Having made some of the biggest earworms of 2017 - ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Rose-Colored Boy’, just to name a few - Paramore’s fifth album ‘After Laughter’ made for one of the most contrasting releases of last year. Filled with outpourings of Hayley Williams’ deepest thoughts, combined with Taylor York’s sparky guitar and production work, and Zac Farro’s rhythmic talents, the album is a true statement of where the band are at now.
Ahead of their return to New Zealand, we spoke with Paramore members Hayley, Taylor, and Zac while they were on tour in Miami, about the upcoming NZ show, the creation of Tour Four, and more…
COUP DE MAIN: It’s just been announced that you’re bringing ‘After Laughter’ to New Zealand next year with Tour Four on Galentine's Day - are you guys excited to return to our shores?
ZAC FARRO: Oh, duh! The only place I ever want to go in my life.
HAYLEY WILLIAMS: Yeah we can’t wait, it’s been so long, honestly. I don’t know what took us this long, sorry.
CDM: Your fans are super excited! We held a photo op pop-up at our office a few weeks back and had hundreds of fans wait in line for an hour. It was so cute.
TAYLOR YORK, ZAC, HAYLEY: Oh, cool!
CDM: Zac, the last time we saw you was at a HalfNoise show in Auckland back in 2015 at The Kings Arms, so I must say that I’m very excited to hear ‘Scooby's In The Back’ at the Paramore show next year. What’s it like playing that song live in the Paramore show?
ZAC FARRO: <laughs> We may change it up, but it's been so fun! At first, it was a bit nerve-racking because I'd never sung in front of more than like 100 people and then at a Paramore show there are typically more than 100 people there, so it was a little nerve-racking but it's been so fun because I think HalfNoise is a very serious band and it's at times like that we can be as goofy as we want and it's not that big of a deal because the band is like not that important. <laughs> The band is not that important - but it is, you know what I mean? It's really lighthearted, so it's been really fun and it's gotten so much better since that time at Kings Arms, that was kind of when we were starting out. <laughs>
CDM: This tour looks particularly cool - what was the process like of putting together all the production and design for the tour?
HAYLEY: It was agonising! <laughs>
ZAC: The visuals and stuff was a friend of ours from Nashville, Mike Kluge. He did a lot of the crazy VHS analogue crazy tricky-looking visuals and we knew that would fit the vibe of this new record as well, we wanted the visuals live to kind of represent that. So it turned out really cool because there's a lot of rad content to work with, and it fits with the vibe very nicely.
CDM: You guys have been to New Zealand so many times now, you know how exciting it is for us when we have any kind of connection to the outside world, so of course it was really interesting to us to learn that New Zealander Scott Cleary created the album cover artwork for 'After Laughter'. Why did you did you decide to ask him to do the artwork re-branding?
ZAC: Ha! That's so funny.
HAYLEY: Well that was another one of Zac's friends that we met. Taylor and I got to meet him when we were out in LA finishing up the record, so yeah.
ZAC: Yeah, he lives in LA now. I met him because I was living in New Zealand for a little bit, and I met him through another friend and then it was actually totally Taylor’s idea to use him for the cover, but yeah he is so great. It's nice to keep it in the family, if we have friends that do art, we'd rather use them than someone we don't know.
CDM: 'Forgiveness’ is an album highlight for me. Do you think forgiveness is a state of mind you can reach and one-off achieve? Or a constant work-in-progress?
ZAC: Wow, good question.
HAYLEY: I think it's like, everyday, you have to decide. Kind of like hope a little bit, it's really abstract and maybe your mind changes about what it actually is or isn't one day, but that was the first song we wrote for the record and it's interesting because I was learning a lot about what forgiveness looked like, what it was, and then I kind of thought I had a handle on it and then I continued to write and realised that just because I thought I had a handle on it, didn't mean that all these other pieces weren't going to keep falling and I was going to have to learn how to pick those up too. I think it is definitely a process. I think it's something that you don't necessarily just get better at because every single time you deal with a new problem or pain in your life, you're going to have to learn what forgiveness looks like in that situation and sometimes it's going to be a real painful thing and you're going to have to learn about forgiveness from the other side. It's been two years since we wrote that song and I'm still learning, I’m still figuring that one out.
CDM: Hayley, in your interview with Zane Lowe prior to the release of the album you said that maybe once you started playing songs from the album live they might change for you over time - has this been the case?
HAYLEY: Yeah, it has been the case, I think. You've got some days that aren't as easy but at the same time, just writing them I didn't realise actually what a big step just writing those songs was. It just felt difficult, you know? Because whether or not you're going through something that is like monumental, it's still hard to write an album and make an album, especially when you're super passionate and want to be really proud of it. It's always hard work but then saying things that you're really going to have to dig up and put into the light for the first time, I didn't realise what a triumph that was, to perform them every night and to think back and to be able to reflect, whether on stage, or before shows or whatever. I think it's just been a really cool, sort of healing process, and maybe not healing as much as accepting, and it's been really cool. There are still plenty of songs left to go with 'After Laughter' that I know will maybe be tougher, but the good news is they're really fun songs so maybe we can dance to them.
CDM: We’re working on a list of Must-Know artists for 2018, and would love a suggestion from you guys, if you had an artist in mind for the feature?
HAYLEY: I've been listening to a band on Saddle Creek called Land Of Talk a lot, I really like them, they're cool.
ZAC: Check out The Strokes! Tame Impala has some B-sides! They're a new band. I can't think of any right now. Scuba Diva from New Zealand is cool!
CDM: Zac, I really like your singing on ‘Grudges’ with Hayley! Obviously that song was a very important one for you both - is it one that you plan on playing live eventually?
ZAC: I don't know about that song, but we're definitely going to add some more 'After Laughter' songs for this tour.
Paramore play Auckland’s Spark Arena on February 13th - click here to purchase tickets.
Watch the ‘Rose-Colored Boy’ music video below…