Paramore talk ahead of gig at Birmingham Genting Arena
Grammy Award-winners Paramore returned with their fifth album, After Laughter, in spring 2017.
The new wave group from Tennessee topped the American rock charts and enjoyed a top 10 hit in the main charts on both sides of the Atlantic as critics were dazzled.
The Observer said: ‘After Laughter could be one of the year’s best pop albums’, the Sunday Times Culture added: ‘After Laughter is a blast’, NME wrote ‘a pop triumph’, The Sun said ‘their best music in years’ and DIY awarded it full marks and described it as ‘perfect’.
The trio – Hayley Williams, Zac Farro and Taylor York – have returned to the UK for a five-date, whistle-stop arena tour, which reaches Arena Birmingham on Sunday.
The shows are the band’s first since June last year, when they played five intimate gigs – including one at the Royal Albert Hall – to coincide with the release of After Laughter.
Having previously performed sold out shows at the O2 Arena, Wembley Arena, and co-headlined Reading & Leeds Festivals in 2014, fans are in for something special.
Their recent show at the Royal Albert Hall was a triumph with DIY writing: ‘They say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger and tonight, against the iconic backdrop of the Royal Albert Hall, Paramore prove to be at their most powerful yet’. The Evening Standard added: ‘Eighties-style synths and sleek guitars ruled the night at this animated gig’. Q described it as ‘perfect’.
Paramore are four-times Grammy nominees and won the Best Rock Song trophy at the 57th Annual Awards, have long established themselves as international rock superstars.
Their previous self-titled album Paramore hit number one in the UK and US upon release, and showcased a string of blockbuster singles including two two-times RIAA platinum-certified hits, plus smashes Still Into You and Ain’t It Fun.
The band has enjoyed a truly remarkable run of critically acclaimed albums and singles since coming together in Nashville in 2004, from 2005’s gold-certified debut, All We Know Is Falling and 2007’s two-times platinum-certified breakthrough, RIOT! – with its three-times platinum-certified hit, Misery Business, as well as the platinum-certified singles crushcrushcrush and That’s What You Get – to 2008’s worldwide platinum Decode and 2009’s platinum-certified Brand New Eyes and its Grammy-nominated smash, The Only Exception.
Frontwoman Hayley has grown up in the spotlight. She formed the band following the divorce of her parents, when she was 14, and signed her first record deal a year later when Atlantic snapped her up.
A poetic and sensitive lyricist, she helped the band to flourish alongside peers like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy.
The band took their time over After Laughter, following the international success of their self-titled 2013 record.
Hayley says: “I didn’t even know if we were going to make another record . . . There was a moment when I didn’t even want it to happen. Then it was like, I want it to happen, but I don’t know how we’re going to do it.”
The songs were written following a lengthy period of introspection by Hayley, who went into therapy. “For the first time in my life, there wasn’t a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel. I thought, I just wish everything would stop. It wasn’t in the sense of, I’m going to take my life. It was just hopelessness. Like, ‘What’s the point?’ I don’t think I understood how dangerous hopelessness is. Everything hurts.”
The band were keen to make a break with the past and their re-branding involved bringing in an LA designer, Scott Cleary. He was keen to underscore the band’s new sound and direction by creating an impossible trident optical illusion as the album’s artwork. “The band came to me when they were recording the album in LA. We’ve been friends for a while so we were spending a lot of time together while they were in town from Nashville. They asked me if I’d be interested in doing the album artwork and band re-brand, to which I jumped at the chance. They had some ideas around the 80s vibes of the record, and a few visual references they were feeling. I did the usual ‘listen to the record, write/draw a bunch of stuff’ and came up with the idea of a landscape where colors, shapes and textures would represent sounds and moments on the record. They were sold from my first concept, which is very rare, but just shows we were all on the same page. The band were great to work with—it helped being friends, as I didn’t need to go through a bunch of people to get fast opinions. I created a computer generated layout of the whole artwork, then recreated each element in real life (lots of crafting), photographed it, then brought it back into the landscape. Sonically, the record is very ‘real’ and I wanted the imagery details to have that finishing touch.”
After Laughter dealt with a range of topics, including death. Hayley was determined to mull over the things on her mind – and also wanted to become a kinder person.
“Man, I was just taught to be nice. I’m going to be gone one day, and I have to accept that tomorrow isn’t promised. Am I OK with how I’m living today? It’s the only thing I can help.”