Reaching their third album ‘Saved’ has been a tough old journey for cult pop faves Now, Now. Following the unanticipated success of their 2012 record ‘Threads’, they were thrown under the spotlight and feeling the pressure of expectation in a way they never had before. Thankfully, after a lot of hard work and soul-searching, the duo found their feet and have back fighting fit.
Hey KC, you guys have loads going on at the mo, are you ready for the year ahead? How do you get into the right mindset? It must be pretty full-on.
It has been a bit of an adjustment. When we switch gears from writing alone in the cave of our basement, back to having to actively engage with everyone all the time, it can get a little overwhelming. I’m a very socially anxious person, so I need to build what I jokingly call my ‘social tolerance’ back up. So that is the most difficult part for me personally. I think it’s been a huge shift in mindset for us. Approaching things now from a standpoint of having fun and enjoying ourselves. Instead of the fear of how we could mess something up. But I’m much more confident playing shows now, so what I lack as myself socially, can be rounded out by the confidence I get from playing. Everyone at shows (and online) has been so wonderful and encouraging. So it’s easy to feel that support and feel built up from that.
It’s been quite a long time between albums, did it take a while to feel confident in your next step?
We had a very difficult time finding our footing after our last album, ‘Threads’. We had never had people rally behind a body of our work the way that they did for that album, so we felt a huge amount of pressure to not lose that support and please everyone around us. We went through a dark couple of years of doubting ourselves and not being able to complete a song. I was in a bad place personally, I didn’t feel like I could express anything I needed to express. So I had completely shut off emotionally. Everything I’ve ever written has been based on an emotion I feel very deeply, but since I wasn’t allowing myself to feel anything, I couldn’t write anything. I didn’t want to face what I was going through. I didn’t want to acknowledge the place I was in because I knew it was going to be painful. But you can only hide from yourself for so long. After having that breakthrough, the album wrote itself in about eight months.
Where did you find yourself looking for inspiration while you were working on ‘Saved’?
I love Shania Twain, Fleetwood Mac, The Cranberries, New Order, Britney Spears, Grimes, Yoko Ono, MIA, and all boy bands. I grew up obsessed with Michael Jackson and Destiny’s Child. We were listening to a lot of Shania and Sheryl Crow and MIA when the album started to fall into place. But we kind of listen to everything. The radio stations I have programmed in the car are Top 40 pop radio, classical channel, a hip-hop station, and the 70s/80s classics station. We wanted things to feel classic and simple, but timeless. To draw inspiration from different phases and time periods of our lives, but to not sound like any one of them in particular. We wanted to sound like us, and not anyone else copy and pasted. We wanted the emotions to be genuine and real and palpable. Protecting that was our biggest concern.
Would you describe it as an introspective record?
I think everything I’ve ever written is introspective. It’s always based on whatever emotions I feel like I’m drowning when we start a song.
Now, Now aside, what else did you get up to during your time away?
We really didn’t do anything else. We had only stepped away from playing shows live, but every single day we were working on writing music. The last few years are always kind of seen as a break from an outside perspective I think, but we were totally submerged in writing the album. I did literally nothing else. It was very consuming and probably not the best for my mental health. Also probably a huge part of why I wasn’t able to write anything I liked.
A lot can change in a few years, do you feel like you’re still the same people as last time around?
We’ve gone through a lot the last few years. I’ve gone through a series of bad personal relationships of different kinds, and learned who to not let in emotionally. It was a very painful time of my life. It is the lowest I’ve ever felt. I didn’t think I could be involved with music anymore. I lost my sense of purpose and had zero self-confidence. But it has been very rewarding to overcome that feeling. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other. I feel like we went through multiple lifetimes the last handful of years. I wouldn’t change any of it looking back. We needed to go through it to end up where we are now.
Have you developed any new coping mechanisms for dealing with the pressures of band life?
The biggest adjustment was learning to have fun. To remember that the reason we started this in the first place is that we love to write music with each other. I get to work with my best friend. That is incredibly special. When we approach a situation that we feel anxious about, we remember that we do this for us. So the pressure we feel from anyone else is not what matters. We are learning to push that away. That has made a world of difference for us.
How was Parahoy earlier this year? Was it your first time going?
Parahoy was an incredible experience. The shows were so fun and very validating. It was our first time being a part of it and our first time on a cruise. And our first time being in the Bahamas. So it was a lot of firsts!
Paramore have done an incredible job capturing the zeitgeist over the past few years, how important a skill do you feel that is for alternative bands? Is it something at the forefront of your mind when writing your own music?
When we are writing, all we care about is capturing the emotion we are writing about. And presenting that with purity. That is our main concern along with being able to pull them off in a live setting.
How important was that first Paramore support tour for Now, Now?
It was a great opportunity for us to connect with people overseas. We had never been to the UK before. The first time we tried, we were detained in France. (So we’ve got that nice red stamp on our passports now.) Being a part of that tour meant a lot to us and was a great first time travelling to those places and playing to new people.
What other milestones have been important to you during your time in the band?
I think every step along the way has been an important milestone for us. Even if at that time we couldn’t see it clearly. Brad and I have grown up writing together since we were 15, so we’ve gone through a lot together. This has been more of an emotional personal journey than anything relating to our careers specifically. Finding the courage start playing shows when we were 18. Learning to trust each other emotionally and professionally. Learning to communicate our feelings and opinions without hurting each other’s feelings. Finding our confidence and learning to believe in ourselves. Trusting our vision and protecting it at all costs. It’s been such a gradual, steady incline that it’s hard to look back and pick specific moments. It’s all been important and has shaped us into what we are now.