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Interview: Paramore's Hayley Williams on returning to New Zealand and Australia with their 'This Is Why' album tour.

Interview: Paramore's Hayley Williams on returning to New Zealand and Australia with their 'This Is Why' album tour.

When Paramore last played Auckland back in 2018, frontwoman Hayley Williams promised a future world tour consisting of only New Zealand dates... and while her ambition has not yet come to fruition, it is true that the much-beloved band will return this November with their highly anticipated 'This Is Why' album tour.

Kicking off in Auckland at Spark Arena on November 18th, Paramore will also cross the Tasman Sea for dates in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney (a special outdoor engagement at the Domain; their biggest Australian headline show to date) - with additional performances in Brisbane and Melbourne announced today, due to overwhelming demand during the fan pre-sale earlier this week.

Looking forward to their New Zealand homecoming (drummer Zac Farro once lived in New Zealand for a year, FYI), Coup De Main caught up with Paramore's Hayley Williams to discuss being bold enough to speak truth to power, why we should all be grateful for Taylor York, and her forthcoming collaboration with Taylor Swift...

COUP DE MAIN: How are you today? Do you feel more like "the killer" or "the final girl" today?
PARAMORE - HAYLEY WILLIAMS:
Oh, what a great question! I feel like the final girl most of the time, but my angst/rage is dialled down a little bit. Thank god.

CDM: Paramore is returning to New Zealand and Australia! I think this will be your fifth time in New Zealand?
HAYLEY:
I think you're right, I think it is our fifth, but whatever the number is, it's not enough.
CDM: I wish your dog Alf could come to New Zealand... but our country probably wouldn't be able to afford his rider.
HAYLEY:
<laughs> I'm trying to get him to come on tour all the time with us if I can afford it, but it's the quarantine thing. Don't you think I would have to quarantine him for 14 days if I brought him?
CDM: We need to start a petition to get Alf a special exemption. Rights for Alf!
HAYLEY:
Yeah, and he's very needy. I think his separation anxiety would not handle that very well.

CDM: This upcoming tour feels like particularly good value for money with Paramore performing 'Crystal Clear' from your Petals For Armor album, and Zac centre stage for HalfNoise's 'Baby'... so what is Taylor's special contribution to this tour?
HAYLEY:
<laughs> Well, that's a great question... Paramore just wouldn't be a band if Taylor York didn't exist, so I think maybe that's his lifelong commitment and contribution that we should all be so grateful for. But he says all the time to Zac and I: "You guys get to be the CEOs of something; I want to be a CEO of something." I'm all the time trying to get him to just start a random company, so he can have the CEO title for himself.
CDM: All he has is some robot singing at the end of 'Hard Times' currently, so rights for Taylor, as well as rights for Alf.
HAYLEY:
Yes, seriously, you're exactly right.

CDM: First off, I'd like to thank you for 'This Is Why'... I think that "this is why I don't leave the house" might be the most relatable lyrics you've ever written.
HAYLEY:
Oh, thank you! I appreciate it. I feel like some people didn't get it right away. Sometimes when I'm sarcastic in songs, or when I'm a little bit tongue-in-cheek, people don't understand. Like when I say "ain't it fun living in the real world" [in 'Ain’t It Fun'] and people are like, 'No, it's not fun!' - I'm like, 'Exactly.' But I just keep carrying on and hoping that someday everyone will understand that I am not a serious person.
CDM: That's why you get along with New Zealanders - you have a New Zealand sense of humour.
HAYLEY:
Thank god, that's the best compliment that I've maybe ever gotten.

CDM: 'The News' really encapsulates the big mood of how collectively the whole entire world went through a pandemic together, but on the other side, instead of choosing to be more empathetic towards others, most people have chosen to be even more insular and self-serving. Why does it feel like the world is growing even more apathetic?
HAYLEY:
It's just the bane of my life to wake up and see that we're not learning any lessons very well. I mean, I'm the same as anyone else. It's hard to feel the impending doom of the earth... and just society and humanity. But at the same time, have patience and have understanding. It's hard to be patient with yourself and with people at large, but during Covid when we were all stuck at home and there was this brief moment where nobody knew what was happening and nobody understood Covid and nobody understood how long we were going to be shut down, it felt like people were very kind in those couple of weeks, or maybe three weeks. You had all these late-night TV show hosts banding together to do live television events and it just kind of felt like we were all part of one thing for a moment. And then very quickly, that sort of dissolved into chaos and everyone finding their own little underground hub to create conspiracies from and spread shit on the internet. It's very sad to me, especially when there's things that really need our attention as united people - like climate change, for instance, that's something that not any one person can fix on their own. It actually is going to take all of us, but yet, we can't get our heads out of our asses long enough to work together and do very simple tasks; very simple kind things for each other. It's really frustrating. It's very hard to want to stay informed because it gets very overwhelming to read any of it, knowing that none of it is going to be handled in a kind or a soft way. It's sort of like we're either of the extremes - we're never balanced.

CDM: Absolutely. Even just recently, it was horrible to see the efforts to rescue the Titanic submarine compared to the 600 refugees that drowned off the coast of Greece.
HAYLEY:
Oh my god, I know. The submarine story was the most dystopian/weird... I get people's fascination with it, that it had all of these weird, juicy details about it that made it very easy for people to pass around the internet, but you're exactly right. Like, what makes that more worthy of our time and attention? And certainly, more worthy of our resources than what we could have done to help those refugees? It's so sad. Don't even get me started... because most of the people in America that aren't concerned, there's such a focus on Christianity and godliness, and that being so linked with patriotism, but yet none of those pillars of Christianity are being employed when it comes to these stories - like immigrants or the border wall between Mexico and America. It's very maddening stuff.

CDM: In 'C’est Comme Ça' you say: "Lucky for me, I run on spite and sweet revenge / It's my dependence on the friction that really hinders my progression." We've talked before about bottling up anger, but I think there's a difference between rage being motivational, and resentment eating away at you. How does one keep it healthy?
HAYLEY:
That's a good question. Well, I don't think that you can do it perfectly, and I'm pretty hard on myself about this sort of thing, so I have to be careful to not get stuck in a shame spiral about it and rather just try to find my way out when I feel like I'm upside down in that ragey feeling. But more than anything, I'm trying to understand that everything about being alive is so multifaceted that it can't be fit into an either/or box, like you can't say that one particular feeling is good or bad, and you can't really be sure that one issue is all good or bad. Because nothing is either/or - everything is both, and everything is on a spectrum, everything is actually quite confusing and layered and that's also what makes it beautiful and creates purpose and meaning, and all these reasons why we can afford to keep diving deeper into being human and existing alongside of other people. So for me with 'C’est Comme Ça', I just kept ruminating on the fact that I'm trying so hard to get better. I'm going to therapy and I'm doing a lot of healthy steps for myself to get out of a place where I was not healthy and my mind wasn't being utilised in a positive way. I wasn't making progress, I was just kicking a can in a corner, like kind of staying in one little area of my mind. And the discomfort of choosing more positive outlets, or choosing to process my anger, process my trauma, process experiences that I've had or that I've witnessed... to choose something more productive is not always as spicy and sexy. Sometimes it's kind of boring - and it is a process, which isn't linear, and there's not a right way. There's no guidebook. So you have to really sit and think about: 'Why?' For me, for instance: 'Why am I addicted to the stress of survival? And the chaos of all of that? Why can't I find a peaceful moment and sit in it and just be present?' The only thing that's hopeful about that journey for me is that I know I'm not by myself in it because you can take about two minutes scrolling around the internet and see that that's literally everyone's issue - we don't really know how to sit with any feeling whether it's positive or negative, without imploding or exploding. So I'm learning, and it's something that I'll probably never master, but I'm happy to do it. And I'm happy to sort of realise that there are moments where I recognise progress, like: 'Okay, yes, I've protected my peace, I'm in bed at 9pm with a cup of tea and I'm journaling and I'm enjoying my favourite show, or I'm reading a book and life is simple in this moment.' And that's actually wonderful. And it doesn't have to be rock and roll and it doesn't have to be sexy. And I don't have to have an addiction to something that's not good for me, whether that be substance, or whether that actually be just internal, like addiction to my own stress hormones. That's a conversation that for me, I'm so passionate about, but it gets really esoteric in a way that's like scientific, and then I start to feel like I lose people, so I hope I already haven't lost you in that.
CDM: It's such an adrenaline cycle.
HAYLEY:
Yes! Yeah, realising I was addicted to that was a huge turning point in my journey of kind of getting better in a lot of ways.

CDM: What was it like working with Taylor Swift on 'Castles Crumbling'?
HAYLEY:
I haven't gotten to talk about this at all yet! You're the first person to ask me.
CDM: I'm ready for the exclusive.
HAYLEY:
It was really special because we have known each other for a very long time in different stages of our lives. We connected in the beginning when Paramore was just sort of starting to break out and kind of become a popular band, and she had already been successful in country [music] but she was kind of nearing her crossover moment, and it was very exciting. I was also very thankful to know someone that was my age, that was in a similar position to me. And over the years, whether we've been in contact consistently or not, I've just always been really grateful to know I'm not alone in it. She has so many experiences that I can't even fathom. I mean, her life has been... there's been so much added pressure that I know nothing about, and the scale of it is something that's so much grander than Paramore has experienced even, but I think we've found such a good honest connection of just trying to be good stewards of the opportunity that we've both been given in music. Like, how do we actually use this in the best way that we can? How do we share these opportunities with the right people? How do we experience this and be fully present for it? And I really look up to her for that. But as far as 'Castles Crumbling' goes, I heard the song and was super impressed by the storytelling in it, which is no surprise because it's a Taylor Swift song, but it's about an experience that both of us have shared growing up in the public eye, and I just felt very honoured to get to sing about that feeling. And yeah, I just really love it. I love it. I can't believe I got to be a part of it.

CDM: We need to talk about 'Big Man, Little Dignity'. All of the things I hate about the music industry are all things that I have no power over and that I fear might never change - a big one for me being that men in power are rarely ever held accountable for their actions, and especially in New Zealand where it's: Big Man, Little Country. Aside from fantasising the demise of evil people, how do you endure these kinds of situations?
HAYLEY:
Not without a healthy dose of sarcasm and humour and rage. Giving myself an outlet to express those feelings is first and foremost for me; it's how I take care of my own self, but also being bold enough to speak truth to power. And to know that when you go up against anything that is a system or that's been in place for a while, there is going to be push-back. I remind myself constantly, whether I'm talking about American politics, or whether it's about relationship dynamics, business or otherwise, I just try to remind myself that it's not supposed to be comfortable - it's okay to speak your truth and for it to not be comfortable. I have to give myself those pep talks a lot, especially lately in America; we're in an election year so there's a lot of very important things on a lot of different ballots across the country right now. And when we go to certain states... I don't make it a point to preach at every show, but if there's something that's on my heart, and it feels important, and it feels genuine in the moment, I speak up. Sometimes I do it more eloquently than other times, but I have to remind myself that speaking truth to power and speaking up for what you believe in, it's not always supposed to be a popular decision. You're not out to win a popularity contest, you're out to speak truth to power. Power is usually what seems to be the majority of the system that's in place, but it doesn't mean that it's rigid, and that it can never change - it just means that there's got to be some people that are willing to work together to try to shift it. I feel very lucky right now that not only are we on tour and we have a platform and we can use it to speak out in moments that feel important, but there's also so many other artists younger than us, especially young women / young queer people that are brave enough to also do this. And when you have enough people showing that the status quo is not okay and leading with 'hate is not a platform to stand by', you look around and you see: 'Okay, I'm not alone in this, my other friends that are on stages this summer are also speaking out against hatred and bigotry, and they are speaking directly to beautiful people in these audiences who do have voices and who actually do have power.' They just need to feel empowered, and they need to feel like they have choice and agency and they need to know that their time is valuable, and they can use that to make change and to shift to the narrative that's happening right now. So anyway, that's a long-winded answer, but I think that nothing that has been the way that it's been for so long, it doesn't have to stay the same. I think that good change is always possible if people are willing to speak up, even if it's uncomfortable.

Paramore will play New Zealand and Australia this November.

Click here for further details.

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