Paramore; Riot On

Being trapped in a lift then pursued by zealous, devoted fans is probably not ideal preparation for one of your biggest solo gigs in the UK to date, at the sold-out Manchester Academy 2 venue. However, the teenage Tennessee quartet, Paramore is not phased and it would seem that very little could knock them off their blistering stride at the moment. Accomplished and driven guitarist, Josh Farro and bassist Jeremy Davis are a picture of focused relaxation in the basic, but cosy dressing room, whilst singer Hayley Williams and drumming prodigy of the Chad Smith stylee, Zac Farrow are already in full flow, engagingly embroiled in their own conflab with local press. The whole outfit shows comfort and poise in dealing with the increasing media demand for their time. This is something that they not only cope with comfortably, but seem to actually take some pleasure out of getting their many views across. How perverse, eh?

This also comes through perfectly in their rugged, searching and raw debut album, ‘All We Know Is Falling’. Although, a slightly anxious twitch and grimace indicates Josh’s desire to move on from it, as much as his following comments;

“We’ve not got any plans to re-release it. When that was released we didn’t really know where we were as a band.”
Despite this, their debut album is surprisingly mature and naturally mood-flitting for a band so young. The offering that shines out from this early collection is ‘All We Know’, mainly for its tempo switching depth and haunting emo trickle. Josh modestly started the song off;

“That song was done really fast. It was actually written in a week. I had the opening riff and I brought it to Hayley who agreed to work on it and it grew from there basically.”

Aaaahhh, the dynamic process in action, eh?

“Yeah, that’s it.”

Paramore has undoubtedly grown in many ways since those days of discovery and bemusement. Searing second album, ‘Riot’ draws out their vocal expansiveness. There are more backing vocals and atmosphere gushing choral elements to coat Hayley’s growing, powerful and commanding range. ‘Born To This’ illuminates this growth perfectly and Jeremy sees this a suitable moment to communicate his thoughts;
“Yeah, I think with this album we’ve all grown as musicians. Hayley’s vocals and Zak’s drums especially, they have stepped it up nicely.”

Before Josh is moved to speak more specifically about ‘Born To This’ and is visibly enthusiastic in his response, highlighting the importance of its subject matter;

“It’s about our fans. It’s due to them that we were in a position to release a second album. This is our way of thanking them and telling them that we still need them to drive us forward.”

However, for them the best track is;

“Misery Business, cos it’s angry and forceful.”

He then opens out about the song-writing process for Paramore, each of the quartet’s contribution seems integral to each song. Certainly in the case of the second album, all four of them add their own personal and inviting touch;
“Most of the time I will write the music and take it to Hayley. Jamie and Zak are good with dynamics and they polish the song off. We don’t really have many rows or disagreements during our song creating, as we all enjoy the same music and we trust each other.”

This trust is borne out in Jeremy’s happiness to let Josh do the bulk of the talking, but he readily nods and acknowledges his responses, as if to say “yeah, that’s what I was gonna say”. However, he suddenly feels compelled to take the lead when the subject of the music press and media arises;

“Tastemakers do seem to have a lot of influence these days. Especially Kerrang, they can make a band seem a lot different than they are.”

It is a comment that leads nicely onto a discussion about the lazy habits that are creeping into bands that are classed as alternative rockers. Some of these acts readily fall into the category that lush indie bands often sink into. That is in attempting to climb up in recognition by slating and generally bringing other bands down. Do they hate another band enough to do that? Jeremy has no hesitation in his reply;

“There are definitely bands that we don’t like, but we realise that there are people who do like them.”

The amiable Josh, who at times, has a look about him that says he’d free a fly from a spider’s web. Responds to a query about the main protagonists in the name calling game; Hinder, whose victims include Thursday and other contemporary bands who they don’t feel are up to the job;
“ Hinder can make fun of bands all they want, but they have people who write their songs for them, Thursday don’t. Like Jeremy said, other bands have a go at us, but we try not to have a go back because we’d just look like dummies. ”

This is the most animated that this laid-back rocker seems to get off-stage and he merely shrugs his shoulders, as though to wash his hands of Hinder’s approach. It is high time to find out about the Tennessee scene that they burst out of? A nostalgic glint appears in Josh’s expression before his reply;

“It is a weird scene, it used to be mainly indie acts that thrived there, but a hardcore scene has steadily grown now. We played loads of school talent shows and seemed to go down well at those. Nashville kids tend to keep themselves to themselves. They analyse every note and sit back and see how good we are?”

That couldn’t be more different from the inhibition releasing spectacles that their shows often turn into over here. Jeremy pinpoints their aspirations at gigs like tonights;

“We want people to go away with good memories and be personally inspired or if they are in a band, then to be motivated to make a go of it. We want them to take the same out of gigs that we do when we see bands like Mute Math. Their live show is great. ”

It is time to wrap up with a political poser for Josh to muse over; how does it feel to be an American citizen in this day and age?

“I think we’re proud of where we come from and the State that we live in. Of course there’s the Bush business, but we try not to lump ourselves in with that, we’re not political.”

Maybe, that is what makes Paramore’s anger in songs like ‘Misery Business’, so engaging as it is not necessarily directed at someone or born out of hatred. It is a controlled anger, a way of releasing frustrations, but it is not too destructive either. Also, that number gives Hayley the chance to nail her Suzi Quatro kick. Paramore have grown into the sort of band that kids can respect, but also lose control to, relatively safely.

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