In the year since Jane Casey last met the Haim sisters, they’ve gone stellar with a critically acclaimed album and a sold-out world tour. Here they chat with Jane about the trip to fame, how much they love their lesbian fanbase, and what it was like meeting their ultimate icon, Prince.
It’s almost a year since I first met and interviewed rock’s coolest sisters, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim. Since then they’ve had a critically acclaimed debut album, a Brit Award nomination and have been on a sold-out world tour, and they’re back in Dublin again for a show at The Olympia. Before we meet again, I’m wondering if the success last ten months might have gone to their heads a little bit. The answer is obvious from the get go.
“Hey guuurl!” eldest sister Este shouts, and goes straight in for a bear hug. Middle sister Danielle and baby Alana are quick to follow, as they both tease me about the new iPad I’ve brought to record them on. “Oh, look at you, all professional!”
It’s obvious that Haim are keeping a level head, despite the fame. Maybe it’s because they have barely had a minute to take it in. “We’re on the home stretch! Tail end of the tour,” Este, the unpredictable one, exclaims, throwing her arms in the air in mock celebration. Danielle, the brooding lead singer and guitarist, explains their hectic touring schedule: “We started at Whelan’s last May. Since then, we have had about three weeks off in total.”
All three shy away from praise and are endearingly modest. When I state the obvious about their incredible first album, Days Are Gone, they all get bashful. “Aw, well as long as you, like it,” says Este. Alana shrugs. “We’re trying!”
Danielle remembers her different expectations last year. “I think it was when we were at Whelan’s when our promoter said, ‘maybe you’ll get to the Olympia… we’re hoping.’ I was thinking, ‘Wow… imagine that.’”
When I ask the girls how they are handling both guys and girls throwing themselves at them now that they are fully-fledged rock stars, there’s more bashfulness. “No one is throwing themselves at us,” says Este. They appear genuinely surprised when I tell them about their huge lesbian fanbase in Ireland. “Really? Awesome!” they say in unison.
“Actually, I get a lot more lady love, which I am totally down with,” says Alana. “I’m all about the ladies.”
Did she just wink at me?
“I don’t know if you have noticed, but we are all about the ladies in this band,” adds Este. “We’re all about girl power.”
Highly anticipated is an understatement when it came to the buzz around the release of their debut album last September. The band have topped every music blog and magazine’s best albums list in the following months, and even picked up the aforementioned Brit award nod.
Danielle recounts their shared highlight from the Brits 2014. “I will never forget that moment. The ceremony was just starting. What you need to know about the Brits is that it’s like a big wedding, with the big round tables where not everyone knows each other – it’s a little awkward, but exciting. The lights go down and out of the corner of my eye I see this man with a ‘fro. He’s getting closer and closer. I grab Este’s leg…”
Danielle wallops the couch for emphasis and Este takes over. “It was fucking Prince!” she exclaims. “Danielle was holding my leg, half because she was so excited, but also she was holding it down. Because, I swear, I was rising. I was so close to pouncing!”
Alana jokes, “I swear, he’s lucky because if Este was any closer he wouldn’t have made it to the stage. He would have been presenting with half an afro!” She and her siblings, each of them a longtime Prince obsessive, agree that the man from Paisley Park would have rocked the look anyway.
The girls were bred on an eclectic diet music (they had a covers band with their parents when they were children called Rockenhaim) in the San Fernando valley. They are all multi-instrumentalists, but although their positions became somewhat interchangeable on the album, some roles were set in stone.
“Danielle played drums on every song,” a proud Este says of her little sister, but is quick to add, “I think we are all frustrated drummers. If we could have it our way, I think our band would just be drum-core, or like a marching band.”
It’s almost impossible to pinpoint Haim’s exact sound. Often described as ‘Fleetwood Mac’ meets ‘Destiny’s Child’, they appeal to music snobs and pop fans alike. Once an indie gem, the band have since crossed over to the pop charts with the release of their single ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’.
The girls stepped out of their comfort zone with the attendant music video, and traded their guitars for retro dance moves – five million views later, it’s a gamble that paid off.
“We knew we wanted to do a dancing video, but we weren’t going to choreograph it ourselves,” says Danielle. They enlisted veteran ’90s choreographer Fatima Robinson (Aaliyah, Backstreet Boys) to create the perfect routine. The girls confess that even with a world class mentor, it was challenging to say the least.
“Honestly I don’t know how they did it in the ’90s!” Alana exclaims. ‘We practiced for three days. We had it completely down in front of the mirror and the second the camera was on everything went out the window. There isn’t one full take of us doing it perfectly. Thank God for editing!”
From chatting to the girls, it’s easy to see that what drives the band forward isn’t their thirst for recognition or glory, but their genuine love of music and the support from their fiercely loyal fan base. They don’t like the word ‘fans’ though, but rather ‘friends’ – who they say they try to maintain one on one connections with.
But how personable can you be when you haven’t had a proper sleep in almost a year? Is it all just lip service?
“No! Keep asking questions,” Este complains as the interview is cut short by their record company publicist. The girls are to hit the stage in an hour, and have yet to put on make- up. “Come back after the show though, right?” says Danielle. Before I have a chance to reply, she has her phone out, “I’m just texting my tour manager to let him know you’re hanging out with us later.”
Haim play Longitude Festival in Marlay Park this July 18 to 20
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