The Paranoyds Talk Band Stuff, Super Powers And Politics for Oyster #111

“Well in fashion, isn’t it that people are always trying to look like they do something aside from fashion?”

A five-way international conference call is always a dubious idea, especially when it’s a band interview and you’re trying to keep track of who’s saying what. We dialled in anyway. After the call, if you told me The Paranoyds were all blood relatives who still live in their childhood home together, I’d believe it. In fact, they’re just good friends who like finishing each other’s sentences and have rare telephone manners.

 JP: So how did you all meet?
Staz: I meet Laila in the 9th grade ’cos we would walk past each other in the hallway at high school and we had similar interests. Then I had the pleasure of making Lexi a really good friend as well, ’cos Laila and Lexi have been friends forever. ‘’
Lexi: Like forever. Staz means preschool. Laila and I went to preschool together.
Staz: So we’re basically sisters.

When did David come into the picture?
Staz: In 2014, my brother, who’s also in a band, went to SXSW with another band and David was playing drums in that band. We were in between drummers and my brother just like hooked it up… hooked it up with a dank drummer.

David, from your point of view, how did this thing get started?
David: So I went on tour with a band and we were touring beside Bad Girl. After the tour, Misha [Staz’s brother] was working at a screen printing shop and I started working there. Almost every day Misha would be like ‘Hey, you should be in my sisters’ band’. I was always like ‘Yeah, sure’, you know, never really put up a fight. I first met Lexi — she started showing me the songs, we would just jam along. I had only met the rest of the band briefly one night at this store we played a little show at. I don’t remember the name of the store…
Laila: Gotta Have It.
David: Gotta Have It, yeah, Gotta Have It in Venice. It was for our friend Courtney’s birthday. I said hi to Laila and when I met Staz I was waiting in the line for the bathroom. I had really bad diarrhoea… So I was literally shitting myself when I met Staz. After that, our first show was in San Francisco. I think maybe we practiced one time before that show.
Laila: Not enough… Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough.
David: It was fun. I think the show went well considering how little we practiced.

Why the band name?
Staz: It was the first band name we came up with that we didn’t get tired of saying over and over again. We’re all kind of a bit paranoid, I feel like we’re all over-thinkers and stuff like that. We related to it really well, especially at the time, and yeah, we don’t get sick of saying it. I still think it’s a pretty cool name.
Laila: Yeah.
David: Yeah, agree.

Sounds like you guys are very tight knit. How much time do you spend together?
Laila: We spend a crazy amount of time together. We’re all like best friends; Staz and I are neighbours. We help each other. David helped me install my AC unit into my room and I showed him YouTube videos while he was doing it. If that’s not friendship then I don’t know what is.

The theme of the issue is Fantasy… what does the word fantasy mean to you?
Laila: Sweet, sweet fantasy baby [singing]… That’s the first thing that came to my mind.
David: Mariah Carey [laughing].
Staz: I think we’re living a fantasy that we’ve always had. Like a slumber party musicians dream.
Laila: We got to do something that probably wasn’t anyone’s fantasy because it was so out of the realm. We got to play Coachella earlier this year. Playing more summer festivals, like a European festival tour, would be so tight. That would be a fantasy of mine.

What was it like to play Coachella?
Staz: It was madness.
Laila: Did you say it was an accident?
Staz: Haha, no, I said it was madness. It probably was an accident!
David: The catering was really good.
Staz: It smelled like jasmine everywhere.
Laila: We got Coachella bathrobes. It was kinda awesome.
David: Luxuries aside, the playing was really cool. All the crew were so nice. They gave me towels. Nobody really does that.
Laila: I think Coachella is going into the hotel business… it sounds like. Robes and towels, they’re really winning bands over with their hospitality.

If you could each have a super power, what would it be?
Staz: I just want to be hydrated. Never thirsty… Never needing to buy water.

That’s an awesome superpower.
Laila: But would you still be able to drink water? You’d never know that feeling of having an ice-cold cola.
Lexi: Oh, I have one. It’d be really cool to be able to read stuff really fast. I mean like lightning speed fast and you get to retain all that information. That’d be sick.
David: Forget the reading part. You know how in The Matrix when they just upload abilities in their brain.
Lexi: I want David’s version now.
Laila: Can we all share each other’s powers?

David: It’d also be really cool to just be Spiderman for a while.
Lexi: There’s a lot of responsibility with being Spiderman. I don’t know if you remember that.
Staz: Always being hydrated comes with great responsibility.
[everyone laughs]
David: Hey, but with your hydration superpower, it’d be cool if you could hydrate other people just by touching them.
Lexi: This is a really fun question for us.

What was it like to shoot with Brad, obviously he’s shot amazing people. Put me on location with you guys for a sec?
Staz: Brad and Richie are this kind of iconic duo that I feel should have a reality show because they are so entertaining together. And Brad is such a legend. He has such a strong personality. I love talking to him, I love hearing his stories.
Lexi: Brad has a lot of good stories and he’s a great storyteller.
Staz: He gave us all his book, which is kind of unbelievable. You’re flicking through it on set when you’re with him and you’re just like ahhhh… He’s so not Hollywood though, he is like ‘Oh yeah, I took that picture of Bowie’. That day was cool ‘cos we were wearing a bunch of western suits together and David got to wear lipstick and it was set in East LA.
David: It wasn’t in East LA, it was in Silver Lake.
Staz: Well, sorry, East Hollywood.
David: I might have something to say about that.
Staz: OK East Hollywood, does that sound better to you?
David: Yeah.
Lexi: For somebody who hasn’t done shoots like that before, it was kind of crazy to go from not really doing anything to working with somebody who’s shot everyone. I thought it might be nerve-racking but it wasn’t. Brad’s presence makes you feel comfortable.
Laila: Yeah, he showed us this crazy badass shot of The Runaways that he took. They looked so tough and he showed it to us and was like ‘Alright, you see this?’ and then he paused for a little bit, ‘I need you guys to embody this look.’ And we were all like ‘OK. Cool. Got it…’.
[everyone laughs]

Sounds easy…
Laila: Yeah, it was cool.

David did you want to comment about the shoot as well?
David: Ah, yeah. I mean…
Staz: It was in East Hollywood [everyone laughs].
David: Yeah, it was in East Hollywood, not East LA. He was telling us very personal stories about things, kind of like things you…
Lexi: …have always wondered.
David: Yeah, it was a cool rock ‘n’ roll history lesson.
Staz: And he’s shot basically anyone we’ve ever cared about or listened to, basically. When it is a story about one of your heroes it’s a pretty special experience.
David: He is probably older than my parents, but I didn’t feel like I was like, you know…
Lexi: …with a parent.
David: Yeah, exactly. I just felt like I was with a contemporary [everyone laughs].

Staz, did he ever shoot Dire Straits, do you know?
Staz: I don’t think so, I actually never asked him but I feel like he was kind of shooting a bit… cooler than that.
Laila: Ooohhhh…

What is cooler than Dire Straits??
Staz: I don’t know, he’s shot The Police right? I guess he shot everybody but I feel like he didn’t shoot them.

Dire Straits were one of my favourite bands growing up, they were huge in Australia. What was it like growing up in that environment? I know your mum was a model and your dad was a rock star — that must’ve been pretty interesting?
Staz: I wasn’t really aware. We didn’t grow up in like a big fancy house, or have luxurious things around us, you know? So, I never felt like I had a celebrity as a parent. It didn’t really affect my life because it wasn’t like a celebrity driven band growing up, like no one really freaked out on me. I still haven’t listened to them, ’cos I don’t know when I’m just gonna put on a Dire Straits record and even then I wouldn’t know which one to put on [everyone laughs]. What’s your favourite album?

Money For Nothing for sure. That album was formative for me.
Staz: But that’s when my Dad wasn’t in the band anymore, my Dad was in it from 1980-84.

OK, what about Brothers In Arms, was he on that?
Staz: I think so, he was in it for Making Movies for sure.

That’s my bad, I thought he was in it for the duration.
Staz: Oh no it’s ok, it’s all like Mark Knopfler. You know he’s still touring, he sells out shows, he doesn’t need to reunite the band, which I think is kinda bullshit. But if he’s selling out on his own, he doesn’t need to.

Another question for you Staz. You’ve spent a lot of time around fashion industry people and music industry people… who is weirder?
Staz: I definitely have more in common with music people. Most fashion these days is just repetition and rip-offs and of course you can say that about music but you still have to learn the art of it. Fashion is about image and music is sensory. You know? I definitely have an uncomfortable time at fashion parties compared to being at a music related thing.
David: Well in fashion, isn’t it that people are always trying to look like they do something aside from fashion? [everyone laughs]
Lexi: Yeah, I would also say the musical group of people we hang out with are not crazy into partying or the rock star lifestyle. Like all of us have day jobs and go to bed really early. Everyone in our friend group is so passionate about their band and their music.
Staz: I don’t know, there is something that seems more authentic about music people.

I hear you but when I look at the popular music industry, I’m sick to my stomach. I just don’t understand how that crap is popular.
Staz: I wasn’t even considering mainstream pop when you were asking the question, the mainstream is just boring in general and uninspired.

I have a question about American politics. What is happening over there at the moment? Do you guys have an opinion on politics?
Lexi: Ah… let’s go back to the fashion vs. music questions [everyone laughs].
David: When you look at it on paper, or you know… It looks like a circus but life just carries on. And you know, you never know how bad things are until you’re through with them.
Staz: I think that right now, I like to consider it as such an unbelievable year that you have to kind of just go with it. If Trump can be president then basically anything can happen. And that has really brought the music scene closer together — it’s brought people together and people are just paying better attention. They’re going for it and really living because you just don’t know what’s going to happen next.

OK, last question. Speaking of just going for it… what advice would you give to anyone reading this who has a young band trying to make it happen?
Lexi: I feel like we’re not there yet or in a position to be giving advice.
Staz: I would say practise all of the time and don’t expect stuff to be handed to you. Don’t have entitlement and be driven. You can be better than everyone else, but prove it. Just work really hard.
Lexi: Yeah, and patience too. That kind of goes in with what Staz is saying.
David: And find some good people to look up to.
Staz: And then surround yourself with them.

Words: Jonathan Pease
Photography: Brad Elterman
Creative Direction: Richie Davis