Haim’s Best Stories – School Days, Songwriting And Jay Z’s Laugh

Haim have been locked away working on album two for a while now, but their remix of Tame Impala’s ‘Cause I’m A Man’ has got us excited again. Take a look back at some of the stories from the sisters’ first NME cover feature back in 2013, when Eve Barlow visited them in LA…

When Haim sold out their favourite venue…

Danielle: “We haven’t been back to LA but we did just sell out the Henry Fonda which is the biggest thing… like I can’t…”
Alana: “I really feel like my mom bought all the tickets. Honestly I don’t think we could sell it out by ourselves.”
Danielle: “For indie bands from LA I’d always look at if they made it to the Henry Fonda. We were going to play a few months ago but I told my manager, NO! I wanted to wait. So we waited and it sold out. It’s fucking weird.”
Este: “We opened for The xx there and I couldn’t even believe we were playing this venue.”
Alana: “I was like, ‘I can’t wait till we headline this shit in five years!’”
Este: “All of my favourite shows have been there. I saw The Streets there.”
Alana: “Oh my god. That was THE BEST CONCERT. It was the skins. Best concert I’ve ever been to. I was so excited. That was the first record that I actually knew through and through. ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’. And remember who opened?”
All: “Lady Sovereign!”


When Haim wrote album track ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ about on-the-road relationships…

Este: “You think back to the decision that you made to not be with someone any more and whether it was really the right one. It’s kinda a weird thing, especially in my case. I’m 27 now and I’m not old but I think the relationships that you have you think about longevity. So when you do break up with someone there’s always a thing in your head of, What if that was the one and you said goodbye?”
Danielle: “The one that got away.”
Este: “[Writing ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’] I was thinking, Fuck am I gonna go my whole life being like that? And what would I do if I did make a mistake? I just, I was at a point when I was thinking… it was a weird time. Having relationships now is…”
Danielle: “…it’s a different thing…”
Este: “…it’s a whole different ballgame, I’m just kinda navigating that, what it means having a relationship, not having a relationship, that weird ‘We’re in a relationship but we’re not in a relationship’…”
Danielle: “…cos we’re travelling all the time…”
Este: “Love is probably the thing that people adhere to and identify with. Heartbreak and love are the two things that I personally like writing songs about most. At my core I’m fucking human.”

When Haim had dinner with Jay Z…

Alana: “OMG. We played a UJA [United Jewish Appeal] event.”
Este: “It’s run by Rob Stringer who’s not Jewish but I think he promised to get Neil Diamond for the event or something…”
Alana: “We played this event and we got to eat. So we walked up to table 7, it was like a bar mitzvah, and Jay Z was sitting at the head of the table. We were like, Are we at the right table? All I heard in my head was, FUCK FUCK FUCK. And all I could hear was his laugh, he has the best laugh in the biz.”
Este: “It was the coolest I’d ever felt in my life. He was like, How’s the tour, how are you guys holding up? Cos technically he’s not our boss but he’s the head of the company that manages us so he wanted to catch up with us. He was like, I’ve heard the songs, they’re great. The nicest guy. Laughing at everyone’s jokes. John Mayer got onstage and took the piss out of us.”
Danielle: “Oh my god.”
Alana: “He’s retarded. I was like, Oh my god for the first time in my life I’m at the cool table.”

When Haim played Dingwalls in Camden an hour after signing their record deal…

Danielle: “We’d released the Forever EP and the shows we were playing in LA were just opening for our friends, trying to get the word out there and while that was happening our presence online was getting bigger, we were getting played on XFM and we didn’t even know what that was in the States. We’d gone from playing shows to 30 people to going to the UK and selling out Dingwalls. It was really fucking weird for us. And signing a record deal. It was good because we didn’t know who anyone was. It was just crazy.”
Este: “It was the first time we heard our lyrics sung back to us ever. If you watch the video you can literally hear Danielle getting choked up when it was happening. I had to turn around. I played half the song with my back to the audience. That was super surreal. It was so much fun, we were riding the high of signing our deal.”
Alana: “We thought that was going to be it, today wouldn’t get any better because we’d just signed our record deal and then all of a sudden we played one of the best shows we’d ever played. Even my mom was like, ‘I love you guys’.”


When Haim were the “uncool kids” at school…

Alana: “My mom packed our lunch every day.”
Este: “We were the uncool kids.”
Alana: “We would get like maybe $5 a week to get shitty snack food. I would get a soda cos my parents didn’t want us to drink soda. They tried to keep us healthy. But all the cool kids had cherry Pepsi and I really wanted to be in there with them. My mom literally packed our lunch until we were in high school. Then in high school I was like, ‘Mom, I really can’t bring a sack lunch any more.’ We didn’t even have lunchboxes, we had sack lunches in a paper bag with our names written on it: ‘Este’, ‘Danielle’, ‘Alana’. I always wanted her to write me a note, that would have been cool.”
Este: “Mom used to write me notes.”
Alana: “Mom only wrote me notes in case I needed to do things when I got home.”

When Alana Haim got caught cheating in school…

Alana: “From first grade on [the three of us] went to the same exact school, sometimes we had the same exact teachers. I’ve been called ‘Este’ and ‘Danielle’ since birth. My favourite fucking story of getting called the wrong name at high school… I was cheating on a test in Spanish class cos I was so bad at Spanish, and the teacher was like, ‘Danielle, STOP cheating’. And then she felt really bad so I didn’t get in trouble because she called me the wrong name. Miss Sarah. She was chill but then she yelled, DANIELLE. Literally my heart was going doof-doof-doof-doof-doof cos like holy shit I just got caught cheating and then I just went, Miss Sarah why did you call me the wrong name? I’m so upset. And she let it go!”

When Haim blew up at SXSW in 2012

Alana: “After CMJ [in New York] we went to SXSW for the first time. We never got to go while growing up in LA. I remember on the way thinking, Holy shit we’re going. It was the first time we went to a festival and were battling other bands for time. Looking back on it the succession of what happened was crazy. At our first gig there were four people there in this outdoors grassy thing at 11 o’clock. There was a baby dancing, in a tutu and like two dudes. That’s who we played to. And I was like, Holy shit this is going to be it. We’re playing to a baby! It’s not going to buy our record. The next show we played to like 20 people in a little bar for Este’s birthday. Then the next was the pivotal one…”
Danielle: “The last one was crazy. There were people lining up and you couldn’t get in. It was like a 7-day weird thing. There was no one there at the start, and then by the end…”