During a craniosacral massage, as Hayley lay on her back, she had a vision of flowers growing out of her, grotesque and painful. When she came to, she found the masseuse had laid petals on her. She knew that it meant she had growing to do, and it would hurt, but it would also be beautiful. Hayley told this story and more in an interview in February with Zane Lowe on Apple Music about her new solo project, Petals For Armor.
Depression, she told him, was often a mask for other feelings. After years of bottling emotions up and suppressing darkness and anger, it was time to release everything. She began intensive therapy – alone, this time – and started to explore her relationships with her family. It was evident that her early experiences had left their mark in adulthood. She spoke with her mother about why Hayley’s dad and her had split up. With that knowledge, maybe she could understand more about why she desperately needed others in the way she did. “I’ve been trying to keep my family together ever since then, vicariously, through this band,” she told l’Odet of her parents’ split.
This is the Hayley who is learning to stand alone. In the furious DNA of the Petals To Armor music, there is also a glimpse of hope. There’s hope of eventual comfort without a romantic relationship, without tying herself to the raft of a family structure. “Now that I’m taking account of all these feelings, and I’m feeling all of them, there’s this beautiful rainbow versus just the deep end,” she told Zane Lowe.
From the depths of those dark years, there is a version of Hayley now being reborn. On the Petals To Armor album artwork, the singer holds her hand near her mouth, so the black squares of ink that she had tattooed over her ex-husband’s name on her fingers lead to a spiralling branch of squares painted on her face. They look like dark petals in the shape of a question mark, or a path to something else.
From the clay and the earth comes something feminine and beautiful, something real – nature’s way of saying that there’s still no-one else quite like Hayley Williams.
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