Este Haim is aware of a particular line written about her in the Wikipedia entry for HAIM, the rising indie-pop band from Los Angeles she formed with her two younger sisters. It reads: “At gigs, Este has developed a reputation for her blunt and coarse banter with the crowd.”
“Yeah,” she says on the phone recently, “and then it continues like, ‘most often to her sisters’ embarrassment’ or something. Oh, my God.”
True or false?
“I mean, I definitely talk on stage the way I do in real life. I just don’t really have a filter,” she says, proudly. “I’m not going to change anytime soon.”
Good. Her frankness is part and parcel of what has made HAIM such a buzzed-about band over the past year. The sisters, including Este on bass, Danielle on lead guitar and vocals, and Alana on rhythm guitar and keyboards, are all in their 20s. They’re refreshingly direct and seemed to pop out of nowhere, which, of course, wasn’t the case.
After starting the band in 2006, they finally released their first of a few EPs last year – mostly so that their friends would stop hounding them to do so – and the song “Forever” became a sleeper hit. Around the same time they were signed to Columbia Records, which will release HAIM’s full-length debut, “Days Are Gone,” on Sept. 30. (Before the album is even out, they’re headlining the Paradise Rock Club on Sunday.)
The label deal came in tandem with touring with Florence + the Machine and Rihanna and, in January, topping the BBC’s Sound of 2013, an annual poll that gauges who will be big in pop music the coming year.
Not bad for a band that still has no album on the market.
“For a little bit, it was like, ‘Are we ever going to finish it?’” Haim says of the debut. “I think if we could have, we would have spent the next seven years making it. At a point, you think, ‘OK, it needs to be done.’ For us, we knew the songs we wanted to put on the record, we knew what we wanted them to sound like. It just took us a while to get to exactly what they were going to sound like.”
To that end, “Days Are Gone” is one of those effortless pop records that feels like it was hammered out in a weekend over beers in the studio and long walks on cool summer nights. There are nods to 1980s pop, but also to Fleetwood Mac and ’90s R&B groups like TLC. It’s endlessly fun music, plain and simple.
“We know what we like,” Haim says. “The record is a reflection of us being a band for the past seven years. We wanted to bring in a bunch of different vibes on the record. When we were in the studio, we were all about throwing the spaghetti against the wall and seeing what stuck, so to speak,” she adds. “The stuff that stuck, we put together those songs.”
The United Kingdom, it turns out, has been instrumental in elevating the band’s profile. Haim has a theory on why that is.
“I think the UK has this thirst for new music,” she says, “and I don’t know if that’s so apparent in America. They really took a chance on us. We weren’t even signed when they started playing our songs. We were just some random band from the Valley in LA.”
Unlike, say, Best Coast, which has never shed its association with California, HAIM transcends matters of provenance.
“We never thought of ourselves as quintessentially California. We’re from California, and I think you can hear that we’ve definitely had a healthy dose of vitamin D in our day,” Haim says, even joking that the sisters’ style choices are very much in line with sun and sand. “Hair is very important in this band. Our parents never let us cut our hair when we were kids. We looked like ‘Children of the Corn.’ I think we look more like ‘Little House of the Prairie’ these days.”
As they continue to rise, the Haim sisters have managed the hype as best they can, taking refuge in the fact that, no matter what happens, they’re family.
“This is the thing: My sisters and I are best friends. I think a lot of people roll their eyes when I say that. But it’s really the truth,” Haim says. “We’re human. We have tiffs, but they come down to ‘Why didn’t you ask me to borrow your jacket?’ or ‘You went to go see the new One Direction movie, and you didn’t ask me to go with you, and I’m really sad about it.’ It’s stuff like that. Yeah, we’re a band, but at the end of the day, we’re sisters. We run around festivals together, we get funnel cakes, and take pictures and have a good time together.”
James Reed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.