Paramore 'Hard Times' Video Director Talks Building an '80s 'Dream World'

Courtesy of Fueled by Ramen
Paramore in the video for "Hard Times."

If you're going for an early '80s vibe in your video you might as well dive ub and pay homage to as many classic early-era MTV clips as you can. Which is exactly what Paramore and video director Andrew Joffe did in the candy-colored, totally tubular clip for the band's brand-new single, "Hard Times."

"Paramore are super-creative people, and they had it in their mind in the brief they gave us that they wanted to embody some kind of '80s vibe, but not do a total throwback video," says Joffe, who directed the video alongside his cousin, Matt. "They sent us a bunch of good references -- INXS videos, definitely A-Ha's 'Take on Me' and Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer.' So we looked to the greats and said, 'How do we do something like this and not riff too hard?'" 

The results totally nailed it. In conjunction with the poppy track's breezy island vibe -- which already has a whiff of '80s bands like Fun Boy Three and Bananarama -- the clip makes use of the kind of hand-drawn rotoscoping animation effects made famous in "Take on Me," and deploys a color palette straight out of Weird Science and Square Pegs.

With the buzzed-about return of drummer Zac Farro more than six years after he split with the group, Joffe says he knew he wanted the video to have a performance aspect so he could capture the reunited trio's energy.

"In the opening shot I just wanted to figure out a way to bring the audience into this dream world and use a lot of the visuals to represent different elements of Hayley's psyche in the song," he explains of the establishing shot in which singer Hayley Williams crashes a car with a neon "Hard Times" logo on the windshield, emerging into a world populated by electric puffy clouds. "I wanted to visualize some of the [lyrical] elements, specifically where she talks about having a rain cloud over her head... we didn't want to be afraid to be too literal."

Another big reference point the brothers mentioned was The Truman Show, the beloved 1998 Jim Carrey science fiction comedy about being an unwitting reality TV star -- which inspired the concept of Williams and the boys being lost in a fantasy world. "Except in the movie he's on his way out, and she's on her way in," says Matt.

For the squiggly animated effects, the brothers turned to Portland-based married couple Computer Team, who've worked their magic in videos for Reggie Watts, and Young the Giant's "Something to Believe In." Shot at Optimist Studios over two days in March, Matt says Computer Team had the perfect look to enhance the live soundstage performance footage: "Building on the references from INXS' 'What You Need,' we wanted to put tons of animation on the footage using an old-school technique... we wanted someone who was good at drawing on top of footage, and that’s their thing." 

The brothers had plenty of help in bottling the Reagan-era vibe from Hayley and the band as well. One of Williams' best friends, GoodDyeYoung partner Brian O'Connor, came up with the bright, oval eye makeup she rocks under her Wayfarer sunglasses to contrast the singer's monochromatic outfits. But it was Williams' good friend and the video's wardrobe designer who picked out her oddest accessory.

"He picks things for people they might not pick for themselves, and we were about to shoot a scene and Hayley walked up and was like, 'What about this?'" Andrew says of the for-no-good-reason white leather backpack Hayley rocks in half the scenes. "That's what was so fun about this -- nothing had to make sense."

Paramore's fifth album, After Laughter, is due out on May 12.