In 2011, PARACHUTES had to face the ugly truth and realize that a big chapter for them was inevitably coming to an end. After ten years of touring all over Europe, after almost 400 shows that included supports for RISE AGAINST, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, BOYSETSFIRE, SILVERSTEIN, UNDEROATH or TAKING BACK SUNDAY, after three albums, several line-up changes and the leaving of principal songwriter and bassist Elmar Weyland, the Saarland, Germany-based quintet found that eventually it was time to decide who they were and what they wanted as a band. "We were absolutely running on empty and needed a break so bad, even if we didn't want to admit it to ourselves", remembers guitarist Carsten Jung. During the following hiatus, the band members not only caught up on a number of private and professional matters that had taken a back seat in the past, but also used the time off to give some serious thought to what was to become of the band's future.
"In a situation like that, you wonder whether you really want to keep doing this to yourself", Jung confesses. In retrospect, the question seems an easy one to answer, though. Guitarist Christian Hunsicker switched to Bass, the two new guys (former Drummer for ROAD TO KANSAS, Stefan Schaus, as well as David Halberstadt, a long-time friend of the band) turned out to be a perfect match, and the rest somehow naturally derived from the lessons of the past: Reducing the pressure on everyone, making better use of the precious hours together in the practice room, opening up to new influences as well as including talent from the band's environment in the process of creating a record. "In short, we are just totally stoked to be back!"
This, however, is something which pretty much becomes evident after the first run- through of the new album. "Blueprints" tells the (fictitious) story of architect Nate Anderson and is the courageous effort of a band who has clearly gotten uncomfortable in their skintight genre-corset. "Starting out as a three-chord punk band, we became a three-chord emo/screamo/post-hardcore band and have since evolved into three-chord rock band", Jung laughingly sums up the musical development PARACHUTES have undergone. "This time, right from the beginning, we agreed that anything goes musically. That is why we experimented a lot more than we did on the previous records. We wanted to be free from all the restrictions that seem to come with being part of a scene, something we had burdened ourselves with over years, I guess. With this album, we didn't just want to repeat ourselves and do the same thing over again. The idea was to break new ground and create something original, something with a genuine meaning to us."
When it came to the recording itself, however, the band did not take any chances. Just like every PARACHUTES album before, "Blueprints" was produced at SU2-Studios by Phil Hillen, who this time also handled the mastering. As far as the sound of the record was concerned, everybody had a clear vision very early on: "We wanted it to be completely real, no triggers on the drums, no digital amp modeling, no auto-tuned vocals, just a transparent, natural sounding record. Phil has been involved in this from beginning to end and there was simply no reason to have somebody else master the record for tons of extra money and without any clue of what our vision for this project was. We wanted somebody with a connection to the band beyond all the business evaluations. The album's atmosphere, the right sound, the telling of a story - all that was way more important to us than namedropping and wanna-be-rockstar bullshit." Sometimes it seems, when one chapter is over, it can inspire you to start the next one instead of finishing the book altogether. It gives you a chance to take a step back and get a better look on the big picture. And that's exactly what makes the new PARACHUTES album a perfect blueprint for exciting rock music.
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