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I Play in a Band with My Two Pretty Sisters

My life is perfect, la la la la la.

by Alison King
Apr 3 2012, 4:50am

Haim are three Californian sisters named Este, Danielle, and Alana. For ten years, they toured with their parents, playing Motown and classic rock at street fairs and charity gigs as "Rockinhaim." For the last four years, though, they've been writing their own material away from mom and dad, which is soon to emerge in the shape of debut EP Forever. So far, they've opened up shows for Julian Casablancas and No Age, though neither of those acts are known for the sweet, tumbling a capellas or adventurous percussive flights that make Haim so great.

I caught up with Danielle for a chat.

VICE: Hey Danielle, what's up?
Danielle Haim: I'm good. It's 10.30AM at my place in Venice Beach and it's already getting pretty hot.

That's the weather covered. Wanna tell me a few things about your band?
Well, we are all sisters and started playing music together from an early age. We've been playing as we are now for about four years, but played with our parents for like, ten. They used to be in a band, but then my mom got bored one day and started buying us all instruments. We'd play these shows at street fairs and charity gigs. That was kinda our vaycay as kids. Alana was the youngest, so all she could really play back then was tambourine or maracas.

I used to play tambourine in my brother's band, Cadenza. They sucked.
I mean we've grown up, and progressed musically and in ourselves since then, but our parents were a huge musical influence. Travelling to festivals or whatever, we'd all just listen to the same thing on the radio. Stuff like The Beatles, The Doors, The Eagles, and a lot of Motown, then we covered those kinda bands in our shows. There was a lot of pop and hip-hop we all got into, too.

Are you still influenced by hip-hop?
Yeah. I mean, I love Usher and more recently, Drake.

Did you hear about the girl who tattooed "Drake" on her forehead?
Uh, no.

Do you like UK grime?
Grimes? I like Grimes, she's super-talented. 

No, UK grime, the music style.

What are the Dos and Don'ts of being on tour?
Do be on time for the bus call, don't eat junk food.

You're going to the UK soon, right? When were you last there?
I was over doing the UK festivals when I was playing guitar for Julian Casablancas. He's such a cool guy—so focused and his fans are like, insane. Like, Beatlemania insane.

Do Haim have any weird fans?
No, just people who have started knowing the lyrics and singing along, which is weird but cool. It's only the Julian Casablancas or Strokes fans that hunt me down on Facebook and Twitter that get totally weird.

What were your sisters doing when you were touring?
They were studying. Este did a degree at UCLA focusing on Brazilian music and percussion. She's always telling me about cool stuff I've never heard from Rio. She was also in the Bulgarian Women's Choir for a while, which is just really beautiful harmonies.

Did you see anyone at SXSW who was especially great?
Fiona Apple, she's so awesome.

She's a very honest songwriter, are you guys like that?
Yeah, I mean, we're not spiritual or anything, we just write about life and love and stuff connected to us. I broke up with someone and did a song about the whole thing from their perspective... is that weird?

Do they know?
I don't know.

Who is the main writer of your songs?
We kinda all say, "Hey, I have an idea" and we try it out. Sometimes one of us will come up with a lyric and be all, "Who's that about?" I mean, we've all had our hearts broken, we've all been there for each other and we just protect one another.

Like the Mitchell brothers.

Two brothers in a UK soap opera called Eastenders, they beat people up to protect their family.
Yeah, I'd kick some ass if anyone messed with my sisters.