When the Farro brothers — guitarist Josh and drummer Zac — left Paramore in 2010, there were serious doubts on the band’s future. The band held it down and wrote an awesome album with their highest-charting single to date, but the Paramore die-hards remember what a blow losing the Farros felt like then.
Josh Farro’s songwriting chops have been on display since Paramore formed. He co-wrote hits like “Misery Business” and “Ignorance” with Hayley Williams, but of course, the frontwoman was most responsible for bringing them to life onstage. That’s what the elder Farro brother spent the past five years working on.
Billboard is excited to premiere “Cliffs,” the brand-new single from Josh.
So yeah, that part about him being a good songwriter? “Cliffs” leaves nothing to chance, a technicolor panorama of a pop-rock song that leaves us wondering why he’d ever wait this long. His vocals sound a little like the Early November’s Ace Enders, a little like Owl City’s Adam Young; he’s earnest, he’s passionate, and he’s got the timbre to swim through the lush soundscapes he’s built himself.
But about taking so long — fortunately, Josh Farro filled us in on what life has brought him since the Paramore split.
So — in a nutshell — take me through your journey from leaving Paramore to where you’re at today.
My brother and I left and I was pretty adamant about not being in a band again. But sure enough, in a few months I was playing music with some friends. My brother later on joined [Novel American] — if you even want to call it a band; we never even played a show. It was fun, we were writing, but we couldn’t seem to get past a certain point with some of the members. It wasn’t gelling… Eventually it fizzled out.
One day I was like, “What am I doing? I want to make music. I want to make an album.” So I just did it myself. Zac had his project going on and he was busy with that, so I did it on my own. I had some songs I’d co-written with some guys in the past, and I didn’t want them to go to waste. I took a few of those, wrote some of my own, and then co-wrote a few more. Next thing you knew, I had a full album written.
I started to do the album with an engineer friend of mine, but I really wanted to do it with a producer. I was randomly introduced to Jacquire King. He was onboard, and next thing you know, we’re doing pre-production [in 2014]… I signed on with new management and once I had the album done with Jacquire, we started strategizing. We decided it was missing a few strong — I guess you could call them singles. I started writing again and I was really pleased with what I came up with. One of those songs was “Cliffs.”
Who are you singing to in the lyrics of “Cliffs”?
Honestly, I’m really singing to myself. I really didn’t want to sing at first. It was an uphill battle for me, because I’d never really enjoyed singing up until a couple years ago. Guitar had been my main thing, but friends would be like, “Your voice is great; you need to sing.” It’s actually been like that most of my life. At first I thought it was like, “You’re my friends; you wouldn’t tell me otherwise.” … I figured if producers like Jacquire King are saying your voice is great, there must be something there.
Some people are born and can just sing like Michael Jackson. I’m not one of them… Because I ran from it for so long, it’s taken a little more work than I anticipated. I started playing guitar when I was 12, so now it’s like second nature to me. If I’d been singing from that age, I’m sure I’d be a whole lot better. But through the recording process, I think my voice has gotten better and better, and I’m at a point where I really enjoy singing.
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Will Zac be playing with you live? And he plays on the album, right?
No, he’s not. But yes, he’s on the majority of the album.
Of the Paramore songs you co-wrote, will you be performing any live?
Probably not. I’ve been asked that, but for me, this is like starting over. Paramore was a totally different season and I appreciate it and I’m really thankful for it.
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Are you still close with people from those days or have you moved on?
I don’t really talk to that many people, actually. We didn’t end on the best terms, but everything is cool now. It’s taken a lot of time. It’s like an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend. My ex-girlfriends from high school, I don’t still hang out with them. It’s pretty rare that you’re like, “Oh, we’re still great friends.” Usually when you have a breakup, you part ways, although I wish it wasn’t like that. I strongly believe there will be a day where we’re sitting back and laughing about the past and everything. It just takes some time to heal from a breakup like that. I can definitely say from my end, there’s no hard feelings and I feel like that’s a mutual feeling from both sides.