First published on 4 Oct 2013. Updated on 9 Oct 2013.
The window of London's Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen is splattered with rain. I’m nursing a cold cup of tea and everything is grey – hardly the right conditions for interviewing sister-act Haim. The trio of Este, Alana and Danielle Haim (their surname is also their band name), mix retro guitar-pop hooks and ultra-modern R&B beats in a way that’s sunny, catchy and sincere. Their debut album Days Are Gone is out now.
My stomach feels wibbly beforehand, but I’ve no need to be nervous. "We’re easy, we’re breezy," says singer Danielle, eating a Percy Pig. They are a mass of wavy hair and sweat pants – like mermaids on a duvet day. Baby Haim, Alana, requests a wardrobe adjustment ("I just need some underwear. Excuse me, don’t wanna pull Britney.") Then we're off.
Do you know the setup here? Time Out London are doing a readers’ issue – the readers do the interviews and all that jazz. I asked a stupid question on Twitter and landed this.
Alana: Sick! What did you ask?
Well, now I’m going to ask you.
Alana: Oh, rad. That’s cool.
They said "so if you could meet Haim, what would you ask them?" So I said, "Collectively, you guys have a lot of hair. How clogged is your shower plughole?"
Danielle: That’s really good.
Alana: My dad can answer that question, because once a week he has to clean it out.
That’s a horrible job.
Alana: It is.
Este: Snaking it.
Alana: Snaking it out… it’s just really awful. It’s true, though, we do. It’s a bummer. He gets bummed about how much hair is clogged.
Do you moult?
Alana: What does that mean? Like, shed?
Haim: [In unison] Yes.
Alana: It gets in the carpet… the bed… Ah!
Yeah! Right, I think we’re going to get down to the nitty-gritty, if that’s alright. Your album’s going to drop soon, right? Thirteen days. I counted that on the way over.
Este: You did? Ah, less than two weeks.
Is that scary?
Danielle: Yeah but I think it’s more exciting. I think it’s hitting us now more than ever that it’s actually coming out.
Alana: It hasn’t even hit me yet. It’ll hit me the day before, like at midnight. I’ll be like, ‘Oh, shit.’ I think I’m just super stoked, because I like to say it’s the first chapter of Haim in a record, because there are songs from six years ago and there are songs from a couple of months ago. It’s kind of a nice chapter that we can close and then move on to record two.
What song are you most excited about getting out there?
Alana: I think I’m most excited to play the last song on the record, ‘Running if You Call My Name’. It’s going to be really cool figuring out how to play that live.
When’s your birthday?
Alana: December 15th.The tour ends on the 14th so as a celebration I’ll probably have my birthday in London. I love London. We’re kind of trying really hard to become Londoners. The thing I love about it most is that people just don’t take the sun for granted. We’re from LA, and it’s sunny all the time. I just wake up and it’s sunny. Maybe a few days in the winter it might be cloudy. There might be one week in LA when it rains and you’re like really bummed – like, "Goddammit!" – and then the next week it’s like 100 degrees. But when it’s sunny here, everyone goes out.
Este: Everyone’s at the pub.
Alana: Everyone gets naked, everyone’s at the pub, everyone’s at the park, everyone’s just stoked because the sun’s out, and I think that’s super-cool. I just want to be a part of that. I want to party when the sun’s out.
Este: It’s newsworthy.
Alana: It’s sunny! Get out of the house! Extra extra! Read all about it! It’s sunny!
Este: Straight up.
Este, one of my other questions was about your bass face.
Este: Lay it on me.
Well, everyone, myself included, loves your bass face.
Este: Thank you.
It’s all the Internet is ever talking about.
Este: It’s one of those things where it can’t be tamed. It’s not going anywhere. It’s kind of just part of who I am. That’s the thing: I’ve seen pictures of myself, obviously and I’m like, "Oh right, Este, maybe you should be a little more conscious," and I’ll be like, "OK, I’m just going to concentrate on not making faces and I’m just going to be super-stoic" – and the performance isn’t as fun, my playing is shit, I’m fumbling all over the place. It’s just not enjoyable. So to me, it’s part of who I am – it’s not going anywhere. It’s just me enjoying the performance.
I also wanted to know, apart from your own, whose unmoderated facial expressions do you rate the most?
Este: Oh, I love Dave Grohl’s face.
Alana: He’s got a good music face. He doesn’t have a bass face. He has a guitar/drum face.
Este: Yeah, he gets really into it. He has a really good face. Who else? John Mayer has a crazy one. He has a multi-face. When he does it, it looks like his face is melting from the middle out. I don’t know how he does that.
Alana: I think it’s something to do with the neck motions.
Este: Yeah, it’s almost like his neck is a wave. I haven’t mastered that yet. That’s on my to-do list: master the John Mayer neck wave.
When I last saw you, you all did the whole drumming together thing, which was amazing. How good is the bicep/tricep area of your arms?
Este: Do I have guns?
Alana: Oh my god, I actually… no, I do have a heart vein though. This one.
Este: It looks like a tattoo. It’s a heart. Weird, right?
And my final question… I really really love it when you get all Tina Knowles, and you match outfits – it’s my favourite thing. Is there ever a ‘Poor Michelle’ moment when someone gets the dud outfit?
Alana: Honestly, I love Michelle. Leave Michelle alone! We did love Destiny’s Child, and we grew up being like, "One day we’ll meet Tina Knowles, and hopefully she’ll want to make us an outfit." Or we’ll all wear the run-offs of what Destiny’s Child didn’t want to wear. There’s got to be some of those outfits around somewhere. But, no we got to do that for this charity show called Chime For Change.
I was there! I saw Beyoncé and I almost cried.
Alana: Oh, I cried.
Danielle: I cried. I didn’t almost cry, I cried. I couldn’t hold my tears.
Este: ‘Halo’? That song. I can’t deal with it.
Alana: But we got to pick out clothes, and we saw that there were two dresses and a suit and it was like pierced weird snakeskin. I don’t think it was real snakeskin, it was a print, but we were like, ‘We gotta do it.’
Danielle: It was almost like Halloween for us.
Alana: I think it goes back to childhood when our mom would dress us all in the same dress at once, like when we would go to a wedding or something we would all have the same dress.
Danielle: We would have to.
Alana: Which is weird because it’s only cute for the outside people. It’s not cute for you.
Danielle: And we had our hair braided, we had our hair down to our knees. So we all had our hair in braids, we literally looked like ‘Little House on the Prairie’.
Your mum should make your dresses now.
Este: Oh my god, she would. She would. If she didn’t have a day job. We should wear Canadian tuxedos.
Danielle: I’m all about the Canadian tuxedo.
You should totally do it. Then you can be the new Destiny’s Child.
Alana: No one can be the new Destiny’s Child.
Days Are Gone is out now.