It’s a pretty great time to be in Paramore; their current single “Ain’t It Fun” represents their most successful hit yet, and they’re currently on the road with Fall Out Boy, co-headlining a summer run called the Monumentour. Singer Hayley Williams checked in recently to discuss her Warped Tour history, the value of kickboxing shorts, and the madness of playing Good Morning America.
Entertainment Weekly: You’re a few dates into the Monumentour. What do you know about the guys in Fall Out Boy that you didn’t know two weeks ago?
Hayley Williams: All those guys work out every day and we’re just getting in our dressing room eating chips. I told Patrick [Stump], “Thanks for making us all feel like the laziest buttholes.” He was like, “If I wasn’t doing this, I wouldn’t be able to move onstage. It’s so crucial.” I was like, “OK cool, maybe I’ll start up Ballet Beautiful in a minute.”
We’re all just so getting into tour mode that we really haven’t had a lot of time to hang out yet. We really have to find an off day to get a tour-wide dinner, with the bands and crews and everybody. Those guys are rad. It’s already so cool being on the same tour and sharing a bill and sharing a massive crowd of people who love both of our bands. It’s about time this tour happened.
It was ridiculous. I actually was so nervous about it leading up to it, and then we got there and it felt more like a Paramore show than any other television we’ve ever done before. It was really exciting. So many people waited for like 12 hours in the rain and it was cold, and it was nuts. Clearly we don’t ever wake up that early, and I felt really proud of our show and really proud of our fans to be able to represent in front of everybody on TV.
It seems like you guys have figured out how to perform on television. Is there a secret to doing it well?
I don’t know that there’s a secret to it, I think it is just about getting comfortable. I was telling Taylor this the other day: As a singer, the thing I hone in on is vocals, so to be in a band with friends and guys who really focus on what they play and how they sound—I am so fortunate to be able to sing over incredible-sounding guitars. The guys focus on it so much and take such pride in it. You can sound crap at a regular show, but then you’re gonna sound really crap on TV. So I feel like now when I watch us live I’m like, “Thank God Taylor really cares about the way his guitar sounds.”
Paramore’s first big summer tour was on Warped, which is about to kick off this summer. Do you have any advice for bands going out on that tour for the first time?
My advice for bands is if it’s your first year, I would say nobody owes you anything. You have to have that mindset. Your job on the first Warped Tour you ever did is to earn everything that you get. When we did our first Warped Tour in 2005, we didn’t get meal tickets, so we didn’t get to stand in the long catering lines and eat the delicious food.
We had maybe five bucks a day, if that, in per diem, and for the most part we would eat frozen pink lemonade or hot dogs that were being sold on the grounds. We had to write out all our flyers because some days our band’s name wasn’t on the Warped Tour schedule.
It’s a lot of work, and I think it’s so important for bands to go through that stage of their life, to earn everything and not expect for things to be handed to you.Because then when something does get handed to you—when someone does you a favor or someone bumps you up to a different spot that’s better or busier or bigger—then you’ll appreciate it. Or next year when you come back and you’re in a nicer van or a bus even, you’re gonna appreciate it. Earn everything.
The video for “Ain’t It Fun” features the three of you breaking world records. Were there any you tried to do but couldn’t?
Believe it or not, no, we actually legitimately broke every record we hoped to that day. We had a list, and we did all of them. My favorite one was smashing the alarm clocks with the guitars, because I didn’t think I was going to be able to look that badass, but it sort of turned out in my favor. I really loved this video. I loved filming it. We were in our hometown, just in the woods in Franklin, and it felt so cool to be able to make a video like that with a director that we love for something we knew our fans would be into. Those clocks exploded, too. I was surprised. Not that it was the easiest thing ever to do, but I was surprised how quickly they just exploded. The first hit, they would just burst into tiny little shards.
“Ain’t It Fun” has been serving as the set-closer on this tour. It’s the current hit, but is there any other reason that song makes for a good show-ender?
I think our show is so built around crowd participation, and that’s one of those songs that’s just got those moments really built into it. A lot of our songs do. Even people who don’t know who Paramore is, they know that part with the gospel choir.
Whether you’re a Paramore fan or not, you’re going to sing along to that part. It’s crazy ending our show with anything besides “Misery Business.” We put out “Still Into You,” and that song did well enough that we could put it at the end of our show, and that blew our minds. We’ve been closing shows with “Misery Business” for years now. So to now have not just one alternate ending but two, it’s really fun. It gives the fans who have been coming to shows for a decade something different to hang onto at the end. It’s become one of our favorite closers. It’s a real rock and roll ending.
How did the inaugural Parahoy! cruise go?
The cruise was unbelievable. My favorite moment, surprisingly, was probably the question and answer session that we did. We sat on the same stage where we performed twice, and all the same people came. They asked us questions they wanted the answers to. Our fans read tons of interviews, and for some of them that’s the only window they have into our lives besides the songs or besides the show. So I’m sure a lot of the time they’re not getting what they want asked.
For us to sit up there for over an hour and be able to talk to them was so cool, and it felt weirdly like it did back in 2005 when we would sell merch after the show and people would just come up and talk to us. We loved that. I think that’s one of the things that we miss now that we’re a bigger band. There are so many great things about it, but one of the things you sacrifice is that one on one time with the people who are actually buying your records.
The whole cruise sort of surpassed anybody’s expectations. It almost felt like we started something we should never not do. It was this little subculture, this little thing where everyone knew each other and everyone knew each other’s music and sang and hung out and ate dinner and partied. I loved it. I hope we do this for the rest of our career.
You’ve been wearing Paramore-branded Muay Thai shorts on stage. Are those going to be available at the merch table?
Oh my God, we should so sell them. They’re not, but now that you’ve said it, I’ve got to figure out how to get those out here. It’ll probably cost us a thousand dollars. They are really the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn on stage. I’m so happy to not be wearing latex on this tour. Someone had a little picture of me sitting on my little Paramore ego box that I stand on. I was sitting there, legs kind of spread, sort of like I was in a wrapping-my-hands position, and they were like, “Man, I hope Hayley comes out with a fitness DVD.” I look like a fitness instructor on this tour, and I love it.
You’ve also switched up your hair. How would you describe it?
This thing is like my SLC Punk–blue hair. I love SLC Punk. Jason Segel’s in it, how can you not love it? This hair is something I have been wanting to do this so bad, but I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get the color I want because it’s such a scary experience bleaching my hair. I love how it looks, and I don’t know when I’m going to get rid of it now because I love it so much. As soon as I get really comfortable, that’s when I’m gonna change it.