Interview: Paramore


It’s no secret that the members of Paramore have come under a scrutinizing eye. Be it their steadily mounting popularity or their front-girl with a solid and inspiring set of tubes, Hayley, Josh, Jeremy and Zac take it all on with a new album, titled Riot!, in tow. What happens if the album leaks? Who’s bothered by the over-concentration/near-objectification of Hayley and not on the music? What does Paramore blow up when they’re bored in the studio? Read on to find out. A big thanks goes out to Catharine McNelly at Atlantic for all her help, as well as Hayley and Josh for taking time to sit down with 

For the record, what’s your name and what do you do in the band?

Josh: I’m Josh and I play guitar.

Hayley: I’m Hayley and I sing.

Let’s talk about your roots. I’ve never been to Franklin, Tennessee before. What’s it like down there?

Josh: It’s great. It’s really laid back. It’s really nice there. The weather is pretty sweet there all the time. It’s home. I still love it.

How did Franklin embrace Paramore in its first stages?

Hayley: We weren’t so much of a “scene” band there when we started. There isn’t too much a scene there, either. It took us awhile. I remember the first couple shows we played there after getting signed, we were just opening for other bands. It didn’t seem like there were a ton of kids coming out who knew who we were. And if they did, they didn’t even know we were from the same town as them. The headlining tour that we did last year the last stop we did was Nashville, and it sold out Rocketown. I really feel like we started to make a name as a Nashville band. It’s a good feeling.

Nashville is a town that is know for its influence in music, so it must have been really neat for you guys. 

Hayley: Totally.

How old are you guys? 

Josh: I’m 19.

Hayley: I’m 18.

Who’s the youngest in the band? 

Josh: Zac. He’s 16. 

How many of you were in high school when the band started to pick up pace?

Josh: [to Hayley] When did I finish high school? I was doing a home school kind of thing. I guess just three of us. 
Hayley: Me, Zac and Jeremy. 

What did you do? Did you have to put school on the side for a little while? Were you all home schooled? How did it work?

Josh: I finished home school when we moved to Orlando to record the record. I finished high school there, so I was lucky enough to get it out of the way before we hit the road. Hayley did the same thing, but she finished about a year later. And Zach will never do it (laughs).

Hayley: Yeah, he’s sort of struggling (laughs).

It must be difficult to be in a rock band and then have to do homework.

Hayley: Yeah, totally.

Was there a moment, a show, a piece of good news, or anything, when you realized that Paramore was something that you wanted to pursue full time?

Hayley: I would say the first show we ever did. We were a local band opening for Copeland. Yeah, we got really lucky. At this little place in Nashville called The End. I just remember all of our friends. We would all go to Copeland shows. Anytime Copeland as there, all of Franklin was there. All of the young people our age were there. I remember we were finally on stage at one of those shows, and that’s when I knew. I remember how excited we were before the show, hanging out backstage in our little huddle (laughs), talking and shaking. That’s when it became a reality, you know?

How about now? When you are about to go on stage, do you still get nervous?

Hayley: Sometimes, yeah.

Josh: Being away from the whole touring scene – we’ve been making out record for three months. And even before that, we were away for six months. We’re still in the beginning of the tour, and we still get nervous. The first few shows we were really scared. Slowly you get back into the routine.

Is there anything that you don’t think you will ever get used to?

Hayley: It’s always weird being on the road and then coming back home, being on the road and coming back home. You have to figure out who you are in both of those. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to live on the road. Once we get used to this we’ll have to go back home again. I definitely think that’s something we will never get used to.

What about doing things like interviews? Doing stuff just like this – does this feel awkward for you guys?

Josh: No, it’s not awkward at all (laughs).

You must do a lot of interviews and some of the stuff you say must feel very repetitive. 

Hayley: Yeah (laughs). I learn more about myself, it’s kind of weird, talking in interviews than I do just sitting around. That’s the only awkward part – that you have to keep talking about yourself. In real life, that’s such an annoying thing. 

Well thank you for being honest with me. Do you ever feel like you have to watch your actions and what you say?

Hayley: Totally. There is a fine line between not caring what people think about you and being who you are. And also, when you are in a position where a lot of people are looking up to you and wondering what your take on something is, I feel you have to watch yourself. Someone can get the wrong impression from anything. We want people to get great things from our music. We say we’re fine after the show, and the second we head back we may be butting heads about something. We don’t really want people to see that type of stuff because that’s not really what it’s about. It’s something we have to get through in order to get better. But, yeah, we totally have to watch what we do. 

Did you guys go up on the website [] and check the replies that we got for the interview?

Hayley: Yeah (laughs).

What did you think of some of them? I don’t want to talk about whether or no you have a boyfriend or whatever, because that’s not what music is about. But I am curious what you think of people always harping on just you [Hayley] in the band? Are you sick of it? Do you just laugh it off?

Josh: We knew that would happen. We knew that it would just get worse the more fans we gain. People are going to be more focused on Hayley. It happens with any lead man, but it’s a little different because she’s a girl. There are times when it just happens so much that we are like “Oh man, this is getting annoying,” just to be honest. Deep down we know that we are a band and that’s how we see ourselves and as long as people know that’s how we feel and who we are. 

Hayley: We don’t look at ourselves as everybody else does, as this girl-fronted band that’s limited by so many things just because it’s a girl. I think we have more opportunities and we are available to do more things. It’s retarded. Just because I have boobs has a couple more threads about Paramore. It’s weird. Whatever, I don’t care. We make music for people to enjoy music, not so people can talk about my sexuality. 

Let’s talk about the new album. Now that you are finish recording and you can reflect, what’s the difference between the processes of recording All We Know Is Falling versus Riot!? Did you feel more prepared this time around?

Josh: Definitely. We had a lot more time learning about the whole album – where we wanted to go and how we wanted it to sound. The last one was so rushed. We did it in three weeks. This one was almost three months. Totally different. We had so much time to pick apart each song and figure out what we didn’t like, add more stuff, or whatever. It’s easier to sit back and be like, “Wow.” The last one we sort of looked back and were like “Man, I wish I would of done this.” On this one, it’s just like “Yes.” I did everything I wanted to do.

Hayley: I feel the same way about it. I’m real excited for it. Everything we needed to get out and everything we needed to say is in this record. We’ve said this in a lot of interviews, but I can’t really say this enough: If everything stopped today, this is the record that I would be proud for us to be remembered by.

I love when I hear musicians excited about their music. In that vein, what songs off the new album are you most excited about?

Josh: I love our single, “Misery Business.” I just love every part of it. I love Hayley’s melody. 

What song off the album was the most difficult to record?

Hayley: Mentally, I had a really hard time recording “Hallelujah,” because there was already a leaked version of it out. There’s an acoustic version and a recorded version that has leaked, and I knew that kids were totally used to that version. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make this one better. But I’m happy with it now. I put every emotion for that song into. It’s so rewarding. Looking back, knowing that the exact feelings I had when I wrote the words sound the same when I recorded it. That’s really awesome.

[To Josh] What about you?

Josh: I can’t remember! (laughs) They were all pretty tough, because David Bendeth was really hard on us and on Zach as well. Every song we had to play pretty close to dead on time. It took quite awhile for every song (laughs). I was sort of prepared but you can’t ever really be totally prepared. It took quite awhile but it definitely taught me a lot. 

Why record with David Bendeth? Why did you think Paramore would fit in with his style?

Hayley: Judging by the rest of the bands he’s worked with, there was no promise that stylistically we would fit with him. We knew by the way that he was constantly there, wanting to do the record, “I love your sound. I want to do this record. I know this is going to be a challenge to make. I want to take on that challenge.” He pursued us for over a year. It’s been since last February. He’s just amazing. You spend five minutes around him and you know you just want to be around him because he’s so cool. 

Were there any other producers you were looking into?

Josh: Yeah, we met with a few. Neal Avron. And then Howard Benson. They were really nice guys but they didn’t seem as dedicated and passionate as David. We felt like that’s who we needed to go with. 

The official release date for Riot! is June 12th. This is a sad subject, but what happens if it leaks? Will that be a big upset for you guys? Is this something that you think about frequently? 

Josh: It’s gonna happen. Every record leaks. Kids these days… They can find anything. They’re so smart. (laughs)

Hayley: I don’t know why they don’t already have though.

Josh: Yeah, you’d think they would.

Hayley: I’ve been waiting for the announcement or some post (laughs). 

Josh: Out last record leaked anyway and we had like two fans (laughs). This one is definitely going to leak!

Hayley: You want to sort of control it all, but you can’t. 

Josh: We’d rather people buy it instead of everybody already hearing it, you know. 

Hayley: Like that line at Tower Records when N*Sync’s record came out – No Strings Attached. It was in the news, man.

Why the name Riot!?

Hayley: Because, you know, we’re punk rock (laughs). No, we wanted one word that summed it all up. We were throwing around ideas and we realized that not every definition for the word “riot” is violent or bad. After studying, we saw the word has so many meanings. One, as simple as it is, is just being variety, and I think that’s a great way to describe all the different sounds and influences. The main reason we picked it is because it means “a sudden outburst of uncontrolled emotion.”

I like that. I’ve been in a couple studios in my life during the recording process, but I’ve always noticed how bored everyone gets. What did you do to pass the time?

Hayley: We blew up toilets.

Josh: Yeah, we blew up toilets. The engineers that work at Bendeth’s studio are amazing. They’re such cool dudes. There’s this one guy – Dan – who likes to blow up stuff. He builds little sticks of dynamite. We found a toilet over by the dumpster. We blew that up. We blew up a TV, an acoustic guitar, and a birthday cake. We shot off rockets and airplanes and helicopters and all that crap. They had all these arcade games so you don’t get too bored. 

Hayley: We had cheesecake almost every night. You have a food budget. Every night we had Chicken Madeira and cheesecake. And I would have Oreo cheesecake (laughs). 

You aren’t sick of cheesecake? (laughs) If someone offered you Cheesecake Factory right now, would you take it? 

Hayley: Oh yeah! Oh my god…

Josh: Oh yeah! Have you ever had Chicken Madeira?


Josh: And the best is French Vanilla cheesecake with fresh strawberries.

Hayley: It will kill you.

Ok. I’m gonna have to try it. How did you get involved with To Write Love On Her Arms?

Hayley: A friend messaged me on Myspace, of course, about it. It sounded really interesting. The name was so long, I was like “I gotta remember this!” (laughs) I checked it out and I saw that there we a couple bands getting involved, and I was like “This is really cool.” So many people can gain a lot from this. I wrote James, the dude that started it, and I was like “I’m in this band.” You know, he’s not going to know what band this is, but I’m just going to give it a shot and see if it works. I’m like, “I’m in this band called Paramore and we’re on Fueled by Ramen. I think what you’re doing is really cool. I have friends that have dealt with stuff like this, and I know we have fans dealing with this stuff all the time. I really want to help out.” He wrote back and was like, “We will send you guys with whatever you want. Give me your shirt sizes. You’re playing Cornerstone?” And we were playing Cornerstone in Florida last year, and we went down there and met him. Got to meet Renee, who is the reason that TWLOHA even exists. We made friendships and relationships and that’s what it’s about. It’s having those relationships and positive influences in each other lives. And we just saw Renee the other day in Orlando. She’s amazing. She’s just a beautiful person. She’s someone you really want to know. 

Because of your involvement with TWLOHA, it seems like a lot of people like to assume you are a Christian band, or at least heavily influenced by religion. Are you?

Hayley: We’re actually atheists. (laughs) No, personally, we believe in Jesus Christ. 

Josh: We are Christian, but we’re not a Christian band. We’re just like everyone else, you know? We have our own beliefs. 

Here are a couple user-submitted questions. What are you guys listening to right now? Any new bands you can introduce us to?

Hayley: My computer has been broken. 

Josh: All I listen to is Jimmy Eat World. That’s all. Jimmy Eat World and Mute Math. I love Mute Math. I have that Akon song stuck in my head. (Sings) Nobody wanna see us together (all laugh).

Here’s a good one. How did you choose the order of the tracklisting on the album?

Hayley: Because there is a concept of good and bad on the record, you’ve got this sort of evil type of victorious or glad-to-be-me kind of songs on one end of the record. And then on the other end of the record you’ve got something like “Hallelujah” when you’re in the midst of all this terrible stuff and you know you are going to come out on the other side better and everything is going to be fine. We talked about putting the songs in order so the concept would be very evident, but we ended up thinking that’s not how life is. Things are just jumbled up, and that’s how life is. We picked the songs the way we wanted them to go and the way that we would enjoy listening to the record. 

Wonderful, you guys. I think that’s all I have for you. 

Hayley: And no, the guys have not see me naked. (all laugh)

Any last words?

Josh: Thanks for doing this. It was cool.

Hayley: Yeah, thanks a lot. 

And thank you. I very much appreciate it.

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