Ain't It Fun: An Interview with Paramore's Hayley Williams

Do you have a favorite track on the new album?

“I’m excited to play ‘Ain’t It Fun’ live because there are a lot of fun parts to that. I guess we do this on every album, but there’s a lot of parts we wrote with our fans in mind. Even ‘Fast In My Car’, which is the opening track, I’m excited because there are a few nods to past songs and things we’ve done, and I’m excited for the fans to get it.”

I’ve seen you live and the energy at your concerts and the camaraderie between your fans is indescribable and not really like anything I’ve experienced at other live shows. How did all of that come about?

“We grew up watching a lot of heavier bands, like hardcore bands play, and we did a lot of festivals like the Warped tour, which I think had so much to do with that feeling fans get at our shows. It’s my favorite thing about being in this band – we have something so special when we tour and play for our fans, and I don’t know – I don’t always feel that when I go to see every other band I might go to see, so I feel really lucky and really blessed that that’s there. I think we picked it up from seeing some of our favorite bands play, like mewithoutYou, Underoath… we saw how they interacted with their fans and their energy levels. That’s what we wanted to mimic – it wasn’t about selling this many tickets and doing this many numbers, it was about connecting to people.”

There aren’t a lot of female fronted rock bands out there, even now, who have experienced your level of success. Have you ever struggled with being a girl in a rock band or is it something that’s never really been an issue?

“When I was younger and we started the band, I didn’t really see the issue and I never understood why people made such a big deal out of it. I thought, ‘Are people poking fun of me by always pointing out that I’m a girl? I couldn’t figure out the deal, but now that I’m older, I realize just how rare it is for girls to get past the garage for a rock or punk band or whatever style they’re doing, even pop music. It’s crazy to think that we’re in 2013 and people still make a funny face when they see a female on stage, whether it’s with other girls or a group or guys. I definitely now, more than ever, embrace the fact that I’m a woman on stage. Yes we’ll play metal festivals and radio shows, but we’re going to fit in either way.

I like the challenge, anyway, I love being an underdog and proving people wrong. Maybe we’ve paved the way for female bands and maybe we haven’t, but that’s okay. I still feel very empowered. We do have young female fans and I hope they listen to our music and feel a sense of, I can do this. I can do whatever I wants so long as I don’t listen to all the voices that want to tear me down. I think it’s about staying true to the path you want to take. It’s always been about music for me, and I feel so lucky that we were able to break down all the walls that stood in our way.”

Do you think that lack of inhibition – that ability to ignore some of the misogyny – actually worked in your favor at such a young age?

“Maybe! I mean, I think that ignorance can be bliss and being that young on tour and not having done a lot of, like – the first thing we did was Warped tour and as a kid, that’s like being thrown to the wolves. Then as a girl, you don’t know why they’re staring – because they’re being pervy or they like the band. There is so much women have to think about that I think as a dude, I wouldn’t have to. Now that I’m 24, I look into all those feelings and I think about all of it. As a 16-year-old, it was like, let me get in the van, put a little powder on my face and go do a show. It was like playing basketball after school, but I much prefer the awareness I have now. I’m hoping that whatever I do, if I do anything in this life, is that I impact anyone, especially young girls, in some way. I have two younger sisters so it’s mostly all I think about. I hope people and young women feel empowered by whatever Paramore is doing at any given moment.”

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