20 Questions: Parachute

Photo: Brantley Gutierrez

When not co-writing songs with Lady Antebellum or conquering pop charts, Parachute also enjoys the simple things in life: nudity, Jesse McCartney, and stoking the fires of the eternal Star Wars/Star Trek debate ...

It would be hard for just about any band to overcome the name Sparky's Flaw, so fortunately for Will Anderson, his band changed its name to Parachute.

The Virginia-based collective has been honing in on its pop-rock sound since graduating out of college. While the members of the band may have been initially written off as Top 40-chasing rockers, their latest disc, The Way It Was, proves very much otherwise, throwing in choirs, wildly jazzy horn sections, and Lady Antebellum co-writes into one unique package. To help celebrate its release and its subsequent tour, Anderson sat down with PopMatters to answer our famed 20 Questions, and in doing so, reveals that an Office Depot commercial made him cry, that he has an addiction to nudity, and argues that Jesse McCartney's "Shake" is the greatest pop song of the past five years . . .


1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

The last book that made me cry was East of Eden by John Steinbeck. But if I'm honest, I bawled during an Office Depot commercial the other day. (Yes, I'm as confused as you are.)

2. The fictional character most like you?

I think I'm most like Popeye. Pop open that can of Red Bull and I can do anything.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Graceland by Paul Simon or Madman Across the Water by Elton John are the best albums of all time in my opinion. Two totally different albums, but I think the songwriting is what sets them apart. Pound for pound, I think they beat any albums you could put them up against.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars over Star Trek, no doubt. First place I drove after I got my license was to the movie theater to go see Episode II. That was also the first time I skipped school, so I hold a special affinity for the Force. Star Trek is for nerds. Star Wars is for intellectuals and philosophers.

5. Your ideal brain food?

I love changing my perspective and going to new places. Anytime I find myself in a new place for a little bit, something about that places triggers the creative energy in me. I love traveling, and seem to write a lot more when I'm in a new place.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I'm proud of our new album The Way It Was because it proved to me that we can still get better. I love our first album, but seeing how much we've improved on this one was a relief of sorts. A lot of bands and writers make a good first album and then can't make another one. To make an even better album the second time around, for us at least, felt great. Maybe some day we'll feel like we're as good as we get be. But right now we feel like we as a band have a lot of room to grow and get better and I have a lot more to say and new ways of saying it as a songwriter, which rather than be discouraging, is actually really exciting.

7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?

I want to be remembered as a great songwriter. I have a long way to go to get there, but I think the one true thing about music is that bands and artists come and go, but a great song can last forever.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are those that last the longest and do the right thing. Anyone can have a quick burst of fame and be forgotten. But the ones that last long and are remembered are the ones who put their heads down, do the hard work that most people don't like to do, and always do the right thing. Those are the ones who come out on top at the end.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

The creative masterpiece I wish bore my signature is the song by "Shake" by Jesse McCartney. Let's get real: that's the best pop song of the past five years.

10. Your hidden talents . . . ?

Hidden talents: I can juggle, unicycle and do a Rubik's Cube. And now they are no longer hidden.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Best piece of advice I've ever gotten was from my dad, who told me that surrounding yourself with good people is key to lasting success. Not just talented, or successful, or effective people, but people who make you a better person. I've always kept that in mind whenever we've had to choose people to work with, and so far it has proven itself effective every time.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

The best thing I've ever bought was my Apple TV. Dance parties have never been the same once everyone could play songs off their iPods.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?

I feel best in my birthday suit. I'm a naked-holic. Any chance I get, I'd rather be wearing nothing.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

My dinner guests at the Ritz would be Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, and Sir Winston Churchill. The history geek in me would love to pick their brains.

15. Time travel: where, when, and why?

Time travel destination: 1853 in Charleston SC. It would be fascinating to see the Civil War develop, and also to see the conditions people were living in back then. I don't think we can fathom how good we have it in comparison.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?

My stress management is the spa. I'm a hot tub junkie. (This also goes back to my addiction to being naked.)

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?

Essential to life: Red Bull and Mexican food.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

I love the city but I love having a place to escape to in the country. So ideally I'd have apartment in NYC and a huge farm in Nashville. That's the dream.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

I'd tell the current leader of our country to keep on keeping on. He has the hardest job in the world right now, and no matter what my political views might be, I can't imagine how much it must suck to be in his spot right now. So keep on keeping on, my man. And let's go golfing.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Right now I'm working on writing a lot. September has been set aside to write a bunch of new Parachute songs and a bunch of songs for other people. I'm excited to get busy with it again.

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