By Shannon Carlin
Hayley Williams is having fun again.
That’s what she told Radio.com in a recent interview over the phone from a hotel room in Berlin where her band Paramore were finishing out their European tour. Williams said that her band’s upcoming North American trek, The Self-Titled Tour, which kicks off tomorrow (October 15) in Seattle, Washington, feels like a fresh start for her band.
“We’re excited about being back,” Williams admitted. “It feels much like when we first started, except a lot more people are coming to the shows.”
The last few years haven’t been easy for Williams and her band. Original members, Zac and Josh Farro, left the band in 2010 on less than good terms with Josh saying he was forced out of the band because Paramore was “a manufactured product of a major-label.” He accused Williams of being manipulated by her management, treating the rest of the group as her back-up band, and claimed she was the only member of the band who was signed to Atlantic Records, while her bandmates were simply “riding on the coattails of her dream.”
The war of words soon became the narrative of the band, and left Williams, Davis and York wondering how they move on.
But the much needed time off was a blessing in disguise for the pop punk trio. It gave them a chance to sit down and really find their sound, which is much more grown up on Paramore’s latest self-titled album. The follow-up to 2009’s Brand New Eyes takes note of their past problems with the lead track, “Fast In My Car” stating the obvious: “Been through the wringer a couple times/ I came out callous and cruel.”
Throughout the album, Williams sings about growing up, falling in love and not being a crazy girl all while expanding Paramore’s pop punk sound to include a little soul, blues-driven rock and a lot of ukulele. Thanks to their fuller sound the 24-year-old Williams, who started the band when she was just 16, says touring has become something they look forward to once again.
“It’s an incredible feeling that almost ten years later, we’re still just really, I don’t know, really passionate about it,” she said. “Our set list is a major sort of indication of who we are.”
This time around the setlist will be more thought-out, according to Williams, spanning their entire career so far, from their 2005 debut All We Know Is Falling up to their most recent album. “We’re trying to make it feel like an adventure, like a journey,” she explained. “A roller coaster ride.”
It’s part of the reason why Williams and the guys decided to launch their Parahoy! cruise this coming spring. From March 7 to 11, 2014, Paramore will set sail from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. The four-day trip will include a Q&A and two performances from Paramore on the pool deck, as well as other “activities,” which according to Williams, may or may not include the singing of sea shanties.
“We didn’t want to come out in 2014 and do the same two or three tours we do every year,” Williams said. “It never gets old, but we’d like to try something different.”
Paramore’s manager came to the band with the idea for a cruise show and at first Williams thought it wasn’t such a good idea. “There’s no way any of our fans are going to be into this,” Williams remembers saying when she was first pitched the idea. “They’re going to think we’re nuts and it’s something older people do.”
But after some coercing she decided it was something they should try. And so far, it’s been paying off.
“From the minute we announced [Parahoy!], it’s been incredible because so many people all over the world are trying to get tickets,” Williams said. “They’re excited to come out and we’ve got all these amazing bands so we’re going to do it up.”
The lineup includes New Found Glory, Shiny Toy Guns, Bad Rabbits, DJ Reuben Wu of Ladytron, mewithoutyou and their friends, Tegan and Sara, who were at the top of their list to sail the high seas with.
“They were the first name we threw out there,” Williams said of the twin sister duo of Tegan and Sara Quin. “Thank God they were interested because I think they’re going to make it so much fun and really make it better.”
In the five months leading up to the cruise, Williams plans to work out her sea legs on the road and give her fans a show they won’t forget.
“I can tell you how big and better the show is, because I think it is,” Williams said. “But it’s really just nice to be out there with the fans and connecting with people through our music. There’s nothing that compares to that.”