The Haim sisters on their favorite show, touring with their parents and the L.A. bar circuit

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In 2013, Haim were my golden goose. I’d been trying to get an interview since the release of their “Forever” EP. I had a feeling they would eventually become successful and wanted to get my foot in the door early. At first I was told — for months — that I was asking too early. Then it became too late. I tried a couple more times. The first time it didn’t work out. The second time I found out they got a new publicist. A couple of emails and a few days later, I was sitting in a hotel room with Alana, Danielle and Este Haim.

The interview, which took place shortly prior to the start of the band’s first full American tour in San Francisco (at the Fillmore) was held as coverage for the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival next month. Read the complete story here.

Haim on a hotel bed

But since we had 45 minutes together, we spoke about much more than the story could hold: The girls’ love for Spicy Pie, which they have grown to love in Los Angeles (it’s also a staple at Outside Lands), Alana’s suddenly injured wrist, and the role their parents, Israeli-born father Mordechai and mom Donna, continue to play in their music careers. In their childhoods, all three sisters played in the family band, with Donna singing and “Moti” behind the drums.

The first thing I noticed was a sincere sympathy that  it took more than a year for me to get the interview. “Oh my gosh, really?” Alana said. “Sorry it’s taken so long.”

  • For all of my continuing Outside Lands 2014 coverage, visit the archive.
  • For previous interviews of artists performing this year, go HERE.
  • Watch my live Haim videos and see some pics HERE.

RIFF: You’re in a very different place right now than you were 12 months ago. Have you ever stopped to just talk amongst yourselves about how this has happened. I’m not going to say ‘so quickly’ because you’ve been at it for years and you’ve been trying, but from the moment your E.P. dropped it’s been a very steep climb.
Danielle Haim: It’s moments like that where you realize, “Whoa … my parents and my sisters came up from Los Angeles to see me play with Jenny (at the Fillmore, in 2009). It was such a big deal, you know? … And now that we’re here playing two sold-out shows, I could have never, ever thought that would ever happen. It’s just been crazy. Wild.

On their first full-blown tour of the U.S., which winds down with Outside Lands:
Alana Haim: I’m just so stoked we are in the U.S. We’ve been in Europe for so long. It’s so funny, ’cause, like, I have my usual tour rituals before I go on tour to get everything I need before I leave. And I realized, “we’re in America,” I don’t need to get anything. There’s Advil, there’s Nyquil. There’s cold medicine that works here. So it’s just nice to be in America. Our guitar tech is already compiling a list of things to do in each city. He’s British, so he’s like, “I have to go here, and I wanna go to a baseball game.”
Este Haim: When I go to Philly, I want a cheese steak.

Have you learned anything from touring with Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas that you’ll carry through your career?
Danielle Haim: I think, if anything, at that point five years ago, we’d been playing in Haim for two or three years, just around L.A. You know, kind of playing for whoever would have us and opening for our friends’ bands. I think we kind of got stuck in that … playing the circuit.

The bar circuit?
Danielle Haim: Yeah, just in the bubble, you know? Going on tour with Jenny, and going on tour with Julian, I was like “Woah.”

There’s life outside of LA.
Danielle Haim: Oh shit, there’s life outside of L.A.
Este Haim: ‘Cause there’s so much music going on in L.A., so many venues. … Especially with (our) friends. They’re like, “OK, there’s another Haim show tonight that I have to go to.”
Danielle Haim: Yeah, we’d have to drag our friends. Our friends came to our shows a lot because we were playing four times a month, opening for another band. And they’d be like, “OK, that’s another $5.”

On the favorite of the artists they have opened for over the years:
Alana Haim: Every band we’ve opened up for, we’ve been fans of. … We are going to be opening for Kings of Leon this summer in London and they have completed the trifecta of bands that I dreamed of opening up for when I was 15.

Who are the other two?
Alana Haim: Phoenix, Kings of Leon and Vampire Weekend. The Strokes were on their too, …  but we also opened up for Julian (Casablancas), so I kind of counted that as opening up for The Strokes. That was “the square.” We’ve completed “the square.” All the bands that we’ve opened up for have been so inspiring. … The Phoenix tour was incredible.
Este Haim: So much fun.
Alana Haim: And we only got to play a couple shows with them. I was  standing side-stage, like, “What. The. F**k.” Because they were the first band I had travelled to see. I literally kept going to see them and every show was perfect — the lights, the music.
Este Haim: the whole show
Alana Haim: The whole show. It was the most epic show I had ever been to.

On their favorite Haim show:
Alana Haim: I still can’t believe we played “SNL.” I think out of everything that we’ve done in the past two years, “SNL” was like, the (best). … Me, Este and Danielle; every Saturday we would, like, curl up in front of the TV and watch “SNL.” I never thought I’d play “SNL.”
Este Haim: It’s reserved for people like- I remember watching Phoenix and … then the next day they were like the biggest, they had blown up. … Bands like The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith … Justin Timberlake. … I don’t know if we thought we’d never play it, but I think it was a very aspirational.
Alana Haim: And that we could be in a sketch was really rad too.

Your parents have imparted a lot of wisdom on you I’m sure. How about on touring?
Este Haim: They’ve never toured, so no.
Alana Haim: They’re like, “Hope you survive. If you come home safe I’m happy.” They were never travelling musicians.
Este Haim: Our dad was in a children’s choir growing up, who travelled. But he was singing the whole time. He said the first time he saw an airplane; my dad also wanted to be a pilot. It’s actually a really sad story; because, have you seen Little Miss Sunshine?
Alana Haim: The kid (in the movie) wants to be a pilot. He went on a silence thing and he realizes he’s colorblind. That’s my dad. I don’t know why we just told you that story.
Este Haim: The first time he saw an airplane was when he was 9 (and) he was going to London to sing.
Alana Haim: Why did we tell the colorblind story?
Este Haim: Because it was an airplane and dad wanted to be a pilot. Anyway—
Danielle Haim: Our parents never really toured. But they have fun. They are actually coming up here from L.A. They do when they can.

They are in San Francisco for both shows?
Danielle Haim: Yeah.
Alana Haim: They’ve been on our tour bus once. They thought they were gonna be equipped for touring. My dad was like, “I can handle the bus.” They survived one city, and they were like, “My back.” My mom trying to get out of the bunk; I wish I had it on video. It would have been the biggest YouTube video ever. It took her like 15 minutes to roll out. She tried one way and realized it didn’t work, and another way. She could not handle it. My parents are fine with leaving the touring to us.

So they don’t regret quitting the band.
Alana Haim: They never really quit.
Danielle Haim: We still play music together all the time when we’re home. (Note: They joined their daughters on stage both nights in San Francisco).
Este Haim: After dinner, my dad will get on the drums, and my mom will get on the guitar, and we’ll start jamming. That’s usually their cue; “Come on kids.”

Have you started thinking about your next album?
Este Haim: We are always writing. There are a lot of songs we recorded for (“Days Are Gone”) that we didn’t quite get right. They weren’t ready for the record. We still want to release (them) but we still have to work on (them). So that’s probably going to end up on the second record. And we’re always writing.
Alana Haim: Or we’ll probably just start all over. We’ve done enough touring and been inspired by so many things on this tour. It’s going to be good to go home and talk about all the stuff that we’ve been through.
Este Haim: We’re always keeping ourselves creative and trying to write things down and speak into our iPhones about ideas.

The answer I typically get is, “It’s already done and just waiting for the next cycle.”
Este Haim: Oh, no.
Alana Haim: I wish that was the case. No. When we’re touring — we’ve been on tour for two years now, almost — it’s hard to switch brains from touring brain to recording brain.

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