After a triumphant first day on the water, the 2,700 fans on board the Norwegian Jade are starting to get their sea legs. Paramore‘s feisty main stage kickoff-set got the crowd going yesterday and now, a full day’s worth of fun awaits.
Here’s our on-the-scene recap of April 7, the second day of Parahoy!’s third voyage.
12:15 pm: You could say the Philadelphia-based indie rockers mewithoutYou have a cult following, and thanks to a longstanding creative bond with Paramore, they’ve become Parahoy! regulars. In fact, they’re the only non-Paramore artist to play all three cruises. Early Saturday afternoon, we meet for a podcast interview with mewithoutYou guitarist Michael Weiss and drummer Rickie Mazzotta. Look for the full episode posted on Billboard.com soon (subscribe to the #AlternativeFacts podcast here) but in the meantime, here are some highlights from the conversation:
On mewithoutYou’s long friendship with Paramore, beginning in the early 2000s:
M. Weiss: “Hayley’s friend asked me for an autograph of a 7-inch. We were in Australia. I just wrote, “To Hayley…” I think I actually wrote something normal, that made sense, for a change. Because normally you just scribble some nonsense. And a couple years later I saw an article in Spin or Alternative Press, which had that record that I signed for her, because she was a mewithoutYou fan. Turned out, that was for Hayley Williams of Paramore.”
On the sound of mewithoutYou’s nearly-complete forthcoming studio LP:
Mazzotta: “We finished a banger with [producer] Will Yip. It bangs! I’m pretty hyped on it. It took a long time to make, too. It took over a year… It’s still not 100% done, I’m going back into the studio the week we get home.”
M. Weiss: “It keeps getting heavier and heavier as things progress with it.”
Mazzotta: “It covers new heavy territory I don’t think we’ve never been in… [Frontman] Aaron [Weiss]’s taken a scream. And [there’s] instrumental territory that’s trippy, weird, stuff we never would have dreamed of doing…Trippy in a heavy sense, and a chill sense. The summation of our whole career is on this, and then some.”
And when it might come out:
Mazzotta: “I’d say [a fall release is] a pretty safe assumption. What it’s called, I’m not sure yet and I don’t know if I could tell you if I wanted to… I’m hoping for the fall.”
1:15 pm: Each Parahoy! cruise lets fans get up close and personal with Paramore. The past two years gave each cruiser a designated time for a photo shoot with the band, but this year, they try something a little different. It’s intimate acoustic sets in the Stardust Theater — no recording allowed! — with each cruiser getting a seat in one of three performances this afternoon.
We’re on hand for the second one, a laid back, groove-centric sesh featuring acoustic guitars, electric bass, and electronic percussion. It opens with Paramore’s road-tested cover of Drake’s “Passionfruit,” a savvy cruise ship choice, the tropical electronic beats channeling tomorrow’s stop at the Bahamas (they also mix in a little of “Hold On, Were Going Home” towards the end).
1:20 pm: Up next, it’s the peppy After Laughter cut “Caught in the Middle,” followed by Brand New Eyes‘ “Misguided Ghosts” to close out the set. In between tracks, Hayley Williams reflects on how the band hoped to have its fifth studio album ready for the 2016 Parahoy!, and even if things didn’t go according to schedule, the cruise still kept their creative drive intact.
3:04 pm: Up on the pool deck, the pensive, feeling-drenched Minnesota-bred indie rockers Now, Now are basking in the early stages of their main stage set. “We’re about to play the newest single we’ve released,” says vocalist-guitarist Cacie Dalager. It’s the gorgeous “AZ,” a lingering, sentimental track that plays out like an old photograph in your mind’s eye. More on that one to come…
3:08 pm: “We’re about to play an old one we just started playing again,” says Dalager, introducing “School Friends” from their 2012 album, Threads. Dalager tests out the range of Now, Now’s sound, using pitch-deepened effects to add an interesting lower register to her vocals.
4:45 pm: After Now, Now’s sweltering set wraps, we catch up with the Dalager and drummer Bradley Hale for an interview in the shade of the artist cafeteria:
How did you first get into Paramore? What sparked getting asked to do the cruise?
Dalager: We’ve been Paramore fans since I can remember, probably 16, 17. I got this Fueled By Ramen sampler with “Here We Go Again” on it. That began the journey.
Hale: Later on, we got the same booking agent as them and went on tour with them, in like, 2009, when we knew absolutely nothing about touring.
Dalager.: It was an arena tour and we had no clue what we were doing.
Hale: But luckily their whole crew was so sweet and didn’t make us feel like idiots [Laughs]… We’d never used in-ear monitors, and their tech was so nice and helpful to us… This cruise is the only other thing we’ve done together, so this is like, throwing me back. And now here we are, on a boat.
Your new single “AZ” is so powerful. How did it come together?
Dalager: That song… I don’t know how much into detail I want to get, but that song is about my grandparents. They used to live in Arizona. It’s a super nostalgic and important song it me in my childhood. My grandpa passed away, so it’s a very special song to me.
Your new album Saved comes out May 5. Where are you hoping to go with it?
Dalager: I just wanna keep doing this, keep getting bigger and better. Feel more confident with myself and the songs and being onstage.
Hale: Every record we do, we get to a place where we’ve figured something out, and with this one, I feel that again.
Dalager: I always feel like I have breakthroughs with something, but this was the first one in a lot of ways…
Hale: This one felt extreme.
Dalager: It felt totally different. It felt way more eye-opening, like I had a vision and realized a dream.
5:40 pm: The pool deck is crowded, waiting for one of Paramore’s own to take the stage with his other, non-Paramore band. But minutes before the Halfnoise show, it’s not Zac Farro onstage, but a surprise appearance from P-More guitarist Taylor York. “My very best friend is about to come up here, and also my other best friends are,” he says, holding a half-empty beer. “I am so pleased to introduce to you guys… the people that are going to introduce my best friends!”
?Calling themselves Yosemite Mudflap and Matthew Lion, a pair of portly, red beret-wearing, bare-chested (besides unbuttoned red blazers) hype men get the Halfnoise party going, setting the stage for the arrival of Zac Farro himself, along with his groove-steady backing band. You’ve likely never seen the Paramore drummer work a crowd this well before.
6:43 pm: Local Natives frontman Kelcey Ayer is MC’ing a craft beer tasting in the upper deck atrium. Over a refreshing witte beer, the Angeleno brew connoisseur tells the story of the first time he got drunk: 14-years-old, at a party where a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream with vomit inside it was being passed around.
8:21 pm: Paramore is about to take the main stage to judge Paraoke — the 3rd annual Paramore karaoke competition — and we’ve got a behind-the-scenes look at the action. Williams, Farro and York pose for a photo with the Norwegian Jade’s captain, who mentions his daughter is a huge Paramore fan.
8:34 pm: After Paramore’s grand entrance, Kelly, last time’s Paraoke champion, grabs the mic to offer some final advice to this year’s participants: “Please don’t stress! They are the best! As soon as you’re on the stage you’re like a different person: I’m gonna do this!” Still, it’s hard to imagine the singers (ordinary cruisers who passed through a preliminary round months earlier) aren’t feeling a few butterflies. You get your pick of one Paramore song on karaoke — a verse and a chorus — to win over the crowd, and the band. No pressure!
9:22 pm: Whittled down from ten worthy competitors, this year’s final three is, by everyone’s estimation, the toughest decision yet. Williams, York and Farro have been offering their encouragement, and they work with the the crowd to decide who’s crowned champion. It’s a girl with a commanding stage presence and a smoky tinge to her voice from Paramore’s home state of Tennessee (Chattanooga, to be specific) who also just so happens to be named Hayley. She’s an instant celebrity for the rest of the cruise.
10:05 pm: Down by the casino, there’s a boat-chelorette party going on. Dozens of cruisers (many of them meeting off the internet for the first time) are celebrating the recent engagement of three-time cruisers/Paramore diehards Kelly Longaker and Brian Capps. Champagne is popping, glo-sticks are everywhere, and there are far too many shades of hair dye to count as the Para-fam toasts the couple who met eight years ago at an All-Time Low show. (Brian was wearing a Paramore shirt.)
11:33 pm: Down in the Stardust Theater, mewithoutYou’s late night set is raging to a devoted bunch of fans shouting back the lyrics to frontman Aaron Weiss from the pit. In between cathartic bursts of trippy post-hardcore, Weiss takes a moment to reflect on the absurdity of how the band wound up doing this in the middle of the ocean. He quotes David Byrne’s line from Talking Heads’ “Once In a Lifetime”: “And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”
Check back tomorrow for a recap of Parahoy!’s third day at sea! Expect more interviews and photos. We’ll be out here recapping all four days of Parahoy! 2018.