Hayley Williams of Paramore said joining rapper B.o.B on the hip-hop groove "Airplanes" helped her band realize they needed to take more chances.
The monster jam sold more than 4 million tracks and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2011. Williams said the song's success came at a perfect time: Two of the members of Paramore left the group, and the newly formed trio began work on their fourth album and wanted to expand beyond their signature punk-rock sound.
"Our fans were so into it, I felt like (B.o.B's) fans were into it and ... I just realized it's good to take risks," the bright-haired 24-year-old singer said in a recent interview. "And I think that (it) kind of really fell into place at the right time because when it came time to write this record, it was all about taking risks and following what we wanted to do versus what maybe people would have expected us to do."
There are elements of funk and pop throughout "Paramore," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart last week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. There's the current single "Still Into You," which Williams first "thought was too poppy." The tune "Ain't It Fun" even features a gospel choir.
"We had a lot of fun experimenting with things that we've never been able to do (before)," bassist Jeremy Davis said.
"We've never tried to kind of branch out and do things that didn't adhere to just drums and bass and guitar and keys," guitarist Taylor York added.
The Nashville-based group moved to the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles to record the album, which they named after the band because "we feel more like a unit than we ever did before," York said.
"This is the record we want people to see as Paramore," he added. "We wanted to make that statement."
The Grammy-nominated rockers launched their debut, "All We Know Is Falling," in 2005. Their breakthrough album came two years later with the platinum seller "Riot!" It earned them a Grammy nomination for best new artist.
But in December 2010, brothers Josh and Zac Farro announced that they were leaving the group. Williams said it was tough when the band first started creating new music because of all the changes.
"The first two months were hard ... we were all trying to figure out like, 'How does this work?'" she recalled. "It was a little scary to get going."
But with the help of producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Williams believes now the group is most confident. They're launching an international tour that includes a sold-out show May 9 at the Chicago Theatre, and she said the result of downsizing "kind of feels like we started a new band."
"We wouldn't have made this album when there were five of us," Williams said. "As a five-piece band we weren't in a very healthy place as people, together or individually as well. And the three of us are at a point now where we know; when we look at each other, we know that each of us wants to be here."