Even if you aren’t a fan of the once-ascendant pop-punk band Paramore, the drama surrounding their recent fracture is not to be ignored. The backstory: On Saturday, the band released a statement announcing that founding members and brothers Zac (drums) and Josh (guitar) Farro were leaving, saying, “None of us were really shocked. For the last year it hasn't seemed as if they wanted to be around anymore we support them finding happiness elsewhere." Then, late yesterday, Zac and Josh shot back with their side of the story. It’s a doozy.
The bros go in on front woman Hayley Williams — whom you may recognize from the hook on B.o.B.’s hit “Airplanes” and from her general rising fame level — contending that from day one the band was created as a platform for her, only made to seem like your average, scrappy, on-the-come-up independent act (much like some mix tape rappers, the band apparently was signed to a major, Atlantic, but kept it hidden while releasing albums on Fueled by Ramen). In a dynamic familiar to anyone who has seen the “Don’t Speak” video, label execs and managers showered Williams (whom Josh also dated, by the way) with attention while shutting the rest of the band out. Josh and Zac also take issue with some of Williams’s latter-day lyrics, which they claim contradict the band’s original pro-faith message (this part really spoke to us, for some reason: “Amos 3:3 says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction”).
It’s worth reading the whole thing, but here’s a choice passage:
We travelled to LA a few weeks later for a showcase and it was a nightmare. Hayley’s manager would tell the band to be in the lobby of the hotel at a certain time, but he and Hayley wouldn’t show for hours. We found out that they had been meeting with record label executives all morning without us, which is totally weird given that this wasn’t simply a solo artist, but we were a band. The band was in the dark the whole time. After many meetings between Hayley, her manager and the labels they decided to sign her to Atlantic records. We didn’t understand why Hayley was the only one signing the contract since we were told this was a “band”, but we were too young to grasp all of this. So far, Zac and I haven’t signed with another label, although I guess our part of Paramore sure could. Next thing we knew we were having a signing party for Hayley.
Our next move was to rerecord her solo demos with our own music rather than studio musicians to make it sound more genuine. Meanwhile, we tossed around band names. I wrote out a list of names, including “Paramore”, a name my old band with Taylor and Jason Clark had thought about using. Obviously, we settled on that name. The label received the rerecorded demos and once again tried to fire the entire band, saying we were terrible. Thankfully Hayley and I had been writing some new songs together (Hallelujah, Here We Go Again) that the label was pleased with so that acted as leverage for the band to stay. The label and management then decided to build our band up the grass-roots route. They put Hayley on Fueled by Ramen not making it known she was signed to Atlantic as well. All the while we still questioned whether or not we were an actual band, but Hayley continued to insist we were, despite our being ignored and pushed around by the label.
They then sent us all to Orlando to rehearse and write eight hours a day for our first record. Half -way though this process, Jeremy decided to quit. We were all really upset about it. So we finished the record, replaced Jeremy, and hit the road with Hayley’s father as our tour manager/driver of a twelve-passenger van. Her dad would constantly threaten to “pull the plug” on the whole band if we complained about anything, suggesting that we were hired guns and Hayley was the real artist, when in reality we were also part of the band. We’ve always been treated as less important than Hayley. It’s been obvious how her family views things.
Jeremy ended up rejoining and we toured non-stop for two and half years building our fan base, pretending to be a band that started naturally. In reality, what started as natural somehow morphed into a manufactured product of a major label, riding on the coattails of “Hayley’s dream.”
Your move, Hayley!