Paramore's Hayley Williams Talks Slaying Sexism, Her Oddest Tour Rider
Hayley Williams launches Hard Rock's 14th annual breast cancer campaign at Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood.
"It's good to stretch yourself and that's what this whole album has been about — growing and trying new things," Paramore's Hayley Williams says of their recently released self-titled record, which the band is about support on an arena tour. She's talking about moving past the departures of original members Josh and Zac Farro, lyrically addressing people who are stuck on the band's former lineup and experimenting with a bevy of new sounds from pop to gospel under the guidance of producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Nine Inch Nails). But Williams has also been trying new things outside of Paramore this year.
The 24-year-old recently guested on Zedd's club ringer "Stay the Night" and, now, is acting as the artist ambassador for Hard Rock’s Pinktober campaign, which raises global awareness about breast cancer. Earlier this week, Williams spoke to Rolling Stone about the recent movement of female artists speaking out against sexism, her thoughts on dance music and Paramore’s recent rider requests.
You recently tweeted Chvrches' Lauren Mayberry's post on online misogyny. Between her post, Grimes' post on sexism, and Lorde's recent comments on appearance pressure, it seems like a lot more female artists are stepping out and voicing their struggles.
I loved Lauren's and Lorde's posts. I think it's really cool that there's so many rad girls and older women in music. There's a lot of people that have different points of view and it's nice to see people coming together and being honest about something that matters and should be talked about. I’m so excited to see this stuff surfacing because it’s real. Even my friend Mariel [Loveland] from the band Candy Hearts posted about it and it blew my mind. When I was 16 and we started touring, I looked like a 12-year-old boy with no makeup, sports bra, one of the guys' shirts, and I'd wear the same pair of jeans for a month straight. I never showered and was gross and guys that were probably a good 10 years older than me harrassed me.
I remember playing North Star Bar [in Philadelphia] and this guy yelled "take off your shirt!" probably 10 times. It had happened a couple of times at this point but this guy was super aggressive about it. By the fifth or sixth time, I realized that I'm the one with the microphone. I've got power here. I don't have to be quiet. Sometimes there's strength in letting your actions speak for you, but in this moment I was like, "I don’t have to take this." He said something again, I said something back and was just as consistent as he was, and then he stopped. But, by the end, I was just like, "I don’t like you. Get out," and made some guy I knew get him out.
Do you think the industry has been slow to encourage these conversations?
I don't think it's all of the industry. It's finding that voice within us and, for whatever reason, the climate right now feels a little more empowering. It's like Sinead [O’Connor]'s letter talking about how men are going to make money off of us and all of the choices that we make. I do believe that. It's always been that way and it's time to start saying something. There's enough women that are rad and have great points of view and great things to say who can start encouraging that in one another and the people who are coming to shows; instill something else in them that is not being told to them through society and magazine covers — tell them that having a voice and going against the grain is good.