In May, pop-rock group Paramore released After Laughter, their fifth studio album. The album takes listeners on a personal journey, with songs like Hard Times (“Hard times / Gonna take you down and laugh when you cry”), Fake Happy (“Don’t ask me how I’ve been / Don’t make me play pretend / What’s the use / I bet everybody here is fake happy too”), and 26 (“Hold onto hope if you got it / Don’t let it go for nobody”). The record is an ode to facing emotions and keeping dreams and hope close to your chest.
In a recent interview with The Fader, lead singer Hayley Williams opened up about her struggle with depression. Williams took a brief hiatus from the band in 2015 to focus on recovering and started seeing a therapist when her mental health took a turn for the worse.
The 28-year-old singer became preoccupied with death, and for the first time in her life “there wasn’t a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel”. She described her thoughts as feeling hopeless and wanting everything to stop but said it wasn’t in the sense of taking her own life.
“I don’t think I understood how dangerous hopelessness is,” said Williams.
Williams quit the band when she felt like she had “nothing left to say or sing”. She said she felt like there was something else in her life she was good at and maybe she just needed to go find it.
During this time, bandmate and guitarist Taylor York — who also has dealt with depression — reached out to her with demos of unfinished tracks and “the spark of creativity was like a life raft“. Williams credits After Laughter with keeping her alive.
In an interview with the New York Times, Carlos de la Garza, audio engineer for After Laughter, said, “There was a little bit of a dark side creeping in to Hayley’s psyche. Something was eating at her, and she was able to use a lot of that as fuel for lyrics.”
There has been recent research suggesting that “highly creative minds are at an increased risk for depression due to their insightful and highly empathetic worldview.” Artists, poets, and musicians may not necessarily all have depression, but are more prone to the illness.
On the other hand, art can be a form of therapy for depression because it is an “outlet for expressing feelings that aren’t easy to put into words“. Music therapy has even become a way for people to cope with depression by addressing the “physical, emotional, and social needs of an individual“.
If you or someone you know needs help. please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1800-273-8255, or log onto imalive.org.