ACL Interview: Haim
‘Oh my God, Lionel Richie? I’m going to cry.’
By Abby Johnston, 11:30AM, Thu. Oct. 3
Two weeks before the release of Days Are Gone, L.A. neo-New Wave trio Haim’s much anticipated debut album, we jumped on the line with 21-year-old multi-instrumentalist Alana Haim. The band was hanging in London that day, looking forward to an upcoming European tour with Phoenix and Saturday’s Haim Homie Day at ACL.
Austin Chronicle: If you had to sum up Days Are Gone in terms of musical influence, who would you cite?
Alana Haim: You can’t really pinpoint one musical influence, because all of the songs are from different periods of our band. The oldest song on the record is from 2008. We also have new songs that we wrote six months ago, so there’s this epic musical journey through our band. We’ve been a band for so long, so we kind of took our favorites through the years and put it all on this record. The past six years have been an influence.
AC: How did the tour with Phoenix come about?
AH: I don’t really know how it came about. We’ve been such big fans of Phoenix since their first record. I think just from playing and going on so many tours this year, they heard about us, and we became friends through the festival circuit. This tour is kind of the Dream Come True Haim Tour. We’ve always wanted to go on tour with Phoenix. They were the band that I thought, “If we ever go on tour with them, I’ll die.” I still feel like it’s not going to happen. I feel like it’s a joke. Someone is going to say, “Ha! Jay-kay. Maybe next time.”
AC: It’s on the website, seems pretty legit.
AH: Thank God. It might be the best prank ever!
AC: You toured all summer and have U.S. dates scheduled through October and a European tour through mid-December. When do you get to take a break?
AH: I hope I never have to take a break. The last break I got, we were in Amsterdam and hadn’t had a day off in a long time, because we were finishing the record and doing preparation for the release. I was thinking, “Oh my God, first day off and I’m going to go balls out.” I wanted to party and run around the city. Then the next morning, I woke up with an epic cold. My body doesn’t want days off. It’s like, “Nope! Keep working.” We’ve been a band for six years, and all I’ve wanted to do for those six years is tour. Now that I can tour, I don’t want it to stop.
AC: Can you tell me a favorite experience from the road so far?
AH: South by Southwest last year was really fun, because the first SXSW we played was kind of hectic. We were playing three shows a day, dying of the heat, and didn’t know what to expect. Last year, we knew the ropes a bit: where to go, where to eat, and we got to play an amazing show with Vampire Weekend at Stubb’s. Vampire Weekend and Phoenix were the two bands that we looked up to, so that was really fun. And Glastonbury. I feel like everyone in the world should go to Glastonbury.
AC: You weren’t just talking about Austin because this is for the Austin Chronicle, were you?
AH: No! This is the Austin Chronicle? Really, we haven’t done the U.S. much, but Austin is the coolest city in America to me at this point. I mean, “Keep Austin weird.” Aus-tin? Au-some. I think I love SXSW because you can see new bands. I mean, you can try to see big bands. Last year it took me four hours to see Snoop Dogg, then I had to go to sleep. I was heartbroken. I tried every way to get in.
AC: I actually saw your interview with Nardwuar during this last SXSW.
AH: That was a bucket list item.
AC: Your hats were great.
AH: You have no idea how hard it is to pay homage to that costume. We scoured for months. No one makes those kinds of hats anymore. We had to go to JoAnn’s Fabrics and find the right pompom ball, which took months, let me tell you. Nardwuar’s got his shit on lock. We were huge fans of Nardwuar before. We were so surprised that he even wanted to interview us. Everyone gets interviewed by him, and he’s the coolest dude. It’s not like he’s crazy on camera and then normal off camera. That’s him all day, every day. I actually ran into him at Snoop Dogg, and we were trying to get into Snoop Dogg together. I think he got in, and I was like, “Nardwuar, go! Leave me!”
AC: Is there anything he didn’t uncover about y’all that you thought he would?
AH: He dug deep. I honestly don’t know how he found all the stuff that he did on us. He even found a Tom Petty tour book with a young Benmont Tench in it, and we love Benmont; he played on a few songs on our record. Seeing a young Benmont was the funniest thing.
He pretty much got everything. I’m just scared that next time he’ll find weird, awkward stage photos of us. You don’t want to get into awkward stage Haim: third, fourth, fifth, sixth grade? Me and Danielle were obsessed with butterfly clips and the weird jelly bracelets and chokers. Then I’d be like, “Whoa, did you talk to my mom, Nardwuar?”
AC: How are your parents feeling at this stage? Are they totally overwhelmed?
AH: They’re super stoked. I think they’re happiest that we are together and that we chose to be in a band together. We were all doing separate things in high school and middle school bands, and they hoped that we’d find each other in the end.
They’re happy that we get to travel the world together. They’re super pumped. That’s all they ever wanted. There was a time that they gave me the talk: “Maybe you should go and figure out your life, because we’re a little worried.” I was like, “No, I want to be in Haim!” You know, there was nothing really happening after year five of Haim and they thought maybe we should move on. We released the Forever EP and I was excited that I could push back that talk another couple of months. Now they’re just happy that we can play shows where more than five people show up.
AC: You had a family band with your parents before Haim. Is there any chance of a Rockinhaim reunion?
AH: Rockinhaim is still alive and kicking. It has not died. Rockinhaim will live until my parents can’t play anymore, then it will die. We missed it last year, but there’s this epic carnival in the Valley at this church called St. Francis De Sales to raise money for schools, and we’d play that every year as Rockinhaim. They asked us again last year and I really wanted to, but wasn’t available. It’s like the carnival out of Grease. No joke. Hopefully we’ll get to play this next year. If you’re ever in L.A. when its happening, take a trip down to the Valley.
AC: Are you going to stick around after your ACL set?
AH: I think we get to stick around. I’m super pumped because the day we play is like, Haim Homie Day. Portugal the Man, Electric Six. When I looked at the lineup I remember thinking a lot of our friends were going to be there, so we’ll probably rage after the set.
AC: Is there an ACL set that you’re looking forward to?
AH: Portugal the Man, for sure. [To someone else in her room] Who’s headlining this year? There’s been so many festivals. ACL, anybody know? [Back to me] They’re telling me that Lionel Richie is playing, but I don’t know if that’s true.
AC: It’s true.
AH: It’s true? Oh my God, Lionel Richie, by far. I’m going to cry. If he fucking plays “Hello” I will cry. I will make a weird, clay head in the shape of Lionel Richie and throw it on stage.
AC: I’ll watch for it.
AH: Do it. You’re going to be like, “Oh shit, she did it!”