Interview: Hayley Williams and Josh Farro of Paramore
by Tony Pascarella
Published: August 8, 2005
I had the honor to sit down with an up-and-coming band that hails from Tennessee called Paramore. Consisting of teenage vocalist Hayley Williams, guitarists Josh Farro and Jason Bynum, bassist John Hembree, and drummer Zac Farro, Paramore released their debut album, All We Know Is Falling, on Fueled by Ramen Records on July 26th. It is a superb release that you should check out if you haven't already. The band has performed their way to the big time in recent memory, playing Bamboozle, Taste of Chaos, the Fueled By Ramen & Friends Tour, and now nearly 20 days on Warped Tour 2005's Shiragirl Stage. Their sound is crisp and energetic fun; their live show should impress even the most stubborn of listeners.
Click here to read my review of All We Know Is Falling
Tony: Hayley, is it any more difficult being a girl on Warped Tour?
Hayley: No, it's not.
Tony: There's really no difference?
Hayley: I know people probably see the difference, but I don't feel it.
Tony: Have you discovered any bands you hadn't listened to previously?
Hayley: Let's see. What bands have we listened to?
Josh: We've been watching My American Heart.
Hayley: Yeah, yeah.
Josh: They're really awesome. They're really good friends of ours.
Tony: What do you do when you're not performing?
Hayley: We sit in a van and travel to the next place to perform. Like this morning--we stayed in a hotel last night and it was on the beach. So this morning we all got up really early and hung out on the beach and it was really cool. That was the first time we've really done anything outside of Warped Tour.
Josh: I just write songs when I'm not on the road.
Tony: What's it like going from the small venues to the sold-out festivals like Bamboozle and Warped Tour?
Hayley: It's awesome. It's really different.
Josh: It's a challenge because [small] venues are a lot easier because there's not so many bands and so many people. And when you come to Warped Tour, it's a thousand degrees. But it's awesome.
Tony: If you could be allotted more time in the studio with your new album [All We Know Is Falling], is there anything you'd change or do differently?
Hayley: I wouldn't. I mean, I'm really happy with all the vocals and everything. I'm happy with my performance; I'm happy with the guys' background vocal performances. So, what about music?
Josh: I'm happy with it also. There are a few things that I'd like to do better, just so the next album is better than the first.
Tony: What would you change?
Josh: The energy. More energy and more of a rock feel to the music.
Tony: How did Paramore get signed to Fueled by Ramen?
Hayley: John Janick got ahold of some demos that we had done in Nashville, and he really liked it; he wasn't sold on us until he saw us perform though. So he came and saw us at Taste of Chaos, which was acoustic, and then he wanted to see us perform live. So we did something like a warehouse for him and some of the other guys at the company. And then we decided that we were going to be on the label.
Tony: When did you know that the music gig was really going to take you places?
Hayley: I met Zac and Josh when I moved to Nashville and started going to a private school and it was cool to meet people that liked music as much as I did. As soon as we started writing together, it was pretty obvious. What did you think?
Josh: I totally agree. Our music was okay; it was a lot of fun writing, but as soon as we had Hayley come and sing, then we knew--and everyone was telling us, "You guys can make it." And now we're here.
Tony: Has it met your expectations?
Josh: Totally. It's gone beyond them.
Hayley: Yeah, it has.
Tony: Are you disappointed that Warped Tour doesn't stop in Tennessee?
Hayley: Yeah, I am. I wish it did.
Josh: Yeah I am, because all our friends are there.
Hayley: They came to the Atlanta show, though. And that was cool; it was like a four-hour drive, so that's not bad.
Tony: What's it like playing in front of the hometown crowd?
Hayley: Awesome. They're very supportive. We've had a great response from all of our friends; they've done a great job just encouraging us and supporting us through everything.
Tony: So you're playing 17 dates this year on Warped. What's your favorite city to play so far?
Josh: Probably Chicago. We just had a great turnout and everybody loved us. It was like playing in our hometown. It was great.
Tony: What's the significance behind the title of your album?
Hayley: Our old bass player, Jeremy, left us right before we went through the whole recording process for the album. About two days after he left, we wrote the song "All We Know." We decided we were going to base the album off of that, which is also what the cover means. The couch with no one there and the shadow walking away; it's all about Jeremy leaving us and us feeling like there's an empty space.
Josh: But we're fine with him now. Everything's cool. It was a good subject to write the record around.
Tony: Why did he end up leaving?
Josh: He had some personal issues to deal with; he's in another band now.
Tony: Can you talk a little about the creative process that went into the album?
Hayley: Well, when we write, Josh writes all the music and brings it to me. And then I'll come up with a melody or something and write lyrics and stuff. We help each other out on both sides; we're a team.
Tony: Can you name either a song or a piece of literature or some form of art that best describes you and explain why?
Hayley: Individually or as a band?
Tony: Either one.
Hayley: [long pause followed by some laughing] I can't think of one.
Josh: That's a hard one..
Hayley: "Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous."
Josh: [laughing] No, not at all.
Hayley: I'm totally joking. I don't know.
Tony: If you could tour with three other bands currently living, who would they be?
Josh: I would say Underoath, Dredg, and--
Hayley: I want to play with The Chariot.. So we can put them.
Josh: Yeah, so we can put them.
Tony: All three are good choices.
Tony: How do you like playing on what some people refer to as "the truck stage"?
Hayley: [laughing] I haven't heard that. I've heard the pink stage.
Josh: It's fun; it's a great opportunity. We're on the Warped Tour. So at least people see our name. It's fun; we don't mind it at all.
Hayley: I like it. I do; I think it's really cool.
Tony: You guys see yourselves up on the main stages in a couple of years?
Josh: Yes we do.
Hayley: Of course!
Tony: Where do you see the band in five or ten years?
Hayley: I hope we're doing the same thing, only at a much bigger level, you know? It's fun.
Tony; What are your tour plans for the foreseeable future?
Hayley: We're playing some shows with My American Heart, our good friends, and Bedlight for Blue Eyes. And then we're trying to get on with a couple other bands, but we haven't confirmed anything.
Tony: What other bands are you looking at?
Hayley: We've talked to--should I say? We've talked to All-American Rejects, we've talked to Emery, we're talking to Jimmy Eat World about a couple of dates.
Tony: That'd be awesome. I saw them live last time they were down here.
Josh: Was it good?
Tony: It was awesome.
Hayley: Of course, none of it's confirmed, but we will be touring with someone until the end of the year.
Tony: If you had Kevin Lyman's job, what would you change about Warped Tour?
Hayley: Ooh, I don't want to make him mad. [laughing]
Tony: Don't worry, I'm not going to send it to him.
Josh: Do it in the fall, probably. It's so hot. But then again, people would have to get off school, and that won't really work out. Oh, I know!
Hayley: Free catering!
Josh: Make the food cheaper. It's so expensive.
Hayley: Yeah, it's so hard, especially for a band that doesn't get meal tickets.
Tony: You don't?
Hayley: No, that's mostly for the main stage bands. I mean, we've been to catering, but we've never eaten at it.
Josh: [laughing] We've had fun watching people. We get the scraps.
Hayley: [laughing in agreement]
Tony: Hayley, what advice do you have for girls that are trying to get into the music industry?
Hayley: Do it for yourself. Don't do it because it seems cool or anything. And don't do it to get confirmation. It's hard because you either have people who like you because they say you're hot or you have people who hate you because you're a girl. And a lot of people don't give you a chance. But you're doing it because you love it and it's what you love to do, then it's not hard.
Tony: How is the reaction from fans? Both the people that haven't heard of you and the people that have?
Hayley: It's been awesome! Do you want to say anything about it?
Josh: It's turning out really great. You know, about the girl singer, I automatically thought that guys wouldn't like it, but surprisingly, a lot of guys do. And girls love it also, so it's been a great turnout.
Tony: Yeah, I have to say, I'm a big fan.
Josh: Thank you so much.
Tony: I saw you guys last time you were down here last time with Fall Out Boy when you did the acoustic set.
Hayley: Oh, cool. That was a fun show.
Tony: Everybody I saw was like, "Who are they? Oh wait, they're really good."
Josh: So are you going to come see us today?
Tony: Yeah, I'm definitely going to make time.
Hayley: That's awesome, cool.
Tony: If you were trapped on a desert island with no food, which band member would you eat first?
Hayley: Oh. [bursts out laughing]
Josh: Zac, Zac.
Hayley: Yeah, Zac. I would.
Josh: He's just so jolly he seems like he'd taste the best.
Hayley: [still laughing and agreeing]
Josh: That's my brother. I'd eat my brother. That's really gross though.
Tony: At least you admit it.
Tony: If you could be a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
Josh: Like what flavors? Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry?
Hayley: Anything. Mmm, something Starbucks.
Josh: I would be the O'Charlie's Caramel Pie.
Hayley: Ohh! That's so good, yeah.
Josh: That's my favorite.
Josh: Because it tastes so good. And…I taste so good.
Hayley: Aw! [laughing]
Josh: No, really. If I was ice cream I would want to taste good.
Hayley: Yeah, of course.
Tony: How about you, Hayley?
Hayley: Either Starbucks Java Chip or Superman. You can get Superman at K-Mart; it's super-cheap.
Tony: Why'd you pick those?
Hayley: Because it's colorful! I don't know.
Tony: I love tripping people up on these.
Hayley: Well, Starbucks is really popular and I would want to be really popular ice cream. I don't know!
Tony: I like the reasoning, I really do.
Tony: Is there anything you'd like to add?
Josh: Your shirt's really cool.
Note: I was wearing my green The Academy Is t-shirt
Josh: You're welcome.
Hayley: [laughing] Thank you to everyone.
Josh: Yeah, thanks so much.
Hayley: Thanks for this opportunity.
Tony: Thank you for this interview.
Special thanks to Hayley Williams and Josh Farro for this awesome interview. Thanks to their tour manager (Mark), and Kate Cafaro for making it happen, and a special thank you to Hayley's dad for the pair of earplugs that later kept The Offspring from making me deaf. Photos are property of Daniella Curry and Tony Pascarella.
To contact the author, click here. He will respond to most e-mail, hatemail included. If you are a publicist or associated with a band/label and would like either the author or any staff member to review your disc or conduct an interview, please use the same method of contact, and Tony will get back to you as soon as possible.