Hayley Williams Calls Out Warped Tour, Says 2000s Emo Was ‘Brutally Misogynistic’
Let's face it: The rock world can be a pretty sexist place, and Hayley Williams has been one of the most articulate and consistent voices representing women for awhile now. In a new interview with Vulture, the Paramore frontwoman and new solo artist has shared some thoughts on Warped Tour and the toxic misogyny of 2000s emo.
Williams has recently been promoting her new solo project, Petals for Armor, and in this lengthy new interview with journalist Eve Barlow, the singer appears comfortable enough to open up on a variety of topics in relation to her music and personal life. Such topics include her divorce, how it felt to be "the other woman" and her explanation of why her name is the only one on a contract with Atlantic records.
The whole interview is definitely worth a read (especially for all the bearded 20-something dudes who for some reason continue to try and give Williams advice on the Internet), but we'll highlight on the portion focused on emo for you.
Williams begins by recalling that before "Pressure," the band didn't have their sights set on being pop-punk stars.
"The first time we got offered Warped Tour [in 2005], I’d been waiting. Never attended, was too young, wasn’t allowed," she says. "The guys and I didn’t listen to pop punk before writing 'Pressure.' We listened to heavier stuff like Deftones. We wanted to be darker. Suddenly, we wrote 'Pressure,' and that was it — we were gonna write emo bops! Sick! I’m psyched that happened. But suddenly the type of attention we were getting was different. I did not know how toxic that world could be."
When asked if she meant Warped Tour, Williams clarified that it was the scene as a whole. She goes on to describe how being relegated to an all-female stage made her feel following the band's first Warped Tour offer.
"The pop-punk and emo scene in the early 2000s. It was brutally misogynistic. A lot of internalized sexism, and even when you were lucky enough to meet other bands who were kind and respectful, there was other shit that wasn’t. And I was really feisty," she said. "We got offered Warped tour, and there was a caveat: 'It’s a stage called the Shiragirl Stage. It’s all female.' I was pissed! I wanted to qualify for a real stage."
She then went on to explain why that was a point of contention for her.
"When I’ve been offered female opportunities, it feels like a backhanded compliment. But people sometimes think that’s anti-feminist, that I don’t wanna be grouped in with the girls. As a 16-year-old who had dreams of playing with the big boys, it felt like we were being slighted. That summer we went out, and I’ll never forget [it]. We played in Florida, and the stage was a truck that had a flatbed on it. It was so flimsy it would shake and fall apart. There might have been one other female in a band [on tour], and people were gawking. I don’t think in a pervy way. They were confused, like, What’s in this for me? What’s she singing about? I’m a guy — how do I relate?"
She goes on to talk about how it led her to stop using pronouns in her writing so guys could relate and recalls another year on Warped when fans threw condoms that they got from one of the tour's sponsors (Trojan) at her while she was performing.
She then brings up another moment on a different tour involving the band Straylight Run. Paramore toured with Straylight in 2005 along with the Plain White T's and Simple Plan.
Williams brings up a moment when a friend of Straylight made a comment about her "pussy" in front of her (reminder that she was a teenager at this time) and everyone else and she called the guy out.
"I can’t remember what this guy said because I saw red so fast, but he referred to my pussy. I was literally 16, about to turn 17," she says. "Everyone was laughing. No one paid fucking attention. I was like, 'Why do you think it’s cool to refer to my pussy?'”
Williams was hesitant to name Straylight Run because she said they were embarrassed about the situation.
"But John [Nolan from Taking Back Sunday] was so pissed. Once I spoke how I felt into existence, it was like I created a vacuum: Oh, yeah, that’s not okay," she said. "I was so much bolder when the opportunity arose for me to speak up for myself, because the Internet wasn’t what it is today. Only two years later, I became pretty silenced."
She also goes into detail about how she never wanted to be a solo artists (and still doesn't), the sexist response to the Farro brother's leaving the band and how she was made out to be a tyrant for it.
Hayley Williams is currently in the midst of promoting her solo album Petals for Armor, which is being released in three parts and will be out in full May 8.