I have three main groups of friends. My friends from home that I met at high school and college, my friends from university that I met while studying, and my friends that I’ve met through our shared love of music. That third group is predominantly formed of people whom I met through being a fan of HAIM.
My HAIM journey, if you want to call it that, began with a music recommendation from my mum. My mum is an avid listener of Radio 2 and she has a decent music taste; while she may not take to all the new music I subject her to, for the most part she’ll nod her head and smile and say she likes it anyway. Towards the end of 2012 the band began getting airplay here in the UK following the release of their Forever EP, earning them a place on the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, which they would go on to win in the new year. I knew from that point I had to listen to everything I could find online; follow, like and subscribe to all their social media channels and immerse myself into the world of HAIM. Even back then, before they really reached the mainstream they had a pretty large fan following including a Twitter fan account, the now defunct @haimthefans, which was run by two people who are now my friends. Our group of HAIM fan friends also extends to outside of the UK with links to the fandom in the US, Ireland, Australia, Denmark and other places too.
Pretty quickly I had watched loads of shoddy live recordings, found some old and unreleased demos, but perhaps the best thing I stumbled upon was the stream from HAIM’s September 2012 performance at iTunes Festival. In this video, Este gave her number to a guy in the crowd, and she did this by reciting it out loud through her mic so he could hear – obviously everyone at home who was streaming the event also heard it. After a few Twitter searches and tweets to my new HAIM pals I decided to send a WhatsApp and I got a reply. We’d already tweeted each other a few times, so I thought it seemed a little less strange that I was texting a member of a band that I loved, but didn’t actually know.
My peak moment in the HAIM fandom came with an interview they did with The Fader in which they were discussing Este and her phone situation, which even throughout the interview was blowing up. Some of those messages were from, yes you’ve guessed it, me. I was at a house party when I was 18 and we were all celebrating finishing our exams…or that might have just been the excuse we made that time to get drunk. Anyway my claim to HAIM fandom fame… “[Este] pulls up a new video message from someone named Matthew. In the clip, he’s past drunk, lurching forward and propping his elbow against a bathroom mirror as he babbles admiration.”
The biggest collective moment for me and my group of HAIM friends was the first and the only time we all hung out in a large number. HAIM returned to the UK to play a headline slot at iTunes Festival later in the year, which we were quick to brand #HAiMTunes. The ballot process meant that most of us didn’t have tickets, but that wasn’t a problem because we had Este on our side. It was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. HAIM tours followed where groups of my friends would go to every date, squeezing 12 people into Travelodge rooms for one. The next time I saw everyone together was at #HAIMchester (a Manchester date on their tour), another memorable night with so many great friends. The last time we all convened for HAIM related purposes was to be the screaming group of people going mad at their Kings of Leon support slot at Milton Keynes Bowl – another incredible experience to see them play on such a huge stage with such a huge audience. I’m pretty sure I got sun stroke that day. It was worth it though, but waiting in Milton Keynes Coach Station for the night train was a particularly low point.
When I started university I joined the student radio station and met one of my best friends Emma, who was the Head of Music at the time. She also ran my assessment session to see whether I was ready to present and produce my own show, then deciding that I had to present a mini show there and then in the studio. One of the tracks I played was “If I Could Change Your Mind” and from there on we just clicked. Little did I know Emma had been running a feature on her show called New Music Fridays (established in 2012 long before global release day FYI; fun fact I actually got an email about potentially receiving unintended traffic due to our show name) called HAIM TIME (also before the Beats1 show ayyy). I started co-presenting that show and took over when Emma graduated. While the HAIM TIME feature may be retired, HAIM will always be at the roots of our friendship.
One of the best parts about being a fan and part of a fandom is having a connection to the band or the artist as it’s something I get to share with so many people. It’s also been cool for a lot us, having this fan-friend kind of relationship with Este too, even if we don’t talk to each other as much as we used to. But when we send a group selfie, drunk at a party, you know it’s real. Este gives some great advice. While HAIM have been away working on their upcoming second album, my friends and I have all been busy getting on our respective lives too. I’m just as close with some of the group as I was back in our heyday, but I’ve unintentionally lost touch with some people, which is sad, but at the end of the day shit happens and sometimes friends aren’t forever because people just drift away and that’s just life. Speculation about what will happen when HAIM finally announce something is happening is often discussed. I imagine my Twitter timeline will implode and can’t imagine how fun that first HAIM show will be.
HAIM have recently announced their return to the UK as they’re playing at Reading and Leeds Festival. I’ll probably be there. A lot has changed for me, for my friends and for the band in the three years since they last played the festival. Who knows what the next three years will hold, but I hope HAIM are still making music and my friends are still my friends.