While Paramore‘s fifth and most recent studio album After Laughter is, on the surface, a sonic rainbow of modernized new wave, further inspection of the lyrics prove that it’s often far from cheery. Just a year after its release, frontwoman Hayley Williams got candid about her “life with After Laughter” and struggles with mental health in a personal essay for PAPER published Wednesday (May 30).
“In the summer of 2015, I was an engaged, yellow-haired 26-year-old,” Williams opened the essay. “There was a Grammy sitting on my kitchen counter and boxes everywhere from the move I’d made back home to Nashville after a few weird years in LA. I was going to get married that September, slow down some, plant a garden, have a kid, make another Paramore record. Everything was finally going to be perfect and I was going to live happily ever afte– Oh.”
Dedicated fans might already be familiar with the whirlwind of events that followed, which Williams described feeling like a piano falling through her ceiling and crashing on top of her. Williams’ failed marriage to New Found Glory frontman Chad Gilbert and the surprise departure of longtime bandmate Jeremy Davis helped bring out a darker version of Williams, who wrote music that sounded “like someone dead in the eyes.”
“I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t laugh… for a long time,” Williams explained. “I’m still hesitant to call it depression. Mostly out of fear people will put it in a headline, as if depression is unique and interesting and deserves a click. Psychology is interesting. Depression is torment.”
But just like the weather faux-forecasted in Paramore’s satirical “Rose-Colored Boy” video, it appears life is feeling a bit sunnier for Williams lately, and she credits the songwriting process for keeping her alive.
“Expression is survival,” she demanded. “You can do it however you please. Write, draw, create something with your hands. Tell somebody you love them. Take a drive, roll down your windows and yell something like, ‘MY LIFE IS SO SHIT RIGHT NOW!’ Or, ‘WHAT DO YOU KNOW? I’M ACTUALLY FINE TODAY!’ These are just things to try if the crying and dancing doesn’t work.”