Haim at the Troubadour (2009 Interview)
Thomas Wolfe said (maybe I’m paraphrasing) that you can’t bring candy and gum into the Troubadour again. That’s because they sell it inside. My emphasis is on sweet, sweet Haim. They’re as good as Mean Mister Mustard, and I can’t fawn enough. These girls have a precocious talent for rock. Guitars hang off their shoulders as if to say, “We’re not anyone’s opening act.” Maybe they won’t be for long.
Following the bold and unapologetic opener “Figure It Out”, Haim plays selections from their myspace page and a few from the Haim conservatory. “The Wire” is the pièce de résistance, a tough pop song fed by precision dynamics and driven entirely by Danielle’s upstrokes and guitar accents. I may as well talk about gourmet food. We’ll wait for them to finish up their record with former Blondie/The Knack producer Mike Chapman later this year.
Mama Haim actually won “The Gong Show” back in the day, so maybe this is where they get their stage banter. EXAMPLE OF BANTER: Alana says to Este, “You got it.” Este points a finger gun at Alana and says, “You got it, Toyota”. Alana doesn’t get Twitter. “MySpacian” is a modifier.
Danielle sports a striped French sailor shirt and little denim shorts over full-length black stockings. Bass-playing Este wears the white cotton dress, thin black nylon tights and combat boots in the family. However, youngest sibling Alana, Alex Fischel and drummer Stephen dress too conservatively. I don’t give a damn. To Melrose with you!
DONNA HAIM (“MAMA HAIM”, Mama and founding member of ROCKING HAIM, their family band.)
So when did you realize the girls wanted to go on their own?
“Probably for a while, when they really started writing and developing their writing skills. This is all them. They write, produce the music, the words, the sound, the sonic treatment of it. It’s all them, it’s nobody else.”
What was the first song the girls put together?
“Throwing It All Away.”
When did they write “Spirit Wind”?
“’Spirit Wind’ was, I believe, not this summer but the summer before. They’ve been a band since 7.7.07, their first show. At that point, they maybe had only three songs. They have a lot of songs that they don’t play anymore that I happen to love. But for whatever reason, they’ve put them aside and go onto new things. They definitely have enough for an album. At this point, it’s a matter of figuring out the next path. We’ve played a lot of venues here [but] we’ve never ventured out of LA.”
If they went on tour, would you follow them?
Absolutely! I’d be driving the bus!
When’s the record coming out? Who’s producing it?
We recorded it last year during winter break when it was like New Years. We recorded with Mike Chapman.
Yeah, it’s like really chill. It should be coming out soon.
I’m one of your biggest fans.
[I ask about her remarks concerning Twitter.]
[Laughs.] I don’t know! We were talking with [I think she said The Party Boys] and I always wanted to know what Twitter was. They twitter all the time. We hate the Internet because it’s like taking over music, and so it’s like, well, I don’t know how to Twitter, so…
You’re not missing much. How far away are you from a Coachella side stage?
OMG. I hope really soon. I just went to Coachella, and it’s hard to see [other] bands because I want to do it so badly. I want to be there.
How far an evolutionary step is “The Wire” from “Throwing It All Away”?
We totally changed our whole outlook towards music. When we started, we were so young. We wrote “Throwing It All Away” well before Haim even started. That was the first song we ever wrote, so we didn’t even know how to write a song yet. We just kind of did what we like to do. We’ve written so many songs we don’t even play anymore because we’ve just evolved. We started listening to more cool music and getting new influences.
Where will we see you again?
We’re actually playing Saturday May 2 with my family at the St. Francis Fair in Sherman Oaks. We have a band with my Mom and Dad. We’re called Rocking Haim with my parents. We’ll do a couple of songs with my parents and a couple as us.
How about as Haim?
I don’t know! We haven’t really booked anything. I have school. I’m still in high school.
How old are you?
How did the backing vocal session go with The Damn Sons?
Oh, that was awesome! We had SO MUCH FUN with that!
That record’s coming out soon, isn’t it?
Yeah, it’s going to be a record you want to hear. It’s going to be amazing. They’re one of my favorite bands.
How many songs do you have now?
We have maybe six or seven songs with another four coming.
You’re getting a lot of people clicking on your MySpace page. Where to now?
Hopefully, touring. We want to tour this summer. We’re trying to get our EP out. We’re still mixing it. That’s our goal right now.
Tell me how you build one of those songs.
We usually start with a melody. We really like… we usually start with the verse and the chorus usually comes last. We like things that are really rhythmic. We all play drums, so everything is very kind of rhymicky and snappy. We really love a good pop hook. [“The Wire”] was influenced by The Eagles, which is weird because people dis us for liking The Eagles. I love them. That drum beat is very seventies.
I could go on for days about you guys.
We would love that!
CANON AND CARNEY
I like both bands, and even interview Canon, but it’s not time to write about them. First, I never listened to Canon or Carney before this show. Second, I short-change Canon’s set to interview Haim, and short-change Carney’s set to interview Canon. These bands deserve my full investment.
Canon and Carney have history. Both lead guitarist Zane Carney and Canon guitarist Tieg Johnson toured with movie star Brie Larson (“Hoot”) when Capital Records tried to make her into a pop star. With Yes touring for their 40th anniversary, and Hiromi’s Sonic Bloom still kicking, I hanker for a little one two one two one two three virtuosity, and I am not left hankering in the slightest sense at the end of their sets. Moreover, Canon and FMLY member Cameron Rath have history. Rath had booked Canon at the Troubadour as one of “his starting bands” and did a whole CNN thing with them on the radio, but something happened that prevented the release of that interview.
First impressions… Canon sound like Jeff Buckley with Radiohead backing them up. “Mark of the Beast” certainly does. The majority of people in line are for Canon. Madison, Angelie, Sally and Tara call them “epic”, Radiohead meets Coldplay meets Yes. Jim says, alternatively, “They’re kind of Radiohead meets Pink Floyd meets ELP. But they’re able to wrap it up in about five minutes.” Canon’s Jason Turbin (singer and keyboardist) wears skeletal face paint on one side of his face, and he’s got a five octave range. They certainly have a sense of humor: between songs, Tieg plays Super Mario riffs. I wonder if anyone noticed…
Carney’s high point for me is their relationship with their fans, which feels very, very good. Singer/guitarist Reeve Carney asks for and receives a capo from an audience member in a moment of magic that defines this relationship. Their sound is indy-ish, blues-ish. “She’s So Heavy” is cool. Reeve is a high energy lead with phenomenal presence, good with the crowd, confident; he’s got that “it” thing… His brother, Zane, is a guitar god. This might be the last time they play the Troubadour — they might be too big for the Troubadour at this point. I’m real lucky to catch them in a small room. Carney grew out of Molly Malone’s last year and might evolve into a band that could play Coachella. Which is a head cracker because I found out about them six hours ago.