Over the course of the past year, no band has been thrust into the limelight quite like Paramore. Last summer the band quickly became a household name after releasing its sophomore album, “Riot!,” flourishing as a headliner on Warped Tour and scoring a smash single with “Misery Business.” None of this, however, was anticipated.
“Our main goal from the entire record was to maybe have it go gold,” explained bassist Jeremy Davis in a phone interview last month. “That was our highest expectation for the record. We had no idea what it was going to be.”
Currently “Riot!” is closing in on platinum status, a remarkable feat considering the sharp decline of recent music sales. With its popularity boom, interest in the band – which will headline the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on July 30 – has been nonstop.
“We started dealing with like stalkers and just – I don’t know – weird things, like having to sit down with your tour manager to come up with alias names for whenever you stay at a hotel,” Davis said. “I know that we definitely haven’t seen the worst of it at all yet.”
Handling the newfound spotlight has been one of the biggest challenges for the band, comprised of Davis, Hayley Williams on vocals and brothers Josh and Zac Farro on guitar and drums. At times it seems the music itself gets overshadowed, whether it has been the media fixating on the group’s female frontwoman or creating brouhaha when the band abruptly pulled out of a European tour earlier in the year.
“It was really hard for us at first to learn to just blow it off … and find something funny about it and laugh it off,” Davis admitted. “People are going to say whatever it is they want to say, and you really can’t do anything about it. All it’s going to do is be a waste of time if you try.”
One of the hardest issues for the group is dealing with shots taken at the 19-year-old Williams. Although lately it has begun to dissipate, Davis confessed it hasn’t always been easy.
“It used to kind of frustrate us, you know when dudes – like older guys – would be yelling all kinds of dirty stuff to this girl, who at the time was, like, 16 or 17. That was really hard for us.”
Davis, who originally started playing in a funk cover band with Williams six years ago, can’t help but find the whole situation surreal.
“I think the weirdest thing about it is that I feel like I’m just a normal, average guy who just enjoys playing music,” he said. “I wonder why in the world do people really care exactly what I’m doing.”
Despite the recent success, the band members haven’t let it go to their heads, remaining true to their Tennessee roots. Part of what has helped them stay grounded is their Christian upbringing, although they don’t believe in using the stage as a pulpit.
“Our whole thing is we don’t like to shove it down anyone’s throats. We don’t feel like we should be the ones that should be preaching to them,” Davis said. “Kill someone with kindness, you know what I’m saying? Even if it’s just a smile and being nice to someone, letting them see through you. That’s more of what we’re about.”
Meanwhile, Paramore has given no indications of slowing down anytime soon. During the summer it will travel overseas before returning to the States for a one-week stint on Warped Tour and scattered festival dates. Another tour is likely to come in the fall, after which the group will turn its focus to recording a new album. Davis pointed out that the band’s wide array of influences – everything from Sunny Day Real Estate and Death Cab for Cutie to Thrice and mewithoutYou – will likely play a bigger role this time around.
“The new stuff that we’ve been working on is just I guess a lot more mature than Riot!” he said, comparing it to the jump between the band’s first two releases. “We’re not going to stray too far from the path that we’re on, but we definitely feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”
Considering the young age of its members, Paramore is likely to only improve with time. The oldest at 23, Davis acknowledged the future indeed looks bright, and the band is fortunate to have experienced things most people can only dream about.
“I’m really excited with the way things are going right now because I feel like if we progress from here, who knows where it’s going?” he said. “We’re just kids playing music – the same kids we’ve always been – and we’re loving every minute of it. We’re very blessed.”
Originally appeared in The Orange County Register