Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Ben Shumaker Of We Demand Parachutes

Artwork for ‘Lost Her Mind.’ Courtesy of Sweet Beef Agency.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

“In how many stories are you the villain?”

Described as a “tongue-in-cheek take on relationships gone terribly wrong,” New England Indie rockers We Demand Parachutes recently premiered the video for their new single “Lost Her Mind,” an angsty ballad that features guest vocals from Olivia Castriota.

The trio of frontman Kevin McCord, drummer Ben Shumaker and bassist/programmer Seth Richardson work seamlessly to create a unique sound that mixes elements of big pop hooks and nostalgic 2000’s rock roots.

The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with Shumaker about “Lost Her Mind” and more.

Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?

Ben Shumaker – For a long time when we were writing music together, we knew we needed a name, but nothing ever felt right. We kicked around several options and nothing felt like us. Part of the culture in our band is that we started this project in individually very different places in life. We were on a call one time while Kevin was attending military free fall school and Seth threw it out there jokingly as a description of us being on a plane that is crashing. It just stuck.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

Ben Shumaker – I really like the blend of nostalgia with a new twist. We definitively have roots and inspiration from a genre that has, to some degree, come and passed. We draw huge inspiration from alternative and emo/pop/punk bands from the early 2000s. Really, I think this was a tremendous era for music, but I think we are trying to take that influence and use it as a muse and write in a way that is new. Our hope is that our music blends hooks that are emotive and massive with a more synth-pop sensibility and contemporary DIY attitude in production. At the end of the day, we love it and we write it for the three of us first. We are just happy others are listening.

Music Bugle – What directly inspired your new single “Lost Her Mind”?

Ben Shumaker – In how many stories are you the villain? “Lost Her Mind” is our tongue-in-cheek take on relationships gone terribly wrong. “In Africa, she hunted big game and it’s insane!” We wanted to write a relationship song that was anthemic, but also that was not so serious and took a new approach to a story told a million times. My decision was to start the song provocatively with the lyrics, “I had a girl and she died…” and then explain, “She couldn’t stand me and took a high dive.” We worked on the song for a long time before deciding it needed another contrasting view in the lyrics. Kevin re-wrote a second verse from the partner perspective. To translate that energy, we felt we needed a rockstar female presence. That half-melodic, half-screaming vibe is so difficult to find, but Seth happened to know Olivia and her dynamic range from some side projects he had produced with her in the past. We sent the song to her to see if she was interested and she was pumped! Once we recorded her vocals, we immediately knew we were ready to finish the song!

Music Bugle – How would you describe New England to someone who has never been there before?

Ben Shumaker – New England is cold pretty much eight months out of the year, which also ends up being some of the best time, because it keeps the tourists away! We love our Maine roots and we love four seasons! You may end up starting the day in shorts and finishing in a coat, but it keeps life interesting!

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?

Ben Shumaker – There has never been a better time for artists to interact with fans with more availability and access to tools that support sharing your vision and your music. If you look at the “old model” or really the pre-Napster and streaming model, exposure was much more black and white. You either passed out CDs at the end of a show to eight or so people that might listen to it or a major label spent major money to put you in front of the world subsequently retaining a major part of the revenue. To some degree, the top of the industry is still very much the same, but I think there are so many more ways available to artists to move from the bottom to the middle on their own. Additionally, social media gives artists leverage to own their own branding, own their own content and be very forward-thinking about how they get their followers to see them. We feel most artists who recognize this do really well at creating unique audio and visuals. Alternately, there are other artists who get social media wrong. Every post, story, tweet and video is an opportunity to share your brand, to share your personality. There is a very real chance to reach people in a meaningful way on social media. We say take it as seriously as you possibly can and focus on getting better at it all the time!

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?

Ben Shumaker – As Mainers, we all think there is no better way to go than “WAY UPSTATE…”

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Ben Shumaker – We had some massive plans for shows and some developing opportunities working with some talented producers before the pandemic. Everything had to be put on hold. It was rough at first to experience that sudden stop. Of course, a lot of people were affected in far worse ways, so we count our blessings. After a time, it only motivated us to take the opportunity to focus on writing and then after quarantining, we got heavily into recording and performing live streams. We had some successful releases over the pandemic and ultimately feel very fortunate to all our supporters who stuck around!

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Ben Shumaker – We are listening to Fernway, Alex Melton, Don Broco, Hot Mulligan, American Teeth and many other talented and upcoming artists!

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?

Ben Shumaker – “If you don’t love it, you’re going to fail” by Steve Jobs.

Music Bugle – What do you hope for from the rest of 2021?

Ben Shumaker – Our goals are to jump into the Spring with several releases, both music and video content. We are hoping to really launch back into live music as soon as safely possible! Keep an eye out for us for several show announcements and new music/videos coming very soon! For the most up to date info, please follow us on Instagram, Spotify and YouTube, or any other social media platform where you consume! 

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