Thursday, July 27, 2017

Morris Day and The HAIM

A few months ago I was indulging in that great time suck known as the internet, reading yet another article about Prince and his passing and the hole it has left in the lives of those who loved him.

It was an interview with Morris Day who was about to perform on the Grammys (I think) along with Bruno Mars in tribute to the great purple one.

In the interview one of the questions was about a recent performance by The Time on Jimmy Kimmel  where they were 'mashed-up' with another band called Haim. I knew about these mash-up segments, where two bands got together to combine songs and/or other elements of their act.  Most memorable for me was the OK Go-Go's (a combination of Ok Go and The Go-Go's), good stuff.

However, I had never heard of Haim.

Morris' answer to the question intrigued me. He said how happy he was that 'the girls' didn't even need to rehearse the choreography because they already knew it, being big fans of The Time.  Well that's cool, I thought, and I checked out the video.

Very fun performance.  I liked how the tall blond member of the band did the entire side-step/slide-step part of the dance (not easy).  So of course I had to search on YouTube just for the band Haim by itself.

I could not have been more shocked and blown away.  This was the first video I watched.

For me, this band is one of the most incredible musical discoveries I've made in a long long time.

I love how they sound so different, and yet they are very grounded in rock n' roll.   I also love how it's immediately apparent that they are not simply a 'girl group' (whatever that is) but a real honest to God super talented band that has clearly done the work; meaning they may have appeared out of nowhere for people like me and most of their fans, but it is so evident in their musicianship that they have been playing for a long, long, LONG time.

I knew this about 30 seconds into their David Letterman performance.  I knew that their young age belied their experience - that they had to have grown up in a very musical household.  Their looks gave away that they were sisters, or at the very least cousins.  I quickly searched for info and quickly came up with their story which is fantastic.

Their mother was a singing contestant on the Gong Show back in the 70's and won, their father was a drummer and music lover.   His last name was Haim.  He collected instruments and taught the girls basically from the time they could walk to play.  They spent most of their childhood playing gigs with their parents in a band they called RockinHaim.   When they weren't gigging, they were playing in their living room.

A similar path as another great family group that I love, one whose sound could not be more different, The Corrs.  But these girls are not from Ireland, they're from Van Nuys!  The more I read and saw, the happier I got.  I love stories like this, raw talent that has been honed over the years and then explodes and simply by being super super good, the music gets to be shared with the world.

Then I watched this video.

Absolutely blown away by their talent and sound.  Love the concussive/percussive vocals.  Love the unorthodox drum-lines.  Love the energy, love the joy that these young women radiate playing together as sisters and sharing their gift with such a large venue.  Very, very, very cool.

So weirdly enough, there's a large part of me that's grateful that Prince died.  If he didn't, who knows if I would've stumbled across this band.  They're pretty big in the States, but even bigger in Europe.  But that doesn't mean I would necessarily listen to them or know who they were.  There's lots of popular music these days that I'm very unaware of - simply because my life is full and my interests are quite varied.

Of the three sisters -

Este is the oldest.  The bass player who's as famous for her 'bass face' (endless contortions and expressions) when she plays as she is for playing well.

Danielle is the middle kid - and clearly the one with the most natural born talent.  Turns out she's not only a world class guitar player and song writer but could play drums professionally for any band as well - and she did for a time.  All three sisters have very interesting back stories in terms of what they did musically in their adolescence.  Danielle played with several other groups for a time, some of them very successful.    Thank goodness she came back to her sisters.

Alana is the youngest, sometimes called Baby Haim, and always has a sparkle in her eye on stage - of the three she often seems like she's the one having the most fun.  She plays guitar and keys.

There are also two guys in the band who tour with them - Dash Hutton drums, he is descended from rock royalty - his dad was/is a seminal member of Three Dog Night.  His skills are incredible and a good match for the girls.  (Recently Dash left Haim to join a band of his own and was replaced by another capable drummer who I haven't read up on yet.).  Not sure who the keyboard player is, but he's still with Haim, and he always seems to be having a great time on stage with them.  Good gig guys.

So after enjoying Haim on the YouTubes for awhile, I finally got around to listening to their record.  The sound was a bit disappointing - very well produced, but a little bit too electronic for my tastes.  Still, you can tell that a ton of work went into the recordings as well - so in that regard they don't disappoint at all.

Somewhere along the way to becoming a fan boy, I realized that all of this stuff with Haim happened in 2013.  They toured through 2015, but then they took a break (interrupted with occasional odd gigs) and eventually they got back into the studio.

They have a new album that just came out, and it's pretty fantastic.  Musically it definitely has stepped it up a notch - though I'm a sucker for the more conventional pop hooks on the first record.  Here's a sample of one of the more esoteric songs, that's actually very powerful - dig the Bavarian harmonies!  (Seriously, that's what Este studied in college and brings to the group on this song and others).

Notice also that they all rock it on the drums - that was the first instrument they all learned to play from Pappa Haim.   Very cool.

Here's another new track, this one more conventional and snappy.  This is the stuff I like the mostest.

In my opinion you can NEVER go wrong adding horns to the mix, and really, more horns ALWAYS makes music better.

So yes, I'm in love.  In love with this great band and their talent, and the story behind their musicianship.  I can't wait to catch them live - they are doing a show in August in Long Beach.  Unfortunately it's one of those festivals so if I go I'll have to figure out how to avoid a long stretch with a band or bands that suck.  True, they might all be good - but I'm old and cranky so more than likely the other bands will suck.  Also, I'll have to put up with standing and general admission.  Boo.  Yes, I'm old.

If I go, either to that show or one down the road, I'll report back.  Until then, I'll leave you with this, another song from the new record.  I dig the song but I love this video, shot in Van Nuys on Ventura Blvd. at what I'm presuming was 5 in the morning - either that or they spent a ton of money closing off the streets.  Enjoy.

Okay turns out they did close the streets - at 4 in the morning on a Sunday.