Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ignorance is your new best friend

I couldn't let this week go by without weighing in on the current debate raging about the demise/reboot of Paramore. In case anybody reading this (all two of you) isn't aware, Josh and Zac Farro, the lead guitarist and drummer of Paramore respectively, decided to leave the band this week. The remaining members, Hayley, Jeremy and Taylor, issued a statement via the band's website, citing issues such as the brothers missing their families, changing relationships and a demanding tour schedule for their departure, and promised to move forward as a band. Hayley's old catchphrase "Paramore is a band" morphed easily into "Paramore is still a band". It seemed fair enough. Things change, they were growing apart, whatever.

And then, the plot thickened. A blog, purporting to have been written by the Farro brothers, appeared, and detailed, in all its' horrible glory, the slow demise of the band over their seven year career, from feuds to Hayley being the main focus, to her solo career, to her crazy, domineering parents, to a record company conspiracy. It made for incredibly difficult reading, and I, along with legions of die-hard fans, secretly prayed that it was fake. And then Josh released a video on his youtube account, assuring us all that the blog was real, and furthermore, although he knew it upset some of us "there's nothing I can do about that".

Now, a lot of fans (mainly crazy, religious, teenage chicks) freaked out, swearing they'd never listen to Paramore again, how they hated Hayley and that we'd all been tricked into believing a lie and a clear marketing ploy.

This is one of those moments when I am so very glad that I am in my twenties, and thus able to take a step back from such unfortunate events and gather my thoughts before making emotionally-charged, rash decisions. I've loved this band for years, I queued up for seven hours in the rain and freezing cold to see them, I'm not giving up on them any time soon - at least, not until they give up.

Firstly, let me just say that Hayley Williams is one of my role models. I don't know her personally, obviously, but I doubt that she could fake her public appearance so much so that I'd be fooled into believing she's just like me. I admire strong, independent, confident women, who are who they are without feeling the need to constantly defend and explain themselves. Watching candids of her with the guys, remembering how she used to refuse to wear make-up for photoshoots, reading her blog - it's abundantly clear that not only is she truly herself at all times, but she loves those boys, the band and her career. Claiming that she is some selfish, evil dictator, or the puppet of a strictly-monitored marketing ploy on the part of the record company is just plain stupid. And the fact that Josh, not only her best friend but boyfriend of three years, would imply such things in a blog and publish it for the whole world to see says much more about him than it does her.

I'm interested to hear what she has to say in response, but I wouldn't be surprised if she said nothing. Hayley has stated herself in recent interviews that she is who she is with no apologies, and she has nothing to prove anymore. I feel the same way, and it's after years of people putting me down and saying the worst possible things about me.

Furthermore, if Hayley wanted to be a solo artist, she could be. She is extremely talented, driven, well-accomplished, and has a massive following. The fact of the matter is, she doesn't need Paramore. She chooses to be part of the band because she loves it, because it is her passion, and because that is who she is. This is evident from her lyrics, live performances, and in interviews and candid footage. Look at Gwen Stefani, it hasn't taken her long to morph into a popstar clone. Nobody can hide their true self forever, so if Hayley really does only have her own best interests at heart (which I sincerely doubt) then it will become clear before long.

Josh and Zac mention in the blog that they were offended by some of Hayley's lyrics for Brand New Eyes. If this is true, then why did Josh, who writes the majority of the music, agree to do so around her words? It's common knowledge that the album is about the difficulties within the band, and the fact that they almost broke up during the writing process. This is evident from the lyrics to most of the tracks, especially Playing God and Ignorance. I find it very difficult to believe that two people, who were so offended and so hurt by what Hayley had written, would still agree to play along, and force themselves to act like they were having a good time playing songs live when they felt belittled them. Why the hell would they bother!?

A lot of the shit that's come out doesn't make sense to me. Furthermore, as somebody who is the same age as those in Paramore, it comes as a huge shock to me that the Farro brothers would act out in this way, regardless of how hurt or betrayed they may be feeling. It's tacky and immature, not to mention that they come across like spoilt, bratty children who are ungrateful for their extremely good fortune. Let's not forget that these men are extremely wealthy, and have enjoyed massive popularity, especially over the past few years. Whether they left on bad terms or not, what happened should've stayed within the confines of the group.

I'm not one to bury my head in the sand. I realise that I don't know any of these people personally. I also know that people change as they grow up, and since Paramore have been together since they were 16/17, it was inevitable that they were going to run into problems as they got more famous and entered their twenties. Being in a band, touring, being away from one's family, being stuck with the same people all the time - it can't be easy. Being young and wealthy and famous doesn't make it any less complicated. But the Farro brothers leaving Paramore should not be blamed entirely on one member of the group, especially not because they simply couldn't handle that Hayley was the main focus.

After all, in most bands, the lead singer is the focus. It's just how things go. But that doesn't mean the other members are less important, nor does it mean that they should lash out at the person in the forefront, or simply pack up and leave. Hayley has always maintained that Paramore is a band, even refusing to do magazine covers solo up until this year. It keeps coming back to me - why would she bother with any of that if she wanted to be a solo artist? Why not just steal the spotlight and keep it until she could launch herself on her own? It wouldn't have been difficult, especially since she was offered a solo contract early on (which she flatly refused).

Anyway, whatever happens, Paramore will always be one of my favourite bands. They make great music, put on a fantastic live show, and come across as fantastically down to earth and fun in interviews. I love that they're my age, and that they behave the way me and my mates would if we were lucky enough to be in their position. It's terrible that it has come to this, but shit happens.

Whatever the Farro brothers are playing at, I hope it goes well for them. I can't wait to see what Hayley, Jeremy and Taylor come up with next, because I know it's going to be fucking awesome!!

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