Parachute

For the members of Mercury Records group Parachute, the name of their third album, Overnight, could well be a sly commentary on the hard work and commitment it’s taken for them to experience the success that’s been building over the last four years and first two albums. Their 2009 debut Losing Sleep featured the Top 15 single, “She is Love” (boasting more than 6.5 million views), while 2011’s The Way It Was included the #1 iTunes Rock Song “Kiss Me Slowly” (co-written with Lady Antebellum) and the Top 15 hit “Something to Believe In.”

Or it could refer to the late evenings put in by chief songwriter Will Anderson, burning the midnight oil, writing in his new Nashville base, after moving from the band’s hometown of Charlottesville, VA (where they were discovered and signed to Dave Matthews Band’s Red Light Management out of college). Anderson composed more than 50 songs for the album with a variety of collaborators, including Ryan Tedder (the first single, “Can’t Help”), as well as Grammy winner Chris DeStefano [Kelly Clarkson] and Ashley Gorley [Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban] on the title track.

“Even though there’s plenty of pressure to break through on your third album, the actual recording process was much less stressful,” says Will about the band’s sessions at Ocean Way in Nashville with producer Oren Yoel, a young contemporary who has worked with hip-hop phenom Asher Roth as well as Miley Cyrus, among others. “All of us were on the same wavelength. We all kind of knew exactly what we wanted without having to say it out loud. There was a weird sense of peace that we knew where we were going and where we needed to be.”

From the pop fervor of “Can’t Help” and the powerful simplicity of “Hurricane,” composed on acoustic guitar by Will after a long frustrating day, to the ‘80s Phil Collins-meets-U2 flair of “Waiting for that Call” and the slow Peter Gabriel/John Mayer jam of “The Other Side,” Parachute prove adept at combining guitarist Nate McFarland’s Edge-influenced arena-rock guitar licks with Will’s melodic sense of what will resonate with their passionate fan base.

It’s no surprise for anyone who has followed the band’s history. Will has been playing with drummer Johnny Stubblefield, bassist Alex Hargrave and saxophone/keyboardist Kit French since they were high school classmates in Charlottesville almost 10 years ago. Anderson met Nate while attending University of Virginia together, and the guitarist joined the band six years ago.

“We’re just now getting to know one another as musicians as well as we know each other as people,” says Will. “We wanted to capture a sound in the studio that reflected us as a band. And we all know which parts each of us had to play to get that sound.”


The band’s stylistic palette can run the range from old-school legends like Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen to newer acts like U2, Coldplay, Weezer, Ben Folds, Maroon 5 and John Mayer.

With producer Yoel, the band has even begun to stretch the boundaries, with Will’s spoken word vocals adding almost a hip-hop flavor to a new song called “Didn’t See It Coming,” about an actress friend of theirs in Hollywood excited to land a gig, only to discover it was an X-rated feature.

“That’s probably the catchiest song I’ve ever written,” he says. “I just laid down this spoken-word track, thinking we’d replace it later, but everyone loved it so much, we kept it on.”

Anderson is most proud of “Hurricane,” a song he wrote before going to sleep by strumming an acoustic guitar.

“It’s like the feeling you get when you think you’re never going to be able to write another song,” explains Will. “Once I started, it all came spilling out.”

Anderson credits guitarist Nate with creating parts that were “just perfect” for each song. “He really nailed it, with a unique spin to every song that made them epic, but at the same time, within a pop framework. That’s something we’ve always tried to do, melding his rock guitar to my sensibilities, making it work both for the arena and within the melodic sense of strong hooks. I think we really nailed it this time.”

Having played more than 400 shows over the last few years, touring around the country with everyone from NeedtoBreathe to Andy Grammer, Parachute’s live show continues to grow and impress. They’ve also played before several million at a New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, as well as appearing on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, ABC’s Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel Live and CBS’ The Early Show. The band’s songs have been featured on MTV’s The City along with CW’s One Tree Hill, Vampire Diaries and 90210.

“It’s so nice to have three albums’ worth of material to choose from in concert,” says Will, while the band has always played an eclectic variety of covers, from Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Loving” to vintage tracks from Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, the Commodores and Motown. “We’re just now hitting our stride as a live band. We’re better musicians who have come to trust one another. We all have our pocket and fill it. But we still have a long way to go.”

Overnight has a little something for everyone. Longtime fans will recognize their favorite band, with a fresh sound bound to intrigue newcomers.

“The last album was like taking a brand-new car straight off the lot,” says Will. “This album is just as fun to drive, but it’s like a vintage Mustang, a little more muscle and grittier, built to last.”

On their third Mercury Records album, Parachute is firmly in the driver’s seat.

When you listen to Matt Hires, what comes across is the sound of an artist self-assured, authentic, and at ease with being completely and utterly himself. On his debut F-Stop/ Atlantic release, Take Us To The Start, the 23-year-old Florida native fuses the intimacy of the great singer/songwriters with indelible pop/rock hooks and propulsive rhythms. The result is a mesmerizing collection of songs that are immediately enchanting, while becoming more deeply rewarding with each listen.

After playing with friends for several years in his first band, Brer, where he got his first taste of recording, he went his own way. It was via MySpace that Matt came to the attention of Atlantic Records A&R exec Gregg Nadel, who recalls, "When I first heard 'Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song,' I was hooked immediately. It was the only thing I listened to for a week. His unique vocal tone immediately drew me in." Nadel sent Matt an email, expressing interest in hearing more.

Amusingly enough, Matt didn't believe the email was real. He remembers with a smile, "I thought Gregg's email was a scam at first. But then I called the office, and it really was Atlantic Records." Soon after, Nadel traveled to Florida to see Matt play, and was immediately taken. Nadel recalls, "He completely delivered on what I heard in the recordings – his voice was the real deal." Soon after, Matt became the first signing to F-Stop Music, a new imprint under Atlantic Records.

Matt Hires's music comes from an authentic and powerful place within him. "I'm not doing this to be the next big thing," he declares. "I want people to see that I'm sincere in my songwriting and that I mean the words I say. I'm trying to make something that is as uniquely me as possible, making popular music that is a little bit different." Take Us To The Start fully delivers on that intention, sparkling with the life of a gifted new singer, songwriter, and performer.

Andrew Ripp has continued to create music that pushes the boundaries of genre stereotypes, blending the energetic beats of pop music into a soul culture and adding the depth and groove of soul music into a pop culture. Since beginning his career in 2005, Ripp’s songs and records have successfully impacted a diverse and growing audience including true music lovers: fans that appreciate the nuances of a well crafted album, and easy listeners: fans who simply want to hear a catchy tune.

Having an awe-inspiring voice is one thing, but knowing how to use that voice to share lyrics and emotion in a way that moves those who hear the songs is quite another. Ripp has grown in this over the years as a respected songwriter with the voice of an artist. With his first two albums, Fifty Miles to Chicago in 2008 and She Remains The Same in 2010, debuting at #1 on the Singer/Songwriter chart on iTunes, Andrew proved that he could create a song and share it with emotion and instrumentation.

Since his last release, Andrew spent time writing and writing, not just creating a few songs and depending on his voice to carry the album. He began as a songwriter- with a song on the Billboard 100 charts recorded by Ryan Cabrera, and other songs featured on American Idol, One Tree Hill, and Live To Dance, but grew comfortable in the place where his strong and powerful voice was the driving force behind each single. “The good ones,” Andrew says, speaking of excellent artists, “they leave space in the songs.” And over the last two years, Andrew has learned that skill. Having moved to Nashville with his wife Carly at the encouragement of fellow musician and mentor Dave Barnes, Andrew settled into the songwriting town and began to hone his talents and grow as an artist, musician, and songwriter.

His new album, Somewhere Son, is full of the picks of the songwriting litter, with songs that resonate with the hearer as well as the creator. Working with award-winning producer Charlie Peacock (Civil Wars, Switchfoot) Andrew handed full control to him, allowing the songs to drive the recording process, not trying to turn the songs into something they weren’t. You can hear that too- the wrestling, the release, the emotion, the growth of the songs to a new sound that somehow feels familiar.

The album blends the work of Andrew himself with many other award-winning musicians, songwriters, as well as Peacock and engineer/mixer Richie Biggs. And Ripp is deeply proud of what was created in 2012, though the price of hard work didn’t come without it’s own challenges and trials. Somewhere Son will be the album that reminds us, we don’t have to figure it all out, just show up. “I did the work,” Andrew says, “and I gave it everything I have.”

A touring artist as well, Andrew’s live performances continue to move the audience in just the right ways- quieting them at the most heart-felt moments and causing dance at just the right beat. Crowds don’t want him to leave the stage when the show is over, and he’s not sure he’s ready to leave either. He has opened for and toured with the likes of with Jon Foreman, needtobreathe, Will Hoge and Robert Randolph, and continues to book dates around the country to bring Somewhere Son to the audiences that await new songs with that old feel.

“This album is rooted in the idea of hope and love,” Andrew says, “and it is meant to speak life.” Audiences can hear the depth of those messages in every lyric; in every note. Great songs deserve a great record and what has been created with Somewhere Son is just that- the record that other musicians will respect, fans have waited for, and newcomers will fall in love with.

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Parachute with Matt Hires, Andrew Ripp

Thursday, August 22 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Plaza 'LIVE'