“We’re gonna come with guns blazing:” Paramore’s Hayley Williams on the Self-Titled Tour

September 23, 2013 by Scott Heisel

“We’re gonna come with guns blazing:” Paramore’s Hayley Williams on the Self-Titled Tour

PARAMORE are a band—a band that have been kept mighty busy since the release of their fourth album, simply titled Paramore, this past April. The self-titled album (one of only two albums we’ve given a five-star rating to all year) has been winning over critics and fans worldwide, which has given the Tennessee natives a chance to pull off something they never thought possible—an honest-to-God arena tour, perfectly named the Self-Titled Tour. We caught up with spunky frontwoman HAYLEY WILLIAMS as the group headed toward Manchester, U.K., to get a few more details on one of the hottest tickets this fall.

And speaking of those hot tickets--the band and AP are giving away a pair of tickets to each of the dates! Head to our PARAMORE CONTEST PAGE to enter!

Let’s talk about the Self-Titled Tour, which is going to be Paramore’s biggest North American headlining tour to date, with support from Metric and Hellogoodbye. What does that bring out in terms of pressure? Do you prepare the same way for a club show as an arena show?
HAYLEY WILLIAMS:
Oh no, no. We’ve been planning this tour for what feels like all my life. It’s a tremendous amount of pressure, but the thing that I’m hopeful about, is that we do the best under pressure—under intense pressure. We always rise to the occasion at the last minute, so I’m sort of holding out for that. But the thing is that we’ve been planning this show and Jeremy [Davis, bassist] has planned out production—he’s sort of took the reins on that whole thing—and I’ve put together a setlist that I really, really love and that the guys really love too, so imagine that? All three of us are really psyched on a setlist. Everything feels eerily good, and I’m waiting for the piano to drop from the sky, you know? It’s just nerve-wracking. There’s a lot riding on these venues, and I kind of just think about it like, “You know what? This is what we’ve said that we wanted for so long.” We wanted to do this tour, we wanted to move into these rooms and show people that we can put on a show worthy of them. Obviously, Madison Square Garden, that’s the one we talk about like, “We’re gonna have to do this, we’re gonna have to come guns blazing—with everything that we’ve got.” So that’s what we’ve been planning to do.

You’re in the middle of a pretty big European tour, and judging by the setlists that have appeared online, you’re already playing a pretty huge chunk of the self-titled album—about two thirds of it right now. Given that this tour is called the Self-Titled Tour, should we expect even more of the album to make an appearance on the North American tour?
Maybe, but I don’t know because the thing that we like to do is really try to give people something from every album. Like, right now we’re playing for an hour and 35 minutes, and at some point, if we keep adding songs from the self-titled record, you’re gonna lose All We Know Is Falling [songs] or you’re gonna lose brand new eyes or Riot! [songs].I don’t know that I’m willing to lose that much more of anything. I think we have to reevaluate when we get home from this tour and make sure we’ve got all the ends tied up and know that we feel really confident about the setlist. I was nervous to play this much of this record, but so far, those songs get the biggest reaction—which is insane. We haven’t had that since Riot!:You know, putting out a new album and instantly everyone loves the songs live, they work, and we pull them off. I’ve been really surprised with almost every aspect of this record, and it’s a lot of fun.

Paramore has been very well received, both critically and commercially. You just celebrated the gold certification of your new single “Still Into You.” Do those kind of accolades still carry a lot of weight to you or are you not concerned with sales figures?
I mean, it’s always awesome. It’s always cool to hear that, but I think when I start focusing on numbers, that’s too much for me. It makes me focus on all of the wrong things. Between the three of us, I don’t think any of us really put too much stock in it because if we do, it becomes a race, and that’s no fun. We found out like two days ago that “Still Into You” went gold [in America], and the [album] went gold here in England. Obviously, it feels amazing; it’s super-flattering and exciting. It makes me even more excited for the rest of this album cycle, but I can’t pause for too long to think about it. I just have to keep going.

We had talked before in your AP cover story about the album and how it’s a lot more musically challenging than anything you have created before, and how there were a lot of intricacies that would have to get worked out while touring. For example, “Hate To See Your Heart Break” hasn’t been played since the first show in support of Paramore way back in April. Have there been any other challenges that were unexpected that came out of incorporating all of these new songs into your set?
Yeah, we’ve always been a band who were super-proud of the fact that we’ve never used tracks, or we never did this or that. And then we added Jon [Howard] to the touring band—on the Honda Civic Tour—and when we first were talking abut it, there was a part of me that was like, “Oh man, this sucks, that means we’re not playing it; we’re not doing it, so that means were less of a band.” Then when Josh and Zac [Farro] left, it was like, now we have three people that are in the actual band and the touring band is now three people who aren’t really in the band. I had all of these regulations of what I thought it had to be.

Now, I really found that with this album, we made it. Taylor worked so hard to design sounds for the record with Justin Meldal-Johnsen [producer] and to really get tracks and beats that he was really into. To him, that’s a major part of his role in the band, and so when we talked about playing the songs live, he was like, “I’m gonna rework some of these tracks, and we’re gonna run them because I want it to sound like I hear them in my head.” He has a specific vision. In the beginning there was this little part of me that was like, “Well, that makes us less,” or “That makes us not as talented” or some bullshit that I made up. Now, we’ve been doing that all year; playing some of the songs with some of the tracks that Taylor built. Obviously, there are six people onstage, and we’re still playing everything, but there’s extra stuff that’s happening. And I’ve really come to terms with the fact that it has more to do with the complications of this album and how hard Taylor worked as a writer.

I think my mind has been changed. Now, when I go see bands that run some tracks every now and then, I don’t look at that as a weakness. I think, “There’s probably a specific reason for that, and it sounds really, really good.” Unless someone’s just up there miming their instruments and not playing, you know, that’s a whole different story. But if all of us are up onstage, playing our hearts out, and there’s, like, a keyboard melody that Jon can’t get to or a vocal melody that I really wanna hear—like a high harmony or something—that’s been a learning curve for me, but I really love it now.

We’re giving people a show that every single one of us is really proud of, and it sounds insanely good. That’s something that we work really hard on. And it’s still new, but it feels awesome. This whole album—from the beginning of the writing process to even now, playing these songs live—has just been a real trip for me, and it’s been cool to see the things that we pull off, and how much we can stretch our imaginations and be more open-minded. >>>

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