Paramore's Hayley Williams isn't buying into today's "rose-tinted" nostalgia for the noughties emo scene: “It was an alternative scene for a reason – it was weird.”

Paramore's Hayley Williams
(Image credit: Aaron J. Thornton/WireImage)

Paramore's Hayley Williams has opened up about her complicated relationship with the noughties emo scene, saying it was a “weird” world where certain people “didn’t feel welcome.”

Williams believes that people tend to look back on the era with “rose tinted glasses”.

In a recent interview with NME to promote Paramore’s just-released sixth studio album, This Is Why, the frontwoman noted how her foundational years as part of the early noughties emo and pop-punk community was tarnished by its non-inclusive culture.

“It’s revisionist history on a less heavy topic,” Williams notes. “People look back with these rose-tinted glasses. They talk about the good and forget the rest. It was an alternative scene for a reason – it was weird.”

Speaking of why the scene often viewed women in a derogatory way, she continues, “Those kids were bullied, that’s why so many guys in those bands wrote shitty songs about ex-girlfriends. I just get angry about the injustice of a bunch of people who were bullied, essentially creating a world where other people didn’t feel welcome.”

In spite of her uneasy relationship with the scene that her band grew up in, Williams reveals that This Is Why track Crave explores her desire to relive the band’s early years.

“When the guys showed me Crave I was pumped because we haven’t had anything that sonically felt like that in a really long time” she says. “We don’t like to give too much credit to nostalgia, we like to move forward. But with the music, you couldn’t escape that feeling. I was just thinking about why I always miss the moment that I’m in because I’m too worried about when it’s going to be over.”

Williams previously spoke of her own negative experiences as part of the emo community, revealing last month to Billboard that NOFX’s Fat Mike allegedly made sexually-inappropriate comments about her, while adding that the misogynistic culture at the time encouraged this kind of behaviour.

“Everyone’s just trying to remember better days, and I’m sitting there like, They weren’t that much better; the singer said. “We don’t want to be a nostalgia band. But I think what I felt was a mixture of vindication and also a lot of anger. I was really surprised that I had so much anger well up in me because I was like, Wait a minute. They’re treating us like a prize now, but like, Fat Mike used to tell people that I gave good rim jobs onstage when I was 19 years old.

“I do not think that that’s punk. I don’t think that’s the essence of punk. And I feel strongly that without young women, people of colour and also the queer community, I just think we would still be where we were then.”

Williams comments arrive following the rejuvenated interest in emo and pop-punk music, following last year's Las Vegas-based When We Were Young Festival which Paramore headline alongside My Chemical Romance.

The frontwoman also addressed her views in an open letter ahead of the festival, which was described as “an epic line-up of emo and rock bands from the past two decades”.

Her letter read: 'To grow up in this scene was not a simple thing. To be celebrating it (and to be celebrated by it) is not a simple thing. Nothing about this life – for you, me, or anyone – is simple...

'What I did know was that for every ‘Take off your top!’ or snarky punkzine review… For every dramatic headline pinned on my name, or any season of self-doubt… No one was going to define Paramore but Paramore'

Paramore’s This Is Why album is out now.

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.