"We are a team, we are a band. It’s not just Hayley - it’s not her band. Just because she’s the lead singer doesn’t mean she’s the only one involved. We all put our hearts into this,” declares Paramore lead guitarist Josh Farro. Paramore certainly fight against a ‘Hayley Williams Show’ attitude the majority of the music press have adopted. They come as a package and wish to equally contribute to every aspect of band life. But this is all too often taken out of their hands. Hayley Williams is a girl in high demand. Young girls want to be her, guys want to date her and the music press want to plaster her pictures all over their covers. Josh admits to Gigwise, “I think in the beginning the problem was that all the press focused completely and solely on her. All anyone knew was this little red-headed chick called Hayley. They didn’t know our faces or our names. But now us guys are getting involved in a lot more press. We prefer it this way.”
Things are certainly about to change. Talking to Gigwise mid-way through their completely sold out UK tour, Josh is more than willing to give the guys perspective from a band already taking 2008 by storm. The release of their second album ‘Riot!’ which includes mammoth hits ‘Misery Business’, ‘Crushcrushcrush’ and ‘Halleluiah’ has subsequently sky-rocketed their profile and popularity. This rapid rise has even warranted headlining their tour ahead of pop-punk stalwarts New Found Glory, something which Josh still can’t quite fathom. “It’s very hard to believe, especially watching them every night. I feel like, ‘how are we are going to put on a show after this?’” But the packed crowds have loved every minute so far - while Josh seems to be enjoying it even more, “It’s amazing it’s going so well, every show is sold out in the UK. Our tickets went on sale on a Friday and almost every venue was sold out by the following Monday or Tuesday. So we had to book two nights at some. It’s crazy to see how dramatically the fan base is growing over here.”
But for fans that may have missed out on the ‘golden tickets’ for the current tour, the announcement that Franklin, Tennessee’s finest will be back on theses shores to headline this year’s Give It A Name festival in London and Sheffield is of some comfort -news that seems to have surprised Josh just as much as any fan, “It really is mind boggling. Because we are not over here a lot we do not see how fast it’s growing. So when we come over here after it’s been quite a few months and you’re headlining ‘Give It A Name’ we are like ‘WHAT?!?!’ How do we do that? We don’t even know what we are going to do.”
Although many will be buoyant about Paramore headlining, others are not so impressed and have vented such anger on Give It A Name message boards, declaring they don’t deserve to play ahead of bands such as Finch or higher up than Glassjaw. “Kids are going to get frustrated no matter what” responds Josh. “We have been given some flack for this tour, for closing after New Found Glory who are obviously a legendary pop punk band. It doesn’t mean we don’t respect them. It’s more politics, which we hate. If we could we would rather open up for all these bands, but we just let our booking agent handle all that, trust him with that kind of stuff and what’s best for our band.”
Although Josh and the rest of Paramore still draw the line when it comes to one special band, “We have a US tour coming up with Jimmy Eat World, it’s supposed to be a co-headliner, but out of respect we want them to close. That’s one band that we all adore and have looked up to since we were little. We feel like they are the reason we are a band and why loads of other bands are here today. It would sort of be a slap in the face if we get to close after them.”
Exposure is a fickle fate, while cover-star status may boost record sales and sell out tours, it also invites the cynics and vultures ready to swoop on any sniff of failure. Even promotional press articles can massively backfire, something Paramore experienced at first hand. A leading British rock music magazine ran a double page, glossy spread on the foursome, ready to introduce them to the world. But the content and undertones were certainly not what Paramore wanted the readers to believe. “It really upset us” uttered Josh. “They basically went back on their word. They made out how it was going to be so huge for us. Then we get the story and it’s all about how Hayley is bossy and something about Zac and Jeremy being gay together. It is all a bunch of untrue, Britney spears crap. Nobody wants to read about. It had nothing to do with our music.”
Despite the already die-hard fan base seeing through such an article, realising it was hyperbole, what worried the quartet most was the opinions of people who had never heard of Paramore before reading it. Their fear was that upon reading such an article they would take an instant dislike to them. “That was a huge concern of ours” admits Josh. “I’m sure that was the first time for a lot of people to see our band, then they read this and they probably think ‘wow this is a bunch of crap’ but there’s nothing we can do about, so we just have to move on.”
Move on, they certainly have. Named 2007 band of the year in numerous magazines and a ‘Best New Artist’ nomination at the recent Grammys, (which forced the band to make a quick hop back over the pond for the ceremony before coming back to finish their UK tour), means life for Paramore is pretty sweet. “It feels amazing. There really are no words to describe it. It’s definitely a blessing. We feel very fortunate, the fact we were nominated blows our minds, we are just enjoying it and soaking it all in,” Josh explains.
The guitarist is the first to admit the band have come along way since they made their first tentative steps in the music industry. “When we recorded ‘All We Know Is Falling’ we were so naive and didn’t really know what we were doing. We sort of came into this thinking ok this is cool let’s put out a record and go out on the road. But now we have grown as musicians and performers and realised what kids reacted to live and what they didn’t. So that helped us shape our new record”.
‘Riot!’ is the culmination of two hard years of tours and growing up as a band and as people. Josh is certainly proud of the album that has helped shoot the band to mainstream heavyweights. He explained: “We found out who we are as a band over the last couple of years. Being in the studio for ‘Riot!’ was an amazing experience, we all grew really close together on a personal level and as a band. I feel we get closer everyday, so it’s all good.”
With success comes a gruelling tour and promotion schedule, and with all the band members starting out in their teens, growing up in such a nomadic environment has obviously had its drawbacks. “I feel I have missed out on a lot of normal teenage life. All of us do.” confesses Josh. “But at the same time we have experienced a lot of stuff adults have never experienced. It’s a give and take situation. There are definitely times I wish I could be home in college right now with my friends. Not have to miss home and my family. I missed out a lot on my little brother and sister growing up. Four years ago my brother was like ten or eleven and I come back home from touring and his voice is lower than mine and he’s getting taller. It’s hard not being there for them and watching them grow up. It’s definitely a difficult thing to do, but it’s worth it in the long run.”
Josh and the guys were certainly not prepared, nor expecting to make it so big at such a rapid rate. Talking about how they first got signed, he remembers: “It was quite a weird process. We played a showcase to the president of music label Fueled By Ramen. It was like in a vacant room, we just set up a P.A system and our amps and drums and played some songs for them. They were like ‘we want to put out your first record’ so it was like ‘BOOM’ there it was -it all came so fast. It was a shock but it didn’t sink in at first, until we really hit the road and then we were like ‘wow this is crazy’. Like I said we were so naive, we have learnt so much over the last few years.”
Paramore really haven’t looked back since, and although their current tour schedule is torturously long, they have still found the time to plant the seeds for a handful of new songs. “We definitely have some new songs and we are working with some rough ideas” reveals Josh. “But I’m not really sure what our new album will sound like yet. We will probably enter the studio at the end of this year or beginning of next. We just have too many tours planned at the moment.” Current album ‘Riot!’ has gone down a storm live, as Josh enthuses: “Riot definitely has the better response live. But also so do some of the old songs like ‘Pressure’ from ‘All We Know Is Falling’. As soon as we start the bass and that first riff - kids just love it. They’ve always loved it. It’s a good feeling to know kids like both of your albums.”
For a band that have achieved so much, so young – do they still have any remaining goals? “We would love to play with Muse,” beams Josh. “But I can’t see that happening, they are just too good. We are touring with Jimmy Eat World and that is certainly a dream come true for all of us. We would also love to tour with Taking Back Sunday, we like that band and think we would sit really well with them.” Josh also has some personal ambitions, “I want to continue making music and hopefully broaden our audience. I really want to play Madison Square Garden in New York and I have heard about the o2 Arena in the UK. I think that would be fun - so maybe one day.”
Paramore are riding high on the wave of success and media hysteria. They take every amazing opportunity with such grace and genuine gratitude. Something which instantly endears them to their ever-growing fan base - while making it almost impossible for anyone to begrudge them such a promising future. Thus with the remaining U.K. tour dates to come and a headline slot at ‘Give It A Name’ - Gigwise predicts a riot!
Live photos by: Shirlaine Forrest