Having just dazzled Australian audiences as part of this year’s Spelndour In The Grass and at sold-out sideshows in Melbourne and Sydney, where they recently completed their highly anticipated debut album, Days Are Gone (due September), the titular sisters of HAIM are currently the toast of the musical town.
So what better time to break out the musical equivalent of those old embarrassing naked baby photos and take a look at a pre-fame HAIM?
Meet The Valli Girls, the all-girl pop group from the mid-Oughties that featured among its line-up two of the three HAIM siblings – singer/guitarist Danielle and eldest bass-playing Este – before they found success with their own younger sister, Alana ‘Baby’ Haim.
They may have sported a very different look – including some (then-)flashy threads and feathered, curated hairdos – but along with keytarist Ally Maki, drummer Lil’ Nix, and lead singer Raquel Houghton, the tween-aged Danielle and Este helped jam out such pop tunes as ‘It’s A Hair Thing’, as featured in the animated TV series Trollz.
All together now: “Grab your cell phone/get your laptop/we’re going out to have fun and shop/hang with girlfriends/surf for new ones/generation Y not have fun?” Admit it, that last line juggles cringe and genius like a pro.
Plus, what self-respecting prefab girl group would be complete without their own name-dropping anthem? ‘Valli Nation’ ticks that box, the title track from the San Fernando Valley girls’ major-label debut for Sony, as a 2005 press release from Columbia Records/Stonehall Entertainment points out.
‘Valli Nation’ also appeared on the “Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards soundtrack [alongside] pop superstars as Avril Lavigne, Alicia Keys, Simple Plan, Good Charlotte…” as the press sheet boasts among a string of pearlers. Such as calling Este Haim “the most outgoing and boy crazy member of the band” who “brings the slappin’, in-your-face bass to the party.”
Other highlights from the Valli Nation album included ‘All American Girls’, featuring the “seditious” lyric: “We don’t look like Britney/And we don’t lip sync on MTV,” and “the female empowerment anthem ‘Keys To The Hummer’.” Just picture the following image splashed across the walls of teenage girls across America.
“What makes us different is we sing about real situations, real things that go on in our lives. With five girls, that’s five times the drama,” said Costa Rican born leader Raquel Houghton, who had a brief spell on American Idol and is now an LA-based actor.
A little older (and no doubt much wiser) – Este, 27, Danielle, 24, and Alana, 21 – the sibling trio have made no qualms about their former tween output – this is after all a group who cut their collective musical teeth by playing with their mum and dad in a family band.
The trio even had a chuckle about their former bands with Triple J Breakfast hosts Tom and Alex when they appeared on air to perform for the regular Like A Version segment, giving a sleek rendition of Sheryl Crowe’s 1995 tune ‘Strong Enough’.
HAIM never been ashamed of their influences, history or tastes – nor should they – and its undoubtedly part of their appeal, criss-crossing 70s West Coast pop like Fleetwood Mac with 90s pop and RnB cornerstones. That mix of influences can best be heard in ‘The Wire’, the lead single lifted from HAIM’s debut album Days Are Gone.
The forthcoming HAIM LP has also made Australia an honorary “part of HAIM history,” as the band themselves put it on stage at their recent sold out Sydney show after having completed mixing, mastering, and the final touches to Days Are Gone at Sydney’s Studios 301.