The Untold Truth Of Paramore

Throughout history, several bands have been criticized for being created by major record studios. Paramore could easily fall into this category as well, but their story is more complicated than that because in some ways, the band had a very organic beginning.

Members (both current and former) Josh Farro, Zac Farro, Hayley Williams, Taylor York, and Jeremy Davis were all friends who met in Tennessee and loved making music together, some even years before Paramore ever became a real thing. The Farro brothers previously played in a band with York, according to All Music, as did Davis and Williams play together for another band, The Factory (via Alternative Press). Then the fateful meeting that brought them all together was when Williams got to know Josh and Zac at a program for home-schooled kids. As singer Hayley Williams said, "They were the first people I met who were as passionate about music as I was."

And even though it would be a lie to say that a record label had no role in the formation of the band, that should in no way diminish what the young teens were able to accomplish. Not only did Paramore make some of the most popular pop punk songs of the decade, but Williams helped greatly to inspire a whole generation of young women as rock stars. And after all sorts of obstacles, shifts, and heartaches over the years, the band has managed to adapt and still make quality music to this day.

Brett Manning gave Hayley Williams voice lessons

Even though it is important to note that Paramore has never been solely about Hayley Williams, the singer is undoubtedly the vital core to the band. The story of Paramore began in 2002 when Williams moved away from her hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, to Franklin, Tennessee. Shortly after, the preteen signed up to take voice lessons from the well-respected vocal expert Brett Manning.

It was a brilliant move that quickly kickstarted the future rock star's music career. Manning is now a veteran of the industry with over 30 years of experience and a vocal program that has spread to over 168 countries, according to PR Newswire. Most importantly, the prominent instructor has a solid track record of teaching several singers who would later become famous, such as Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, and Leona Lewis.

Hayley Williams was signed as a solo artist at 14 years old

Only a year after moving to the Nashville area, Hayley Williams signed a contract with Atlantic Records in 2003. The plan of the major label was to make her the next pop star, however, that was not what Williams wanted. The singer had already met friends that she really enjoyed making music with, so she fought hard to make sure that the band was included in the deal.

In an interview with American Songwriter, the A&R rep for Atlantic, Steve Robertson, explained how he first learned about Williams from a CD given to him with six of her songs and just "Hayley Williams" written on it. He liked what he heard so much that he agreed to meet her. Robertson recalled how Williams knew exactly what she wanted and said, "she was like 'I'm not Avril Lavigne, I'm not even a solo artist — I have a band. You guys should come to Nashville to see us play.'"

Robertson went to see the band perform in the parents' living room of the bassist, Jeremy Davis, and although the venue was far from glamorous the show was good enough to bring the rep on board. Paramore then officially became a band in 2004.

Paramore was the only option for Hayley Williams

Atlantic Records decided that Paramore would release their music through a smaller company they owned, Fueled by Ramen, since it would be better for the band's image to not be associated with a major label. Along with Hayley Williams and Jeremy Davis, the band included lead guitarist Josh Farro and drummer Zac Farro (via All Music). Rhythm guitarist Taylor York did not become a member until after the release of their first album but became one of the most prominent members once he joined in 2007. There were certainly other members and major changes during the band's turbulent history, but this was the main lineup at the height of their popularity.

The fact that the band kept their major label deal a secret for so long added fuel to the rumors that Paramore was simply a front for Williams. But the singer has defended the existence of the band numerous times and proven that she has never really wanted the spotlight solely on her. One of the best examples was her public criticism of the 2007 Kerrang! cover article that tried to depict her as the de facto boss of the band, which she vehemently denied was the case.

Steve Robertson also described how adamant Williams was from the beginning when she said to him, "I'm 14, I don't want to be a pop artist, I don't want to be out without a band. I'm more into alternative music. I don't see myself being the next Madonna."

Paramore is not a Christian band

In the early days, the bandmates were so hardcore Christian that they tried Bible study while on tour. Yet, guitarist Josh Farro has stated publicly that even though faith is very important to all the members of Paramore, it was never the band's intention to spread their religious views. Simply playing music is what the band loved to do, so that was their only goal, even if their beliefs were sometimes reflected through their songs.

According to NME, Hayley Williams, specifically, does not want to put a label on her faith, and said, "I'm not Southern Baptist. I'm not Presbyterian. I'm not any one thing. I just believe in Jesus." What is most important to the singer and the rest of the band is that they are incredibly grateful for the opportunities they were given, and attribute at least some of their success to their faith.

Paramore members own guns and knives

Hayley Williams is far from a gun enthusiast but does admit that because of where the band grew up in the Deep South, she owns a gun, and the other guys in Paramore own shotguns too. The singer said to Rolling Stone, "I mean, you grow up in the country and everyone's got a gun." As a kid, she owned a BB gun first and used to shoot leaves with her brother before they moved up to firing at targets when they got older. Williams has also said she wants to get a little revolver, and one of her most prized possessions is a camouflage hunting knife.

As an adult, Williams certainly has enjoyed spending time with her family and friends shooting discs and hanging out in nature as well. "We go out in the country and shoot these little clay disks that you whip into the air — it looks kind of like you're throwing a Frisbee off a stick. It's a good time," she said. Spoken like a true Tennessean, Williams also admitted, "We're hillbillies at heart."

Band members are drug-free and rarely drink booze

Most likely because they were so incredibly young when they made it big, and due to their Christian roots, Paramore has never had a reputation of wild debauchery off the stage like many other rock bands. In an interview with the BBC in 2008, Josh Farro didn't say that the band was completely alcohol free but admitted that drinking and partying wasn't really their thing. Instead of downing beers on the tour bus, the young bandmates would rather enjoy watching movies together. Zac Farro said, "All we do is watch movies, get on our computers and make music."

Like Hayley Williams, Josh Farro confirmed the band enjoys having fun outdoors and said they would rather do that than drink while on tour. When Paramore was on tour in the United Kingdom in 2008, Josh Farro said that, instead of drinking, the band preferred "to go sightseeing and see the countryside."

The band use to travel separately

On February 21, 2008, Paramore announced that because of personal issues the band had to cancel the remainder of their European tour. Hayley Williams described how bad the situation got: "You know those bands that travel separately because they hate each other, and they get offstage and don't talk to each other? That's what it was for us" (via NME).

It is also almost certain that Williams and Josh Farro were in what was then a secret relationship that had ended badly, which was a major reason why there was so much tension in the band at the time, reports The Guardian. Another issue was the way the media portrayed Paramore as the "Hayley Williams' band." "We are a band. It's not just Hayley; it's not her band. Just because she's the lead singer doesn't mean she's the only one involved,"  Farro once complained,

The Farro brothers left Paramore

Even though the band went on performing as usual for nearly two years after the cancelled shows, on December 18, 2010, Paramore released a statement that two of the founding members, Josh Farro and Zac Farro, were leaving the band, according to MTV News. However, the remaining three members, Hayley Williams, Taylor York, and Jeremy Davis, were staying together.

The three also added that they were not surprised the brothers were making their exit because for the previous year it seemed like they had no interest in being part of the band anymore. Their official statement said, "We want Josh and Zac to do something that makes them happy and if that isn't here with us, then we support them finding happiness elsewhere."

But the statement also reassured fans that Paramore was still going strong: "We never for a second thought about leaving any of this behind. We really hope that you can be encouraged by the fact that the three of us who are still here are ready to take on another chapter of our journey together."

Josh Farro's controversial social media posts

After the band's announcement about the departure, Josh Farro responded with a long blog post criticizing Hayley Williams and the way Paramore was put together by Atlantic, calling the band "a manufactured product of a major label," according to MTV News. More than anything, the guitarist hated that the rest of the band was treated as less important by Williams' father, their management, and the studio, even though they were all a part of Paramore.

Although one could argue he had a very valid point, Farro also took the opportunity to take jabs at Williams' faith, saying that the lyrics to some of her songs contradicted the teachings of the Bible. Most likely because of this, Williams' response was, "It was ... disgusting, honestly." Taylor York added that, "It was really hard to bite our tongues," but ultimately the group decided not to retaliate and just let it go. To them, all of the issues that Farro brought up had already been worked out by the band over the years.

Later it was discovered that Farro also made a highly homophobic social media post around this time. So, his harmful attitude may have been another factor as it was at odds with the feelings of the rest of the band.

Jeremy Davis left the band for the third and final time

Bassist Jeremy Davis had been in Paramore from the beginning, even before the release of their first studio album, "All We Know Is Falling," but he has had a rocky past with the band. In fact, the theme of the album was about the heartache the band felt after his first departure when he left the band in 2005 for personal reasons — though he then rejoined five months later, according to Kerrang!.

Again Davis briefly left before the release of the album, "Riot!," in 2007, but this time he was actually kicked out of the band. Josh Farro said, "his lack of work ethic and participation in things that Zac, Hayley and I didn't agree with," were the reasons for the expulsion. However, it did not take long for the band to reach an agreement with Davis and allow him back in.

After his return, Davis remained with Paramore for several years until he finally left the band for good in December 2015. At the time, the exit seemed amicable with an official statement that sounded optimistic for the future of both Paramore and Davis.

Jeremy Davis sued Paramore

The optimism following Jeremy Davis' final departure was short-lived. Not only did Davis allegedly call out Hayley Williams for "backstabbing" him, but he even went so far as to sue the band. Beginning in March 2016, Davis and Paramore clashed in a couple legal battles, where the former bassist insisted that he was owed more money for having important roles in both managing the band and creating its music, as detailed by Mic.

In his lawsuit, Davis claimed he was the co-owner of Paramore with Williams because he was responsible for carrying out all sorts of vital roles, including the hiring of equipment managers, stage crew, and advisors, or even managing lighting and staging, among others, reports The Tennessean. On the other hand, Paramore stated that Davis was simply an employee paid to play the bass and complete other tasks.

The former bassist also claimed authorship and royalties from songs on the band's self-titled album, as per Rolling Stone. The two parties eventually reached a settlement in April 2017.

The band nearly broke up again on the Parahoy! Cruise

Paramore had reached one of its lowest points, but the remaining members kept on trucking. Only three months after Jeremy Davis exited Paramore, Hayley Williams and Taylor York still performed as part of the Parahoy! Cruise in 2016. 

So, it is really not surprising that the singer thought the cruise would be the last shows of band before it was all over. Williams told Billboard she remembers thinking, "Another member down. Maybe it's meant to be that the last show is on a boat with everybody that cares most about the band. Sort of like having the right kind of funeral, a really loving exit."

Yet breaking up after the cruise was not the band's fate, which managed to overcome another close call. As York said about Paramore, "Our band always hits these things where we don't know if we can get through them. And somehow, we do."

Hayley Williams got married and divorced

Even though Hayley Williams and Taylor York managed to keep the band alive, that was just one positive note in what was otherwise a very dark time for the singer especially. She moved way too quickly in her relationship with the lead guitarist of New Found Glory, Chad Gilbert, so the couple divorced after only 16 months of marriage in 2017, reports Page Six.

In retrospect, Williams knew it was a terrible decision but explained her reasoning at the time saying, "I went through with the marriage because I had a lot of shame about mistakes I'd made. I got into that relationship prematurely. He was not divorced [from his previous wife] yet. I was very lonely."

After the breakup, Williams started to get horrific nightmares involving water that were giving her serious panic attacks. Plus, her weight had fallen drastically to 91 pounds because she had simply lost her appetite. The singer's condition got so bad that she checked herself into a facility and was diagnosed with both PTSD and depression. Thankfully, Williams has since recovered and is in much better shape.

Zac Farro rejoined Paramore

One major factor that kept Paramore going is that founding member Zac Farro officially returned to the band in February 2017. The reunion was highly emotional for the trio, as Farro said, "I didn't come back to a band — I got my family back."

The drummer was also later critical of his brother's previous social media posts and said that he instead stands with the band in their support of the LGBTQ+ community, reports Billboard. Although she never calls anyone out specifically by name, Hayley Williams was the first to make such a post that said anyone who discriminates can "feel free to go to where all past members of Paramore have gone which is literally anywhere else but Paramore."

Farro added to William's tweet with his own personal message saying, "When my brother and I left Paramore in 2010, there was a post about the band that I did not fully condone. My name was included on the post, yes, but I had not been briefed on what the entirety of that message contained. I am saying that I have a voice of my own and my voice stands with our band and our fans, not with words including me in actions I do not agree with."