When the Tennessee band Paramore first started out, their music was considered emo - think melodic punk-rock.


PARAMORE: (Singing) I'm sitting all alone, feeling empty. I can feel the pressure.

MARTIN: Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame doesn't think much of emo music. In 2004, he wrote a column for the New York Times, and called emo - quote, "whiny." We asked Paramore's orange-haired front woman Hayley Williams how she defines the term.

HAYLEY WILLIAMS: Emo really stands for emotional. When someone calls Paramore emo, I kind of take it as a compliment 'cause I don't think that there's anything wrong with writing songs that are emotional.

MARTIN: Paramore, which also includes Taylor York and Jeremy Davis, is about to release its fourth album - the band formed in 2004 when they were in high school.

WILLIAMS: I went straight from high school to doing high school in the back of a 12-passenger. 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 you realize there's probably a million kids that are sitting at school wishing that they were doing what you're doing.


PARAMORE: (Singing) I told them all to stick it, I left town with a dime to my name. Said I'm done with all of my fake friends, self-righteous pawns in a losing game. Got my band and a light that won't go out, been burning since the day I was born. So I cry just a little, then I'll dry my eyes 'cause I'm not a little girl no more...

WILLIAMS: I don't really feel like I need to say anything about sex, drugs and rock and roll. 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. I would feel like this is me trying to be cool right now. Maybe we'll grab a couple of older fans if I just put this swear word in, or... I want to talk about normal life problems and things that I feel and that I see.


PARAMORE: (Singing) And I hate to see your heart break, I hate to see your eyes get darker as they close, but I've been there before...

WILLIAMS: The live show, we literally come off stage an hour and a half later, like, just sore, just hurting 'cause we put everything into it.


WILLIAMS: I learned really early on that I have to keep the mike to my mouth or else when I'm headbanging and thrashing around, you just lose my voice.


WILLIAMS: (Singing) Why do you care what people think, are you hooked up to their leash, you know, anklebiters...

The way that our fans give back to us, it just has everything to do with the kind of songs that we want to write. People just enjoy singing along to catchy melodies, and so do we, and that's why we want to be that kind of band.


PARAMORE: (Singing) Don't go crying to your mama...

MARTIN: Paramore's self-titled album is out Tuesday. To hear how the group's religious beliefs plays into their music, go to nprmusic.org.


PARAMORE: (Singing) Ain't it fun, ain't it fun, ain't it fun. Ain't it fun?

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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