In 2010, founding Paramore member Josh Farro kicked up a brouhaha when he quit the band with his younger brother – and drummer – Zac in tow, before posting a lengthy ‘tell-all’ blog in which he claimed his old group were “a manufactured product of a major label” where the members were treated as “less important” than frontwoman (and his ex-girlfriend) Hayley Williams. Six years later, he’s fronting his own eponymous solo project, Farro, and is preparing to drop his debut album on February 5.
After leaving Paramore, what happened next?
Josh Farro: “Well I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. I needed a break from all the touring. I think I was a little tired. It wasn’t long after I left that started writing music with some friends that formed into a band [Novel American] and Zac joined later on. It didn’t click or go anywhere so I gave up on that. Meanwhile, I’ve been co-writing here in Nashville. I enjoyed that but missed the performing aspect. So I started writing on my own and decided on going solo because it’s hard to find four other guys that share the same vision or commitment. There’s an aspect to calling the shots that’s really nice. Next thing, I’m recording an album with [Grammy-winning producer] Jacquire King and loving it.”
What’s inspired your solo material?
“I’m always listening to Coldplay; they’re one of my favourite bands, and I started going back to classic rock – the Tom Pettys, the ELOs – because I wanted to educate myself. My lyrics are all based on personal experience. I tackle songs about the hardships of life, the pure joy of being in love, starting over in life. ‘Cliffs’ references going solo and singing because I was very hesitant. I grew up playing guitar and everyone told me I should sing, but that was foreign to me. That song’s about taking that leap.”
Your exit blog made it sound as if Paramore had always been riven with tension. What was the straw that broke the camel’s back?
“Back then, I was extremely young and naive. We hit the road when I was 15 – 17 when we started touring hardcore. I don’t regret it. It was a blast but I got burnt out. And yes there was drama. It was like a family. It was like how your brothers and sisters start to annoy you to death, and I’m sure I drove them crazy too. It got to the point where I was kind of over it – and the drama caused by all of us. Tensions flared. I needed a break – and Paramore obviously wanted to keep going which is awesome for them – but I needed to stop, so I decided it would be best if I moved on.”
What was the aftermath like?
“I just went home. At that time, I’d been married for almost a year and I tried to start a new life. It definitely was kind of shocking. It was weird going from such a fast paced life in the Paramore realm to a dead stop. It was kind of like, ‘OK, what’s next?’. I will admit when I left I was bitter – that’s just human nature. It’s taken a long time to learn to let go and I feel like I’ve been on a journey of healing from the whole situation. I’m ready to get something going again.”
Did you ever consider quitting music?
“I definitely did. But the more I thought about it, I just know I’m made to write and perform music. The music industry can be brutal, but this is what I was designed to do.”
Paramore have gone through six members now. Is there a survivors club?
“(Laughs) No… I’ll see our old guitar player every once in a while around town and then our old bass player, John Hembree – he reached out to me [in the aftermath]. We text each other and talk fairly regularly. But no Paramore survivors club. That would be funny wouldn’t it?”
Original bassist Jeremy Davis quit the group in December. Did you see it coming?
“I honestly didn’t see it coming, and I know Jeremy’s a great dude but Hayley and Taylor [York, guitarist] are great people too. It definitely wasn’t on my radar. It was surprising. It’s sad that it has to be that way but he’s got a wife and daughter so it’s understandable.”
Are you in contact with any of the band now?
“Yeah. We don’t hang out every day but definitely we’ll see each other around and we’re totally cool now. We bump into each other and chat like old friends. It’s a good feeling to know that you’re on good terms with someone you had a bad breakup with, so all’s well now. Maybe one day we’ll be really good friends again and be able to hang out, but as of right now it’s taking those next steps of ‘okay at first it was raw and nobody wanted to talk to each other’ and now I feel we’re at that stepping stone where we can be in each other’s presence and it’s good now and everybody feels great, but maybe that next step is hanging out. Who knows? Maybe it’s in the near future.”
Hayley called your blog “the worst day of my life”. Who made the first move towards reconciliation?
“To be honest, I just saw them one day and we talked and made small chat and I told them I felt like I was supposed to apologise for everything – like any decent human would for wronging someone. I didn’t know how they’d take it, but they were very receptive and like, ‘Oh, it’s totally cool. That you for saying that’. It was weird but freeing at the same time. From that point on, it’s been great.”
Could you ever envisage yourself rejoining Paramore – is the door open?
“The thought has crossed my mind before, but I don’t think so. It would be interesting to ever be asked to rejoin the band but I don’t think it would ever happen, and I wouldn’t join again because I’m trying to focus on my career and I really believe in my music.”
When touring, will you sing Paramore songs?
“Probably not. Nothing against those songs, but my focus is my music and I want to establish a name for myself. I feel there was a season and a time to play those songs, but that’s now passed. I want to establish a fanbase that wants to hear my music and let Paramore do what they do best. Leave those songs to them.”