After bursting onto the scene with debut album ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ in 2018, Pale Waves have gone from strength to strength both at home and overseas. Their 2021 album, ‘Who Am I?’ is one of the stand-out releases this year, seeing the band take a leap forward in terms of sound progression and establishing themselves as one of the leading names in UK indie.
Now, with half the band moving to L.A. earlier this year, Pale Waves are back in the studio preparing for the third album, with a much anticipated UK tour on the horizon for early next year. We spoke to lead singer and songwriter, Heather Baron-Gracie about next year’s tour, the move to America and ‘Who Am I?’, as well as what to expect from the new Pale Waves album and plenty more!
NC: You moved to L.A. this year, how is life over there?
Heather: “I moved to America at the end of March, I spent a bit of time in Nashville. I did an acoustic EP and a few sessions there and I enjoyed it, but it just didn’t feel like home. I came to L.A. a month later, my brother and Ciara both live here, and I decided I would stay and start writing and recording the new album. It just felt right, a lot of people I’d love to work with are in L.A. and I needed a break from the rain and grey skies. I love England and I miss so much about it, but I just needed a change, especially in weather!”
NC: Has it made things difficult with half of the band in the UK and half in America?
Heather: “We’ve managed to do what we’ve needed to do virtually. Luckily, it’s always been me and Ciara who have wrote everything in Pale Waves. I know Ciara loves L.A. just as much as me, if not more, so it’s been really great. We’ve been in the studio most days honing in on the new record, crafting and writing new material. We do keep in touch with the rest of the band and check in with everyone to see how people feel about the tracks. I’ve just been really lucky to have Ciara here with me in person.”
NC: The release of ‘Who Am I?’ must feel like a lifetime ago for you, but how was it releasing an album during the pandemic and did you manage to garner a reception from fans?
Heather: “It was so strange but it was a now or never situation. We never knew how long the pandemic would go on for, we didn’t know much about it at all. But we felt the time was right to release the second album because it had been so long since the first. It was kind of upsetting that we had to release it in the height of lockdown, but putting things into perspective we can’t complain and be selfish with everything going on around us. We were lucky enough to create an album campaign and release videos, but not being able to tour was disappointing as it’s a huge part of a new album release – but that time will come in February, a year on from when it came out which is insane!”
NC: There was a notable progression in sound with ‘Who Am I?’, was this something the came naturally to the band or was it an intentional move?
Heather: “It came naturally. We were so young when we did the first album, we didn’t have much self-awareness, I feel we were writing music but not really thinking about it. I didn’t really know myself at the time and we were all quite new to it all, so at that point in time we produced the best record we could and I love that album. But we had a bit more time to think about where we wanted to go on the second record. I love 90’s/00’s eras, that’s the kind of music I adore and I had the time to draw some of these influences into the Pale Waves sound. It’s not drastically different but it was a necessary change in my opinion, I couldn’t have done another record that was a twinkly 80’s sound, it’s just not me.”
NC: You’re in the studio now, so how does that progression carry over to the new record, how is it sounding?
Heather: “It’s not too far from the second record, but I’d say it’s more aggressive and not as soft. It’s more electric guitar driven, more hard-hitting and less delicate. It’s fun for us because me and Ciara have loved pop punk and heavier music since we were 14. I was in a pop punk band before Pale Waves so it’s really nice to go back to our roots and live out our pop punk dream in a way. I’m not saying it’s a pop punk record, it isn’t, but it’s definitely the most pop punk influenced album we’ve done so far and you can hear it in the sound.”
NC: How do you think the move to America has influenced the new music in particular?
Heather: “For me, I really feel the weather. If it’s raining and dark by 4pm, I find it puts me in a terrible mood. So when I’m here and I wake up, it’s most likely going to be blue skies and it puts me in a really good mood, making me feel motivated and creative. I do miss the UK though, taking this weather and putting it in London is my ideal situation.”
NC: Well you’ll be returning to the UK soon for the tour, what are your plans for coming back and how much have you missed the touring side of things?
Heather: “We’re coming back mid January to start rehearsals. I’ve missed it so much, I’m not sure I even know how to do it anymore. I played a guest slot at a festival recently and I was so nervous. I walked on stage and I was like ‘oh now I do no know how to do this, I’ve done it so many times before, I’ve got this’. So I’m hoping that’ll carry over to the Pale Waves tour but it’ll be strange, I’m not going to lie. We’ve not done it for two and a half years. We are very much a touring band so to not have played this record live yet is surreal, and we’ll be sitting on a third album by the time we tour the UK.”
NC: The Victoria Warehouse gig sees you climbing the Manchester venue ladder once again, which is your local / hometown music scene. Is this the gig you’re looking forward to the most?
Heather: “Manchester is always one of the most important shows for us because we started Pale Waves there, it’s a hometown gig for us. When I go back it’s like I’m 18 again and it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come. We’re from the outskirts and been to pretty much every venue in the city. Me and Ciara would go to the Ritz and watch bands play, we’d talk about how amazing it would be to play there and then we played it. So now we’re moving onto the next bigger venue which is exciting.”
NC: Will we hear new music at the gigs or is it very much a ‘Who Am I?’ tour?
Heather: “Yeah I think so. We’ll probably release a single around that time, we have to keep things moving along!”
Pale Waves UK tour kicks off in February 2022, with remaining tickets available HERE. Act fast to avoid disappointment, with new music on the horizon as well as two stellar albums to play, these promise to be an unmissable run of dates for one of the UK’s most exciting bands.
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