Paramore are the cover stars of AP’s Most Anticipated Music of 2012 issue, which is on sale everywhere in early December. Annie Zaleski traveled to New York City to interview the band in September—and here’s an exclusive excerpt from the resulting story. For all of the info about AP #282, go right here!

Paramore’s frequent use of the word “fun” [during AP’s interview] is heartening, especially because the band admit that being in Paramore hasn’t always been fun in previous years.

“We’ve always enjoyed what we do,” guitarist Taylor York says, “but we’d watch other bands on tour with us and they would just be having a blast. They’d be in vans, all cramming in one hotel room. Every day, they were just stoked to be there. In my head, I’m like, ‘Either they’re just really mistaken’”—at this, everybody laughs—“‘or we’re missing something. I don’t think it’s possible to have that much fun.’”

“I felt so bad for the longest time, because we made being in a band look like it wasn’t fun,” adds frontwoman Hayley Williams. “In my opinion. Other people might not have thought that, but you imagine all the interviews we did where it was just like, ‘Uhhh…’

“It’s important for young people to know how much fun it is to make music with your friends,” she continues. “You have to fight for it, of course, but it’s the biggest gift to play music for people, and it’s a gift even if you’re not playing for anybody. It’s fun, and I’m excited. We’re stoked to have that spirit revolving around this [forthcoming] album and just relax into the process.”

The members of Paramore admit keeping things low-key—and being selective about their promotional obligations—helped them get through the year. But paradoxically, getting back on the road and being around their fans was good for morale. York says Paramore started rediscovering how much they enjoy being in a band together while touring this year, especially when they traveled to South America in February. “This winter, when Zac and Josh left, we went through a really hard time,” he says. “I think we had to go through that. We all love each other, but we had to come together so closely that we really rediscovered how much we really love each other—and how much we love playing music. We had to go through that to realize what we had.”

“For a while, it felt like music was our only escape, like soundcheck or shows,” says bassist Jeremy Davis. “And it never was long enough; you didn’t really want to leave soundcheck, because that’s whenever nothing else mattered. We’ve always had a blast onstage, had fun with the fans and the interaction and everything. But it seems like so much more fun [now], I have no idea why. What used to not be fun, we find joy in—and find joy in each other. It shows in every way, even onstage. Now we’re bouncing all over the place and smiling. If you mess up, it’s like, ‘Whatever, it’s music.’”