Haim’s Alana Haim, on Prince, Britney and being in a ‘girl band’

Haim plays the Pearl on April 13.

Last year’s album, Something to Tell You, took a little while to complete, partly due to the fact that your producer, Ariel Rechtshaid, was battling cancer at the time. Now that he’s recovered and the album is out, I would imagine touring feels cathartic. There was so much emotion during this record, and I think you can kind of feel it when you hear it. There’s so much happening ,and there’s happiness and sadness—it’s kind of all over the place, and that’s how we were feeling when we were making it.

There were good days; there were some definite bad days. We haven’t really toured this record that much, and this is kind of like our big tour. The making of it was this roller-coaster of emotions, and now the tour is a celebration of what we’ve produced, and it feels really good. We had our first rehearsal for tour yesterday, and it felt so good. I can’t even tell you how amazing it felt to play some of the songs that we haven’t been playing. We added all the songs from our record, and we haven’t really been playing them yet. It really does feel like a cathartic experience.

Dev Hynes—aka Blood Orange—produced the song “Never Knew,” which was written on the day Prince died. Can you take me back to that day? What happened was, Dev had randomly been in town, and Ariel’s house is this open-door policy of whoever wants to come over, come over. Dev was just in the neighborhood and was like, “Hey, can I come by and say hi?” And on the drive from my house to Ariel’s house, I got a million texts being like, “Prince just passed away.”

[My sister] Este at the time had been living in the Valley and I immediately called Este, because Prince is everything to Este. I probably should have waited to call her, because I knew she was driving. But I called her and she was on the freeway and had to pull over and just bawled on the phone with me. And then when she finally got to the studio, we all just sat around listening to Prince. It was just a beautiful thing that we all came together on such a sad day, and we all felt like we needed to make something. Like, what would Prince want us to do? He would want us to make something today. You never really realize how much you have a connection with someone you’ve never met until they’re gone. Losing him was like losing a family member. So [that song] was one of the ideas we came up with that day, and Dev is such an amazing collaborator to have in the studio. We turned a really sad sh*tty day into a really beautiful, creative day, which I think Prince would have wanted.

Your tour has totally sold out in the U.K. How is touring there different from playing the U.S.? We have a very special connection to the U.K. since we pretty much started there. I mean, we started in America—I was born and raised here—but we spent five or seven years playing around LA playing, and we got the same thing: Girl bands don’t work. “You guys are a girl band. This sh*t doesn’t work. It’s never going to work. Give up.” After hearing it so much, we were like, “F*ck it, we’re just going to put out an EP,” and that’s when the Forever EP came out, and we got the same reaction.

We had so many people at our shows and yet no one wanted to sign us. But we found out at South by Southwest that a radio DJ was playing us in the U.K. So we went to the U.K. and just stayed there and played there a million times. They’re really accepting of all types of music; the radio there has zero red tape. If a DJ likes your song, they’ll play it, whereas in America you have to go through all these roller-coaster loops, and it’s really hard.

It sounds like you’ve faced a lot of backlash to get where you are. It’s no secret, every girl that I encounter on tour that’s in a band, we all have crazy stories that I really don’t feel like we ever told each other, which is so exciting about this time—there really is this open forum, like we’re finally talking about it.

When we would play venues in LA, a lot of the time we would show up and the sound guy would literally not pay attention to us, and a band of all dudes would come in and he’d be like overjoyed helping [them]. Even on some of our first tours, we’d walk onstage and I’d hear, “Ugh, girl band. Let’s go get a drink.” It’s so crazy, just because the gender that I am? There’s been times where I’ll sit down at a festival and someone will ask me, “Whose girlfriend are you?” and I’m like, “No I’m in a band.”

These little things, I don’t think they understand that it’s really hurtful. When we were playing in the beginning, people would be like “Wow, I’m so surprised you actually can play your instrument,” and you’re like, “What the f*ck? Why wouldn’t I know how to play my instrument? This is what I love to do.” It’s a lot to deal with, and we got told it would never work—people act like girl bands have never been a thing. But I really do feel like right now, because everyone’s so open and okay talking about it, the fact that it’s even happening is a blessing.

To any girl, whenever I meet anyone that asks what do I do, know exactly what you want and follow your gut and don’t let anyone sway you on a different path. We’ve been told we shouldn’t be loud, we shouldn’t be funny—, [but] me, Este and Danielle can only be the way that we were born. We can’t change who we are. So it really is follow your gut. Even if you fail and you f*ck up, at least you failed on your own terms.

Speaking of being funny, Este recently made headlines at the Brit awards for making a bunch of faces behind Liam Payne. I feel like you guys would be incredible to party with. Do you have any wild Vegas stories? For my birthday, my sisters took me to see Britney Spears in concert. It was my 26th birthday, and they were like, what do you want to do? And I was like, please, just take me to Vegas, take me to Britney. Honestly, it was the best f*cking concert I’ve ever been to. We grew up watching her music videos and learning all her dance moves, and we literally did the concert with her. It got so insane that even the ushers were like, “We’ve never seen anyone know all the dance moves.” I left the show feeling like I was floating. Once our tour is over I think I’m just going to follow Britney around and see her show a million times, because it was so good.

Haim with Lizzo. April 13, 8 p.m., $35-$127. The Pearl, 702-944-3200.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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