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The Paranoyds break down their fiery sophomore album Talk Talk Talk and touring with Jack White

The Paranoyds concoct a fiery rawness that combines the passion and humor of garage rock and punk. The gritty four-piece — Laila Hashemi (keys/vocals), Lexi Funston (guitar/vocals), Staz Lindes (bass/vocals) and David Ruiz (drums/vocals) — put that power on full display with their second album, Talk Talk Talk, out now via Third Man Records.

The LA-based outfit proudly embrace their sonically unwashed yet often tuneful chant. Their songs combine crowd-charging energy with thoughtful, mind-bending messages. A prime example is “Single Origin Experience,” which features meaningful intricacies about American culture. 

Read more: Weyes Blood strives to find hope in the darkness

On top of the Paranoyds’ frosted cake is always a tasty dose of pure, unabashed fun, both in the Talk Talk Talk tracks and their live performances. The band sat down with AP to discuss their international tour (including dates opening for Jack White), embracing mistakes and the most challenging song to record on their new album.

Congrats on the new album! One song that hit me right off the bat was “Single Origin Experience.” Have you gotten a reaction to this one?

LEXI FUNSTON: We had a lot of YouTube comments discussion. It’s cool to see conversations take place on YouTube, which to me is the front page of the internet. Just kidding!

The lyric and the video to me was evoking a feeling of the world experiencing itself in the same way almost everywhere. Am I on track here?

FUNSTON: It’s what it means to be an American in this hyper-tech world that we live in. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to be American — to have all this information slammed in your face all the time.

STAZ LINDES: It’s a capitalist-centric song. It’s definitely the whole juxtaposition of the wealth gap and the extremes of luxury.

FUNSTON: It’s a new frontier where everybody’s big on selling you on experiences. We all have iPhones, right? Now, what else can Apple do?

So tell me about the process. Since we’re on songs, how do they get written in the band?

DAVID RUIZ: First there were ideas, and we were just jamming them out.  Now they’re a bit more fleshed out, and they just expand as we all play together. I have this progression. And we’re like, “I have these lyrics!” Then we all just get together and expand on them.

FUNSTON: During the pandemic, we were trying to do the GarageBand vibe, which was really different for us. A lot of these songs were fully written, and then we all had to add our parts.

What song on the new record was the greatest challenge to not necessarily write but to record?

FUNSTON: Personally, the song “Andrew” has been my magnum opus because of its weird song structure. We’ve recorded it countless times. For me, that was challenging because it’s such a fun song. There’s so many melodies. Reminds me of the ‘80s.

Which artists have influenced you the most? Not necessarily bands that sound like you but they’re just a powerful influence.

FUNSTON: I listen to a lot of old country like Hank Williams, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers. And a lot of Motown like Smokey Robinson and Sam Cooke. We’re trying to reference basslines to those really nice, old, soulful ones, too. I think probably country music’s pretty far from us. But that’s a huge influence on me, especially lyrically.

[Photo by David Perlman]

You’re opening for Jack White in several cities. What are your feelings about that?

FUNSTON: He was formative for me, and pretty much everyone in our generation. You knew who the White Stripes were and that they were causing a whole transition, whether people were aware of it or not. He was really cool. The fact that he asked us felt super validating.

What is your process for getting ready for these many cities on a tour?

RUIZ: It mostly all logistical stuff. Getting merch and seeing where we’re gonna stay. This time around, we have flights that need to be booked. And finding people to look after our pets!

FUNSTON: Practicing. Getting mentally prepared as well as just like trying to like stay calm before the storm!

LINDES: Buttoning up, especially for vocal arrangements. The girls are really good at forcing all of us to do vocal warmups before every show.

Any Spanish songs coming up?

RUIZ: We talked about doing some translations!

Who in the band is the hardest to get along with and the easiest?

FUNSTON: I think we’re all honest. I think we’re all both. When you’re touring with a band, you experience both sides and all sides of a person. But I think for the most part, we all understand each other and have core respect and love. We’re all aware of each other’s quirks, and we’re all pretty self-aware as well. So something will happen, and we apologize for it. And that’s really important.

What inspired another interesting song “BWP”?

FUNSTON: There’s a couple. The first was it gets really hot randomly out of nowhere [in LA], and it makes you a little stir-crazy. I just sometimes go on these tangents that I just write down. So that was one part of it. The other part is at the time, there was this Spotify cringy playlist called Badass Women. And I thought Paranoyds should be on this playlist. It’s the biggest contemporary playlist for our genre of music that we’re making. Why aren’t we on this? So weird. I felt a little unseen by us not being on that place. Anyway, I was like, “I’m gonna write a song that’s going to end up on that playlist.” And since then, they’ve now dropped “women” from the playlist title, it’s obviously not about women. It’s just about badass music.

The whole gender and identity issue comes up a lot. 

FUNSTON: I know it’s important to some people. Personally, I’m gay. But I want the music to talk for itself. I don’t think it needs to be qualified.

Another thing is the natural roughness of Talk Talk Talk. We’re so used to having everything produced to the hilt and slicked out. What do you think about keeping mistakes?

FUNSTON: I think you’re being human. Beatles songs have mistakes. All the great old records have little mistakes. And that’s the good stuff.

RUIZ: It’s also so exciting when a band releases their demos of one of your favorite albums, and you hear the first version of everything, and there’s like bad timing, and singing off key. It’s just like an imperfect photo.

I was reading through your materials, and it sounds like you had a challenging experience up in San Francisco a couple of years ago when you were at a studio there trying to demo songs.

RUIZ: It was awesome. We just had one tiny cellphone, and our friend Spencer Hartling was engineering. I guess it maybe sounded tough. We were sleeping on the floor living in the studio.

FUNSTON: It was tough times. We thought the world was ending. It was right in the middle of George Floyd dying. We all got tested before we even got in the car with each other. We’re all thinking, “Should we take off our masks?” It felt like we were gonna get into trouble. Bands were getting canceled from playing shows. People would comment like, “You guys aren’t six feet apart.” It was insane.

RUIZ: Those demos sealed the deal with our label Third Man Records.

What do you say to those that really don’t know much about you, who are just hearing you for the first time online as they’re scrolling through it?

FUNSTON: For me, I just want to inspire other people to make music, and to express themselves and find other people like them.

And you’re having fun being real.

FUNSTON: Exactly. You can find other people like you, especially if you express yourself.

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