REPORTER Andrew Trendell talks to Alana from Haim ahead of their show at The Bodega Social in Nottingham.
Being one of the most hyped about bands on the planet can be challenging – let alone being on the road with your sisters all. But for family band Haim, they say it’s all that they know, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
AT: Hi Alana. How are you enjoying this grey and overcast British day?
AH: I love England. It’s actually not that overcast where I am. There are no clouds in the sky and I think the sun might be out. I’ve got blue skies – you need to come to London. You are missing a beautiful day. In California it’s always sunny – we never have a winter or a fall, just sun. That might sound amazing but it’s always nice to bundle up and wear actual winter clothes.
You guys have got such a sunny sound. Do you think that British people have taken you to you so well because it’s a form of escapism for us?
Being from California definitely inspires our music. Danielle used to live by the beach, and that’s where the majority of our songs were written. We’d wake up and ride bikes and sit in the sand so our sound is definitely inspired by California living and I hope the British audience like that. Apparently we’re the sunniest band in the business and I hope we bring smiles to everyone’s faces.
Obviously you guys just make the noise that comes naturally to you, which seems to blend a lot of West Coast rock with R n’ B and hip hop beats and melodies, but that sort of thing leads journalists to get pretty carried away. What’s the dumbest invented genre you’ve ever heard applied to you?
What people have mainly been saying is that we’re folk mixed with R n’ B. I mean, I love folk music and I grew up on Joni Mitchell and stuff like that but we’re not really that folky – at least I don’t see it. I guess people just say that because we have really long hair and that automatically just makes us folk? We love 90s R n’ B and that runs through our veins so that’s totally valid but I don’t know what we’re mixed with. Rock I guess, but ‘rock’ sounds so weird, like we’re Creed or something.
It takes a lot of bands a long time to even make a ripple – but you guys were making huge waves here in the UK before you’d even dropped one EP. How does that feel and do you feel it’s because of something you as a band have done or maybe we were waiting for you?
Oh, you were always waiting for me! No but, before the Forever EP we had recorded about five or six EPs but the reason we never released any is because we always hated them. We couldn’t listen to a song without cringing. That’s not to say that they were bad, they just weren’t what we wanted to hear. It just wasn’t fresh or new and there was nothing punchy about it. We’d been a band for almost six years and we’ve always said we’d put out quality not quantity. The Forever EP was just the first one that we could listen to all of the way through and that’s really because we met the producer Ludwig Goransson who is a TV composer. He did the music for New Girl, but he loves to do hip-hop on the side. He was the first one that looked at our music as more R n’ B and hip-hop rather than just Creed-rock. Creed I guess would be the theme of this conversation, but I love Creed! Don’t get me wrong.
You guys seem to win crowds over pretty effortlessly. Does that come from being such a seasoned support act?
We grew up playing on stage. I was in a family band with my parents since I was four, so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t on stage. Being on stage is just our home. We love to win over crowds because everyone knows that when they see three girls walking on stage, they’re like ‘oh this is going to suck, why did we come early?’ We get it all the time so we love to be a force to be reckoned with and show other girls that they don’t have to be cutesy. You can play like a boy and just be really good. We make really funny faces on stage, so we are definitely not cutesy. That just happens naturally.
Playing with your folks and then playing with your sisters – that’s quite an intense and tight knit relationship. Would you say that playing with family members has shaped you as a musician and songwriter in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if you just hooked up with some friends instead?
Oh, definitely. We’ve been playing together for so long that nothing surprises us. People keep asking if it’s hard to be in a band with your sisters but it is honestly the most amazing experience. We trust each other as musicians because we’ve put so much work into our craft after playing for years. Our parents were our biggest role models. They were amazing musicians and inspired us to be the best that we could be. They completely supported us and never said ‘you have be a doctor or a scientist or go to college’ and told us to go for music but never take it as a hobby or be lazy. Our parents really instilled a hard work ethic in us and that’s why we’re so good live.
It also seems like it was just pure fun for you. You see a lot of support bands just going through the motions like it was a day job. Could you ever imagine feeling that way?
No – I’m so lucky that I get to go on stage with amazing bands and play with amazing people. It’s a dream. We see a lot of bands who always want to get messed up after a show and go to a club and stay out all night. That’s not what we’re here to do. If we did that then we wouldn’t survive. If we drank and partied all of the time then the people that paid for a ticket the next day would get a hungover Haim and that’s not fair – no one likes a hungover Haim! We have fun onstage and that’s all of the fun that we need. We don’t need to be crazy rockstars and drink our lives away because our job is our drug and there really is nothing like it.