Band of the Week: HAIM

Haims Holding

Photo: Bella Lieberberg

According to California-based sister trio HAIM, the origin story of their band starts with their parents’ shared love of music. As a teenager in the 1970s, their mother won an episode of The Gong Show, singing a rendition of a Bonnie Raitt song, while their father spent time as a drummer.

“It might have been why they fell in love,” says Alana Haim, guitarist and, at 19, the youngest of the three. “They met at some disco in the eighties. I guess back then it was kind of hard to find a cute girl who could also play guitar.” As a result, the siblings were raised on a strict diet of classic rock, like the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac, and old-school Americana. When they reached middle school, Mama and Papa Haim (as the girls affectionately refer to their parents) formed a folksy family band called Rockinhaim that toured around local fairs and charity events.

“We used to do covers of rock songs by musicians like Billy Joel and Santana,” middle sister, guitarist, and lead vocalist Danielle Haim, 22, explains. “Dad played drums, Mom played guitar, Este played bass, and Alana played everything else.” Unfortunately, teenage rebellion comes in many forms (even in the laid-back Haim household) and, growing up in Los Angeles in the late nineties, the sisters were much more interested in what was playing on local pop radio stations like KIIS FM. “I think we were pushing out against our parents a bit,” says Este, 24. “Every Sunday they’d put on ‘Breakfast with the Beatles,’ but we’d always want to switch it over to something like TLC, En Vogue, or Brandy and Monica.” 

Eventually the trio decided to break out on their own, and, four years ago, began experimenting with the stripped-back nu-folk–meets–nineties-R&B-pop sound found on their enchanting, recently released debut EP, Forever (currently available as a free download on their website).

“I think we still have the structure of old-school rock,” adds Alana. “But the R&B adds the spice.”

One imagines Mama and Papa must feel left out now that their daughters have, musically at least, flown the coop.

“No, they were happy for us,” Danielle says. “And they still love playing with us.”

“Yeah,” jokes Alana. “When we let them.”

LISTEN: “Better Off” by HAIM

February 28, 2012 12:13p.m.

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