Hayley Williams of Paramore said that most of the time she doesn’t “dare” play guitar live because she knows it will lead to a deluge of sexist comments.
The conversation came with Wet Leg’s Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers on Spotify’s Face to Face podcast. “I think for us one of the hardest or most irritating things about being women is probably just stupid, stupid comments on the internet,” Teasdale said. “Like, ‘Oh she’s holding that guitar but she’s not actually playing it.’ When, for example, 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 like, ‘Girls shouldn’t play guitar, women shouldn’t play guitar,’ and it’s just — it’s so dated but it’s still there! And I just hate it so much and it’s so frustrating.”
“I know those people so well, and I don’t even play guitar onstage,” Williams replied. “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 really think about my gender at all, when we play 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?”
“Yes — oh,” Chambers said. “Before you said ‘powerful and beautiful,’ I was like, ‘I do feel like an alien.”
Williams also remembered that “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, ‘Oh, 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 not execute them, because of that thing you’re saying. As soon as you’re aware that someone is perceiving you, and someone’s gonna probably say some shit just because they love to hear their own voice, it kind of scares me back into myself.”