10 things we know about Paramore’s new album This Is Why
Paramore fans, get stoked: The Nashville-based trio are gearing up to release their first album in over five years with This Is Why, which drops Feb. 10. Written in Nashville and recorded in Los Angeles with producer Carlos de la Garza, the follow-up to 2017’s After Laughter was teased earlier this year, with vocalist Hayley Williams revealing that the band had gone back to their earliest influences but weren’t out to make a “comeback ‘emo’ record.”
“Some things have remained consistent from the start (of recording),” she told Rolling Stone. “One, more emphasis back on the guitar, and two, Zac should go as Animal as he wants with drum takes.”
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After a whole lot of teasing, the lead single and title track was released yesterday alongside a music video directed by Turnstile’s Brendan Yates. And, true to Williams’ word, the track isn't exactly emo. Instead, it evokes the party-starting electro rock of Bloc Party and Foals.
With a US headline tour kicking off next week (alongside appearances at When We Were Young Festival alongside fellow scene legends My Chemical Romance, Avril Lavigne and Taking Back Sunday), here’s everything we know about Paramore’s sixth studio album This Is Why.
Paramore can’t believe they’re still going
This Is Why is the first Paramore album since 2006’s breakout Riot! that’s been recorded without a lineup change. “We met at the craziest age and we should not have made it through all the things we’ve been through together,” vocalist Hayley Williams said in an interview with The Guardian.
“We’re all in our thirties now. Almost every single time the guys (Zac Farro, Taylor York) and I are together — and that’s a lot — we find ourselves reminiscing on the last two decades of friendship as if we’re ancient. It may sound silly but none of us can actually believe that we’re still here and that somehow, people still seem to care,” Williams wrote in a letter to fans on their recently launched Discord. “It’s a massive deal… something we don’t take lightly.”
‘This Is Why’ was the last song written for the record
According to Williams, "This Is Why" was actually the final song that came from the album process. “When it happened, it was this blend of what we learned from making After Laughter, and bringing in the grittier stuff that we’ve had throughout the rest of our career. We finally figured out a way that feels right for us to blend it all together,” Williams told BBC Radio 1.
The next single will tackle compassion fatigue
Speaking to The Guardian, Williams explained how social and political turmoil of the last few years has impacted their new work. “Some days I feel so over it, almost to the point of apathy but that’s the struggle — that you have to fight,” she explained.
Paramore will be donating a portion of the proceeds from their upcoming US headline tour to abortion rights charities following the overturning of Roe v Wade. They received backlash on Instagram for the move. “Part of me feels like it’s a good thing because if we were always speaking the same ideas to the same people, it’s just an echo chamber,” Williams continued. “If we can nudge someone a little bit more towards equality and for people to have healthcare — because that’s what [abortion] is — then we’re doing something.”
The first song written for the record was inspired by the backlash to “Misery Business” being “anti-feminist”
The as-of-yet untitled track is about “exploring how you can’t control someone’s perception of you,” Williams told The Guardian. “How it feels to accept there are moments in your life where you were the bad guy or you said something that you didn’t even really believe and that comes to define you for some people,” she continues, referencing “Misery Business” and the line “once a whore, you’re nothing more.”
Paramore retired their breakout song in 2018 following conversations about its anti-feminist message. Earlier this year though, Williams joined Billie Eilish onstage at Coachella to sing the track. “People grow and learn,” she explained. “I’d already called myself out and done a lot of work on the misogyny I’d metabolized as a young girl. What can you do except continue to grow and challenge yourself?”
This Is Why is an album full of social commentary
The title of the album comes from Williams’ reaction to world events. “Every time I answer a question about something I can’t believe is happening, whether it’s about the planet, politics, social stuff, I’m always like ‘this is why we can’t have nice things’. It’s always that,” she told BBC Radio 1.
She expanded on this sentiment in an interview with the LA Times: “How sad it is that we’ve gone through this horrible thing globally, as humans. Whether it’s racism, or conspiracy theories … I think about how the internet is supposed to be this great connector, but drives us further inward and further apart. I’ve watched people be so awful to each other. How could we go through these things together and come out worse?”
Lyrically, the new album tackles nuance, context and how social media has stripped that away
“I look at the internet, the news, and it feels like [we’re in] Lord of the Flies,” Williams told The Guardian. “When I was writing the lyrics, I was like, this social experiment — the internet — has been going wrong since day one. It exposes and exploits the general population’s blatant disregard for nuance.”
According to Williams, “Zac and Taylor are the most gentle and kind about it,” but the Paramore bandleader “can be very dualistic when it comes to good people and bad people," which is something a lot of the record focuses on.
Paramore want This Is Why to offer hope
The band wants to use their platform for a good cause. “Watching and reading the news is like having the wind knocked out of you on a daily basis,” Williams explained on Discord. “The idea of getting out there and doing what we do at a time like this feels heavy and futile and necessary all at once. It also feels like the perfect time to take advantage of every opportunity we are given to leverage our platform and all of that for good causes. Whether those are literal causes or whether it’s just about showing ourselves and each other that music is still a good place to be.”
This Is Why isn’t the straight-up rock album it was planned to be
Originally when Williams, York and Farro started talking about new music, they wanted to create something around drum, guitars and vocals. Then they started playing with synths, which felt "urgent" and "cocky," Williams told The Guardian. They found inspiration in "indie superstars" like Bloc Party, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Rapture and Glassjaw, along with rising indie acts like Wet Leg and Sorry.
The UK was a big influence as well
According to Williams, Paramore "talked about the UK more than we've ever talked about it while we were making this record." “We were really digging up our oldest influences that are from across the pond, and every time I would imagine playing a show, it was some festival we’ve played in the UK or some crowd we’ve played for in Manchester," Williams told BBC Radio 1. "We have such a cool relationship with our fans around the world but there is something special about the UK, and the lineage of bands that are from there.”
She went on to say that they have plans to return to tour the UK “soon." "I can’t wait for people to find out who we’re playing with and what we’re going to do. I was thinking about the fans and the shows the whole time we were writing,” she added.
This is going to be the best Paramore era
In the letter on Discord, Williams explained to fans how “a show can still be a gathering and not simply a crowd," and it's what's most alluring to her.
And Williams seems more excited than ever about the new Paramore era: “For so many reasons I don’t even have words for, I think we are about to experience our happiest, most fulfilling moments as Paramore.”