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Paramore: There's always going to be some angst in our music

Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis, Taylor York
Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis, Taylor York
Photo by Pamela Littky

And then there were three. For any band to be successful without controversy is a novelty, and Paramore certainly falls in that category. Recently, founding members Josh and Zac Farro split from the Franklin, Tennesee pop-punk band. No matter. Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis, and Taylor York forged on with touring and came to write the best album of the band's career. Their new sound on the self-titled album opens up new doors with a few love songs, and includes pieces addressing the loss of friends and bandmates, eventually coming to terms with ghosts of the past.

Gimme Noise spoke with guitarist Taylor York before the band's show this weekend at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. We discussed what went into the new album and how the band has coalesced to become different musicians and people.

Gimme Noise: How are you? Taylor York: I'm doing very, very good. Right now we're in Brazil getting ready to hang out with fans.

Gimme Noise: That's great that you're taking the time to still do meet and greet with fans. Why is it important for you guys to do that?

Taylor York: Our fans are the only reason we're able to do this -- the only reason we're able to make it to Minnesota and play a bigger show. We owe everything to people that are connecting to our music and that are buying records and going to shows. It's definitely becoming harder and harder to have real interactions with fans besides online, so even these little moments where we can shake people's hands, sign something, exchange words, and smiles, that means a ton to us. Those are some of the things that keep us going and keep us grounded; they remind us that we are connecting with people.

Gimme Noise: So you guys are doing this huge tour -- and it feels like you've been on tour constantly -- but that last time you were in town was when you were touring with No Doubt, and we haven't seen you since then. How do you feel touring with them helped you guys as a band, and what did you learn from being on such a big tour?

Taylor York: We definitely look up to them -- both as people and musicians. I think it's inspiring to see people that have been doing it for so long and are still so dedicated and committed; they really figured out what works for them. I think when you're starting out, you have to work so hard -- you have to sprint. You have to really earn things, I mean, you always have to earn things, but you get to a point in your career where you figure out what works for you, and you realize it's a marathon -- it's not a sprint.

I think they really helped instill that in us by saying, "You guys need to watch out for your longevity and figure out how you guys can do this for a long time. You have to find out who you are." They were in better shape than us; they were working out everyday. It was really inspiring to be with a band like that. We're really thankful for that tour, but I'm excited to be back with our own show.

Gimme Noise: You said that some of No Doubt's advice was finding out who you are. Do you think you're still trying to find out who you are as a band, or do you feel you're there?

Taylor York: I guess I would hope for any artist that you never arrive. I do think we know who ourselves better now than we ever have, but we're still growing as individuals, and so you can assume that would affect our dynamic as a band. I do think we're in a more confident place than we've ever been, but we're constantly changing and growing and evolving.

Gimme Noise: I'm sure you get asked the question all of the time about the departure of the Farro Brothers, so I want to move away from that, as I'm sure you do.

Taylor York: Awesome.

Gimme Noise: I do think that since it was such a divisive time for the band, a lot of people use that period to define the band. What do you want the band to be defined by?

Taylor York: [pause] I don't really know -- that's a good question. I just want people to connect to our art and hopefully find something positive -- some sort of hope or release. I want it for it to be something more as a band, I suppose. I want to be defined as a band that moves people into a more positive place.

 

Gimme Noise: Can we talk a little about the new album? I felt the direction of Paramore was a little darker to me.

Taylor York: Oh, really? That's interesting. We were really trying to make it happier. [laughs] That's awesome.

Gimme Noise: Well, there's a ukulele tune ("Interlude: I'm Not Angry Anymore") that Hayley sings on -- it's happy, but there's an underlying darkness to it. Did you have expectations when you were writing for this album?

Taylor York: I think we've always written very emotional and dramatic records. I think there's always going to be some angst in our music, and we are emotional beings, so of course it will be emotional. We were trying to tip that, maybe just towards something happier and positive, because we really are in a more positive place. That's what we were going for, but I guess it didn't come across that way. [laughs]

Gimme Noise: Perhaps people interpret stuff differently from where they are in their lives. I'm sure if I listened to this when I was 20, I'd probably interpret it in a different way.

Taylor York: Right, right. Absolutely.

Gimme Noise: Was it scary to come out with such a different sound for this self-titled album? Did it cross your mind "We're gonna lose fans"?

Taylor York: Of course. We thought about every possible scenario. It's hard to not obsess about that, especially when you're going through such a major transition. Nothing's changed; I think even if the Farro brothers were still in the band, I think it would still be a defining album for us. We would have to change regardless. I think with all the added changes happening - everything we went through-- I think anything we did, we were scared about. If we had made the same record again as Brand New Eyes, we would have been scared. At a certain point, we had to believe in our new direction and commit to it -- be confident in what we were doing.

Gimme Noise: I think that's part of being human.

Taylor York: Yeah!

Gimme Noise: I know music is such a big part of your life, but can you tell me something about yourself outside of music that you are particularly proud of?

Taylor York: [sighs] I don't know. Honestly I feel like music is very consuming of our lives. We don't really have a lot of extra time [laughs] to explore other things, but I'm proud to be from the city that I'm from [Nashville], also the family that I'm from. I'm just trying to be a good person and a good brother and son and a good friend. That's what I really do outside of music. I wish I was more proud of this other non-musical person [laughs], but that's what I'm working on.

Gimme Noise: Taylor, thanks for your time. We're excited to have you back here in the Cities.

Taylor York: We cannot wait. This is going to be our best show we've ever put on. I feel like every tour we've done, we've learned more and more about ourselves as musicians and performers. Jeremy and our production team have been working endlessly on coming up with cool ideas, and we're coming up with setlists. This is definitely not a show that people want to miss. This is the one to go to; it will be the best show we've ever had.

Gimme Noise: Yeah, and I love Metric, too.

Taylor York: Yeah, and Hellogoodbye. It's gonna be such a party.

Paramore will perform at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium with Metric and Hellogoodbye on Saturday, November 23, 2013. AA, $37.50-$47.50, 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets here.

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