When the three Haim sisters last checked into Brighton for the Great Escape festival earlier this year, one punter got lucky with the eldest.
Bass player Este revealed she was only too happy to make his day that bit more memorable in an interview the following day the trio gave to the Noisey website.
“A girl came up to me and said, ‘Hey, it’s my birthday, my friend really fancies you. For my birthday all I really want you to do is snog his face?’
“First of all she used the word snog,” explained Este to the website’s interviewer, “And second he was kind of cute, so I went right over there and made out with him.
“She was like, ‘Arrrgghhh, that was the best birthday present ever!’”
Este, a 25-year-old full of beans and banter, jokes she’d forgotten to take her medication the morning of the interview.
And when we do a three-way interview over speakerphone she makes no apology for the frolicking. “Well I suppose when in Brighton you’ve gotta do what the Brightoners do. I think they were down to have fun and party.”
She’d better expect a mile-long queue of birthday boys when they celebrate the release of their second EP, Don’t Save Me, with a show on Sunday.
“That was a one-off. I’m the sort of girl you’ve gotta wine and dine. You’ve gotta flower and shower me, b**tch.”
Este’s the mouthy one. As for being the responsible one, “It’s definitely not me. If you want serious, I’m going to have to pass the phone.”
Yet of the three LA-based sisters – Este plus lead guitarist Danielle (Rocky Haim), 23, and Alana (Baby Haim), 20 – Este (Brainy Haim) is the one with a degree from UCLA that focused on Brazilian music and percussion.
“It was the best time of my life. I had a blast. It was like going to camp not college.
“My favourite part was the voodoo and witchcraft aspect. It’s called Candomblé and I got to learn about the gods and had an awesome drums teacher.”
She also joined the Bulgarian Woman’s Choir. “It was really complicated. It’s an oral tradition, and it really comes from learning from the source, passing it down generation to generation, by the people who are actually performing it.
“It was so much fun, plus I got to be with a bunch of Bulgarian ladies from San Francisco who would come in and teach us.”
She channelled the family’s Bulgarian roots in Sofia for the choir.
“I memorised a lot of the songs we did and sang them to my grandma on the phone and she said, ‘Oh my God, you are singing about shoes, that’s soooo cute’.
“The folk songs are basically about marriage, food, shoes – all the things I am definitely about.
“It’s like Bulgaria said we’re just going to take the words out of Este’s diary and write songs.”
The Brazilian drumming finds its way into the folk and R ’n’ B mix they’ve spent the last two years writing and performing on tour (most recently with Mumford & Sons in the US and, after the forthcoming solo dates, there’ll be a run of shows with Florence and The Machine).
It’s also because all three sisters play the drums and have done since they were six months old.
“Our dad is a drummer and he put us on the drums as soon as we could hold our heads up.
“He taught us the importance of rhythm. I think you can hear that in our songs because they are very percussive even in the way we deliver the music.
“I think the drums come out of every pore we’ve got. At least it’s not oil coming out of our pores because that would mean bad skin and we are not down with bad skin.”
They spent ten years of their adolescence playing Motown and classic rock at charity bashes and street fairs in a band called Rockinhaim with their parents. Their mother even won an episode of The Gong Show singing a Bonnie Raitt song in the 1970s.
“We have the gong. There is a shrine in our living room,” explains Danielle, when Este, who graduated college early to make music and see the world rather than learn more, hands over the phone.
Danielle toured with Julian Casablancas from The Strokes and Jenny Lewis while Este was studying.
“Julian is such a genius in every way. I was a fan before, but to get to go on the road to see how he handles things – I honestly didn’t know he is the most crazy perfectionist. It made me think harder about what we do.”
Once Danielle moved back home from Venice Beach (to be back with all the family), she says the trio took a year out to write before playing a single show.
They refused to put out several recordings because were too cheesy and slick. Only the Forever EP, which they’d cut with producer Ludwig Goransson and band drummer Dash Hutton, has been released so far.
“Ludwig allowed us to explore our technique and recording style and it really helped us to get the sound we were hearing in our heads,” says Danielle.
She reveals Don’t Save Me and Send Me Down stem from the “crazy” break-up that had her heading back to the family nest.
“It’s about moving on and finding someone else and learning to have good fun. Also with the timing of it, we were finally getting to pursue music and the realisation I didn’t need this person made it such a positive thing.”
All three are massive hip-hop fans. ASAP Rocky is a big favourite. Their tastes go right across the board, though, and you can hear everything from Fleetwood Mac to the 1980s power pop of Gloria Estefan in the sound.
Baby Haim Alana admits she wanted to be Baby Spice growing up (“but I wasn’t blonde”) and is a big Florence Welsh fan.
“She holds it down for all of us girl performers. If we turned that tour down that would be the worst life decision ever.
“Once we’ve done with that, we’ll go back to finish the record and hopefully it’ll be out next year.”
Support from Death At Sea.
- Haim play The Haunt, Pool Valley, Brighton, on Sunday, November 18. Doors 7.30pm, tickets £7. Call 01273 606312