Paramore: A Decade On

In the small town of Franklin, Tennessee two brothers, guitarist Josh and drummer Zac Farro were keen to start a band but nothing seemed to be clicking for them; that is until 13 year-old Hayley Williams moves into town and begins to write for them. Jeremy Davis, who Williams already knew, soon took the position of bass player and Jason Bynum took on the role of rhythm guitarist. Now that they had their line-up all they needed was a name, and the suggestion of ‘Hidden Corporate Messages’ from an employee at Taco Bell didn’t seem to fit very well. They decided to take the name Paramore, as it was the maiden name of the mother of one of their past bass players. The name also evolved from the French phrase for ‘secret lover’. Although very young at the time, the youngest member being Zac Farro at 12, this band from a small town in the USA set out on a mission to conquer the world – I think it’s safe to say that after 10 years and 4 albums that goal has more or less been accomplished.

Paramore were signed to the niche record label Fueled By Ramen and began writing songs together as a band, the first being the song ‘Conspiracy’ which would feature on their first album. After playing a few shows Jeremy Davis left the band due to personal reasons, and was later replaced by John Hembree. However the band marched on and wrote their début album ‘All We Know Is Falling’ in 2005, whose opening track ‘All We Know’ is actually written about the hole that Davis created when he left the band. The album was a great first record that showed the world what Paramore are made of. The Farro brothers’ raw guitar and hard drum beats gave it that rough rock sound, and Williams’ soft but high vocals brought a feeling of calm about it. ‘Pressure’ was the first single released from the album, which, although did not chart at the time, has since become a fan favourite. Second music video ‘Emergency’ and live video ‘All We Know’ followed; by this time Hunter Lamb had replaced Jason Bynum on rhythm guitar and due to the band’s pleas, Jeremy Davis had returned to play bass in place of John Hembree.

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In the summer of 2006, the band played to thousands of people and promoted their name around America on the Warped Tour; that same year saw them play not only their first headlining shows, but their first headlining sold out shows. The support just carried on coming from then on, although they were still quite an unknown band at this point, it seemed the UK definitely wanted to hear more as they were voted best new band in British magazine Kerrang! and Hayley Williams was also voted #2 in the ‘sexiest female’ category. Hunter Lamb left the band soon after, leaving Williams, Davis and the Farros to continue on as a quartet.

With a début album which had been well received among their fans the band now had to write new material; and that material would need to be leaps and bounds better than All We Know Is Falling. As the band had lost their rhythm guitarist, old friend Taylor York stepped in as a touring guitarist. In mid 2007 Paramore released their second album ‘Riot!’ – this record blasted the band into the mainstream with such singles as ‘Misery Business’, ‘That’s What You Get’ and ‘Crushcrushcrush’. The album represented the growth that the band had gone through since their first album, Williams has said herself that the lyrics for ‘Misery Business’ were more honest than anything she’s ever written before. The raw sound of the band was slightly pulled back for Riot!, replaced in some places by lighter chord progressions, however Josh Farro’s melodic guitar playing was still present throughout.

The year 2008 saw the band take to the big screen, with their tracks ‘Decode’ and ‘I Caught Myself’, being featured on the soundtrack for ‘Twilight’; the first in The Twilight Saga. Decode became one of the group’s most famous tracks, selling over one million copies, and was later featured on their third album as a bonus track on the international release. The band only wrote material for the first film in the series as they did not want to be known as “that Twilight band”.

Heading up to releasing their third album there were many problems in the group; the constant touring had created friction between the members and it had become difficult for them to constantly be around each other. Josh had also raised concerns that the media were more focused around Hayley rather than the entire band. Nonetheless, Paramore’s third album ‘Brand New Eyes’ was released in 2009, and reminded their fans that they still had fire left inside them. Singles like ‘Careful’ and ‘Ignorance’ brought back that rough sound that was present at the beginning of the band’s career, and slow, peaceful ‘The Only Exception’ and ‘Misguided Ghosts’ brought back Williams’ soft tones and meaningful lyrics. Mid-album track ‘Looking Up’ was Williams’ view on the trouble that the band had had with each other, and how they had come out on top. Concluding song ‘All I Wanted’ also saw the vocalist attempt to expand her abilities in the form of this track, which took her voice to higher notes than we had ever heard before. Soon after the release of Brand New Eyes, Taylor York became an official member of the band.

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Unfortunately, it appeared as though the trouble between the members had never really been resolved, as in late 2010 Hayley, Jeremy and Taylor released a statement on paramore.net explaining that Josh and Zac Farro would be leaving the band, as they did not want to continue with the group. Josh stated that he thought the band had become a manufactured product of their record label, something which the remaining three members felt they had addressed years ago.

With two of their founding members gone, the future looked bleak for Paramore as the trio had to decide what their next step was. Not wanting to let down the fans, and wanting to carry on themselves, Hayley, Jeremy and Taylor announced that they would be releasing new music in 2011. Although this music would not be a full-length album, 2011 would definitely see the band keep busy; along with writing for their fourth album the band recorded the song ‘Monster’, which appeared on the ‘Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’ soundtrack. They then released three songs, ‘Renegade’, ‘Hello Cold World’ and ‘In The Mourning’, which became known as ‘The Singles Club’, and were only available to download from Paramore’s website.

Their fourth album, which was self-titled, was then released in mid 2013, and ranked #1 on the USA’s Billboard Chart. The record was very different than any of their other albums, firstly with a 17 track-listing it was much longer than their previous offerings; but what had altered the most was the sound. Although Paramore’s sound had slightly changed through their previous three records, the essence could still be felt through the songs; it seemed that after the departure of Josh Farro the band had decided to take a slightly different road in their music – something which the trio had earlier expressed would happen. This was not to say that they were not the same old Paramore that we had come to know and love, as songs such as ‘Now’, ‘Anklebiters’ and ‘Part II’ (which is sort of a sequel to the song ‘Let The Flames Begin’ from Riot!) still screamed classic Paramore with their hard guitar riffs and intense vocals. However tracks like ‘Still Into You’, ‘Grow Up’ and the three ukulele songs showed that the band had not only stuck to their roots, but also taken a trip down the pop side of things. Something which seemed to play off in their favour in some respects, as last released single ‘Ain’t It Fun’ went on to be the band’s highest charting song.

Whether you love them or loathe them, there is no denying that this pop-punk band from Franklin, Tennessee have accomplished a whole lot in their 10 years together. They have lost members and gained members, and although Williams may have made some slightly odd choices recently with her various appearances in rap songs and sporting a very questionable fringe, right now the band seem closer than ever and world domination is still in their sights.

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Who would have thought that when this unknown band released their début album All We Know Is Falling, they would ignite a fire that would still be burning 10 years later.

Paramore’s Album Catalogue:

All We Know Is Falling – 2005

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Interesting Fact – The album is actually dedicated to 16 year-old Lanie Kealhofer, Hayley Williams’ friend who died on May 2005; the song Brighter on the record is also dedicated to her.

Riot! – 2007

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Interesting Fact – The back-up vocals provided on the album’s concluding track Born For This, were from fan Mary Bonney who had previously won a competition to sing on the song.

Brand New Eyes2009

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Interesting Fact – The butterfly that appears on the cover of Brand New Eyes is one that Hayley Williams found dead in the drive-way of her mother’s house; they pinned it to a fence and took a picture of it.

Paramore – 2013

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Interesting Fact – For their music video for Ain’t It Fun the band set about trying to break as many world records as they could, in total they broke 10.

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