It was both of those things,” she says. “[The lyrics] literally came from a page in my diary. What I couldn’t have known at the time was that I was feeding into a lie that I’d bought into, just like so many other teenagers – and many adults – before me. The whole, ‘I’m not like the other girls’ thing… this ‘cool girl’ religion. What even is that? Who are the gatekeepers of ‘cool’ anyway? Are they all men? Are they women that we’ve put on top of an unreachable pedestal?
I found myself in a really weird headspace in the last few years where I was going through these things in my personal life, but we had just come off of this successful album. People would come up to me in my hometown and have pictures of me in these very superhero type poses across their shirts, and [they’d say], “Oh you’re perfect, I’ve looked up to you for so long.” I never discounted anything that they said because that’s the truth for them and I appreciate that, but what I couldn’t shake was how much that contrasted with the way that I viewed myself. I was crumbling. I was losing friendships, I was going through things with my family, my relationship. I just felt like, “Wow, this person that I’m standing right in front of, has no idea that I’m probably doing worse than they’re doing. And they’re asking for advice, and they’re telling me that I’m perfect.” It made me very angry at myself that I wasn’t at that level, and I never could be.
She tells me that after we spoke, she had a panic attack in her car. She apologizes profusely for how this encounter has played out, and tells me that she felt triggered when I asked about the fallout from the lawsuit with her former bandmate. She says that legal reasons make it difficult for her to know what she can and cannot say, and that it both bores her and stresses her out that every recent story about the band has focused on band drama and not on the songs. Fair enough. I keep digging, though, and eventually she admits it was more than that, but that she is having a hard time explaining, or figuring out for herself, what it is.
I offer to let her sleep on it, telling her I was now likely to write about this strange episode, and that it might be good if she provided a more fully realized account from her own perspective. This idea, to my surprise, seems to immediately pique her interest. She quickly agrees and we hug, then go bowling at a little neon spot that doesn’t seem to have changed the decor since the 1980s.
The entire thing is worth reading.
It’s funny, when we started the record, all of the songs that we thought were going to be singles, never were. “When It Rains,” I thought for sure was going to be a smash at radio. In fact, John Mayer heard it and said, ‘If that’s not a hit song, I quit the business.’ “Hallelujah,” we thought that was going to be the first single at some point when we were making the record. Even with “That’s What You Get,” which I think was the third single, the song was in 6/8. It’s very difficult to make something in 6/8 sound like a normal sound for Top 40. So, I felt like the risks that had been taken paid off.
With Styles’ start of 193,000 he earns the biggest debut sales week for a U.K. male artist’s first full-length album since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991.
Paramore came in at number six, selling around 67,000 album equivalent units. I’ve seen a few people saying this is a disappointment, and I wanna push back on that just a bit. The band selected a fast album roll-out with very minimal press. They did only a few interviews, with massive publications, and turned down requests from everyone else. They didn’t send out advances to virtually anyone, and I think they knew going in this wasn’t going to be an album they pushed for the first week sales. I think it’s instead setting up their upcoming tour, they’ll have a bigger push on the second single, and the positive word of mouth will keep this album moving throughout the summer.
Basically, I don’t think it’s a disappointment, and I wouldn’t worry.
It’s hard to overstate just how tumultuous the past decade of Paramore’s career has been. Since before the recording of Brand New Eyes the band has been regularly rocked by near career-ending shifts. While some bands are lucky enough to go through no lineup changes throughout their career, or when lineup changes do happen the splits are often amicable, Paramore has had no such luck. I don’t need to rehash any of the details of this unrest except to say this: While the turmoil would crush almost any other band, the members that have remained, or returned, to Paramore have fought through all adversity to arrive at After Laughter, the crowning achievement of their career so far.
At once a deeply wistful look back at the past decade-plus of the band’s history and a clear eyed assessment of the future, After Laughter is a record about the moments between total heartbreak and absolute elation. These in-between moments allow us to pick up the pieces broken during the former and come down from the euphoric high of the latter, and reassess what our purpose is here on this floating rock. These moments make up the vast totality of our time on Earth, but for some reason they don’t often feel as romantic.