Jan. 3, 2013 12:22

Sibling Riffery

The three sisters in Haim are just maintaining a family tradition


You can stop searching for that perfect three-Jewish-sisters-from-the-Valley band because Haim is here and it is—quite simply—a whole lot of fun. The group plays catchy, retro rock with great skill and seem to throw itself into pretty much every situation with an infectious mix of anything-goes enthusiasm and spit-take humor.

I got a chance to talk to Haim in New York City and instantly fell in love with these three California girls who charmed my socks off without breaking a sweat.

The Haim sisters are from a very close-knit, musical family that doesn’t seem to have the usual sibling rivalries and petty disputes—especially when you consider how much time they spend together. Also, most musical acts with siblings or teenagers are cloying and contrived but Haim come off as genuine and un-manufactured which seems to have caught the attention of its growing legion of fans as well as cynical, jaded music journalists like me.

And I’m not the only one who has noticed. The girls just made the BBC’s Sound of 2013 list—voted on by UK music writers and industry insiders who are all asked to name their three favorite artists.

And when I say Este (bass), Danielle (vocals, lead guitar) and Alana (guitar, keyboard) come from a musical family I don’t mean their parents liked music and there were a couple of old guitars laying around the house. Their father put drumsticks in their hands when they were only 3 months old and they all can play the drums.

“On weekends it was all practicing. We called it ‘Haim-time.’ Saturday and Sunday. We couldn’t hang out with our friends,” Este recounts. “We had a super-close family and our dad was, like, ‘Why would you want to hang out with your friends when you have sisters. Why would you leave when you have sisters to hang out with in the house?’”

And they played together—and not just in the living room. With dad on drums, mom on guitar and the sisters playing everything else they started touring with their family band, Rockinhaim, when Alana (the youngest) was only four and kept at it for almost 15 years.

“We performed about once a month. Our first show was at Canter’s deli,” Alana says. “We played all covers—songs our parents loved . . . like the Eagles.”


In the five years since their split from the family (which Danielle jokingly describes as “amicable”) the Haim sisters spent some time apart—Este graduated from UCLA and Danielle toured with Julian Casablancas from The Strokes—but in 2010 they came back together to record their first EP, Forever, which they released as a free Internet last year. Haim’s major label debut on Columbia is scheduled for a spring release.

“We just started writing our own songs and we found out that it was really fun,” Danielle says. “We’d never really tried it before because we had this band with our parents and we were playing all these cover songs that we just grew up to love.”



The Big Score

The video for the band’s first single, “Don’t Save Me,” alternates between the Haim sisters performing the song and playing a three-on-three basketball game on a darkened court with three huge guys who can dunk and aren’t afraid to throw a few dirty elbows. Hilarity—and a bloody nose or two—ensue. Trying to decipher the latest video invariably leads us to wonder if mind-altering substances were involved, but the girls of Haim claim to not indulge, although they don’t hesitate to state their support for legalization. “I pass on grass . . . I pass it to my friends. I’m diabetic and it just makes me get the munchies so I can’t do it,” Este says. “It’s fine though,” Danielle says. “It’s a plant. It comes from the ground. If you’re responsible. Do it.”
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