If you think you know Zac Farro, think again. Although the 26-year-old drummer may be best known for forming Paramore when he was barely a teenager and performing on platinum-selling albums such as Riot! and Brand New Eyes, since 2011 he has been at the helm of his own musical project HALFNOISE. This outlet fuses Farro’s passion for live drums with electronic elements and his unique voice to create a sound that bravely steps into the future without abandoning his already incredibly successful past. Correspondingly, while HALFNOISE has released a handful of songs and demos over the past five years, he couldn’t be more thrilled with Sudden Feeling, which is the culmination of his sonic experimentation and the most fully formed example of how Farro has evolved not only as a musician but as a human being since entering his twenties.
“During the making of this album I was definitely more excited and present than I’ve ever been,” Farro gushes from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. “I think the last few years of HALFNOISE were really important because by playing shows in front of people and experimenting in the studio, I was able to build the confidence to get myself to where I am today; in fact, even though I’ve been working on this project for a while, in many ways it feels like I’m still just starting out when it comes to my enthusiasm.” Farro wrote the songs for Sudden Feeling at his home studio before traveling to Los Angeles to flesh out the instrumentation and arrangements with a handful of trusted collaborators...and the result is an album that not only merges organic and synthetic elements but also showcases and embraces Farro’s personality in the process.
“I’m a really upbeat person and it was so sunny and beautiful when we were working on finishing the album in Los Angeles, so friends would come over and we would just listen to mixes and hang out, and I really think the fact that I don’t take things too seriously in my daily life really crossed over to this recording,” Farro explains. Sure, in many ways Sudden Feeling is a breakup album, it’s more accurate to say that the album at its core is about identity: Who we are, what happens when we lose someone we thought helped define us and where do you go once you’re forced to step outside of your comfort zone and forge a new path on undiscovered territory. “The biggest compliment that I’ve gotten from this record from my friends is when they say, ‘this album makes me feel like I’m hanging out with you’ because it really means that my point of view is coming across in a way people can recognize,” he explains.
Admittedly, most albums about a failed relationship are melancholy, but Farro’s aforementioned natural demeanor helped keep Sudden Feeling from sounding overly wallowing. In fact, even when Farro is paying tribute to a lost love on songs like “Leaving,” the glitchy syncopation and locked-in groove of the music behind him will keep listeners’ heads bobbing through even the seemingly darkest moments, which Farro is quick to point out are always still tinged with a healthy dose of hopefulness. “I would say the theme of the album is that there’s heartbreak, but that’s alright, and ultimately what else can you do about something like that, other than sing about it?” he says, adding that the process of writing the album was intensely therapeutic for him and helped him come to terms with issues from his past that weren’t always easy for him to write about.
This dichotomy of serious subject matter and the album’s often upbeat dance-friendly nature displays a duality that’s not just prevalent in Farro’s own DNA, but also is a huge aspect of the human condition in the sense that a nuanced point-of-view usually can’t be expressed via broad generalizations and inflexible absolutes. Correspondingly, from the harmony-rich indie pop of “Telephone” to the airy ambience of “Picture Of You,” the music on the Sudden Feeling emerges so seemingly fully formed that it’s clear that HALFNOISE aren't a vanity project, but instead one of the most exciting musical expressions in recent memory, and one that, despite Farro’s pedigree, has more in common with Tame Impala than The Starting Line.
Then there’s HALFNOISE’s live shows, which are more of a dance party than a traditional concert and serve to illustrate how powerful these songs can become when hundreds of other voices sing along. “It's definitely less programmed, but definitely more rhythmic,” Farro explains, adding that he has a drum set at the front of the stage in order to keep the transfer of energy with the crowd ongoing. “I just love playing music, so it’s incredibly validating to finally have a project that’s not only a true expression of my spirit, but one that I’m proud of from both a musical and emotional perspective,” he summarizes. “I just can’t wait to share these songs with people because I couldn’t be happier with the way that they turned out and I hope they feel the same way, too.”