They’ve got a platinum album (2007’s Riot!), a major Grammy nomination (for Best New Artist in 2008; they lost, alas, to Amy Winehouse), and a dizzying array of fansites (including customized outlets in Poland, Russia, England and Brazil).
But Hayley Williams, the Koolaid-tressed 20-year-old frontwoman of Franklin, Tennessee’s premier (only?) pop-punk breakouts, has a whole lot more she wants to get done in 2009. Recently, she sat down with EW to talk about the band’s still untitled third studio album due this September, the widened fanbase from their Twilight soundtrack cameos, and an upcoming summer tour with Gwen Stefani and co.
EW: Hi, Hayley. So let’s talk about the new album. You guys already announced on your blog that this one is definitely not about relationships…
Hayley Williams: Well, it’s not about love relationships. But yeah, it’s really soley based on friendship and betrayal, losing people you thought would be there forever, and then maybe either finding them again or not finding them again. So it was pretty crazy to write, because a lot of it was about the five of us, the band.
EW: That’s so Fleetwood Mac…
HW: Yeah, right? [Laughs] We didn’t think about that all. I mean, I don’t think we would ever compare ourselves to a band of their stature.
EW: Well, there aren’t a lot of co-ed bands out there. Mostly just dudes in tour vans, playing Grand Theft Auto.
HW: [Laughs] Oh, there was a lot of Grand Theft Auto [on our last tour.] But yeah, the songs are very personal, and I think a lot of the fans are going to know what we’re talking about, and it will answer a lot of their questions, which will be kind of cool, and also a little nerve-wracking.
EW: Tell me about working with Rob Cavallo on this new record. He’s got a pretty major resume as a producer — Green Day, Dave Matthews, My Chemical Romance. Did you seek him out?
HW: Honestly, we kind of sought each other out, and it was just the right time. We were looking for someone to do “Decode” with, because we were trying to get on the Twilight soundtrack…
EW: Oh, really? I thought from what I’ve read that [Twilight author]Stephanie Meyer sought you guys out and wanted you specifically to beon the soundtrack. But it’s more like you auditioned?
HW: Well I read the books, and when they were working on the soundtrack,I was finishing up the third book, Eclipse, and I was really into it. Ithought this was a great art, a really good story, and really relatable, butI’m always into vampires and all that. So we were touring and writingand jamming out new things every day, and I was like, if they’reputting that soundtrack together this could be great, let’s figure outif we could be a part of it. So yeah, we kinda fought for it. And ifyou look at the rest of the album, it’s Muse and Iron and Wine andLinkin Park, which really isn’t our demographic.
EW: So do you have new fans now that you didn’t have before?
HW: A lot of moms! A lot of older women are super into the books, sowe’ll be doing a signing at, like, Hot Topic, and a 45-year-old womanwill come up and be all [deep smoker’s voice] “I love your songs onthe Twilight soundtrack.” We’re just like, dude, thank you! What do yousay? If we can make music that people at any age can appreciate, thenI’m set. That makes me so happy.
EW: OK, so what else about this new album is different for you?
HW: I think all of it is kind of next level, and I’m probably the mostnervous out of the five of us. I wanted to make sure that we weregrowing, but also not forgetting our fan base or alienating them.Because I think a lot of bands get like, pop-punk guilt or something, bands we love that aren’t the same anymore because all thesudden they want to be taken really seriously, and it’s like dude, wetook you seriously before! Though I can see how it’s easy to do — we’reso young and we’re growing up, our opinions are changing every day,we’re just figuring it out. But we had so much freedom on this album,and I think a certain energy’s been captured, you know? It was kind ofthis weird leap of faith, like jumping off a cliff.
EW: Hopefully, Rob Cavallo has strong arms to catch you.
HW: Ha! But yeah, I didn’t want to make a record about how hard it isto have cameras follow you around, or how hard it is to be away fromhome for a year, because that’s not what people relate to. I don’t wantto get onstage and whine about rock star problems in front of a bunchof people the same age as me.
EW: Well speaking of rock stars, you’ll be touring this summer with No Doubt, and Gwen Stefani seems like maybe one of the most normal, non-diva superstars out there.
HW: Totally. I’ve only talked to Gwen on the phone so far, but her whole band seems so grounded, and I think it’sdue to all the hard work they did before they got famous. They’re sopassionate about music, and they’ve done pretty much anything that aband could want to do, but they seem like the same kids that werehanging out in a garage at one point. When we heardthat they wanted us on the tour, it was like, no question. And I’m sopsyched, because we’ve just made a record that we can’t wait for peopleto hear, and now we’re doing this with them? Come on!
EW: You’re only 20 — what’s left on your to-do list? Or did you alreadyovershoot whatever you imagined for yourself when you were younger?
HW: I’ve definitely exceeded my expectations. But I think with the waythe music business works now, a lot of bands don’t get to do everythingthey want to do, and we recognize that. We know how lucky we are. So Ijust want to keep growing and find new ways to express myself whetherlyrically or melodically…
EW: Or with decoupage…
HW: Oh my God! I just decoupaged my bedside table!
EW: Oh, really? I was joking! Now I sound like I’ve been peeking through your window.
HW: No, it’s good. [laughs] But yeah, 30 or 40 years from now, I wantto be a band that people my age think, ‘Man, I wish I could have beenaround for them — like the way I feel about the original punk movement, and hardcore, and post-hardcore, all thesebands that ruled, that I wish I could have been there. That would justbe really cool to me.
More on the Music Mix:
The Twilight Soundtrack’s Bobby Long: A Music Mix meet and greet
‘One Tree Hill”s Kate Voegele on her new album, her dual identity, and the season finale
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