! On our first tour together we played Macon, GA and it was packed. They’re just rocking it and we were really grateful that they and other bands that tour a lot take us out. Occasionally you get out on the road with a band that you just don’t like. Whether it be the music, or the dudes, it’s just not fun and you kind of can’t wait for time in the van with your band mates… which is the opposite when you’re out with guys like AGO or The Winter Sounds… You’re just pumped to hang out with one another and tour life is fun, as it should be.
TBI: On the song “Instead” you say, “I will marry my music instead…” How has this sentiment rung true throughout your years together? Not so much just choosing music over girls, but choosing music and leaving your hometown, playing smaller shows, eating gross food on the road. It’s such a simple question, but why do you do it?
PM (Josh): It was a pact that I made with myself around the time I moved down to Nashville. The reason I am the person that I am is because of music. It’s what makes me tick and for me to have neglected it like I did, it was like putting a big part of me on a shelf for a while. I think that’s one of the reasons I walked around like a zombie most of those days. So when I made this little pact, I f*cking meant it and nothing was going to stand in my way. The day I moved down to Nashville, Parachute Musical hit the ground running. We’ve heard the word “no” a lot… who cares. I’m going to do this sh*t regardless of the yes’s and the no’s… I have to because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be the same person I am. And I like me. I really really like me.
TBI: In an interview, you said that “I started writing songs in the vein of Rufus Wainwright in the beginning, but there comes a time when you have to make a decision to stop mimicking your favorite artists and find your own sound.” What helped you to break away from how you initially wrote the music?
PM (Josh): I think you just get into a groove and take on a style. That style will alter and change overtime and I think that’s the way it should be. It’s always scary taking a leap into a new musical territory but it’s exciting once you’re on the other side. And don’t get me wrong, I’m still influenced by the musical loves on my iPod… I just like to think it’s not as strong these days because I have a better sense of “self”, blah blah blah I’d have sex with Rufus Wainwright OKAY!
TBI: How do you think it’s possible that your music, with a soulful, show tunes / Broadway-esque flair, is able to maintain a marketable pop feel? I mean, I imagine that a lot of your fans don’t listen to soul music or have never seen any Broadway shows, yet they can totally thrive off your music.
PM (Josh): Things have changed a lot since our self-titled release and even “Everything Working Out Fine…” That broadway-esque flair is, in my opinion, a thing of our past. We’ve moved on to new and exciting things and we’ve encouraged our fans to grow with us. They have, and it’s been an awesome journey so far.
TBI: Just from the quality of songs like “Dear Jacksonville” and “Back The Same”, I know you must have an incredible stage presence. Is it difficult to maintain that energy every show?
PM (Josh): It is when there’s nobody there. But sometimes I just like to show off for my band mates so I try to keep it energetic no matter what. Also, I’m behind a freaking piano… I do my best to stay off my ass and keep it interesting… jumping all over the place and whatnot… people like it when you move around.
TBI: A band’s sound may be similar to another’s, and therefore that makes it likeable. Equally, a new sound can set a band apart, and that also makes them likeable.
With your music having a clear distinction from many other bands that are guitar and drum driven, do you think you benefit more from the outstanding presence of piano (especially on Everything Is Working Out Fine In Some Town), or from your vocal likeness to other pop music?
PM (Josh): I’m not sure. I guess it’s up to the listener. I’d assume that on one side there are plenty of people out there who haven’t seen or heard anything like us before and on the other, there are plenty of people who have. Either way, I don’t think the piano has too much to do with it other than aesthetic / visually appealing stage appearance. That’s my personal opinion. I look at the piano in very strange way though.
TBI: On “One More Song” you talk about words becoming boring and feeling unfulfilled. What does the band do, collectively, to ensure that the creative process does not run dry or that an idea doesn’t get left on the table, unfinished?
PM (Josh): Things get left on the table unfinished all the time and as much as it kills me when that happens, it’s necessary. If we, as a band, ran with every bullsh*t idea that I came up with we would be very unhappy people. There would a lot of force behind what we do and that’s not what we’re about. We’ve forced ideas out before but I can tell you we don’t play those songs willingly anymore. The band is very encouraging to me as a writer. They stay on me, asking for new material when something I may be in love with just isn’t happening as a band at that point in time. They make me feel like I always have to have something in the works. We just had this conversation last night after putting the finishing touches on a new song that will make it’s debut on this upcoming tour. It’s called ‘I Know Who I Am’ so look out, it’s freaking AWESOME!
TBI: When you’ve completed an album or even a killer single, how soon after do you want to create more? Do you take a break after a triumph, or do you push for more in light of your success?
PM (Josh): I’m not going to speak for the other guys, but I personally am always thinking about the next thing PM will offer, musically speaking. I think that’s in my job description though. I’m principal writer and I need to be consumed with those thoughts to a certain extent. I remember being interviewed in regards to “Everything Is Working Out Fine” after having endured a year plus of making that beast. Some random question came up and I alluded to “the next album” in my answer and everyone kind of looked at me slightly stunned. In answer to your question, I’m always wanting more and pushing for the next thing. It’s just the bastard that I am.
TBI: The music off of “No Comfort” is so refreshing. It definitely has another dimension of pop and feels more balanced out, instrumentation-wise. What do you think prompted your music to evolve this way in the past one to two years?
PM (Josh): I was semi-tired of writing songs that couldn’t be properly presented live. I love and will defend to the death Everything Is Working Out Fine, but we can’t play half the sh*t on that record live because I went a little overboard. Okay, a lot overboard, but that’s what I set out to do. That was to be my one chance to make a record how I wanted to do it. I was given that chance by a very understanding man / producer named Derek Garten and I went with it. After it was done and we toured on it for a solid year, I was able to look back and hear critiques and mold my next venture. ‘No Comfort’ was PM’s new approach at cutting songs. Quick and low stress. We played the hands we were dealt, rolled with the punches and all that mumbo-jumbo. I love how it turned out and I hope the next one goes as well (see, I’m alluding again).
TBI: What city has given you the most love since you’ve been touring?
PM (Josh): Macon, GA!!!
TBI: And if you could tour with two other bands, who would they be and why?
PM (Josh): I’d probably tour with Rocket Summer for the crossover fans and with Paramore for Haley. Thanks for the great questions!