Hayley Williams of Paramore Talks New Album, Movies, and More
Mon, 02 Dec 2013 09:00:30
Paramore's self-titled new album serves as a statement for the band. It's their identity right now, and it's as irresistible as it is invigorating and intelligent. They've managed to elevate their signature sound to another level altogether without losing sight of their identity. It's sharply catchy at times and lithely clever at others. It's one of the best albums of 2013. It's simply Paramore.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams discusses the new record inside and out, talks inspiration from Failure, waxes on movies, and so much more.
What threads the new album together? Did you approach it with a distinct vision?
First of all, I think it's the most complete thought we've ever released as a work of art or full album. In the beginning of the process, honestly, we were trying to write anything we could. Coming out of a tough time with our band, it was like, "Where do we go next?" We went forward with anything we fell in love with or felt fully connected to. We tried everything. We didn't have the time or the luxury of being close-minded as a band anymore. We worked that way for a long time, even though it didn't quite feel like we were working that way. We realized we needed to open our minds up and try new things. The thread to me was the fact it was just the three of us. That was the only thing. We looked at each song as its own album. We spent three or four days on each song alone. We've never really done that. We've always tracked different instruments for separate songs in one day. It was sort of patchwork-style. It wasn't until the end of this album and the process of making it that we were like, "Dude, this sounds good. This sounds like us!" I could literally hear Jeremy in every song. I could hear his personality. I could hear my personality. I could hear Taylor's. To me, that's the thread. That's why we called it Paramore. There's really no other way to sum that up.
What encouraged you to try new things? Was there anything else you were inspired by?
The first thing I think of is sometimes when you hit rock bottom or you're in a place of your life where you realize you don't have all the answers for once, it humbles you. It stops you from pretending you know everything or trying to predict the outcome of something. Losing two members and essentially losing those friendships forced us out of our comfort zone. We realized we can't use the same patterns and the same formulas. It was like, "We can't live as Paramore the same way we had been all these years". It was not something we would've chosen to go through. It was something that now looking back, I don't think we would've survived had we not gone through it. You know what I mean?
Absolutely! As a result of facing that challenge or "rock bottom" as you said, you come out on the other side with the best music you've written.
Well, thanks! We definitely opened our minds to all of our inspirations and everything that has been there all along. We weren't afraid to own them. To me, you hear more of what we've grown up listening to on this record than you do on our first album, which I think is pretty crazy. I hear more Failure, new wave-y stuff, and Jimmy Eat World than I do even when we were writing straight-up pop punk or rock songs.
"Future" stands out. What's the story behind that song?
That song is such a happy accident. I love that song! That's something I was playing around with on my guitar right after Josh and Zach Farro had left the band. It was an old song. It was this old thing I kept picking on guitar over and over again. It wasn't complete. It was a few lines. I showed it to Taylor four or five months later. If you look at the timeline, that was way before we started writing the album. It's something that came up again. I saved it on my voice memos on my iPhone. I was going through all of these ideas we wanted to shape up for demos. We played around with it for a long time. Finally, I was at the studio one day with Jeremy, Taylor, and Justin Meldal-Johnson. Justin was like, "Jam on it right now! See if we can figure it out lyrically". I kid you not; the thing we recorded that day just jamming out live in the living room of the studio with iPhone apps open with drums on them and little keyboards Jeremy was playing is what's on the record. That ended up making it. The other half is the guys jamming at Sunset Sound in the live room. It's a really special song. It's super emotional for me.
What does it mean to you lyrically?
It's sort of a part of me that realizes moving forward is better than wallowing in the past. I tend to be a really nostalgic person. I could write books and a million albums on a feeling or something I went through at sixteen- or seventeen-years-old, but what would be the point? There's a twenty-four-year-old person right here in me that is experiencing new life and new things that are probably more important than things I dealt with as a teenager. There are things I need to deal with now. There are things I'm happy celebrating now. It was important to the whole the record to be an ode to the future. I guess that song, long before we got ready to really write the record, shaped my thought process, where we were headed and where we needed to go. I was so tired of rehashing the past. We were doing so many interviews at the time about what was going on in the band and all of this black, negative stuff. I was just over it. So, it was a little song that got us through a lot.
If you were to compare your new album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Oh my God, that is such a good question! I love movies. It would probably take me all day to think of a good one. There are things about it that feel very Ferris Bueller's Day Off because I feel like I'm a young person putting on a suit for the first time [Laughs]. It's like I'm walking around pretending like I've got it all figured out. There are also parts of me I feel like were much more realistic about how little I knew about myself. I'm trying to think of what movie that would be. Man, that's such a great question! It can't just be one type of movie. There are so many different things on this record.
The Ferris Bueller reference captures some of the levity. You've never lost sight of that, and the band has always been smart enough to have some wit.
Thank you! I really appreciate that. I love that movie too. We can stick with that.
What's your favorite Paramore song?