Interview: Heathers

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Looks like we’ve found the next big Irish import.

The pop duo of Louise and Ellie MacNamara, known as Heathers, are poised for pop stardom in the U.S. They have the look of two future pop stars, but more importantly — they have the sound.

The danceable yet still atmospheric and infectious pop sound the sisters produce is ready made for American radio, but on a higher level. These two have this atmospheric and intelligent quality to their sound that they separate themselves from the dunderheaded electro pop stylings that dominate the American pop world.

Pop-Break recently spoke with the sisters about coming to America, their love of an 80s classic and their new album.

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Pop-Break: For me, when you hear the name “Heathers” my mind automatically goes to the classic 1988 film with Winona Ryder. Was this inspiration for the name of the group or is there a different story behind the name of the group?

Heathers: You’re on the money! We’re huge fans of the movie Heathers. We were trying to come up with a name for ourselves and our brother was helping us to decide. I think at some stage we suggested ‘Ellie and Louise’ and he thought it was terrible. We had just seen Heathers for the first time and decided to go with that.

PB: When it comes to siblings in music we hear about so many contentious relationships like the Gallaghers in Oasis or in The Robinsons in The Black Crowes. Can you talk about your working relationship? Is it difficult at times being with your sibling non-stop or is it comforting? Is a collaborative effort or is someone in charge of lyrics and another music?

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Heathers: I think working with your sibling can be good and bad but in our case it’s mostly good. We have arguments from time to time and we definitely need our own space but apart from that we get on pretty well. We feel very lucky that we have each other, especially on the road when things can get lonely. We can also be completely honest with each other which makes songwriting a lot easier.

In relation to our music writing it’s mostly a collaborative process. A lot of the time Louise will focus on instrumentation and I’ll focus on lyrics and then we’ll bring what we have together to finish the song. It changes from song to song though.
 
PB: You recently did a tour and press blitz over in the U.S. recently. Can you describe your experience? What was the best part of being over here?

Heathers: It was so much fun. We love traveling to the US and the audiences over there are always so welcoming. We had a pretty crazy tour a few months ago where we traveled from Malaysia to Austin, Texas for SXSW. I think we had 40 hours of traveling or something mental like that, but it was well worth it. Releasing our music in the US is something we’ve always wanted to do and we’re so excited that it’s happening. I think the best think about being in the US has to be the food. Especially the Mexican food. We’re a little obsessed.

PB: You guys are originally from Ireland and have performed there and found success. Can you compare the audiences in Ireland the U.S. — is one more receptive than the other, is one easier to perform in front of than the other?

Heathers: We have found that Irish audiences and U.S. audiences tend to be quite similar. They’re both full of energy and the atmosphere is always great. It’s something that we really like when we tour in the States. We never feel too far from home.
 
PB: For someone who’s never heard you before, what song (or songs) of yours would you recommend for them to listen to in order to understand and appreciate what Heathers is all about from a musical and/or a lyrical standpoint?

Heathers: I think our album ‘Kingdom’ is a good example of how we have developed our sound from our first album to now. There are songs on there that have a similar feel to the songs on our first album and there are songs that are completely different. I think, if I was recommending songs to someone who has never heard of us, I would suggest my favourite songs which are ‘Forget Me Knots’ (which you can definitely hear some of the ‘original’ Heathers sounds in) and ‘Lions Tigers Bears’ or ‘Gather Up’ (which would be on the other end of the scale)

PB: There are so many groups out there accessible to the masses through so many different outlets — what do you think makes Heathers stand out from everyone else? In essence, why should people take the time to listen to your sound?



Heathers: I think that Heathers has a unique sound. Strong melodies and harmonies are very important to us and I think this makes us stand out. When we first started playing gigs, in some cases, we would turn up to a venue and they would assume, because we’re two females and a guitar that our music was going to be soft and quiet which it definitely is not. I think people are sometimes a little surprised when they hear us sing.

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I think people should take time to listen to our sound as it comes straight from the heart. We sing about real experiences and we put all we have into our songs and performances. If people want to hear something real and perhaps want a little bit of a dance…come see us play.

PB: What do you have planned for the rest of 2014? Is there one particular things that’s coming that you’re excited for?


Heathers: We’re very excited for the rest of 2014. We’re going to be returning to the U.S. which we can’t wait for and we’re also starting to work on new material. It’s going to be an exciting year!

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Bill Bodkin is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. He can be read weekly on Trailer Tuesday and Singles Party, weekly reviews on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU and regular contributions throughout the week with reviews and interviews. His goal is to write 500 stories this year. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English and currently works in the world of political polling. He’s the reason there’s so much wrestling on the site and is beyond excited to be a Dad this coming December. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites