Paramore is gearing up to release their first album since 2017, and they are not interested in being seen as a nostalgia act. After headlining last year's When We Were Young festival, lead singer Hayley Williams realized that the "good old days" are not always good. She recalled being the target of alleged sexually vulgar comments from NOFX lead singer Fat Mike when she was a teenager.
The When We Were Young festival was held in Las Vegas over two weekends in October and featured a lineup of former Warped Tour stars. Tickets immediately sold out, confirming that pop-punk still had a big audience of longtime fans and new ones, but it still felt like it leaned heavily on nostalgia. Williams told Billboard that the band has mixed feelings about that.
"Everyone's just trying to remember better days, and I'm sitting there like, 'They weren't that much better,'" Williams, 34, said. She made that point when the band performed. In a speech to the crowd, she said that the scene wasn't always safe "if you were different, if you were a young woman, if you were a person of color, if you were queer, and that's really f—ed up if you think about it because this was supposed to be the safe place, wasn't it?"
"We don't want to be a nostalgia band," Williams told Billboard when asked about the speech months later. "But I think what I felt was a mixture of vindication and also a lot of anger. I was really surprised that I had so much anger well up in me because I was like, 'Wait a minute. They're treating us like a prize now,' but like, Fat Mike [of NOFX] used to tell people that I gave good rim jobs onstage when I was 19 years old."
Williams does not believe Fat Mike's alleged comments are in line with punk. "I don't think that's the essence of punk," she explained. "And I feel strongly that without young women, people of color, and also the queer community, I just think we would still be where we were then."
Williams, guitarist Taylor York, and drummer Zac Farro got back together to record This Is Why, their first album since After Laughter in 2017. The album includes the singles "This Is Why" and "The News," which were both released late last year. They already announced a tour to support the record, beginning on Feb. 6 at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.
Although it has been six years since their last album, the group told Billboard they never really broke up. It was just an extended break. "At this point, I don't understand how we're still doing it," Williams told the magazine. "Because it just feels like against all odds every single time – which, honestly, I feel like we're the most annoying band in the world because it's always like, 'Oh, we overcame this, and now we're making this album.'"