The Parachute Band
spends most of the year living out of suitcases, trekking to churches and events around the globe. Musically, their sound is fresh and experimental – pulsing drums, angular guitars and the odd synth-breakdown – but spiritually they consistently seek to usher in the presence of God wherever they go.
Frontman Omega Levine and drummer/producer Sam de Jong formed New Zealand’s "next gen" Parachute Band in 2007, picking up from where the original Parachute Band (1996-2006) had left off. Three years on, the five-piece has toured relentlessly throughout America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.
To date, this ‘next gen’ Parachute Band have recorded three albums: Roadmaps & Revelations
, and the brand new Love Without Measure
due to release in the U.S. February 2011.They’ve pushed musical boundaries with this latest release, self-producing for the first time and developing their style to tell a compelling story of God’s love and his desire for justice.
NRT's Bill Lurwick chatted with Sam de Jong about the new album and their call to expand people's concepts of worship.
I watched the video you guys did for Love Without Measure, which is done really well. Did you guys do that in-house?
Yeah. I made that one
. We really wanted to just explain our heart for the album in a creative way. You can kind of assume that the songs speak for themselves, but sometimes it’s kind of cool to put some context out there. That’s why we made it.
One of the lines in the video that really stuck out to me was, “Worship is not about a song that can be heard by the human ear.” Explain that.
Well, I guess we’re realizing that the concept of worship is often kind of watered down to 20 minutes on a Sunday, a loud kind of rock music or a Coldplay-style music experience. If you really look into what the Bible talks about, it’s about a style of music that you can’t necessarily physically hear. It’s about the tune that your heart is singing and what your heart is trying to express. It’s a simple thing, but I think a lot of people can kind of say, “Well, I really liked the worship this morning, but I didn’t like the preaching,” or kind of water down the whole concept of worship, which is this big and grand expression of love and thankfulness. You can water it down to just the noise that we make.
As musicians, like our gifting and our tool is to make noise and is to make sounds that help draw people into that place. But I guess with this album we’re trying to say that there is so much more to worship.
Could you talk about the “Peace on Earth” that has gone out. What’s that all about?
Yeah. “Peace on Earth” was written by one of our good friends. It says in the verse, “Arise, shine, so that our light has come,” and it’s pretty much talking about God’s peace on this Earth. There’s so much happening at the moment around the world, a lot of suffering and a lot of crazy wars going on, but we need God’s peace and we need to know that there’s still peace in our lives, so that’s pretty much what that song is about.
Talk about the song “It’s You.”
It’s a song about how we all go through painful and hurtful experiences along our journeys, and often our defense mechanism is to put up walls around our heart and to block ourselves off and kind of go into ourselves. This song is a call to almost become like a little child again with that humility, and to just let the walls down and run back to God. It’s a vulnerable song. And even with our walls, God is the only one who can really see through that pain and into the real side of us--not the glamorous side of us that we try and put up on Facebook or try and let out to our friends. He loves the real side of us.
How did you guys rope in former Delirious frontman Martin Smith to join you on the song “It’s You”?
Last year we had toured with him doing some Joyce Meyer conferences in the States, but the year before we met him in Rome and we saw him at a conference there. That was the time when Delirious was kind of finishing up, and he’d asked Sam actually to play the last few shows with their band because the drummer wasn’t able to. So, the connection just kind of just grew from there. We just found out that we were all quite similar. It was really cool having someone that we’ve always looked up to as a band and as individuals in the worship thing. So we got him into this home studio and got him to sing on “It's You.” That was a cool experience for us and something that we’ll never forget.
The song “Savior of the Broken Heart” speaks directly to some of the social issues in our world and our culture today, doesn’t it?
Definitely. That song sums up the heart of the album that song. Like I was saying before, Love Without Measure is about realizing that worship is as much about people as it is about singing and loving God. It’s about loving God, but it’s also about loving the people around us. We’ve traveled to a lot of Third World countries with World Vision--Thailand and Rwanda and India, all through Africa--and so, we have had all these crazy experiences of experiencing poverty first hand and seeing the need of people in this world. There was just a moment of understanding that our worship is to be about bringing love to these people. We were in Budapest and it was a 3 a.m. and I remember just opening my journal and those lyrics came out in 5 to 10 minutes.
One of the main thoughts I was thinking about was this Rob Bell quote: “We’re often asking what we can do to get to Heaven, but what we should be asking is how can we bring Heaven to Earth.” So, that song is kind of like saying let’s bring the kingdom of hope to Earth.
When can folks catch you in the States? Are you heading over this way at all?
Yeah. We’re planning to be there around late March and April. We should be there for some of the festivals and we’re doing a tour with Phil Joel. It’s going to be great.