Annie: Okay, I’m delighted to say that we have Hayley Williams on the line. Hayley, hello! Hayley: Hi. Hi, thanks for talking to me I’m so, this is so surreal and exciting and, ahh. Annie: Well we’re so excited and happy to have time with you tonight, so thank you for that, firstly. Hayley: Yeah, of course Annie: Um, we’re here for such a wonderful and exciting reason, um, for Paramore fans, for Hayley William fans, which is – which is this new song. So, before I press play on the hottest record in the world, is there anything you wanna say about it before people hear it? Hayley: Uhh, um, I might throw up. I might throw up, I don’t know. Hehehe. Annie: Well, shall we just play it? Let’s play it! Hayley: Yes! Yes, yes. Annie: And then we’ll talk. Unleash this to the world. It is your hottest record in the world. It couldn’t be anything else. It is Hayley Williams, and it is Simmer on BBC Radio 1. Annie: There you go! That was it! That was Simmer! That was your hottest record! Hayley: It is! Annie: Hayley Williams is here on the line and, um, so, okay let’s – let’s, there’s so much to talk about. So much I want to ask you about. But let’s start with when this urge came for you, creatively, to go and do something totally different. Hayley: Oh, man, it really surprised me, um, I was really excited about the band taking time off. We kind of came to a point where we’re like, “Hey, what’s it like to have time off without losing a band member? Let’s try it!”, You know, we were like, we were sort of just ready to experience adult life at home. You know the three of us are, we grew up together and yet, it’s been a really long time since we were just friends. So we all went home and just got to do that, Um, but I also think that what happened for me is sort of this emotional whiplash, where I was going through so much before we released After Laughter And, you know, as problems do, they sort of stay and wait for you if you don’t figure them out. Um, we came back home and life got a little quieter, and so all of these things were creeping up in me and, uh, and I just needed help. And so I started doing more intensive therapy, and, um, a lot of therapy. And kind of by the, just honest suggestion from one of the people that I spoke to, they were like, “You just should be writing again, like it helps you to see what you’re going through.”. I have a tendency to really deny things that I’m feeling. And writing helps me, so it just happened. And I remember kind of having a lot of trouble accepting that it was happening. I was talking to Taylor about it, um, and I was talking to a few, like, just a few really close friends about it, Zac, Taylor. Everyone was sort of just like, “What’s the prob – like why like – what’s the problem? You make music, just do it. And we’ll support you, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s nothing. And if, it doesn’t matter if it’s everything. Just do it and see where it goes.” And then, you know, obviously a lot in between, but now today, here we are. and there’s there’s this song and now
it’s real and I don’t know I’m still I’m I’m still shocked by it. But I’m so, so proud. Annie: So, so you then, you take your advice from your friends. You go and you start writing and this kind of cathartic process of just getting what’s in your head out on paper. And then you have that wonderful experience of being able to look at what you’ve done and being like, “Okay, this is how I feel. And this is who I am.” I always find with writing it’s so, It’s so incredible like that. When did you then start going, “Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna make this into something. I’m gonna get people to come and play, or I’m gonna play on it.”? Hayley: Yeah, yeah. Um, probably when it became 4 or 5 songs. I was like, “Oh yeah.” Annie: It’s a thing, It’s a thing. This is a thing. Hayley: And I, I kind of wondered, like, maybe it’s just an EP? Maybe it’s something that I throw out there, um, randomly and I don’t even really talk about it. But, um, actually on Taylor’s advice, he was sort of like, “I know you, and I know that you’re gonna wanna create things around it. Whether that’s visual, or some sort of conversations. Like, you should have support, you should do it for real. You should, like, tell our manager.” And I called Mark, and I was like, Mark’s been working for us for 16 years, the whole, and the entirety of our career. And, um, I like, cold-called him. I was like, “Soooo solo album? Like, what do you think?”. And he was like, I swear to god, like, he, he really didn’t believe and I, I think he thought I was joking for a full 5 minutes, but, um, yeah. I mean, I couldn’t deny, I couldn’t deny it was becoming a thing. I had really, really amazing, like I was collaborating with Joey, our touring bass player. Um, kind of randomly, just ‘cause we were hanging out all the time, and then I was, I wrote a little bit with Taylor, and It just kind of, yeah, it just became a real, it just became a thing I couldn’t, I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t. Annie: Talk to me about the significance of the Petals For Armor name, please. Hayley: So, Petals For Armor is part of a lyric that’s in Simmer. Um, I a while ago, went to, um, this cranial-sacral masseuse, who, like, maybe a lot of people would consider that, like a ‘woo woo’ witch doctor kind of person, but. I’ll take any help I can get. So, I was laying on her table, and I started having these weirdly, um, creepy visions of flowers growing out of me, and not in a beautiful way. It was very, very painful and very grotesque. But I kind of realized, like, I kind of realized in that moment, there was a lot that was just trying so hard to grow out of me, but it was gonna hurt to do it. Um, and I think for me, it’s somewhat of a mantra to try to stay soft in a really, really hard world. Um, and feel pain and feel everything, like let all of it come to you and try to put out something that, you know, can, can redeem it all. Um, even if it’s ugly at first. And, so, yeah, the lyric is, “ Wrap yourself in petals for armor.” because I kind of kept feeling like, the way for me to protect myself best is to be vulnerable and be okay with, like, having a of pain. And at certain times, and also feeling a lot in joy at certain times. And as long as I’m staying soft to those things and I’m open to letting those things in and out of me, then I actually can survive the world a lot easier than if I stay hard, and I stay, like, with my fists up all the time. Annie: On the song, lyrically, you can really hear you wrestling with your urges. Is writing a song like this cathartic for you? Do you kind of come out the back of it and feel like you’ve reached a conclusion you’ve gone somewhere with it to kind of feeling better, feeling like you can handle things easier like this? Hayley: This song, this song, was such, such a shock. Like, I really thought, “oh, I’m just gonna write. I have a lot of anger, I can feel, feel angry. Like, I’ve been through things that make me feel angry, I’ve witnessed things that are so not justified. And I’m angry, um, everything in the entire, on the planet, is, should be making us angry right now. Um, anyways, uh, I, this song has helped but it’s also surprised me. ‘Cause what I thought was just gonna be a simpler, and sort of heavy song about anger, turned into the very specific trigger points for me. Um, and I think that’s where the second verse really comes in and, like, that was a tough one to record. Annie: Do you think you would ever have been able to write this way without having stopped the Paramore kind of train when you did? Hayley: No, no. And It’s not, it’s not really anything to do with the band. Um, ‘cause I do think that we’re learning, um, I mean we’re, we became adults together, and it’s such a different way of relating to one another through our, like, pain and through our victories. Like, you know, whatever it is, we’re, we don’t relate to each other the way we did when we were 13. You know, so, I do believe that when it’s time for us to make the next Paramore record, there will be just as much transparent of lyrics, and, and, and hopefully really visceral feelings that come across. But, um, I wouldn’t have had access to this stuff if we didn’t just pause, and get quiet for a minute, you know? Um, it was really important to me, even just as a woman, like, stepping into my own skin for once and not denying the things that I feel, and the place that I’m at, presently. It’s been a lot of work. And it’s not over like you can’t do, right? It’s like you keep going and you keep digging, trying to get better. But, like, yeah. It was really necessary. Annie: Hey, um, I’ve got ask a question for the people who have been texting all day. Are you gonna take this live? Like, have you even thought that far ahead? What’s, what’s gonna happen with it on the road? Are you gonna go there? Hayley: Yeah. Yes, I am! I’m scared to death, and I, and I, um, I will be really candid, of, about this because I haven’t even thought it through yet. But, I am terrified to do it without my brothers, like my guys. Um, I know that Joey will be there. Um, and we toured together with Paramore and he’s one of my best friends. Um, but It’s gonna be a new, a different experience. And I’m, I’m excited to see what It’s like, but I also, every day I’m gonna miss just like turning around and seeing Zac’s goofy face. The cool thing is, it’s, like, It’s that’s not over. That’s just a little That’s just a little bit in the distance. I mean, we, like, we were laughing yesterday because we’re still, I’m still in the studio working on, like, on stuff that is, won’t be heard for a little while longer. And Zac walked into the studio where Taylor and I were working and he was like, “I see you guys more in Los Angeles than I did back home in Nashville.”. And I was like, I was like, I know it’s shameful! ‘Cause when we’re home, I don’t leave my house and neither does Taylor. So, anyway, we, um, I’m sad in a weird way to leave and go on tour, and not be with my people. But I’m also gonna be with a lot of my people anyways, some of our crew is coming, and you know know, we don’t have all the dates yet, but it is happening. Annie: Okay, incredible. So, the album is called, am I right in saying the album is called Petals For Armor? Is that the name of it, can I say that? Hayley: The album is called Petals For Armor. I know people are confused because I, like, didn’t, I made this Instagram account that’s like Petals For Armor. The truth is, I just don’t want to see my name any more times than I am gonna be seeing it. So I keep telling my team, like, “ Petals For Armor! No Hayley Williams on ANY of the merch! Just Petals For Armor!”. And so that is the album. It comes in May on the 8th of May. Annie: Woo! Hayley: Yes! So it’s, I’m so pumped to like, have it out. Oh my God, It’s like, I’ve been nauseous for a year and I finally get to let it out, and, you know. Annie: Yeah, It’s good. I mean, It’s such, It’s such a excellent song. It’s made me Hayley: Thank you. so excited for, for everything else you’re gonna bring us this year. Annie: And, um, on behalf of fans, just thank you for, for bringing more music. We’re all so happy to have it, so thank you. Hayley: Thank you, I appreciate it so much. Annie: Um, I appreciate the time and the honesty. Thank you so much, and we will play this one more time, Hayley Williams I’m sorry to say the name, but it’s true. It’s the, Simmer! It’s your hottest record in the world, let’s hear it again!