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When the Tennessee band Paramore first started out, its music was considered "emo": a melodic variant of punk rock, known to inspire hourslong debates about which bands do and don't fit the description. Weekend Edition Sunday asked Paramore's orange-haired frontwoman, Hayley Williams, how she defines the term.
"Emo really stands for emotion," Williams says. "When someone calls Paramore emo, I take it as a compliment. I don't think there's anything wrong with writing songs that are emotional."
Paramore, which also includes Taylor York and Jeremy Davis, is about to release its self-titled fourth album. The band formed in 2004 while the members were in high school.
"There were definitely days that I was like, 'Am I doing the right thing?' But then you kind of look over at your friends and realize there's probably a million kids that are sitting at school, wishing they were doing what you're doing," Williams says.
"I don't really feel like I need to say anything about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," she adds. "I don't need to swear. And I'm not saying that I'm a perfect angel, but I think it would feel very disingenuous — like, 'This is me trying to be cool. Maybe we'll grab a couple older fans if I just put this swear word in.' I want to talk about normal life problems."