"Misery Business" by Paramore


If you’re on this web site, chances are you spent most of high school daydreaming about playing music in front of adoring fans instead of sitting in biology class—well Paramore guitarist Josh Farro is living proof that it can be done. Propelled by a love for rock acts like the Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World, Farro formed Paramore with his brother Zac, bassist Jeremy Davis, and pint-sized vocalist Hayley Williams in Franklin, Tennessee, in 2002 when all the members were barely into their teens. However, over the past five years the band have been steadfastly refining their unique pop-punk sound, a process that’s culminated with their latest release Riot!


Although the album has only been out for a few months, it’s already cracked the Billboard Top 20 and sold over 250,000 copies—and much of that success is due to the inventive playing and writing style of Josh Farro. “Writing this record was a really slow process at first because we were on the road so much prior to recording this album that we really didn’t have any time to sit down and write,” he explains. “I had to sit down and go on GarageBand to piece things together and it was a really slow process at first because we’re not really the kind of band that can write on the road. Thankfully, once we came home and settled in, all the songs started coming together.”


However, right before the band entered the studio for three months with David Bendeth (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, the Almost), their guitarist Hunter Lamb unexpectedly left the band, leaving Farro to fend for himself when it came to the guitars. “I write all the parts, so it wasn’t that weird playing them,” Farro says, adding that he used a Gibson Les Paul on much of the album. “However, playing every single part got really tiring for one person because there’s two or sometimes three guitar parts on every song,” he continues, adding that while he would have liked to have an additional guitarist to add a different feel.  Still, he’s stoked with how it all came out. “I like working my butt off at something and seeing the end result—and when everything was finished, I felt really good about it.


Although the songs on Riot! largely eschew traditional guitar solos and flashy technique for buzzing power chords and octave progressions, there’s plenty of impressive guitar work on the album, most notably on the album’s first single, “Misery Business.” “I’m not exactly sure how that song came out, but I’m really proud of it,” Farro says. “It started out on acoustic guitar and sounded completely different, but it really shaped itself once Hayley wrote her vocal part,” he explains. “I feel like it’s a totally different sound for us and it’s also totally different from anything out there.”


As anyone who’s seen the Mean Girls-influenced video for the song already knows, it also features an impressive melodic section, which sees Farro sliding across the floor on his knees while playing. “I didn’t want to do something that was cheesy with bends and all that,” Farro says of the soulful guitar run. “First of all I’m not that great of a guitar player, so I don’t think I could pull that off anyway,” he adds with a laugh, “but all my solos are simple-that’s just my style.”


So, getting back to the idea daydreaming in class, how exactly did Farro complete his studies while on the road? “Thankfully I graduated before we left on tour last year by finishing up all my classes online,” he answers. “Hayley also slow finished online and now Zach is the only one who’s still in school and he’s not really good at keeping up at it, so I guess you could kind of say he’s dropped out,” the guitarist says with a laugh about his younger brother. “He’d better pray that this band works out, because otherwise he’s going to be 18 years old and going back to ninth grade.”