- 01 Nov 18
With a winning debut album to their name – and a dedicated fanbase trying to emulate their image – Pale Waves’ star is firmly in the ascendant.
It’s still early in the afternoon when Hot Press goes to meet Pale Waves ahead of their headliner at Dublin’s Academy, but already a small contingent of fans are queueing outside the door. They’ve got their warpaint on, their gothic eyeshadow and accessories, and they’ve got envious looks for me when I’m given the all-clear to go backstage. Calling themselves ‘The Honeys’ (after Pale Waves’ widely-acclaimed first hit single ‘There’s A Honey’), they’re the avid group of Pale Waves followers that no one expected to emerge – least of all the band’s frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie.
“I’m always like, ‘Are you dressing like that because you’re coming to a Pale Waves show? Or do you identity with Pale Waves because you dress like that and so do we?’” laughs the singer, as we chat in the Academy’s Green Room. “I love how passionate the fanbase is. We’re really passionate about our music – we put everything into it – so it’s amazing to have a fanbase like that; people who are as intense about Pale Waves as us.”
In just over a year, the band have emerged as one of the most promising acts in the UK. Their growth is sometimes difficult to quantify. On the one hand, they’ve mastered the art of producing clean-cut, radio-driven indie hits (in no small part due to the guidance of The 1975’s Matt Healy), while on the other, they’re quick to fire out earnest lyrics about anxiety, mental health and death which have really hit home with their niche group of followers. This versatility has meant that they’ve been as comfortable playing huge gigs like Madison Square Garden (again, supporting The 1975) as smaller ones (like Cyprus Avenue or Dolan’s on their Irish tour).
Pale Waves’ first LP, My Mind Makes Noises, was released last month and encompasses four years of writing, touring, producing and everything else that was going on in their lives.
“It’s a very surreal thing to finally have the album out there,” says Heather, shaking her head. “To just be like, ‘Here’s all these tracks at once’. To give that to the world… that was terrifying. But I’m very proud of it.”
“In terms of putting yourself out there and wondering how it’s going to be received. The debut album has been something we’ve thought about since Pale Waves first started. There are songs on there like ‘Kiss’, ‘Television Romance’ and ‘There’s A Honey’ which were written in the early stages of the band. Then some were a gradual process, written in the studio, or when we were touring. It’s a big thing to be giving all that out to the world at once.”
Both Heather and fellow band member Ciara Doran have a forthright honesty in the way they write. Whether it’s lyrics about self-acceptance, break-ups or family bereavement, they approach songs with a refreshingly blunt sincerity. Is it difficult to write that way and then share it with the world?
“Sometimes I can think about it too much,” Heather muses. “About these lyrics I’ve wrote and everyone listening. I’ll think, ‘Well they know something about me now.’ But then the songs that are the most honest, like ‘Karl’ and ‘Noises’, they’re always the ones that most strike a chord with the fans, so that’s rewarding.”
In a short space of time, Pale Waves have clicked in a way which few others band have. Now, they’re welcomed in venues throughout the UK and Ireland; have a follow-up EP in the pipeline; and are being lauded for their music and fashion sense. And all the while, their cult following continues to grow. Watch this space.
My Mind Makes Noises is out now.