It's been over three years since Paramore released their last full length album, Brand New Eyes. With anticipation of the band's new Self-Titled album at an all time high, I had a chance to get a few questions in with front-woman, Hayley Williams. We discussed what direction the band has taken musically, where they're at with their lives and how it impacts their lyrics and everything in between. If you thought the band was going to slow down after the rocky past few years, you're dead wrong. If anything, the band seems more focused and revitalized, ready to deliver their best album to date.
I think the best place to start is talking about your new single "Now." Why did this end up being your first choice for a single? How would you describe it in relation to singles of the past?
To be honest, I was surprised that everyone - speaking of the label - was so ready to release "Now" first. It's quite heavy compared to some of the other songs. The thing is anyone could have picked any of the songs as first single and I would've been alright with it. That's unusual for me, personally. With past albums, I've had a really strong conviction about one particular song from each. For instance, the guys and I convinced a lot of people that "Misery Business" had to be our first single off RIOT! We just knew. That's not to say that we don't have strong feelings about "Now"... We just happen to have those strong feelings for every song on the album!
With your new album you decided to go Self-Titled. Do you feel that's a big statement? Band's tend to name their albums self-titled when they feel it's indicative of the sound they've been trying to craft. Do you feel this is the sound you've been trying to achieve with the band?
It just wouldn't seem right to try and force a name when these songs hit us like lightning. I mean, we couldn't have forced this album if we tried. And we did try, on occasion. Even though I know the writing process was grueling at times, when I think back on it, all the songs just sort of ended up happening! They worked and it really felt natural. We called the record what it is. It's really us. I hope that that says something important to our fans.
How did the writing process differ this time around as opposed to the past? Without rehashing the past, it must have been a change of pace without two of the original members. Do you feel the change helped you, Jeremy, and Taylor grow as songwriters and artists?
Absolutely. I am so thankful for all that we have been through. You really do learn more from the bad... I believe that. It just does something to your perspective and I have never seen the three of us so clearly. Taylor and Jerm are so talented. We all really needed each other during this process because yes, at first, it was strange and uncharted territory. Then again, if we hadn't been forced into it, we might've never made a voluntary decision to open up ourselves up to all possibilities. Musically, I think the biggest growth has come from Taylor now being a primary songwriter for the band. You'll hear his mad-scientist personality come out a lot on this album, where before he didn't have quite the same opportunity. Jeremy, as usual, came up with some of the coolest bass lines. Until writing this album, I hadn't heard him play that way since the early days, when we met. I'm proud of my friends, they killed it.
Lyrically, do you think this album is going to have a different feel because of where you all are in this point in your life? You, of course, with your relationship with Chad Gilbert, Jeremy's marriage and everything else that has happened in the past four years.
For the last 2 years, I have finally gotten the time and the space I needed to grow up and become a woman. So, yeah... I'd say that my lyrics have an inherently different feel. Hopefully, they grew up with me.
As far as love goes, I'm deeper in it than ever. Seeing one of my best friends so happily married does inspires me in a great way to keep believing in love. It's hard, man! I really have to fight the realist in me at times. Nonetheless, there are a couple of really fun love songs on this album. I'm sure there'll always be that pissed off, teenage angst inside me as long as I'm living in this crazy world. But geez, it felt extremely liberating to just feel everything for once.
I've heard through the grapevine that the sound of the new album could be compared to the likes of Metric, is this true at all and what were some of your influences when it came to writing and recording?
I'd be lying if I said we didn't collectively listen to more electronic music during this process than ever before. I think it's just because that genre is super hot right now. Even so, I wouldn't say we sound like any of those bands. It sounds more like someone let us loose in a blow up castle full of instruments and we just bounced around it in for a few days with... purpose?
Taylor was listening to Alt-J a lot, I was listening to that Sirius XM channel called "1st Wave" every day just getting my gothy vibes on in the car, and Jeremy keeps us well versed in new hip-hop. No dubstep was jammed in the making of this album.
By the time the album is released it will be over 3 and a half years since you released your last full length, Brand New Eyes. This gap has been the longest break between albums for you as band (sans the Singles Club), do you feel that it has created a new kind of pressure for the album?
Actually, I feel it created the opposite. Even though we never really went anywhere, we needed to go away for a minute. The drama was boring for me so I can't imagine how boring it must've been for fans. Especially for people who weren't fans! I could almost hear them, "Ugh, there goes Paramore again acting like a bunch of schoolyard brats!" The time we had was a good way to let the dust settle and it feels like we're getting a second chance. Maybe now people can hear the music for what it is and not for the same old story that was on the cover of every little magazine.
As for album details, can you share any additional info about the record? Like song titles, album length, etc?
This is the longest album we've ever recorded. I'm proud of that. To be honest, when we started writing it, even completing 5 songs seemed like an impossibility! As for titles, I'm not sure why we still haven't released the track listing, but I should probably wait for that before I go ruining surprises like I always do!
You already have some international dates announced with mewithoutYou in February and then a few festival performances to follow after that. When can people expect to see Paramore and can you give us a hint of who will be joining you? Maybe another go with Tegan and Sara?
The dates overseas with mewithoutYou are just the beginning! We want to be everywhere as much as we can. I can't believe we are kicking everything off with my favorite band ever. Life is wild.
We had the band Kitten open our show in Pomona, CA last year, and we'd like to play with them more. I love Candy Hearts so much and think our fans would love them live. Also, if we could play some shows with Shiny Toy Guns then my friend Carah and I could shred a few stages together. She is the best. Basically, there are a lot of incredible ladies in music who I am so excited about and 2013 is going to be a big year for all of them, with or without a Paramore tour.
Aside from the questions about the new album, the readers wanted to know if you have any plans to ever release any solo material? Or maybe even some form of side project with Chad?
Solo project? Who knows! I am even more into Paramore than I was before. Didn't think that was possible! So, I can't really think that far ahead.
As far as projects with Chad go... I can barely keep up with him! He shows me like 10 new song ideas a day! It's actually so inspiring. We write and play together just for fun but no joint projects to speak of. Let the record show though, if he ever records an "Enter Sandman" cover on acoustic guitar, that it was I who taught him the correct way to play it. You can just mark that down that as a joint project.
You toured with No Doubt a few years, who have been one of the most iconic female fronted rock bands of all time. Did Gwen have any tricks of the trade or knowledge to share with you?
Gwen is amazing. She's down to earth and she works her ass off. I can't even stress how much she does on one single tour day. There was never one thing she said that stuck but there was always plenty to be encouraged by. The fact alone that that band is still together is motivation enough, right? I'm not sure if this will come off the right way, but by seeing her life and everything she does, I can say that I wish fame and success weren't things that go hand in hand with each other in the music business. The "fame" part of music is bogus anyway. I will be ecstatic if our album does well and people love it... but I'll still feel dumb every time we go to LA and some paparazzi guy - who doesn't even have a clue who I am - starts taking pictures of me and calling me "Kayley". I'll still be embarrassed if we're walking down a red carpet, all dressed up, and someone asks me what I think of Miley Cyrus' new haircut. Are you kidding me? That's really what it means to be called "famous" in this country and that stuff is meaningless. I like the work part, the creative part, and the connection I get to make with real people because of music. So when people tell me that I'm the next Gwen Stefani, I don't think about the Gwen that I see on the cover of a magazine. I think about the girl who wrote "Simple Kind Of Life" and now, years later, smiles every night on stage when she sings the line, "I always thought I'd be a mom". She has personal goals and dreams and she's reached a lot of them. I think she'd still want all of those things even if there was no one watching.
Can we expect you to lend guest vocals to any new music like you did with mewithoutYou? If not, is there anyone you would like to work with?
I'd love to work with Bruno Mars. Motown music and old R&B is some of my favorite stuff and he just reeks of it. It's not just an influence for him. I mean, like it seems to be running through his veins. Jeremy and Taylor love that stuff too, so it could be fun to sort of be his "backing band" for a song. There's also Glen Hansard of The Swell Season. When I wrote "In The Mourning" (from the Singles Club), his voice was in my head.
Even though you're playing huge shows now, you're still revered as one of "those" that made is from the scene like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and now Fun. and people respect your opinion when it comes to music. What are some of the smaller bands that you think people should be listening to?
Well, thank you. That really means a lot. I know I mentioned a couple of these bands before but they're worth mentioning again. I really think Kitten is going to make their mark soon. Chloe is a star and a dancing fool! People should get into them now while they are still a smaller band. Same goes for Candy Hearts. Opposite end of the musical spectrum. Mariel is a real storyteller. Her lyrics are the kind that young people, especially girls, can dig into and hopefully feel less alone. Diamond Youth is another band I'm really into at the moment. It's nice to hear a guy really really singing for a rock band. Lastly, some of our label mates, Twenty One Pilots. Good grief. If this band isn't huge in a year then there's no justice in the world.
Is there anything you want to say to the readers to close this up?
Thank you for reading all my long-winded answers. I'm just so excited to get back out there. If you've been a fan for a while, thank you for sticking with us through all the BS. If you're not a fan and you're just reading this cause you're bored or something… I hope we make a fan out of you with our new album. I fully believe it has the power!
Thank you so much Hayley!
You are welcome! Thank you!
Paramore's new single "Now" will be available on January 22nd through all major digital distributors. The band's Self-Titled album will be released on April 9th, 2013 via Fueled By Ramen Records.