Back in June, I watched pop-punk legends Paramore play London's Royal Albert Hall. It was one of their first shows after they'd released fifth album After Laughter, on which the band had welcomed back founding drummer Zac Farro. You'd probably heard about his much-publicised departure in 2010.
When the main show finished, the band returned to the stage for an encore, and Zac Farro left his spot behind the drum kit and took centre stage. Since 2010, he's been making music as HALFNOISE, and under the vaulted domes of the Royal Albert Hall, he offered the uninitiated a taste of what that meant, launching into "Scooby's in the Back," a neon-hued, sun-soaked track from his The Velvet Face EP, released in March this year. Today we're premiering the music video for that song (see it down below), and, chatting to Zac, I was curious: how did it feel to play it at such a huge gig? "Royal Albert was such an incredible place to play," he says. "I can't believe we got the chance. Being able to play a song of my own every night touring with Paramore has been amazing."
You'd expect that being part of two active musical projects would be pretty difficult, but listening to HALFNOISE, it's clear that the two bands are actually pretty complimentary. HALFNOISE's spacey groove works well with Paramore's poppier new direction, and Zac notes that though "balancing the two bands has its challenges," he still has "a ton of time to give to HALFNOISE". Which, sounds like a win/win.
"Scooby's in the Back" itself feels like a pure shot of hippie nostalgia, and, along with the rest of The Velvet Face EP, it's especially indebted to bands like The Beach Boys, and The Beatles at their most psychedelic. Was the video, with its surf shots and rose tint, intended to reflect this? "The entire The Velvet Face EP to me was intended to feel like those older records like Pet Sounds and Rubber Soul," he says, "so I wanted the video to match that. That Beach Boys-y, trippy feel was exactly what I was going for. I came across this amazing footage of New Zealand in the 70s, all shot on 16mm film, and I couldn't see the video being anything besides that footage. I felt like I found gold."
Recording The Velvet Face EP, Zac was also particularly influenced by the tangibility of music from the past: "I was heavily influenced, and still am, by a lot of 60s and 70s music from the UK and France. I loved how direct and human the music felt back then – not computerised like it is today. So I wanted to take from that time and incorporate that into my music and visuals as well," he tells me. The video has all the real-feeling fuzz of the era it comes from, and only adds to the track's vivid conjuring of a highly specific time and place – watching the video, it's easy to imagine yourself in the water, or on the beach, too.
And in its invocation of the past, the EP as a whole also brings back good memories for Zac – "so many friends helped out with it and performed on it, so it holds a special place in time for me," he says. He also calls the recording process "a turning point," promising more new music in the near future. Thankfully, his outlook for the new material is as sunny as his music: "I cannot wait for people to hear it. I feel like it all just keeps getting better and more fun!"
See HALFNOISE live:
November 18th @ Baby's All Right - Brooklyn, NY
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