If you’re a casual fan of Paramore, you probably know Zac Farro as the band’s amicable drummer. Perhaps you even know a little bit about his tumultuous exit in 2010 and the subsequent reunion ahead of 2017’s After Laughter. That well-publicized, messy departure eventually led to halfnoise – Farro’s trippy, synth, and psych, pop-infused side project. The next several years saw Farro develop his band’s new sound, even when he rejoined Paramore in 2016, and since then, halfnoise has remained an equal creative focus for Farro who often performs the band’s songs on Paramore’s tours. 

Though they remain equal, only coming together on tour, the two bands couldn’t be further apart. Where Paramore has their big guitars, alt-rock leaning drums, and Hayley Williams’ otherworldly vocals, halfnoise mixes dance-ready indie rock with sunny, ’60s-style melodies and swirling instrumentals, drawing up a wide array of influences from the Beach Boys to Tame Impala, Sigur Ros, and U2. “I’ve always felt that both bands are super separate and live in different worlds in my mind,” Farro notes. “halfnoise is a vehicle for me to try out things I’m inspired by in that moment.”

To say he deserves a break is an understatement. He’s spent the last year thriving – both Paramore and halfnoise wise – wrapping it all up with two Grammy nominations for their latest album, This Is Why, and releasing City Talk, a record that serves as a fitting soundtrack for those alone with their thoughts and emotions in the city. That being said, Farro isn’t one to waste time with creative ideas. Even on the move, like right now as he’s en route to Australia with Paramore, he’s always got something circulating. “New material is always sort of something that’s circulating for me,” he begins. “I started writing the first song, “Love & Affection”, just months after Motif came out,” he continues. “My alone and meditative time is creating songs in my studio,” he adds before delving into his writing process, giving us insight into a typical day in the studio. “Well, the writing and recording processes are different,” he states. “While writing, I like to catch an idea and get lost in it for hours,” he shares. “Sometimes you need breaks from creating. Like on City Talk, I would need breaks and go on a hike near our house in LA. It was a way to gain perspective and not be sitting right in my studio, having songs sort of stare back at me,” he elaborates. “While recording, I’m pretty particular about having a schedule,” he proclaims. “I like working late morning to late afternoon. I don’t like being in the studio all night unless we go there to have some wine and listen to music,” he laughs. “I like keeping it like a work schedule.”

He’s been playing on some of the world’s biggest stages for as long as he can remember. He was doing it at an age when most of us were still in baby grows and now, at the age of 33, he has toured the world countless times, paused and unpaused his music career, taught himself photography, and even got into the music business side of the industry in terms of video making and label owning. He’s constantly on the move but all the above didn’t come without hard work and a passion so strong it consumes him. “I’ve always loved making music,” he exclaims. “Recording wasn’t always my favorite part of being a musician until recently though,” he admits. “I sort of used to dread the studio and just wanted to perform live. Now I love both,” he continues. “I got into music at around nine years old which is crazy to type out; the recording bug crawled in when I was about 18.”

There is a fair share of love across the record yet it’s Farro’s lyrical honesty, set atop the groovy instrumentation, that has truly aided in him finding his stride. “Cool Cat” finds him voicing his admiration for someone who embodies such coolness as he sings “You’re so cool, look at you,” and “Well, I’ve never found a girl that could rock my world.” It’s something that, if you try hard enough, could live in the world of Paramore’s After Laughter with its infectious synth-infused beats and groovy bass lines. “Ha,” Farro laughs at the matter. “That’s cool,” he exclaims. “I got hooked on the chord progression and just started making the song out of this bouncy, carefree energy,” he states; perhaps that’s why connotations between the two can be made – because they both have that same bouncy, carefree energy. This fascination goes deeper on “Love Fire”, a track that gets lost in its slower, sensual vibe and is carried by its distorted bass line. Its moody atmosphere is matched by the track’s accompanying visuals, which were co-directed by Farro himself and frequent collaborator AJ Gibboney, as it features Farro dancing around the city with cinematic snippets enhancing the intimacy of the track. “The video was meant to just feel like a performance of me interacting with the song and being alone,” says Farro. “Sort of enjoying being alone,” he emphasizes. “We chose to have it printed to film to give it the classic aesthetic we always shoot for.”

Remaining careful to keep City Talk a contained project in that the special effects don’t get out of control, the refrains don’t get tiresome, and the vocals don’t get too elaborate, Farro has managed to craft a set of playful bops, all of which pay off and solidify his reputation as a talented multi-instrumentalist. “I kept this, sort of, light-hearted love song theme going for City Talk,” he shares of the record. “A lot of the music I was inspired by was a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s funk,” he notes. “A lot of the lyrical content of those [songs] is about love too,” he adds before delving into how he approaches blending different genres together. “I mean, I really don’t know that I do it that well,” he begins yet the smooth blend of jazz and synth-pop in tracks such as “The Dove Has Flown” and “Thank You Hollywood” would state otherwise. “I try my very best to just stay inspired and keep my mind open to letting any song go any direction,” he elaborates. “It’s cool to see how they all land at the end of the day and how they live together.”

If you take a second to listen to what halfnoise posses, you’ll find a lively, sharp discography that showcases traits worthy of being a member of the contemporary scene. Farro may take a few nostalgia trips on the way, but he does so in a calculated measure that you’re basking in the former just long enough to enjoy it. The rest of the year will see him embark on an Australian tour with Paramore and when it comes to halfnoise, Farro hopes to play City Talk to an audience eventually and that’s not all. “I will say that this season of music and life is by far my favorite,” he begins. “I’m 33 and I feel super present with it all,” he adds before shining a light on next year’s plans. “I am hoping to do a lot of Congrats Record-related things in 2024” he states, referring to his independent record label based in Nashville. “I want to build that label up more and more so stay tuned!”