LA sis­ter act Haim are com­ing to town,

As the chil­dren of wannabe rock-stars, Haim were al­ways des­tined to make mu­sic. “Our par­ents didn’t wave us off to col­lege; they waved us off to a rock band,” they tell Brian Boyd

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FRONT PAGE -

Wel­come to the Haim house­hold. You dry the dishes to Sis­ter Sledge, do your home­work to Joni Mitchell and wake up to Mo­town or The Bea­tles. There’s even room for Mariah Carey and Des­tiny’s Child.

“It was just your won­der­ful Cal­i­for­nian lib­eral-arts up­bring­ing,” said Haim, as they sat in their Dublin dress­ing room wolf­ing down Doritos ahead of an ap­pear­ance with Florence and the Ma­chine ear­lier this year. “Mu­sic was a part of our daily rou­tine – like brush­ing your teeth. When we were older, our par­ents didn’t wave us off to col­lege; they waved us off to a rock band.”

The three sis­ters – Este (24), Danielle (22) and Alana (19) – are quoted as a col­lec­tive voice dur­ing this in­ter­view for the sake of clar­ity. Spend any time in their pres­ence and you’ll find that one sis­ter starts to an­swer a ques­tion, an­other takes over mid­way through and an­other pro­vides the con­clu­sion.

Haim (rhymes with “time”) are the bright­est and best gui­tar band to emerge in a long time. Win­ners of this year’s pres­ti­gious BBC Sound Of poll (past win­ners in­clude Adele, Jesse J and El­lie Gould­ing), they are cur­rently gear­ing up for the re­lease of their de­but al­bum but drop by to play Whe­lan’s in Dublin to­mor­row night.

What’s clear on first lis­ten­ing to Haim (and, if you havn’t al­ready, do check out their For­ever EP) is how well they can play. All multi-in­stru­men­tal­ists, even at their still-young age they’re rel­a­tive vet­er­ans. “There were al­ways in­stru­ments ly­ing around the house, so we’ve been play­ing for­ever. Our mom taught us how to play gui­tar by show­ing us Joni Mitchell songs. I think she re­ally wanted to be Joni Mitchell, but that didn’t quite work out for her.”

In true Par­tridge Fam­ily-style, it was Mr and Mrs Haim who first en­listed them in a rock band. Rock­in­haim were a five-piece band who toured around Cal­i­for­nia mainly play­ing cov­ers. “Our par­ents are just to­tally frus­trated rock stars, so when their first band broke up they just thought ‘why don’t we start a band with the kids?’. We would have been young teenagers at this point and we never thought there was any­thing weird about be­ing in a gig­ging band with your par­ents.

“But as we got a bit older and had more friends, the reaction from them would ei­ther be ‘that’s so sad be­ing in a band with your par­ents’ or ‘I can’t be­lieve your folks en­cour­age you to play rock mu­sic, mine are such squares’ – and it split pretty evenly be­tween those two opin­ions.”

There comes a time in ev­ery child’s life, though, when they must look their par­ents in the eye and say “I no longer want to trade gui­tar so­los with you on stage”, so the par­ents were del­i­cately fired and the sis­ters set about writ­ing their own ma­te­rial.

What peo­ple are mostly pick­ing up from the al­ready dis­tinc­tive Haim sound is how, al­though they are a gui­tar-rock band, they meld con­tem­po­rary r’n’b flour­ishes into their sound. “We have that sort of sound be­cause we grew up lis­ten­ing to as much TLC as Tom Petty. The other thing is that the three of us are all drum­mers, so we love the per­cus­sive melodies of r’n’b. Hav­ing said that, we still get peo­ple think­ing we’re hip­pies be­cause we have long hair.”

Be­ing a pre­dom­i­nantly fe­male rock band is still an is­sue, they find. “You are at a dis­ad­van­tage; we hate to say it but it’s true. You still get dudes out there sur­prised that girls are play­ing their beloved rock mu­sic. We never wanted to be the ‘cutesy’ girls play­ing rock gui­tar. We’d look more to Patti Smith or Chrissie Hynde as per­fect role mod­els.”

The fam­ily thing works out sur­pris­ingly well for them. “Yes, we bicker non-stop. When you’re sis­ters you al­ways bicker. But we are weirdly close at the same time, so close in fact that peo­ple can get a bit freaked out by it. Some- times we’ll be hang­ing with our own friends, but then we’ll be on the phone to one an­other go­ing ‘Where are you now? I want to hang with you.’ The only real rows we’ve had on the Florence tour so far are of the ‘Why didn’t you ask me if you could bor­row my shirt?’ type, but they’re man­age­able.”

The buzz around them and their non-stop tour­ing has meant that the de­but al­bum (which should have been out by now) won’t be re­leased un­til June or July.

“We just kept on tour­ing when we re­ally should have been in the stu­dio; we got the Mum­ford and Sons tour and just kept go­ing. With the al­bum, what we’re find­ing is that we’re try­ing to keep what we’ve al­ready done but still move it for­ward. Be­cause ev­ery­thing is hap­pen­ing so fast at the mo­ment, we’re very aware of not let­ting peo­ple down when it comes to de­liv­er­ing the al­bum. It will sound like a live band play­ing but there’s some drum ma­chines in there also – be­cause we love our drum ma­chines. It will be a mix of live and stu­dio.”

They were im­pressed by how demo­cratic they kept it in the stu­dio. “We have our in­di­vid­ual fortes, one of us is bet­ter at ar­rang­ing the back­ing vo­cals, one is bet­ter at melody and one at rhyth­mic ideas. We just jam it out from there un­til the songs ar­rive.

“Af­ter all, this is what we’ve been do­ing for all of our lives . . .”.

Haim play Whe­lan’s, Dublin, to­mor­row night




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