When they were in high school, the trio of Will Anderson (vocals, guitar), Johnny Stubblefield (drums) and Christopher “Kit” French (saxophone, keyboards) got together to form Parachute, a band that mixed classic pop, heartfelt rock and tuneful soul.
The band released its debut album 10 years ago, debuting on the Billboard charts at No. 2, and over the past decade have found big hits in songs such as “She Is Love,” “Kiss Me Slowly,” “Forever and Always” and “Without You.”
On May 10, Parachute will release a new self-titled album, and stops at the Fairfield Theatre Company’s StageOne on May 6 for a special acoustic preview. Anderson sat down with us to talk about what’s in store for the show.
Keith Loria: You’re coming back to Fairfield with a gig at StageOne. What can you preview about the night? I understand it’s a little different than the rest of your tour.
Will Anderson: We love coming to Fairfield. We love the venue and this will be our first time in the smaller room. They came to us about doing an acoustic show, and this is the only one we are doing on our entire tour. It’s also the week our album comes out, so we’ll be playing a bunch of those songs and talking about the reason for writing those songs.
KL: That seems way different than the big shows you normally have there.
WA: Yes, it’s going to be a nice intimate evening, which will be a departure from the rest of the rock shows we’ve done over the years. It’s going to be really neat that during this really big production tour that we’re going to be able to strip things down and explore the songs in this way. The black box setting makes it perfect, so it’s going to be a very unique, one-off performance.
KL: With the album set to be released this week, what are you most excited about fans hearing?
WA: It is definitely the best songs we’ve ever written, and I know everyone always says that, but I feel we really captured what we wanted to say. The production was spot-on for what we wanted to do, which was make top music that was still authentic to us. It’s really a reflection of the music we like. We worked with producer Jacquire King and he took these 10 songs that we are really proud of and somehow cracked the code on hearing what I was hoping for in my head. It really pops and is authentic.
KL: When you first came together in Charlottesville, Va., what were your goals with the band? Did you think you’d reach the level of popularity that you have?
WA: We didn’t have any specific goals. We were so in love with the idea of being in a band, and I liked writing songs so much, that we just wanted to make music together. That was enough for us in high school. We’d take things one step at a time and we were goal oriented and tried to figure out the next step of our plan, but never looked too far ahead. That’s what allowed us to keep going.
KL: As the band gained popularity and people started to know you, how did that change your lives? Was fame everything you thought it would be?
WA: Not really. We are very much the middle-class of bands. We make a living off doing it, but we’re not out there jet-setting. We’re on a tour bus, and for us, that’s amazing. When you’re younger, you have an idea of what a band is like. It’s really a lot more hard work than we thought it was going to be, but it’s been great. Not to say it’s not glamorous, because a lot of times it is, but there’s also this part where you are sitting on a couch trying to write a song before you have to go play.
KL: Do you have a favorite moment from your career so far?
WA: Honestly, for me, it’s always when I write a song I like and it fulfills me creatively. A couple of the tunes on this new album, I felt like I was really in the zone. Also, anytime we do a headline tour and we’re in a venue that’s sold out and we hear people singing along to our songs. It’s little things like that.
KL: You’ve all been friends a long time. What keeps the friendship intact while out on the road?
WA: We know each other so well that we know each other’s rhythms. We have an idea of what each other needs. We literally lived in the same house at times and we respect each other’s needs and space. They know in the morning I need to have my coffee and chill out for a while before I’m good to go. The other guys have their own specific things. We know how each other works and have a lot of fun together. We know when to push something and when not to.