Paradise Fears Interview

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I’ve hit a pop rock lull. Bands I used to love have fallen into the tragic fate of my recycle bin. Right-click. Delete. Delete to Recycle Bin. And that’s it. No tears are shed and I don’t spend a second more thinking about it. How many “pop rock” albums that have been through this, I can’t recall but I can recall those who survive this seemingly destined fate. Paradise Fears is among the few. With one listen of “Last Breath” off their full length, Yours Truly, I knew I had found something great.

“Wait- there are supposed to be times when I’m not working on music?”

What really drew me in was the refreshing yet emotion filled sound with a true sense of pop rock musicality. Title track, “Yours Truly,” is so heartfelt, it broke my heart. It resonated in me for days just like when I got the confirmation of an interview with Paradise Fears’ Sam Miller. Go ahead, judge me. But what you can’t judge is how truly talented this band is. They hail from South Dakota, a state known for their lack of a music scene. Known for music or not, that can’t hold talented people back. Funding everything themselves, Paradise Fears was able to accomplish something that has stricken so many bands today. The Cheese Factor. Paradise Fears has completely diverged this viral infection and good for them!

I’m glad Yours Truly did well commercially for the band. It’s “put our band in the position we’re in now” Sam Miller says. That position is one of Alternative Press’ 100 Bands You Need to Know in 2012. And a well deserved position at that. An album of “youth, passion, hopeful love, and hopeless romance” running throughout has never caught my attention so quickly. I feel like a proud mother and I couldn’t be happier. Hold on while I pull out my wallet to show you their baby pictures.

The shows were massive, and we had a huge turnout.Fresh off their tour with The Summer Set and The Cab, Paradise Fears just finished one of the “best tours” they’ve ever been on. “The shows were massive, and we had a huge turnout, and all of the other bands were ridiculously supportive. I don’t know if it will ever be possible to have that much fun on tour again, so EFSS set the bar pretty high” vocalist Sam Miller says.

Paradise Fears is Samuel Miller (vocalist), Cole Andre (guitar), Jordan Merrigan (guitar), Michael Walker (keys), Marcus Sand (bass), and Lucas Zimmerman (drums). Samuel Miller was able to take some time out to do an interview with us.

What are you doing when you’re not working on music?
Wait- there are supposed to be times when I’m not working on music? Ha – I’m pretty much constantly doing something Paradise Fears related. Without a manager, tour manager, booking agent, or label, we assume all of those responsibilities ourselves, and as things have gotten bigger and better, it’s become a more-than-full time job. Although I do treat myself to the occasional episode of “The West Wing.” Sometimes I eat, too.

How you all got into music:
For me, it was always kind of a lifestyle around my house. Like, my Dad always had us sing in church growing up, and then I slowly got into musical theatre and choir in high school, and from there it naturally evolved into covering the songs I loved listening to.

How the band formed:
Cole and I started playing covers together for school talent shows, and then we started writing together, and then we started writing with other members, and then we started performing full band, and then it became what it is now! Very, very natural evolution.

Explain your decision to be independent.
We’re firm believers in self-reliance. I’ve always thought that people waste too much time waiting for their train to come when it would be much faster to just pick up and start running. So we figured, rather than submit ourselves to the .1% chance of winning the band-label lottery, we’d just try to make a name for ourselves on our own. I also value hard work pretty highly, so I think that if you’re not doing everything you possibly can, you’re not doing enough. And now, that same mentality is what precludes us from signing with anyone who isn’t REALLY going to help us – they have to be able to do something for us that we can’t do for ourselves, and right now, we’re pretty sure that’s not much!

Do you ever see the band signing to a label?
I would say no, but if a major came a-callin’, that would be a pretty tough no to give.

What would you say sets you apart from other bands?
That very independence, and determination to win someone over no matter what it takes!

When it comes to writing, is it more natural for the lyrics or the music to come out?
I’m more natural with lyrics, I think Cole is more natural with music coming first. I hear words coming together, he hears songs.

As songwriters, what inspires you?
Everything. It’s a pretty difficult emotion to explain, but when you feel it, you feel it. The strangest things set me off writing. A lot of times, it’s other music, or at least the emotion that other music evokes!

Was there anything that was challenging for you during the making of this Yours Truly?
There’s always challenges – certainly we had difficulty with the whole financing of it because we were trying to record an album that was slightly out of means. It was also a very new experience, because we’d never really done that many songs, in that many studios, and tried to make it all come together.

Was there anything specific that influenced you that went into writing the album?
I had just had a pretty bad break up-type of thing, with a girl who has always been a pretty primary source of writing influence for me, so I think little things about her turn up kind of all over the album.

What does this album title mean to you personally?
The title is really fashioned after the title track, which is a song that has a lot of meaning to me. I think people frequently use the phrase “yours truly” too casually, and forget what it really means, to tell someone that, in all sincerity, you are theirs.

If you had to convince someone to listen to your band, solely from telling them about yourselves and your experiences since you’ve been together… What do you think you’d tell them?
I’d ask them what they thought 6 kids from South Dakota who love Taking Back Sunday and All Time Low and know nothing about the music industry should sound like Then I’d ask them to listen to it.


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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (She's basically a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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