As Paramore embark on the most successful year of their career, there seems to be no limit as to what they can accomplish. The band’s last 2007 album RIOT! has sold over two million copies worldwide, the group was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008 for “Best New Artist” and even their live CD/DVD The Final Riot! has gone gold. However while these statistics are impressive, record sales have never been the driving force behind Paramore—and that fact has never been as evident as it is on the group’s highly anticipated third full-length brand new eyes. In fact, as excited as this group of young adults from Franklin, Tennessee are to have had the opportunity to tour with their heroes like Jimmy Eat World and No Doubt over the past few years, they seem even more ecstatic to share brand new eyes with the world. “I hope that every record is a progression for us, but this one is definitely a huge leap from RIOT!,” the band’s frontwoman Hayley Williams explains. “I just can’t wait to get back on the road and start playing these new songs live.”
Anyone who has seen the band on the road already knows Paramore have an incendiary live show; however with brand new eyes, the group has proved they’re also able to juxtapose all of their indie-minded influences into a seamless collection of songs that embrace the future without abandoning the band’s past. Additionally, the process of making brand new eyes seems to have taught the group—Hayley, guitarists Josh Farro and Taylor York, drummer Zac Farro and bassist Jeremy Davis—countless lessons about who they are both inside and outside of Paramore. “We’ve been through a ton of stressful, pressure-filled situations since RIOT! came out and I feel like I’m a completely new person,” Hayley explains, adding that brand new eyes ended up being the perfect cathartic outlet for the band’s creativity and, yes, frustration. “I think making the record was part of the healing process,” Hayley elaborates. “It was good for me both as a person and as an artist.”
Considering the fact that RIOT! went gold in Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. and the band cracked the top five on the radio charts in the U.K. Australia, Mexico, Brazil, France, Germany and Southeast Asia, this global success story had a lot to live up to with brand new eyes. Co-produced by the band and Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance), who Paramore also worked with on the track “Decode” from the double-platinum soundtrack for the movie Twilight, the album is also the first disc to officially feature new guitarist Taylor York—although York has been a writing partner and frequent touring member since the band’s inception back in 2004. “It’s really nice having Taylor there because he’s the only other guitarist that I trust with our songs,” Josh explains. “It’s so exciting to be a five-piece again,” Hayley concurs, “that’s what we were originally intended to be, so I think the writing process was a lot more rewarding having him there.” While Josh and Hayley once again made up the main songwriting team on brand new eyes, Hayley is also quick to stress that this album is the most collaborative creation of the band’s career, a fact that is evident in the disc’s sonic diversity.
In fact brand new eyes is a case study in the band’s versatility and contains as many driving, first-pumping anthems like “Ignorance” as it does upbeat pop masterpieces like “Where The Lines Overlap” and lilting, acoustic ballads such as “Misguided Ghosts.” “We really tried to venture out and experiment with our sound to see how far we could push ourselves this time around,” Josh explains. “‘Misguided Ghosts’ is just fingerpicking and that’s not really Paramore’s sound but for some reason it works,” he continues. “I don’t think it would have fit on RIOT! at all, but it’s definitely the perfect song for this album.” While Rob Cavallo was instrumental in helping the band fully realize their sound, the end result wouldn’t have come to fruition in the studio so quickly if the band didn’t have a clear-cut idea of what they wanted to accomplish from the onset. “I think we did a good job of guiding ourselves on this record,” Hayley explains, “but if there was ever was a time [Cavallo] had to step in he did and it was always perfect.”
The rollercoaster ride that Paramore have experienced over the past few years was also a huge influence on the lyrics for brand new eyes, however it was important for Williams not to write a clich_d collection of songs about the perils of success. “I watch all these bands go from being really hungry on their first album to talking about paparazzi following them around on their next one,” Hayley explains with a laugh. “I was so afraid of sounding like that.” Instead Hayley decided to dig into her own psyche and explore some of her deepest emotions. “I would sit in my room all day and not go anywhere, because I felt like I had to keep myself secluded in order to write lyrics,” Hayley recounts. “I’m really proud because looking back on all the songs this is really exactly what I was going through—and I think a lot of people are going through this, too.”
Hayley’s honesty is evident in tracks like the acoustic ballad “The Only Exception” and album closer “All I Wanted,” both of which give an unapologetic glimpse into the inner workings of what was happening in her head over the past two years, a reality that was initially scary for the 20-year-old to advertise to the rest of the world. “Now that it’s all said and on paper I’m not as insecure about [these lyrics] because I think these songs form a full story that people are going to be able to connect with,” Hayley explains, adding that once the songs started to flow in the studio the band were instantly rejuvenated and remembered why they started Paramore in the first place. “There’s something Hayley is able to draw out of me that I can’t seem to do with anyone else,” Josh responds when asked how the band are able to craft music that defies gender and genre stereotypes. “Hayley hates the word ‘mature,’ but I think it’s really suitable for this record because there’s much growth that’s evident on this album.”
Never content to rest on their laurels, Paramore continue to look toward the future and can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for them. “I don’t really care how many records we sell,” Josh explains, citing that this album is a full representation of the band’s disparate influences which include Mew, Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab For Cutie. “I want to come out on the other end happier than ever just knowing that we’ve done this together and it was fun,” Hayley summarizes. “I just want to feel like this is my band, this is awesome, I’m living the dream,” she adds, her voice taking on a palpably excited tone. “If we can accomplish that together, there’s nothing more that we can ask for.”