Posts Tagged ‘Heather Baron-Gracie’

Pale Waves‘ next album ‘Who Am I?’ singer/guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie has revealed is out now. Baron-Gracie confirmed the news when she responded to a fan on Twitter who posited the idea that the Manchester band’s follow-up “is just chilling on a hard drive somewhere” 

Pale Waves’ debut album, ‘My Mind Makes Noises’, was released in 2018. In a four-star review, “Pale Waves’ debut album packs a whole lotta love. ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ is an album that obsesses over break-ups and make-ups, as well as dizzy affairs and their bitter fallouts – purposefully telling the story from all different angles. It’s the perfect record to summarise the band’s rise from Manchester’s little secret to one of the most adored new bands in the country.”

“This is the perfect title: ‘Who Am I?’“, says Pale Waves’ lead vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie of the band’s stellar second album. “It’s simple. It’s easy to understand. It represents where I was in my life, ready to embark on that journey to become the better version of myself.”

With its release date pushed back by not only a near-fatal bus crash but a world-shaking pandemic, too, the arrival of the follow-up to 2018’s Top 10 LP ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ feels like a hard-won triumph. Informed by the Manchester group’s collective struggles with fame and its spoils, it’s a bracingly candid effort that explores the physical and mental constraints of growing up in the spotlight. “I feel like as an artist you feel vulnerable all the time,” Baron-Gracie continues on the real meaning behind the album’s title. “Putting yourself on show to the world is intimidating, and I do have mini freakouts quite often about it.

“I tend to feel vulnerable a lot of the time, but it really helps people. The music that I write is there for them, and creates a safe space. So all that vulnerability, all those feelings of me freaking out are worth it.”

‘Who Am I?’ is open, authentic and honest – a record which Baron-Grace explains was heavily inspired by the unflinching strength of legendary alt-rock artists Courtney Love, Alanis Morissette and Liz Phair. Making the album also gave the frontwoman the space and confidence to explore her sexuality openly through the band’s lyrics, a personal subject that was left untouched when recording Pale Waves’ debut three years ago.

“This is the first time where I’ve been so open about my sexuality,” she says. “I needed to represent the LGBTQ+ community in a healthy and positive manner. I didn’t want to jump into it too soon… I needed time to figure myself out even more. Our fans, some who are gay themselves, finally feel represented in a healthy way – and they feel understood. I’m really glad that we can do that for them.”

Pale Waves Come into Their Own on <i>Who Am I?</i>

Pale Waves from the band’s very beginning. They had the dark, brooding look of an ‘80s goth act, but a discography full of danceable pop hits. Even while receiving acclaim as the NME Under The Radar Award winner before their debut album’s release, they caught heat from critics for sounding too much like other indie-pop artists. With all of the discourse on the individuality of Pale Waves (or lack thereof), their second album “Who Am I?” amplifies the qualities that caused fans to label them as the next big thing

Pale Waves are looking forward to calmer waters in 2021. Last year promised so much—the release of their sophomore album and an ensuing world tour, for one thing—but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK indie rock band found their usually steady boat rocked by rough seas.

A near-deadly tour bus crash last March wasn’t the only life-altering event that they endured (drummer Ciára Doran, lead guitarist Hugo Silvani, and bassist Charlie Wood were lucky to escape with their lives). Self-identity struggles plagued Doran and lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie, and the usually tight-knit duo found themselves butting heads over their next album’s musical direction. Add in a life-threatening virus that completely changed how records are produced, and the physical and mental impact of numerous setbacks was taking their toll.

And yet, hope sprung eternal. The pandemic’s arrival allowed Doran, Silvani, and Wood to recover from their injuries. For Baron-Gracie, the global shutdown provided the opportunity for some long-overdue self reflection—a period that has not only led to Pale Waves’ frontwoman being more open about her sexuality and inner demons, but one that lit a creative fire.

Born out of that soul-searching is “Who Am I?”, Pale Waves’ second LP that is equal parts post-grunge and pop-rock, a middle finger to societal labels and a haven for anyone who feels lost or alone. Speaking to us over Zoom, Baron-Gracie revealed the unusual influences behind the album, discussed comparisons to The 1975, and shared why the foursome are closer than they’ve ever been.

Pale Waves excels at making the personal feel relatable on “Run To” and “Tomorrow.” While “Run To” is told from Baron-Gracie’s perspective and “Tomorrow” is a collection of stories from others, both songs take an optimistic view of the growing pains that arrive with coming of age as an outcast. With catchy and relatable one-liners like “sexuality isn’t a choice” and “everything is going well / except my mental health,” the band reaches through their past of stifling small towns and feelings of hopelessness to uplift fans who know their feelings all too well.

“Who Am I?” opens with “Change,” a track that trades the ‘80s glam synths of Pale Waves’ debut album My Mind Makes Noises in for a ‘90s-inspired acoustic guitar. The switch-up is perfect for frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie’s vocal prowess, with the singer’s voice landing somewhere between the pop-with-an-attitude of Avril Lavigne and the raw emotion of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan. This isn’t to say Pale Waves floats by on the nostalgia factor alone—the band translates their many inspirations into their own brand of indie pop that feels perfectly fit for 2021, with their lyrics bouncing between relationships, identity and mental health. On an album centered around a question of identity, the band is at their strongest when shouting out the answer. Few songs on the record compare to “You Don’t Own Me” in terms of pure anthemic pop-rock, as Baron-Gracie defiantly asserts, “You don’t own me / and I’ll do whatever I want to” in the face of everyday misogyny. 

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Goth-poppers Pale Waves turned in a debut album that was honest, exciting and packed to the brim with shimmering indie-disco classics.

If you’re into sleek guitar pop, Manchester four-piece Pale Waves will be right up your alley, particularly if that’s a charmingly dark alley out of a Tim Burton movie. The distinctly ’80s goth look of frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie is striking and their smooth, jangly guitars call to mind indie-pop bands of yesteryear as well as the glossy pop of today. Pale Waves released their debut album,My Mind Makes Noises, earlier this year via U.K. indie giant Dirty Hit, best known for The 1975 and Wolf Alice. The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel also co-produced this album with Pale Waves’ drummer Ciara Doran and recording engineer Jonathan Gilmore. “One More Time” is indicative of their heartfelt soaring choruses that make dancing inevitable, “Noises” features a life-affirming guitar solo and “Eighteen” has those lyrics that will transport you inside the mind of an angsty teenager, regardless of your actual age.

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Now over a year since debut single ‘There’s A Honey’ painted them as one of the most exciting new bands in the country, and with a debut EP under their belts, Pale Waves are truly beginning to find their voice. Pelting towards their debut album, new track ‘Noises’ – a live favourite for a while now – sees Heather Baron-Gracie translating the swagger and confidence she’s recently found on stage onto tape, and is a sign of a band still firmly on the up.

Adding yet more colours to the four-piece’s already-vibrant palette, ‘Noises’ is a spacious and anthemic return. “I feel like I’m slowly losing myself / I’m afraid that I need help” Heather sings, and though the track concerns self-doubt and a lack of confidence, it’s transmitted through her strongest vocal performance yet.

A leather-clad Heather Baron-Gracie stands in front of a packed house, Her dark bangs framing her big, green, extravagantly kohl-rimmed eyes. Baron-Gracie is the lead singer of the Manchester, England–based emo-pop group Pale Waves, and onstage she’s flanked by guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood, who look eerily alike, with Ciara Doran completing the quartet on drums. As they launch into moody songs inspired by the likes of Cocteau Twins and the Cure, the scene is a bit dark, but once the swirling guitars and synths come in, all the gloom and doom is left behind. In other words, that dark-eyed image belies the band’s sugary hooks. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

If Tim Burton had ever gotten his hands on a John Hughes script Edward Scissorhands’s Day Off Pale Waves would have fit right in on the soundtrack. Baron-Gracie’s dark, honest lyrics: “Oh, baby, won’t you stop it?/You and I haven’t got it/Television romance.” It’s a newfound professional hazard.

“A lot of people think that some songs are quite positive, that I’m saying a positive thing in ‘Television Romance,’Baron-Gracie explained before the show. “It’s not a love song! It’s the complete opposite — me rejecting someone. Jesus Christ, some people are so oblivious these days.”

The origin of Pale Waves goes back to 2014, when Baron-Gracie and Doran met while studying at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) in Manchester. The pair clicked instantly, staying up and playing music together late into the night, with Doran adding live drums on a few of Baron-Gracie’s solo acoustic tracks. “We’re just the perfect soul mates in music,” said Baron-Gracie.

They bought cheap electric guitars and pedals, and recorded early demos of “The Tide” and “Heavenly,” which attracted significant internet buzz, and got the attention of Silvani, who joined the band on guitar. “We never wanted it to be a duo,” said Baron-Gracie. “We always wanted, like, two other members.” The lineup would be complete after Wood joined the fold in 2015. The girls’ friendship serves as the backbone, and helps them keep the younger boys in line: At 23, they both have a few years on Silvani, 21, and Wood, 20. “We’re the mums,” said Baron-Gracie.

After playing gigs all around England, the band caught the eye of Jamie Osbourne, who signed Pale Waves to his label, Dirty Hit Records, and took over managing duties. Since then it’s been a roller-coaster ride, with the band jumping from tiny gigs in its home country to touring with labelmates the 1975 (also from Manchester), including an opening slot at Madison Square Garden last fall.

All the Things I Never Said, released in February, is a sort of Pale Waves timeline pairing the early infectious hits with newer songs like “My Obsession” and “New Year’s Eve” that have much darker undertones, lyrically. “This is the first introduction of my music,” said Baron-Gracie. “And I write music because I don’t want to talk about it in conversation, so it’s all the things I’ve never said. But now I’ve said them in music form.”

Ciara always laughs at me because ‘My Obsession’ is like my child,” Baron-Gracie said, calling it her favorite track on the collection. “There’s something about it that’s just so emo and, like, Eighties ballad.” At first listen, one might assume it’s about some sort of till-death-do-us-part, all-consuming crush: “And I swear that I’ll never stop loving you/And I’ll die by your side if you want me to.” But as is often the case with Pale Waves, first impressions can be deceiving.

“They always presume, don’t they? Yeah that frustrates me,” Baron-Gracie said. “The main influence is my grandparents, their relationship, and how I sort of watched when my grandma passed away, my grandad sort of died with her in a way,” she said. The song is really about loss and Baron-Gracie bearing witness to what it’s like to lose the one person you love the most. It’s also just really catchy.

At present, the Pale Waves catalog remains tiny, totaling just seven songs with the release of their newest pop single, “Kiss,” this week. “It still feels like we don’t have much music out for how much we’re doing. I kind of like that,” Baron-Gracie added. “I’d rather give less and make people want more rather than overwhelm people with so many unreleased Pale Waves songs.”

The band wrapped up its first U.S. headline tour last month, and has a full slate of festival dates on the calendar, including spots at Lollapalooza and Outside Lands, plus a handful of dates opening for Chvrches’ U.S. tour this August. It’s also hard at work on its forthcoming debut full-length, hopefully set to release sometime this summer via Dirty Hit/Interscope. Baron-Gracie isn’t shy to admit that the band wants it to reach No. 1, despite its emotionally darker material.

“It’s still pop songs though,” she said. “It will always be pop.”