Paramore Comes Back Rockin’ on New Album

Apr 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Blair Jackson


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Justin Meldal-Johnsen

Producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

And from the band’s perspective, “This album could not have been made with any other team,” comments Taylor York. “JMJ and Carlos opened up our eyes and ears to a different way of creating and how truly pleasing tones are created. We learned techniques and an intentionality that we will carry with us for the rest of our band’s existence.”

More from Paramore producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (JMJ) and engineer Carlos de la Garza.

On how de la Garza and JMJ started working together.

dlG: We got together by happenstance originally. He was producing the last Neon Trees record and his studio, Dangerbird, had a flooding accident. They were in desperate need of a studio and the guys in the band, who I’d worked with—I engineered most of their first album—recommended me to Justin. I’d never met him before, but he came in and checked out the studio and from the day that he came in here, I started engineering for him on that. And then that led to doing two songs on Tegan & Sara’s record and then he said, there’s an opportunity for Paramore. We did one song initially with them— “Daydreaming”—and the band was very receptive to the process, so they hired him to do the entire record, which I engineered.

JMJ: Paramore reached out to me after hearing my work with M83, I believe. They were meeting with a list of producers, which is something a lot more artists are doing these days—they see who’s around and available and who might have certain insights into what they want to do. So, I was one of those guys and they kept narrowing it down and I made the final round, and before I knew it I was doing a song with them—“Daydreaming”— to see how the relationship went. After that, we got the green light from Atlantic and from Paramore management that they wanted to go for it.

On Sunset Sound.

dlG: It’s funky and a little old, but the staff is fantastic and the vibe there is so cool. It’s actually the first studio I ever recorded at as a player, in the mid-’90s. Smashing Pumpkins were there at the time, which was pretty exciting. But everyone’s been in there—Prince and Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. The room sounds great, they have just about everything you would ever need, and having good people surrounding you is one of the most important thing to make sure a project is going to go smoothly. It gives you another layer of confidence.

JMJ: I’ve probably worked at Sunset more than any other place. It’s home to me and that particular room, Studio 3, is something I’m very, very familiar with. I know exactly what to do there. I feel like I can control it; it’s not a mystery of what I’m going to get.

On Ilan Rubin.

dlG: Ilan Rubin was amazing. He fit in immediately. They rehearsed at Swing House for a week to get the material down and I think it was sort of a collaborative process coming up with the drum parts for the record. Taylor, the guitar player, plays drums really well himself and had some specific ideas, and Justin did as well.

On the recording approach.

dlG: In terms of the general overall vibe of it, I think the band and Justin wanted to make it more unique-sounding than anything they’d done previously. He said, “I want to make a record different from the others you’ve made,” and they responded to that. You hear a lot more unique sounds in the layers than maybe you’ve heard on previous Paramore records. Which is not to knock those records—I love them, too.

JMJ: They wanted something new, and every band says that, but in this case it was true to the depths of their souls. And it wasn’t just new for the sake of new; it was new with an agenda—very specific bullet points; like a manifesto. So I decided to stand back from the rest of their catalog and approach it in a very new moment.

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