All photos by FotoBob
Paramore Enjoy an Impressive 2010
December 7, 2011 — Written by Chrissy Mauck
Over the past three years, Franklin, Tenn.-based rock band Paramore has rapidly climbed to international stardom. Formed in 2004 by teenaged friends Hayley Williams, guitarist Josh Farro, bassist Jeremy Davis and drummer Zac Farro, Paramore enjoyed a seismic shift in popularity beginning with 2007′s platinum-selling album Riot and its smash hit track “Misery Business.”
|Watch video with guitarist Taylor York|
Joined on the road in 2007 by guitarist Taylor York (made an official member in 2009), Paramore racked up one conquest after another: a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2008; “Decode” and “I Caught Myself” appeared on the über-popular Twilight soundtrack; another Grammy nomination for “Decode;” a slew of accolades, including MTV VMA nominations and Teen Choice Awards; and sold-out headlining tours that had the quintet crisscrossing the globe.
But while Paramore’s external fame and fortune grew exponentially, its inner spiraled into a dizzyingly free fall, leading to the cancellation of most of its 2008 European tour and a whirlwind of breakup rumors.
Paramore managed to overcome the turmoil, thanks to the recording process for 2009′s acclaimed album Brand New Eyes, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
“This album was really important for us — musically and emotionally, and I guess just the relationships within the band — it just affected everything,” shares York. “We were going through a really hard time in 2008, and obviously you can hear it all over the record. I think one of the most important things that band tells us about is communicating, and we had a hard time communicating with each other. We’d come to practice and we’d written a song and Hayley would come with lyrics and we’d hear them and they’d be about us.”
Take for instance, lead single “Ignorance,” and its lyrics “Oh we’re not the same/Yeah, the friends who stuck together/We wrote our names in blood/But I guess you can’t accept that the change is good.”
Williams explained the song’s meaning to Kerrang! magazine, saying, “The truth of it is, growing up is not easy. We’re five different people who have to work towards the same goal on a daily basis. There were a lot of times when I felt really alone or angry or insecure. I don’t always feel good at confronting people, especially people that I love, like these guys. Sometimes it takes songs to get the point across. The song is from one person’s perspective. It’s unfair that I’m the one who gets to talk about it,but it helped me a lot. The line ‘ignorance is your new best friend’ is about how I felt I was losing people, and I think the band did, too.”
Indeed, hearing the bitterness in Williams’ lyrics proved cathartic for everyone.
“It’s like her writing those lyrics opened up the door for us to talk and communicate, and that led to a lot of hearing and a lot of artistic tension that helped us make this record,” shares York. “I think after playing those songs and hearing those lyrics a lot, honestly, it brought about a lot of healing. I don’t think we’d honestly be here without that record. I think that really helped us work out a lot of our problems. It’s not that we’ve fixed them all or we’re past them all, but I think it’s helped us understand how to work through things.”
|Watch video with guitarist Josh Farro|
While Williams penned the lyrics, Josh Farro created the bulk of the melodies, including that of high-octane tune “Ignorance” and its dynamic arrangement, which began as a mellow tune.
“Usually my riffs start off really slow and they are meant to be soft songs and somehow they turn around to become rock riffs,” says Farro, first explaining that the popular riff in platinum-selling single “Misery Business” also started out slowly.
“I wrote ‘Misery Business’ when we were touring in a van,” he says. “It was a slow song. I was recording it on Garage Band, and then I just sped it up and it sounded better. I don’t know how it happened.”
“Ignorance” also came about while Paramore was on tour.
“I was in China and I was playing guitar, and I was kind of mellow because we were at an orphanage and seeing all of the orphans really touched me,” recalls Farro. “So I was trying to write a slow song and that ended up becoming ‘Ignorance,’ which is kind of weird. I just write what I think sounds pretty cool. Honestly, I couldn’t do it without the band, because the band just helps it become so much more aggressive and more dynamic. They just bring my songs to life. It’s not just me. I need them.”
The bond and collaborative efforts among Paramore’s members runs long and deep. Farro might not ever have even picked up an instrument had it not been for his siblings, including his younger brother Zac, Paramore’s drummer.
“I was 13, and my dad was teaching my older brother how to play guitar and Zac was playing drums, so I felt like I was the only one that was not playing something,” shares Farro. “I started off playing bass and I just didn’t like it that much. I liked guitar more, so I switched and I’ve been playing ever since.”
Before meeting Williams, the Farro brothers were in a band with York, who was taught how to play guitar by his father, Peter, an executive at Sparrow Records.
“My dad got me my first guitar, a baby Taylor, which I was stoked (about) because my name is Taylor, when I was in first grade,” says York, although his go-to instrument of choice these days is his custom-built Fender Jazzmaster. “So that’s where it started and when I met Josh, that’s when I really fell in love with it and we started writing.”
Davis, who was 16 and playing in a funk cover band when he met Williams and the Farro brothers, also began his musical training as a kid.
“I was 10 or 11 when I got my first bass,” says Davis. “My dad taught me super-simple country chords, and once I got started, I never stopped and I’ve just loved it ever since.”
|Watch video with bassist Jeremy Davis|
As for learning chords, Farro was surprised and humbled when a friend and guitar instructor in New Zealand recently informed him that all his young students were begging to learn Paramore songs.
“It’s definitely a good feeling, but it just seems weird,” Farro says.
In fact, a quick Google search for Paramore guitar tabs yields 280,000 results, while You Tube churns out 600 videos for the same inquiry.
“It’s pretty crazy to see that,” says Farro. “It’s still kind of surreal I think. It doesn’t really register with me. I don’t get it. I’m like, ‘Why would they want to learn our songs?’ But it makes sense, because I wanted to learn my favorite band’s songs. I would go look online at different artists that I love and their guitar tabs, and just learn a million different songs. I loved it; I loved to be able to play what I heard on the radio.”
Paramore fans are currently enjoying the band’s newest radio single, “Playing God.” It’s the fifth single from their gold album Brand New Eyes, and follows “Careful,” which hit No. 3 on the U.K. rock singles chart. Its third single, “The Only Exception,” recently earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals.
After riveting audiences across the United States in summer and early fall 2010 as headliners on the Honda Civic Tour, Paramore toured Australia with another round of incendiary performances in October. Over a million people had seen them live at this point, an impressive total that the group added to with its largest-ever U.K. headlining tour in November.
“It’s been amazing but we definitely have a lot more touring to do and there’s going to be a lot more wear and tear on all of our instruments because we’ve got a lot more stuff to do,” sums up Davis. “We’re going to just keep on keeping on and playing these instruments that we love and it’s going to be awesome.”
As they look to wrap an awesome and momentum-building 2010 with a Dec. 10 appearance at New York’s Madison Square Garden, could Williams’ “Looking Up” lyrics be any more apropos?
God knows the world doesn’t need another band,
But what a waste it would have been!
I can’t believe we almost hung it up,
We’re just getting started.