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Watching the breach play out on a computer screen was both sad and strange.This was a group that could turn its inner dramas into singalongs with the piquancy of Fleetwood Mac and the efficiency of Black Flag.Her band mates roar along, wearing denim mottled with rainbow splotches, like the Clash after a day of paintball. The platinum-selling group first wrote its name in the sky in the mid-aughts with rock songs that felt brash and spontaneous, bursting into existence like arguments. Williams memorialized her band’s squabbles in more than a few lung-emptying refrains, giving rapacious young fans a front row seat to the band’s spiraling soap opera.
That’s because loud, shameless, euphoric catharsis will always be its defining trait.
“If we’re gonna connect with people, we need to be honest,” says Williams, which means spilling your guts even if you accidentally “slip on ’em,” as she sings in one of her lyrical darts.
Her singing chops earned her a string of cameos on other albums, including October Fall’s A Season in Hell and Say Anything’s In Defense of the Genre, while her looks won her the honor of Kerrang’s “Second Sexiest Female” in 2007. Paramore also charted another hit with their contribution to the Twilight soundtrack, “Decode.” Williams made more guest appearances in 2009, including a performance alongside her new boyfriend, Chad Gilbert, on the New Found Glory track “Tangled Up.” Meanwhile, Paramore wrapped up work on a third album, Brand New Eyes, and released it that September, where it debuted at number two and quickly went gold.
Williams remained focused on Paramore, though, whose 2007 sophomore effort Riot! Also appearing that autumn was Williams’ first solo composition, “Teenagers,” which was included on the movie soundtrack to Jennifer’s Body.
“It’s just like sitting down with a friend over coffee,” she says.
“You talk about that thing you’re going through, the things you’re feeling, the things that are heaviest on your heart.” The intoxicatingly mushy love songs on “Paramore” signal that life is good, but Williams hasn’t donated her poison pen collection to Goodwill. So if I have to, I’m gonna leave you behind.” On stages and behind microphones, Williams projects fearlessness and ambition ungoverned.“In reality, what started as natural somehow morphed into a manufactured product of a major label, riding on the coattails of ‘Hayley’s dream,’” Farro blogged.The angst was underscored by the fact that Williams was the only one in Paramore technically signed to Atlantic Records.At 16 years old, Hayley Williams released her first album with Paramore, a spunky emo-pop band that featured her vocals, lyrics, and songwriting skills.The group had formed two years earlier in Franklin, TN, where Williams and her bandmates -- bassist Jeremy Davis, drummer Zac Farro, lead guitarist Josh Farro, and rhythm guitarist Jason Bynum -- attended high school while playing shows around the southeast.“We all started a band as kids because we really just wanted to be in a band,” Williams says. And you can’t fault someone for not being happy or for finding complete joy in the same things that you do.” Williams has used this high-road party line in just about every interview since the split.