Paramore is one of the world’s best bands and its Parahoy! cruise is a one-of-a-kind alt-rock excursion featuring one of its most fervent fanbases. The Norwegian Pearl just returned from its March 5-9 journey from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico and back, and Billboard was there every step of the way. And it wasn’t all glory — Paramore is working through some of its most trying times and onboard Parahoy!, Hayley Williams and company addressed those issues alongside the band’s decade-plus of existence. Sometimes it felt like a rock show; sometimes it felt like a group therapy session. Most of all, it felt like community.
“This is so big for rock music,” New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert said during his band’s March 8 set. “So many people where we’re from in the States doubt the impact of rock music. The fact that Paramore can sell out a cruise is a really big statement.”
Here are the ten biggest highlights from our exclusive coverage.
Hayley Williams Addresses Jeremy Davis’ Departure From the Band
Paramore’s two Parahoy! sets were their first since May 2015 and their first since longtime bassist Jeremy Davis’ Dec. 2015 departure. During their March 7 show, Williams was especially talkative, delving into between-song confessionals at numerous points in the set. At one point, she saluted all of Paramore’s former members, even ones that left the band on less-than-amicable terms:
“It is an honor to play music with all the people that are here. It’s been an honor to play music with Josh [Farro], with Zac [Farro], with Jeremy, everyone that’s ever played with Paramore. It’s such an honor, to have friendship and music rolled into one thing… only god can do that. I’m just glad it’s not over because I want to keep doing it.”
And she had nothing but love for current bandmate Taylor York:
“This past year has been a year that for me, I never want to relive again… At the same time, I would do it again if it meant understanding what having a real friend in this life feels like. Taylor, thank you so much for being awesome.”
She also introduced Joey Howard as Paramore’s new bassist, along with the rest of the lineup during the March 7 show.
Paramore Confirms 5th Studio Album Is on the Way
But on to the good news. Numerous times throughout Parahoy!, Paramore confirmed what Williams announced on Twitter back in January — they’re working on a new album. When asked about her 2016 bucket list during a fan Q&A on March 8, the singer responded, “Make a fifth record.” The previous night onstage, she admitted, “We’ve been — to be honest — a lot slower than I thought we would be. Sometimes life happens… We’re gonna go on and make a record for ya… We’ll keep you posted.”
Paramore Opens First Set With Seven Consecutive Tracks From All We Know Is Falling
On Parahoy!, Paramore knows it’s playing to the diehards. They didn’t feel the pressure (get it?) to just play the hits; instead they did quite the opposite. The tone was set early, when they opened the cruise on March 5 with a seven-song sweep from its recently-re-released 2005 debut: “Brighter,” “Emergency,” “Here We Go Again,” “Never Let This Go,” “Pressure,” “Whoa” and “My Heart.”
Paramore Plays “O Star” For the First Time in Ages
The day one suite of All We Know Is Falling tracks was unexpected, but Paramore’s second set featured an even rarer play. On an evening in which Williams addressed fights and friendships throughout the band’s history, she dug out “O Star,” a somber track that appeared on a rare 2006 EP and had hardly ever been performed.
“[Guitarist] Taylor [York] and I got together for the first time after school and wrote for the first time ever,” Williams explained to an after-dark pool deck crowd. “He was 12 years old, I think I’d just turned 13.”
She hinted it had never been played live before (YouTube suggests they played it at least once in 2007) but details aside, it was a rare treat, indeed.
Good Times For New Found Glory
The long-running pop-punks have seen their share of ups and downs, but Parahoy! seemed to smile on NFG, and it wasn’t just because they were playing three sets on a cruise from Miami to Mexico. But things didn’t exactly get off to a good start. Their van was broken into after a show at Churchill’s Pub in Miami the day before the cruise, forcing them to scramble to come up with documentation to replace stolen passports. But they bounced back.
Before their first Parahoy! run, they’d just dismissed guitarist Steve Klein and had forced to learn to play as a four-piece. Now a well-oiled quartet (following guitarist Steve Klein’s Dec. 2013 dismissal) New Found Glory performed three well-received sets at Parahoy! Chad Gilbert had just married Hayley Williams and the cruise was essentially their honeymoon. Bassist Ian Grushka spoke with Billboard about how he’d recently lost a lot of weight, quit drinking and smoking, and adopted a far healthier lifestyle. Positive vibes abound!
Hayley Williams Guests With New Found Glory, Mewithoutyou and Chvrches
If you’re stuck on a cruise ship with a bunch of bands for four days straight, why not collaborate with them? On the final day, Paramore wasn’t playing, but Hayley still came out and sang with three of the other acts. She popped out towards the end of New Found Glory’s afternoon set and sang “Vicious Love,” a song she performed with her husband’s band on the 2015 re-release of their most recent album, Resurrection.
Later on in the evening, she came onstage with her beloved Mewithoutyou for some backing vocals and dance moves on their last two songs, “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume” and “All Circles.” And finally, she joined Chvrches’ cruise-closing set for a performance of “Bury It.”
Check it out below:
Don’t sleep on Lights. One of pop’s most underrated forces put on a trio of powerful sets during Parahoy! and effortlessly vibed with the Paramore diehards. Lights’ live drums and guitar turned jams like “Up We Go,” “Toes,” and “Last Thing On Your Mind” into pulverizing forces, with plenty of space to project and linger in the nighttime ocean air. She’s also a hilarious interview — hear her talk about the Titanic, Mayans, World of Warcraft and more in an upcoming episode of Billboard’s Alt In Our Stars podcast, which you can subscribe to here.
Late Night Pop-Punk Dance Party
Emo and pop-punk DJ nights have popped up all over the country in recent years, but throwing one on the closing night of a cruise packed with tipsy alt kids was absolutely magical. The crew from Nashville Is the Reason, the monthly pop-punk DJ night from Paramore’s home state, put on a rager in the Pearl’s center atrium, and it lasted long after its scheduled end time. Of course standards like “Cute Without the ‘E’” and “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” got a frenzied response, but even deeper scene cuts like Set Your Goals’ “The Few That Remain” (which does feature Hayley Williams on guest vocals) got the kids going. Yes, there were pits.
Two stellar albums into a young, promising career, Chvrches aren’t exactly a secret anymore. So it came as no surprise that the Scottish synthpop trio slayed three Parahoy! sets as Paramore’s top-billed support… even if Martin Doherty was “blowing chunks” right before going onstage for their first show. For those not versed in Scottish slang, that means throwing up. But they found their sea legs, and they did a great job of closing out the cruise’s final show, late Tuesday night.
The Community and Camaraderie
Paramore fans are incredible. The atmosphere onboard the Parahoy! cruise is that of a tight-knit, supportive community, even if most of its members only experience each other IRL once every two years. You get the feeling the bond is over a beloved cult act, only to realize its over one of the world’s most popular rock bands. And the crowd is incredibly diverse. There’s alt teens, alt twenty-somethings, moms and dads with their alt kids, and a strong LGBTQ presence of all ages. #Parawhores of all kinds are about as likely to have their hair dyed somewhere on ROYGBIV spectrum as they are to sport their natural color. And it’s not just about Paramore. The 2014 cruise was packed with Tegan and Sara fans (they were the main support) and since returning cruisers were given first dibs on 2016 tickets, the Quin sisters’ presence was still felt. The Parahoy! identity has been passed down from cruise to cruise. Here’s to hoping it lives on.