Music Q&A: Paramore

The trio are kicking of 2018 with a tour of their game-changing synth-pop album After Laughter, playing Manchester Arena, 19 Jan. They tell us they won’t be heading to bed straight after the show

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Most people are still in their post-Christmas sweatpants but you are heading out on tour.
Hayley Williams: It feels like a good way to be starting the year. The tour that we did over in the UK and Europe last year was rad – it was the first time we’d toured After Laughter and the first time the three of us had been on stage on a proper tour together, so it’s cool to come back now we have all of 2017 under our belts, to put on a bigger show with more stuff. It’s going to feel nice to be more confident on stage with what we are doing.

“Rejoining this band really saved my life – to have this opportunity, this second chance.”

Is this show your biggest yet?
Taylor York: We used to be in this mode where we wanted every tour to grow and be bigger with bigger production. It was all about more but I think we’re at the point now where we want to put on the best show that we can. But we’re not trying to make it big for the sake of being big – we’re trying to put together a show that we believe in. We’re stoked about the music and we’re stoked about the show and how it’s been put together so in that sense it’s the biggest thing that we’ve ever done personally.

How has 2017 been?
Zac Farro: This year for me personally is the most productive I’ve been in years. Rejoining this band really saved my life – to have this opportunity, this second chance. It’s been a tough year, we’ve worked really hard and there’s been a lot of personal things that have gone on in our lives but we’ve played some of the coolest, bucket list venues for me. All round it’s been a really, really positive year and really encouraging that after so many years of playing some of these songs for over 10 years, somehow we enjoy it more than we ever have. So I’m really proud of us.

You can be someone who enjoys living on the road and enjoys going out for a drink without being some weird caricature of a rock star.

In all the band Q&As Big Issue North does, hummus seems to be the most popular thing on a tour rider. Clean living is rock ‘n’ roll now – you pioneered that.
Williams: I’ve never promoted that I abstain from everything but I do think that making choices based on your own heart and not based on pressure is something people deal with from the time they’re in school to the time they die. Just situations change depending on environment and the choices you have to make may be more complex as we become older. I remember growing up on the road and being around all these older bands and it seemed cool and they did more than we did because we were just a bunch of kids finishing school and getting back in the van and trying to make it to the next show. Now that we’re older, we’ve been on the road since 2005, and I can’t really imagine what it must have been like for bands in the 1980s and 1990s that were strung out and somehow keeping up with their responsibilities as a band.

There’s too much to take care of, I think, depending on the choices that you make and why you’re making them. You can be someone who enjoys living on the road and enjoys going out for a drink without being some weird caricature of a rock star. That’s not really ever been who we are and we also really do love to work. But I don’t want to paint a picture of a group of perfect people on the road, going to bed right after the show.

Did you make a conscious decision to move away from pop punk with this album?
York: When we started this band we were all really, really young. Me and Zac met each other when we were 11 and 12 or 13 so when you listen to the music that we made back then, it’s very different from where we are now, 15 years later. You definitely want to honour and respect where you came from and what we did but if we made that same music I don’t think we’d still be a band. We were conscious of changing it but not just for the sake of doing something different, but to make something more like what we would listen to and kind of creep in more of our influences, more so than we have in the past. I think after so many years of being on a certain scene and moving around on stage a certain way [we needed to change] because even if you tried to make those records again it would be a B rate version of what you’ve already done.

What are your hopes for 2018?
Farro: For the first time with this record – in our late twenties – we experienced being present and united in a really authentic way, while working hard and making art that we believe in. In 2018 we’re really looking forward to touring more, getting out there and doing shows but really just keeping our heads on straight so we’re doing something we can do for a while in a real way. There’s so much stress in the music business to just be massive and we’re really trying to figure out how do we stay healthy, how do we maintain the drive to create art and still give fans and people who like our music a great show. So we’re just forging ahead and trying to figure that out all at the same time.


In a feature interview with Hayley Williams in next week’s Big Issue North magazine she tells us why listening to Paramore’s older material is like reading her teenage journal. Buy it from vendors across the north of England from 15 January or contact us.

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