Hayley Williams
Photo credit: FueledbyRamen Press

Summertime Ain’t It Fun: Hayley Williams of Paramore

On July 18, Merriweather Post Pavilion will be lit up by a diminutive pop-punk pixie with day-glo reddish orange hair and a serious amount of stage presence. Hayley Williams, lead vocalist for Paramore, will rule the stage with bandmates Jeremy Davis and Taylor York. They’re calling it the “Monumentour,” and it features co-headliners Fall Out Boy and openers New Politics.

Since starting out in Tennessee in 2004, Paramore has stormed up the charts in the US and around the world gaining new fans at every turn. Their latest album, released last year and self-titled, “Paramore,” debuted at the top of the charts, and their latest single, “Ain’t It Fun,” has been their biggest hit ever. In preparation for the “Monumentour,” Williams spoke with On Tap about the band’s past and future, and the strange connection their first big hit has to DC’s 9:30 Club.

On Tap: Were you surprised that your latest single, “Ain’t It Fun,” turned out to be your biggest hit so far?
Hayley Williams: This one, by far, has just shocked all of us. It’s a song we took a huge risk on, and we’re so excited by it. I grew up listening to a lot of R&B and pop and soul, so it was cool to be able to write a song that infuses that energy into what we do as a band. There was so much fun and passion, and I hope you can hear that and people connect to that energy. The message is somewhat sarcastic but hopefully inspiring enough for younger people who might be entering the world on their own. I know it helped me get through a transitional phase in my life. We give Jeremy [Paramore’s bassist] all the credit, since it’s the first Paramore hit with slap bass.

OT: What led to you explore different sounds on this album?
HW: We broadened our horizons and discovered that we don’t have to meet anyone’s expectations. We have to be good and we want to be better than we were last time around, but Paramore is Jeremy, Taylor, and Hayley and wherever we are at that given moment. Next year, we could put out an album that is all pop songs, or all heavy, or funk like “Ain’t It Fun.” Before, we put ourselves in a box and tried to limit ourselves to whatever expectations we thought people were having.

OT: When fans come to your shows, what do you hope they take away?
HW: It’s about being an escape or a source of strength or making an impact. If we’re not getting on stage and connecting with people, looking at them in the eyes and making them feel known, we’re missing the point of why we’re in a band. We want to be entertainers and play to the best of our abilities, but sometimes it’s more important what’s in between the songs. Sometimes I talk too much, but it’s important to know who an artist is. When fans come to a show, we don’t know what you’re leaving behind or going home to – it could be the best thing or the worst thing – so we want them to know that they are seen, and heard, and important to us. They made a huge difference to our lives, so we want them to know they are important to us too.

OT: Do you have any interesting memories of previous shows in DC?
HW: It’s crazy that you ask. The first time we were on a really cool tour, we were doing a charity tour, and we started out at 9:30 Club. I was so pumped for this tour and it was the first night. We were still a tiny band at that point. After the show I was hanging out in the alleyway behind the club with friends, and I just started coughing, this crazy whooping cough thing, and I couldn’t stop. We had to cancel all the remaining dates on the tour and we just stayed in a hotel in DC for a couple days to see if I could get better before we went home. While we were holed up there, Josh [then-guitarist Josh Farro] started writing the music to our song “Misery Business.” That’s how “Misery Business” came about, which was our first successful single, which got us to the point where we are today!

See Paramore Friday, July 18 with co-headliners Fall Out Boy, and openers New Politics. 

Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, MD; 410-715-5550 www.merriweathermusic.com