Interview: Parachute Band

Mar 24 2011

Louder Than The Music caught up with the drummer of New Zealand based rock band Parachute Band, Sam De Jong. Read his thoughts on their new album 'Love Without Measure', working with Martin Smith, and their song writing process.

Tell us a little bit about your new album 'Love Without Measure' and what the inspiration behind it was?

LOVE WITHOUT MEASURE is about embracing the fact that our Heavenly Father gave of himself in a way that was uncontained and immeasurable. It's also about seeing the incredible depth of need and immense imbalance in the world that we live in; both in the developing world but also right on our doorsteps and in our neighborhoods. It's about realizing that the one thing Jesus commanded us to do was to follow the example he set and go be love. This is our worship. 'Saviour Of The Broken Heart' is a song straight from our heart on this stuff, as we try to explore and explain the things we've seen on our travels and how the act of doing justice isn't just a nice add on to being a worshipper, but rather a concept that fulfills it.

You decided to self-produce this album for the first time, why was that and how did you find the experience?

Over the 5 years that we've been together as a band we've grown a lot in our confidence and in knowing what we want to say and sound like with our albums... The first two releases were co-produced by myself and a good friend of ours, Nic Manders, and it was a great time of learning for us all. LOVE WITHOUT MEASURE came out of a bunch of songwriting demos that Omega and I were working on and we decided that it'd be best to keep developing the demos into the finished product, rather than bringing someone external in and starting from scratch... We actually loved doing it this way. It meant we could be as creative as we wanted to be and it's very refreshing to be able to put down exactly what you're feeling into sounds and lyrics and textures. We purposely tried to make a more concise, pop sounding album that our previous two, while using sounds that you wouldn't always hear on a worship album.

Former Delirious? frontman Martin Smith contributed guest vocals to one of the tracks, how did that come about?

Delirious have come and played at our Parachute Festival in NZ many times over the years, and so I've known Martin for a while now... We both happened to be playing at a conference in Rome in 2009 where he mentioned that he needed a drummer for an event he was doing... I ended up having the incredible honor of playing for a week with the band that helped define my faith in my growing-up years, Delirious. After Delirious disbanded, we again had the amazing honor of being Martins backing band for a number of events in 2010... He has been such a hero to us all, as we see ourselves on a similar journey to what they've been on, so we thought it would be very fitting to be able to tell this part of our story on the new album. We approached him and asked him if he'd be keen to sing on one of the new tracks, and he agreed! We ended up having literally 45 mins in a home studio somewhere in the States and despite the lack of time, he did such an incredible job and brought goose bumps to the room! More than the song, the mentoring and wisdom he's invested into us has been invaluable……

Which is your favourite track on the album and why?

My favourite track is a song called Peace On Earth. It's a song that comes straight out of Isaiah 60 and starts with the lyric "Arise, shine, for our light has come." It's about how those who know Christ need to be asking for him to fill us more so that we can shine the light of his peace in this dark and chaotic world. I feel like it's such a timely song for the way the earth seems to be at the moment... Even just this past week in our very own beautiful country of NZ, we've been rocked with the tragedy of a major earthquake hitting one of our main cities. Hundreds have been killed and many displaced... There's no more powerful a time to sing lyrics such as "more than we can ask, more than we can dream our God will do it."

What's your song writing process?

As a band we collect a lot of our songs from songwriters all around New Zealand, and see ourselves as a vessel for to resource the church worldwide with these songs and to give them further reach than they may otherwise have. Omega and I also write a bunch of the songs together... Usually Omega will have a great chorus idea, and he'll bring it to me, then we'll work on the rest of the song together. He's the melody man, I'm the lyrics man... But we're just babies in the art of writing a song…

How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?

We're a pop rock band, and we borrow influences from quite an eclectic range of styles that we love to listen to. We listen to a lot of indie and electro music and while we have our "Parachute Band" sound, its cool to hear some more of these influences coming through on the new project. Some bands we all love are Passion Pit, Phoenix, Sigur Ros, Sufjan Stevens, Mumford & Sons, The Killers, Arcade Fire, The National. We want to write congregational worship songs for the church to sing, while having music that is fresh and different.

In your opinion, what makes the perfect worship song?

I don't think it's possible to write the perfect worship song. While you can work and work to get perfectly symmetrical stanza's and catchy melodies, the very nature of worshipping is to admit your frailty in front of the all powerful Creator, so in it's very essence it has to be an honest account of the heart, which is never going to be perfect. I do think that the best worship songs come from an honest moment of revelation, surrender, tragedy, or triumph. The best songs are ones that just have to be written... They are the concepts bursting at the seams inside of the writer and the way to sum up what is truly happening now in their heart. Transparency is the foundation of a good worship song…

What advice would you give to any aspiring bands out there?

Know what you're about, stick to it, and don't become selfish at any time... Too many bands have no mission or reason for existing, and while there may be a few good songs, they're not gonna last. Things can start out purely and honestly, but as things get bigger, personalities can become a real issue... Try to always put your friendship with band members before the band itself... Laugh, hang out, enjoy each others company, and make the music you like to listen to.

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?

For me it'd probably be Jonsi - Tornado.

What does the next year hold for Parachute Band?
We're about to get into some touring which we're really excited about... We'll be heading to the US, Canada, Europe, UK, Asia and South Africa... We really believe in the new songs so can't wait to share them with our friends across the earth... We've also begun work on our 4th project, which looks like it will be an EP coming out January 2012. Watch this space...

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