Some were actual 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.
In 2010, it finally became too much for Josh and Zac Farro, two brothers who founded the band. So they quit. And then they blogged about it, entering an ugly crossfire of keystrokes with Williams, guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis.
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. But Paramore’s remaining members say they never considered shutting the whole thing down. The band’s vivacious new self-titled album, out Tuesday, finds the trio dusting each other off, talking a little trash and strutting into a brilliant, technicolor sunset.
“Even if I tried, I could never not have this coursing through my veins,” says Williams of the band she joined at 14.
It’s six hours before showtime in Austin — a midnight showcase at the South By Southwest music festival designed to reintroduce Paramore to the industry, the media, the fans, the universe. Backstage, the three huddle on a tufted sofa. Williams, 24, wears her orange hair in a Dutch crown braid, looking more like a sprite than the punk who joined Paramore in Franklin, Tenn., a decade ago.
“We all started a band as kids because we really just wanted to be in a band,” Williams says. “And [the Farros] ended up not wanting it as much as they thought they did. For me, it’s that simple. They weren’t happy. 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. She doesn’t mention the blog post where Josh Farro — whom Williams was dating when the band’s 2007 album, “Riot,” was on its way to platinum certification — accused his ex-girlfriend of compromising the band’s quiet Christian beliefs and letting her family meddle in Paramore’s dynamic.
“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.
This all came a year after Williams threw her pipes into Atlanta rapper B.o.B.’s otherwise dishwater radio hit “Airplanes.” As the tune floated up the Billboard singles chart, fans wondered whether the singer was branding herself as a solo artist.