A few years ago, Franklin, TN’s Paramore came out of nowhere with a catchy debut album titled All We Know Is Falling and a powerhouse singer Hayley Williams who was only 16 at the time. Now with some experience under their belts, the group has released Riot!, an infectious, hook-driven record that sort of makes you wish you knew how to sing as well as Williams. The singer discusses the new record and Paramore’s experience thus far on Warped Tour.
How’s Warped Tour going so far?
It’s amazing. It’s probably our favorite tour ever. It’s not the easiest tour, but that’s what’s cool about it. We work really hard every day to gain new fans. It’s just been really awesome with the new record coming out and all the kids are really excited about it. It’s just been so much fun.
Has there been a highlight so far?
I would say probably Denver. The whole show got rained out for about 30 minutes so we were really nervous that the crowd was going to be small and really tired. We just worried that it wasn’t going to be a good show and that was the day that AT&T came out to film us so we were even more nervous, but it was literally the best show we’ve ever had on Warped Tour. The crowd was just crazy.
Should we worry that you’re going to be burned out by the time you get to our area?
We aren’t really giving ourselves the time to get burned out or sick of it. It’s just one thing after another, one more exciting moment after another. It’s been a great summer so far.
Are you mostly playing new songs?
The set list right now is predominately off of Riot!, which is cool because it gives us the chance to practice playing the songs before we do a headlining tour this fall. I think this is the best tour to introduce new songs to fans and promote a new record because there’s so much excitement around the Warped Tour itself that kids just come to the show ready to have a great time and rock out.
When you were writing Riot! did you take into consideration what you thought your fans would want?
Yeah definitely. Our connection with our fans is the most important thing to us. Going into the studio we knew we had to come out with something that they would love but would also open us up to a new world of fans and make that fanbase larger. It was a challenge and it was so much fun.
It was cool to have a song like ‘Born For This’ on the record, which was written about our fans, and we actually got to have some of them come in and sing on it. That was a cool moment for us because I think we were able to show each other how much we cared about the relationship we have with each other. It’s important for a band to stay close to their fans because we’re not much without them.
What is it like to be the person who brings all those fans together?
It’s an awesome responsibility and a great opportunity to inspire people with our music. People will come up to you and say, ‘Oh you’re my idol!’ and we try not to think about it that way because I think that can be too much of a responsibility and we don’t feel worthy of that. It’s something that you can’t take lightly. We’ve made so many friends through playing music, and people who were once fans we now have relationships with and we’re really good friends with a lot of our fans. That’s something I don’t see with a lot of fanbases of other bands.
Are there any specific messages you hope Riot! conveys to your fans?
Definitely. Overall, most of our songs, from the last record to now, are just about life and just the exchanges we’ve had living our lives. When we started writing these songs on Riot! I started noticing a pattern between two extremes, with one side where the songs are really victorious and uplifting and another side that’s very dark and sort of hopeless but at the same time searching for hope. There’s these two extremes that I feel are really relevant to anyone who’s experiencing life. I think everyone can relate to that—you can have a dark side while also being a really happy person.
Something we tried to make really clear to our fans before the album came out was that they might hear some stuff on this album that doesn’t sound like us because all they see is the happy pictures and the excitement around our band, but we are people and we do get angry and we do cry, and those moments are on this record. We just wanted to make sure people knew how real the record is and how personal the record is. I think that’s only made the connection stronger.
Is there any trepidation involved with putting so much of your personal life and emotions into the public spotlight?
It’s weird at times that people know who you are inside and out, sometimes even more than your closest friends do. But at the same time I think it’s important because, hopefully, songs like ‘Misery Business’ and ‘We Are Broken’ are really thought- provoking songs and make people think, ‘Man I just need to be honest about what I’m feeling because it’s okay to not feel perfect and happy all the time. It’s okay to question society and anything that’s going on in my life.’ It’s like the whole role model thing—it’s a nice responsibility and good opportunity to have.
Does it ever feel like you have to look good all the time?
It does! That’s kind of what the song ‘Senses’ is about on the record. It’s about the fact that people see pictures of us so we always have to look happy and we always have to be thinking about what’s good for the band, but inside things might not always be perfect. It does make you feel like you have to be on guard all the time. Slowly we’re learning how to balance it. We just have to learn when to say no and when to stop.
What was the inspiration for your new hair colors?
If I could actually get them to stay for more than two weeks, they would look the way I want them to look! When we were recording some of the new songs, I was talking to Josh and I was like, ‘Do you ever see colors when you listen to music? Because all the colors I see when I hear our new songs are very comic-book-ish, very bold.’
All the colors we decided we could see in our music were reds and oranges and yellows, even down to super-bold pinks. Just really fierce colors. I’d been doing the red thing for a long time already and I went to my friend at the Pink Mullet Salon in Nashville and we put tons of orange in and bleached the side and made the red brighter. It’s awesome. I think the songs inspired the colors, as weird as that sounds. It keeps fading in the sunlight this summer though.
Do you have one piece of advice for surviving Warped Tour?
You have to sort of just let yourself go. You have to be okay with smelling awful and having hairy underarms once in a while. It’s a long punk rock summer camp. You have to just have fun and not care too much. It’s pretty freeing.
Paramore perform on the Warped Tour coming to the Tweeter Center in Camden, NJ, on Aug. 3, Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY, on Aug. 4, and Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ, on Aug. 5. Visit paramore.net for more info.