By Matthew Prudham
Palatinate Music caught up with pop newcomers Pale Waves ahead of their show at Northumbria Institute on 21st October. Pale Waves are: Heather Baron-Gracie (lead vocals), Ciara Doran (drums), Hugo Silvani (guitar) and Charlie Wood (bass).
It’s your debut headline tour in the UK, how has it felt to be the act people are coming to see?
HBG: It’s really exciting, a very unique feeling. It’s very different to supporting people, and at the same time it’s really rewarding, but the pressure is a bit more intense because [the crowd] are there for you so you want to give them the best show that you could possibly give them
CD: There’s nowhere to hide.
HBG: No there’s not, but –
CD: It’s just the best thing I think.
Are you guys excited about performing in Newcastle?
HGB: Yeah! I’m a bit sad we’re not playing Think Tank though, ‘cause I really love that venue and this one is massive upstairs, but the promoter double booked the shows so we got put in a bigger venue, so we were meant to be playing [Think Tank] but, I mean, this one looks good.
You’ve only released two singles, and you’ve already got a large cult of followers – Heather, you mentioned in your interview with NME that you were being followed around on the streets of Manchester – how does that feel and did you expect that reaction?
HGB: I think people just take to us easily don’t they, which is, like, very nice to have that appreciation and instant connection to your band, so it doesn’t bother me, I do love speaking to people.
If you could give one piece of advice to any aspiring artists out there at the moment, in the age of social media, YouTube and Brexit, what would it be?
HBG: People who are just starting out don’t need to release an album within a week.
CD: Or tour Europe or anything, if you’re good.
HBG: You need to put all the bricks down first.
CD: Yeah, if you’re genuine and you really want it and not trying to take over the world.
HBG: You’re not just trying to be famous, people will come to you, I mean we spent two years doing nothing, just [becoming] a better band.
CD: Yeah, just writing music.
HBG: And that’s really benefitted us.
CD: And then when we put something out we’ve got attention, as we have already set a foundation for what we want. People just don’t need to run before you can walk whilst they get going.
We recently did an interview with Declan McKenna, and we asked him what one piece of advice he would give to Theresa May, to which he replied “resign” – what would you say to her if she was in the room right now?
HBG: Be a nice person.
CD: Help balance society because it’s not in a good place at the moment. It feels like we’re going back to the old ages in which art’s not appreciated or taken seriously.
You made it onto the cover of NME with the one and only Matty Healy – how do you respond to the band being labelled as The 1975 frontman’s “protégé”?
CD: It’s sometimes quite patronising because it’s not anything to do with Matty, but people are just always thinking we’re some sort of manufactured band that haven’t done anything for ourselves, but that’s no one’s fault: people are obviously going to read things. What happens is we’re just label mates and good friends.
HBG: It’s just like, if it was anyone else [it wouldn’t matter], but because it’s Matty Healy it’s such a big deal.
There has been a lot of debate concerning the number of bands with female members on festival bills, especially Reading and Leeds – what is your opinion on the issue: was it resolved this year, or will it take a few years to get right?
CD: I don’t know whether festivals are not promoting bands with girls in…
HBG: …By intention…
CD: …Or if there’s just a lack of them – well, there is a lack of women [in music], and it’s really sad but I think that will change.
HBG: I think it’s getting better, it’s improving.
CD: I think girls are sometimes scared to pick up an instrument: I meet a lot of girls who say “I really want to start playing drums,” and they’re kind of nervous about it – if you want to do music, no one is gonna judge you. No one has judged me.
HBG: They underestimate both of us.
Let’s talk about your music for a moment: on your debut release ‘There’s A Honey,’ I got an 80s, The Cure-influenced vibe – what were your ideas behind that track?
CD: It was kinda like that, yeah. We wanted a fast, driving song that is dreamy and dark.
HBG: A bit of shoegaze but pop at the same time.
CD: It’s just really nice to listen to.
HBG: Something you could hear off a movie track.
I could definitely imagine hearing that in a rom-com flick! ‘Television Romance,’ is a very different track, lots more guitar effects and a very funky bassline: what were the thoughts behind it?
HBG: That’s more of an upbeat song.
CD: A bit more technically challenging.
HBG: I think ‘There’s A Honey’ was a bit more easier, but on ‘Television Romance’ we’re being more creative and intricate. You don’t want your songs to sound the same but you want to keep your “sound.”
What influences your music in general? What artists do you think have played a part in forming your “sound”?
HBG: It’s a good question really, because I don’t really pinpoint any band and think “oh, I want to sound similar to them.” [Our sound is just from] listening to a varied collection of different artists that [our] band are into, like shoegaze to indie.
CD: I feel like everything you’ve taken in your whole life kinda inputs into the music you do, everything you’ve seen or heard inspires you. No one’s lives are the same, so everyone is inspired to create something different.
What features on your playlists at the moment? Are there any bands that you can’t stop listening to?
CD: I can’t stop listening to Brockhampton: I mean, it’s nothing like what we sound like, but I love listening to rap music. But I’ve not really got into grime that much, I tend to listen to American rap.
HBG: We listen to a lot of Cindi Lauper and Kate Bush – but you need to listen to everything really as an artist.
After your tours are over, what are your short-term and long-term plans?
CD: Touring more, but we have the whole two years set out already – more touring, recording the album.
Is there an approach you’re considering to the album – working on a theme, or just writing songs and seeing where they go?
CD: The aim is to write as much as we can then pick the best 11 or 12 tracks to put on. It needs to be the most honest and perfect style of a Pale Waves song, a perfect introduction to our world.
HBG: We’ve got a lot of variety which people, I think, will be shocked by. Because when you’ve heard the singles, they’re just prepared for being on the radio, so I can’t wait to give them a five-minute track.
How was the live session you recently performed on Radio X?
CD: It was brilliant, and we really enjoyed it.
HBG: That was our first ever experience of radio, so it was really cool.
Do you think your music sounds different live than on record? Sometimes you can go and see a band, and their songs sound much different in a live setting.
HBG: No, I think people say we sound exactly like the record, which is what we would want – we like to keep it as close to the record as possible, as that is what people are expecting to hear and listen to.
CD: It keeps it really neat, and we want to deliver our songs [to] as high a quality as we can.
And tonight we have King Nun as support. What can we expect from them?
CD: Yeah, we’ve toured with them before but we’ve not seen each other for about 6 months, and it’s nice to be reunited with them.
HBG: They’re good guys and they get the crowd going. We’re so different in terms of our sound, but it’s great to have that kind of eclectic line-up.
Thanks so much for talking to us!
HBG: No problem!
CD: Our pleasure.
Photograph: Ian Cheek Press