Gig Of The Week: Paramore
Come inside for an exclusive interview with singer Hayley Williams about Paramore’s upcoming UK arena tour.
WHERE: Glasgow SECC
WHEN: December 10
The precocious Tennessee pop-punks are riding high. Their recently released third album, Brand New Eyes, topped the UK chart and they are about embark on a huge UK arena trek. Hopefully the sheer scale of Paramore’s touring schedule will enable them to shrug off their throwaway reputation of being “just a Kerrang! band”. Because as singer Hayley Williams says: “Our music is for everyone.”
Interview: Geoff Barton
You are playing some major venues this time around – including London’s massive Wembley Arena.
It’s going to be nuts. Pretty much every show for the last year and a half has just been getting bigger and bigger. It’s a big step for us but the cool thing is that the first two rows are always the same kids, and that’s what I really enjoy and appreciate. No matter how big this thing gets, if we keep our core fans then we’re definitely doing it in the right way.
I read in an interview recently where you said you hate the word ‘mature’. Still, it has to be said that Brand New Eyes, your latest album, is your most mature offering to date.
It’s certainly a more grown-up version of us. However, I don’t think we’re done growing yet. The new album just shows off our personalities. It has more character in the first 20 seconds than anything we’ve ever done. We’ve found that the five of us are complete opposites yet that works real well in the context of the band.
Brand New Eyes, in part, is a reaction to the near break-up of Paramore that took place a couple of years back. You had a turbulent 2007 and cancelled your European tour in February 2008.
Those were crazy times. We were a young band – still are. As we were growing up we found ourselves also growing apart. It became a sort of routine… just play a show and get outta there. It wasn’t like: “Hey, I’m playing music with my buddies.” It became a job. We started to resent each other and we weren’t communicating. If it weren’t for some of the songs on the album we wouldn’t have been to keep going as a band.
Brand New Eyes was a release valve for you?
Yeah – totally. A catharsis.
You’re venting a lot of fury in your lyrics. On Playing God, for example, there are the lines: ‘Next time you point a finger/I’ll point you to the mirror/I might just have to break it off.’ How do the rest of the band feel about that? You’re not painting them in a very good light.
When I first showed them my lyrics – especially to the song Ignorance – no one was particularly thrilled. No one was excited about them. But I was. I was finally saying these things that had been stuck inside me forever. It felt like word vomit. Finally it all came out and it was on the table, so to speak! I’m sure that they weren’t happy with it but, according to the four dudes, it doesn’t really matter any more because now it has a positive twist. Because we got through it.
When writing the lyrics, were you conscious of not coming across too self-pitying?
Sure. No one wants to hear someone in that position whine. It sounds ungrateful and I didn’t want it to come across that way. There’s nothing worse than to hear a band complain about being famous. We’re not like that at all.
With Brand New Eyes, do you feel like you are pushing the envelope a bit as far as Paramore’s musical direction is concerned?
I hope so. I don’t ever want to be in a band that just stays comfortable. But at the same time it wasn’t like we were trying consciously to break out of our shell. It was a natural progression. But I hope people sense some risk in some of the songs.
It’ll be your 21st birthday on December 27. Do you look beyond tomorrow, next week, next year? What’s your perception of the future?
Yeah, I think about the future. Sometimes I wonder what else we can possibly do. We’ve achieved so many of our goals already – I can’t even imagine what’s next. But we’re not worried about it. It’s just a case of… hang out and see what happens.
You compared the trials and tribulations Paramore have been through to Metallica’s Some Kind Of Monster.
Our position was not in any way as difficult as theirs. Paramore is a family and it takes a lot of effort to keep it together. We saw a counsellor to help us communicate but we didn’t get into therapist territory.
You’re growing up in an age where people scrutinise your every move. A lot of the bands we write about in Classic Rock were active in simpler times – like the 1970s, before you were born. Do you ever wonder what it might have been like, to be in a band back then? Do you think it would’ve been easier?
It would’ve been amazing. I would have enjoyed that. It’s hard not to pay attention to the negative things people say about you. There’s a lot of cons and it would be nice if things were simpler.
You did a summer tour of the US with No Doubt, and you’re a big fan of Gwen Stefani. Which other female singers do you admire? Specifically ones who would resonate with Classic Rock’s readership?
I didn’t grow up with a lot of female role models but Debbie Harry is my No.1. I also really love Stevie Nicks, I think she’s awesome. I love her music – and I love her fashion sense and make-up, if that isn’t too trite a thing to say.
You realise, of course, that many Classic Rock readers are, shall we say… old blokes.
It’s cool. I’m into it.
Why should a Classic Rock reader check out Paramore?
Our music is for everyone. A lot of magazines try to use our image in a way that points us out to a young audience. They would rather pick a picture of us where we’re goofing off and put that on the cover than use a real band photo. Because of that situation I’ve kind of stopped making faces in pictures; I really want who we are to come across. It goes way beyond our image. Sure, I like to wear ridiculous things and dress up like a pre-pubescent boy sometimes. But I think that our music speaks volumes, and speaks louder than any picture, any hairstyle or whatever. That’s really what it’s about. As I say, our music is for everyone. There are probably things on our new record that older people would get and understand before a younger person – and I pride myself in that. I’m not picking big words out of a dictionary, I’m just writing about what I know and what’s real. Anyone can relate to that.
Youthfulness can work against you. Yet people forget that when Jimmy Page was in The Yardbirds, for example, he was even younger than you.
Totally. Some of the best music comes out that. You’re not pretending. You’re hungry at that age – and some of the best music comes out of being hungry.
* Paramore also play Birmingham NIA December 11, Dublin O2 Point 12, Cardiff International Arena 14, Manchester MEN 16, Brighton Centre 17, London Wembley Arena 18. Most of the shows are sell-outs but limited last-minute tickets may be available.
For further info go to www.paramore.net