Paramore Returns: Hayley Williams Fills Us In

Paramore - Pub 2 - Pamela Littky

Paramore shot onto the pop-punk scene in 2005. Since then, they have released three full-length records, been featured in major motion pictures and prominent video games (Twilight, Guitar Hero, Rock Band) and have been nominated for three Grammys. Rocking out of a Tennessee music scene often stereotyped for its country roots, Paramore’s first album All We Know Is Falling sold over 500,000 copies and the 2007 follow-up Riot! surpassed 1.4 million sales... just in the US. However, just when Paramore began to enjoy the success of their 2009 release, Brand New Eyes, (which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200), the Farro brothers, Josh and Zac, two founding members, gave notice.

Fast forward to 2013. After a few years of soul-searching, meeting with various producers and redeveloping their songwriting style, singer Hayley Williams, bassist Jeremy Davis and guitarist Taylor York are fresh off SXSW and amping up to release PARAMORE.

For this exclusive article, Williams took a break to discuss the new record, world tours, how Paramore overcame what initially seemed like a fatal blow and what the newly recast power-trio have in store for 2013.

By Andy Mesecher

Music Connection: So you’re in Malaysia right now, heading to Australia for the Soundwave festival. What’s the biggest difference between an Australian festival and one in the States?
Hayley Williams: Anytime we do festivals outside of the States, they are a lot more metal. We always end up being the “pop band” on the metal bill, unlike the States where we may fit in a little more. Sometimes we’re even the heaviest band [in the US], which is really weird.

MC: Do you enjoy being the odd ones out?
Williams: I like it. I enjoy having something to prove. I think sometimes I go off just a little bit harder at festivals that are more testosterone filled, saying, “Yeah, I’m gonna prove that we’re not just the chick band!” (laughs). It’s weird, but we have a really good time at these festivals. We were playing a festival one time in Europe and I looked over to the side stage and saw Tom Morello. I thought, “What is happening?! This would never happen to us in the States!”

MC: Does the crowd respond well to you in that situation?
Williams: Lucky for us, we do okay no matter the billing. When we first started, we would get a lot of hecklers, a lot of older guys. Then I learned to heckle back. I learned that the microphone is power and I can use that [to my advantage]. I go out, have a good time and [if someone] walks away loving us, that feels like a win, even if it’s just one person.

MC: Let’s talk production. Why did you go with Justin Meldal-Johnsen (M83, Neon Trees) to produce the new record?
Williams: We met with a lot of producers this time around, which is not something we’ve been through before. After being gone for two years, there were times where I wondered, “Are people going to forget about us? Do we matter? Is what I have to say as a writer even relevant?” And when we met with all the producers, everyone seemed really interested in what we wanted to do next.

MC: But Justin just stood out?
Williams: Justin was one of the first guys we met, and we just couldn’t get the things that he said out of our heads. He was so excited about what we could do and the possibilities of our future and how we could shift and shape into a new band. Hearing that and seeing his background and how versatile he is as an artist; it was cool to hear someone like him have a lot of faith in the next chapter of Paramore without even hearing or seeing it yet.

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