Haim Eye of the Storm
Published Nov 28, 2013You will never hear Haim complain. As each sister passes the phone to the next, they describe their surroundings with absolute delight. "We're in New York right now for a VH1 concert, soaking up the sunshine," describes the eldest, Este Haim. "It's so beautiful out, it's great!" Her two younger sisters Danielle and Alana concur, one by one. In reality, it was a gusty and chilly ten degrees Celsius, a far cry from the actual sunny weather of their native Los Angeles.
Formed in 2005, the three daughters of two music-loving parents, Donna and Mordechai, have spent their entire lives gathering strains of influences new and old for themselves, performing in a family cover band with their parents called Rockinhaim and utilizing the better part of seven years focused solely on music.
"We've worked really hard, playing for free and for friends and now we're in New York playing with so many amazing artists," Este explains, hours before Haim take the stage alongside Lorde and Ed Sheeran. "I know it's a bit cliché, but it feels like we're dreaming a little and it's been pretty fucking nuts."
The dream came to fruition in September when they released their long-awaited debut full-length Days Are Gone. The product of, well, most of their lives of songwriting and recording, this collection of songs is a tenacious effort that weaves together classic '70s soft rock, folk, pop and seamless harmonies that girl groups past and present could only hope to achieve. It bears all the hallmarks of eras past, yet is neatly presented in a slick, new package unlike any of their contemporaries.
It whistles hooks, shreds riffs and barrels rhythms; some have deemed them "Destiny's Child meets Fleetwood Mac," which wouldn't be entirely off the mark, not that there's any need to repeat said phrase to the band ever again.
"One person said it and now everyone does," Alana laughs. "If someone told me there was a band that sounded like that, I'd be like, 'That's the weirdest band ever.' I'm not bothered by it; I just think it's so funny that, because of social media and the fact that everyone can see each other's reviews now, a lot of the writing comes out the same."
Alas, this has become the blessing and curse of Haim's success in the digital era, which has garnered them millions of YouTube hits and Twitter followers. (Alana was presented an NME award recently for best Twitter; "I guess people like puppies and nail art.") Although Este, Danielle and Alana are still very much online personalities, they have since sworn off reading their own reviews — too positive and you settle into a safe place; too negative and you'll want to "kill yourself," Alana asserts — but that doesn't mean their technologically-capable parents don't.
"My mom just got Facebook and it's really scary," Alana says. "She literally posts 40 things every ten minutes."
While the Haim parents proudly and compulsively track the band's glowing reviews, from topping BBC's Sound of 2013 poll to securing a "Best New Music" mention on Pitchfork, the band have been busy focusing on another manifestation of their growing fame: playing to swelling sold-out crowds.
"Touring's our favourite part and we're doing a headlining tour in the new year," Danielle shares; they've already shared stages with Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons and even Beyoncé. "We've opened for other people most of our careers so having your own headlining spot is crazy, to know that all those people are there to see you.
"It's embarrassing," she continues, as she gradually begins to choke up. "But it's still a little emotional when I hear everyone singing along to songs like 'The Wire.' It's one of the oldest songs we have and we've been playing it for so long, but no one knew the words and no one really gave a shit about the band, so to see people screaming the words back is really insane."
Even though the foreseeable months in Haim's future consist of tour dates around the world, Este reveals that the band have already started working on album number two, adding that in an ideal world, "we'd put out a record almost every year; we want to keep putting out records for as long as we can."
"We write every day and we're always trying to grow as songwriters so it's still going to be Haim songs, but it's going to be Haim 2.0," Este assures. "It's hard not to write when we're always on the road and we're seeing different places, meeting amazing people and hearing amazing stories. Touring has been so much fun."
That's a statement that is repeated by each Haim sister and by the time Alana reaches for the phone to discuss her ultimate goal of obtaining a confetti canon ("That's when I'll know we're doing some good shit,"), she's informed of her identical responses.
"Oh did they say that, too? We're sisters, we actually think alike."