Concern Over Sexist Comments Is Why Paramore’s Hayley Williams Doesn’t ‘Dare’ Play Guitar Live
Paramore's Hayley Williams plays the guitar, though it's not something you often see her do live. During a recent chat with the members of Wet Leg on The Face podcast, she revealed why she's been reluctant to play guitar live, chalking it up to the commentary, some of it sexist, that would eventually result online.
Williams joined Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers for a chat, when the discussion turned to being female musicians in guitar-led music.
Teasdale offered, “I think for us one of the hardest or most irritating things about being women is probably just the stupid comments on the internet like, ‘Oh she’s holding that guitar but she’s not actually playing it.' Like, for example, when I am just not using my guitar but then I need to play it in the chorus or something, there will always be a comment being like, ‘Girls shouldn’t play guitar, women shouldn’t play guitar,’ and it’s just like… it’s so dated but it’s still there! And I just hate it so much. It’s so frustrating.”
Williams then chimed in, “I know those people so well, and I don’t even play guitar onstage. I don’t even dare, because I love to play guitar but I don’t know if I could handle… man. I feel you so hard."
“I just hate that people even need to point it out,” she continued. “I don’t even really think about my gender at all, when we play the music especially. It’s just not part of the picture. I’m trying to lean into femininity and empower that part of myself more in this era of my career, but do you ever get on stage and feel ‘other’? You feel like this alien thing that’s powerful and beautiful.”
Later in the discussion, Williams admitted her own insecurity playing guitar in front of others. She recalled, "When I made the second solo record, just kind of by myself, and I had a friend engineer it for me, I played all that stuff and I felt so free to do it cause no one was watching. I was just at home and felt really creative and was like, 'Fuck, I'm kind of nailing it right now.' But if there had been anyone else in the room, maybe my bandmates would've been fine, but if there had been anyone else in the room I would have thought too much about it and I wouldn't have been able to write those parts and certainly execute them, because of that thing you're saying. As soon as you're aware that someone is perceiving you, and someone's gonna say some shit just because they love to hear their own voice, it kind of scares me back into myself."
The singer recalled breaking out the guitar for a "Tiny Desk" performance, explaining, "What little guitar, I played for that, I was like, 'Oh god. It's gonna happen. I'm going to see those comments.'"