Former NME cover stars Pale Waves, a four-piece headed up by creative powerhouse Heather Baron-Gracie and Ciara Doran, combine the breezy melodies of the 80s with the slinkiness of The 1975 – with whom they’re pals – to make a sweet pop confection that is all their own. The Manchester band is included in the NME 100 – a job lot of amazing acts get in your earholes in 2018 – so why not get to know them a little better?
You two are a creative powerhouse. How did you meet?
Heather: When we first met on the internet – I saw a picture of Ciara and was just instantly drawn to her because of her fashion sense. I love people who don’t really give a fuck about what they wear.
What do you bring to each other creatively? The music you were making, Heather, was quite different to the music you were making solo…
Heather: I used to write a lot of stuff with acoustic guitar. They were sad songs, really, and then Ciara introduced me to the band idea and we bought these, like, really cheap electric guitars and cheap pedals. That’s when then we started writing together. We love pop music. If it doesn’t sound nice, what’s the point?
Does it take a bit of getting used to, having such a fervent fanbase when you’re still such a relatively newband?
Heather: We actually wanna sort of step it up a little, because they look up to us in a way. We are almost guiding them because they are in their teenage years. Having said that, we’re finding ourselves still as well, so we have to be very delicate. Our fans call themselves The Honeys [after the Pale Waves song ‘There’s A Honey’], which is really cute.
Is it true that you play American coming-of-age films in the background when you’re writing music?
Ciara: Yeah, that’s a really great influence. We always mention Adventureland because it has such a great, ‘80s-influenced soundtrack. We’d love to be a band that does movie soundtracks. We love Tim Burton’s films, and we’re also massive fans of John Hughes. They’re the coolest. We just really want to make our own world and invite everybody else to it.
You toured America over summer with your pals The 1975. Was that the absolute most fun ever?
Heather: It was crazy. We went from playing shows in Ireland with 80 people to being just on the stage in front of 8000 people. The people we met after were already kind of fans of us –that was really weird. We went out there not expecting anyone to know us, so that was really surprising. There were queues outside the buildings and they were shouting our names, but we hadn’t even performed yet!
What the maddest gig of that tour? Madison Square Garden, surely?
Heather: It would have to be that one because the venue is iconic. To just be in it – never mind play it – that is just heavy. Especially as we had only one song out. But we can’t take credit because it was our friends who took us on tour.
How do you split the workload when it comes to writing music?
Heather: Ciara does the music more than me – I dominate lyrics. It’s good because it is two different worlds, but we’re totally equal. We combine together; it comes from both our heads. That’s what makes it special.
Let’s talk about the look. You follow in a great tradition of pop musicians with an amazing look…
Heather: We never forced the look and it was never a conscious decision – like, ‘We need to dress like vampires’ – but the way we dress and heavy make up is all part of the world. That’s what it makes special; fans dress up like us and they feel like it’s okay to dress like that because they go to our gigs.
What are your plans for 2018?
Ciara: To take over the world!
Heather: A number one album has to happen this year. Even if doesn’t, hopefully we can do it next year. You can never be too ambitious.
Check out the rest of our NME 100 stars for a tonne of new music.