In the spotlight – We Demand Parachutes

In the spotlight – We Demand Parachutes

In the spotlight – We Demand Parachutes are a three-piece alternative rock and pop-punk band hailing from Boston and Brooklyn (USA). The band comprises of guitarist and vocalist Kevin McCord, bassist and programmer Seth Richardson and drummer Ben Shumaker. I spoke to Kevin about their motivations, the origin of the band name and the easiest way for fans to connect with the band.

What led you to music, and what motivates you to keep making it? What drives you as musicians?

“Music has been a part of all of our lives since we were very young. Ben and I became friends in the fifth grade when we started jamming together and fell in love with writing music. We played in different punk bands all through our school years and eventually met Seth in a rival band. Ben was feuding with the drummer in Seth’s band over some broken cymbals and after a week we all realized we were idiots and have been best friends with Seth ever since.”

“Music was always meant to be a huge part of our lives and several years later when I was deployed with the US Army we started writing and sending demos to one another over the internet. We realised we wanted to play together and build what is now We Demand Parachutes.”

What was the vision for the project?

“The three of us share an eclectic taste in music that has a core in alternative rock but spans pop to country to electronic. Our vision for this project was to play stuff that excites us while using the lyrics to tell our story. We’re still having a blast.”

I presume there must be a story to the band name?

“The name We Demand Parachutes originated as a tongue-in-cheek conversation when I was attending military free-fall school. We always like to say naming the group was the biggest point of indecision in this band. But one day as I was preparing to do my first high altitude jump, Seth told me, “make sure you get a parachute”. We riffed on it a little bit and the name We Demand Parachutes came out. It felt like us and it immediately stuck.”

What do you admire most about each other as people and as musicians?

“One thing we decided on very early was that we were never going to half-ass this project. I love that no matter how small the show, or crazy the day has been, we all have a commitment to give it everything we have. Seth always likes to say “put your whole backs into it!” I think we’re tough on ourselves because we’re constantly inspired by each other’s work ethic. We love music and we want to be impactful in what we do. That means giving everything we have anytime we get on stage or get in the studio.”

“The central theme is always storytelling.”

Where do you find inspiration for the music and/or lyrics? What can you tell me about your creative process?

“The central theme is always storytelling. We’ve collectively lived some wild adventures, from Seth mixing as a front of house engineer on tours and festivals, my experiences being deployed as a soldier with Special Forces and Ben’s experiences touring as a sound director of a production company, the purpose is to tell stories. We try to give snippets of our lives in our music and talk about what we care about. That varies depending on the story. ‘Hungover You’, as an example, evolved as a joyful song about friendship and community. The verses reference our good friends in Boston and partying until late and then going home to work on writing music in Kevin’s basement. A lot of our songs are thematically darker; this EP we just released ‘Outside The Null Field’ references anxiety, mental health and coming home from war.”

Do you find music to have a healing property for you?

“Music is a driving force in each of our lives and always has been. I turn to music in so many ways on a listening and writing front. Those moments of summer with the windows down blaring tunes versus having to put headphones on and escape for a bit. Culturally, I think we’ve lost a great appreciation for what music does for us because it’s so accessible and easy to shuffle, and skip through. For many of us music is not only healing but intrinsic.”

Did you have to make any sacrifices to achieve music goals?

“We’ve been very blessed to have incredibly strong supporters and partners that enable us to do what we love. There are sacrifices with anything you put your time and focus into, but we are happy and fortunate to be able to do what we love.”

What was the best bit of advice, whether it be to do with music or otherwise, that you still follow today? And who gave it to you? 

“There is a popular military expression: “Iron sharpens iron”. I have always thought it applies to our work ethic in this band. We constantly work to make one another better. There’s always been such a positive working environment, we respect each other but we also call one another out when something isn’t right and we don’t move on until it’s fixed.”

What have been career highlights so far? And what is on your bucket list that you’d want to achieve? 

“Playing Blue Ridge Rock Festival this year was absolutely a dream come true. We got to share a stage with artists we have looked up to for years. We were able to meet fans from far away and perform for new people as well.”

“Making an EP with Alan Day was another dream come true and one of the best weeks of our lives.”

“We have high hopes in 2023 for more festival performances, more tour dates in new cities and more new music.”

Speaking of fans, how do you connect with your fans and what is the easiest way for fans to connect with you?

“Instagram has been the most popular for a while, but we always love a good Twitter repartee or YouTube comment! We love hearing from fans who love and share our music, no matter the platform!”

What are you currently working on that you can share with us? What are your goals for 2023?

“We are releasing a live playthrough pretty soon featuring some of the songs of the record that we are stoked about. That will be available on streaming services and as a video on YouTube. We are also continuing to write songs and have much more in store for later in the year.”

What’s your pick for album of the year 2022?

“We enjoyed ‘The Hum Goes on Forever’ by The Wonder Years. We love the record ‘Actual Life 3’ by Fred Again. We all enjoyed ‘Spiritual Ascension’ by our friends in Cherie Amour who worked with Alan Day as well.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“Our favourite song in the Top 20 is ‘Outside The Null Field’. Our second favourite song is ‘Shallow Hellos’ by LAHGO. It’s a bop!”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“We would love to add our song ‘29’. We think it fits the vibe and showcases another side to our record. ‘29’ just became our most streamed song on Spotify with over 100,000 plays which we are so excited about!”

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

“We just released an eight part docu-series on YouTube about our time in the studio creating our EP. It is called ‘Making The Record’.

(Photos by Tiffany Hu)