Paramore's Hayley Williams Recalls NOFX's Fat Mike Making Lewd Comments About Her on Stage

"They're treating us like a prize now, but like, Fat Mike used to tell people that I gave good rim jobs onstage when I was 19 years old"

Photo: Hayley Williams by Zac Farro (left), Fat Mike by Stuart Sevastos (right)

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jan 23, 2023

Despite launching a podcast called Everything Is Emo, Paramore bandleader Hayley Williams has some hesitation about the intense wave of millennial nostalgia for the scene she quite literally grew up in.

Williams doesn't remember the Warped Tour days of yore with the same rose-coloured glasses, recalling the misogyny she experienced in the band's new Billboard cover story — including NOFX's Fat Mike making lewd comments about her onstage.

"Everyone's just trying to remember better days, and I'm sitting there like, 'They weren't that much better,'" Williams told the publication's Christine Werthman.

These are thoughts she felt the need to articulate during Paramore's headlining set at the inaugural When We Were Young festival in Las Vegas last October (where they played "All I Wanted" live for the first time), reminding the crowd that the pop-punk and emo scene wasn't exactly a safe place "if you were different, if you were a young woman, if you were a person of colour, if you were queer — and that's really fucked up if you think about it, because this was supposed to be the safe place, wasn't it?"

Williams noted, "We don't want to be a nostalgia band," reflecting on that speech. "But I think what I felt was a mixture of vindication and also a lot of anger," she admitted. "I was really surprised that I had so much anger well up in me because I was like, 'Wait a minute. They're treating us like a prize now,' but like, Fat Mike used to tell people that I gave good rim jobs onstage when I was 19 years old."

"I do not think that that's punk. I don't think that's the essence of punk," she said, condemning the way she and anyone else who wasn't a cisgender heterosexual white man was treated. "And I feel strongly that without young women, people of colour and also the queer community, I just think we would still be where we were then."

While it brought up these painful reminders, Williams also found it cathartic to play a festival with all of Paramore's peers from when they started cutting their teeth in the mid-2000s. "It felt like justification to be able to have the mic and to be one of the last bands that played," she affirmed, adding that it was particularly special to share the stage with My Chemical Romance.

"We hung out with My Chem a few minutes before we went on [on] the last weekend, and I think they feel very similarly about how they were received," the singer-songwriter said. "And what it comes down to is that the fans are the ones with the power because otherwise, us and My Chem wouldn't have been headlining that thing. And I think that's beautiful."

And the undying flame of Paramore supporters seems to be burning brighter than ever as the now-trio gear up to release new album This Is Why next month. The band will then embark on a massive North American tour, and are likewise just as fired up about making their shows a safe place for everyone — no fightin'!

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