Pale Waves take over the States

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The band Pale Waves
The band Pale Waves

Lead vocalist and guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie is enjoying the bands success

Formed in 2014, Pale Waves consists of Heather Baron-Gracie, Ciara Doran, Hugo Silvani, and Charlie Wood. The band signed their first record deal in 2017 and thus far has released three studio albums including their latest on August 12th, Unwanted. While Pale Waves has always managed to break the Top 10 in the UK, the band is now finding success in the U.S. with their new music.

Straight off opening for 5 Seconds of Summer on the Take My Hand World Tour, the band recently announced their first North American headlining tour, which includes an upcoming performance at Elsewhere (Hall) in Brooklyn on September 19th. The bands lead vocalist and guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie discussed the band’s rise to worldwide success and strong LGBTQ fanbase. 

Hi Heather! It is a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for taking time out from touring and launching your new album to speak with me. 

Heather Baron-Gracie: No worries! Thank you for taking time to speak with me. 

Pale Waves’ last album, Who Am I?, received rave reviews and performed really well. Your bands’ third album, Unwanted, hit stores and streaming platforms August 12th. How does the music on this new record compare to your previous works? 

HBC: The first album, My Mind Makes Noises, was very influenced by the 1980s and synth-pop. We transitioned into a 1990s and early 2000s vibe for Who Am I? which was barer and contained more acoustic guitars. This third album, Unwanted, is more alternative and along the lines of pop punk. I consider it more relevant and modern particularly because it is filled with electric guitars and overall heavier. 

Did you enjoy the sound on this new record most? Did you feel the instruments matched the emotions behind the lyrics? 

HBC: I think so because following the pandemic we wanted to create music which we would have a great time performing live in front of an audience. This was a huge consideration when we went into recording this album. Hence, why we went for a heavier album and more real instruments. Sonically, there is a lot more energy, and that is what we were going for. We wanted to create music with the intention of performing it live. 

The band Pale Waves
The band Pale Waves. Photo credit: Pip

You recently kicked off touring with 5 Seconds of Summer on the Take My Hand World Tour. How is it touring with the band? 

HBC: It is fun! The 5SOS fans are very engaging and very supportive. It helps that they have such a strong fanbase who want to hear new music. The shows have been amazing thus far. It feels great to just get back out on the road again especially in America which we have not seen until now. 

Hailing from the United Kingdom, how is it touring in the United States? 

HBC: It is different. It is a lot bigger, so every tour stop takes longer. For example, the drive is sometimes ten hours, which is an adjustment considering you can travel from the top to the bottom of the UK in ten hours (laughs). However, it is fun being in different countries, especially ones you have not grown up in because you get to experience different things. 

What is your favorite part of the U.S. that you have seen thus far?

HBC: Hmmm…that is a good question. I like California because the weather is so nice and consistent. This helps because we are typically performing outdoors. I also like Seattle, Washington because I feel like it is the most British-feeling place in America, most likely due to the miserable weather (laughs). 

Were you familiar with or friends with 5 Seconds of Summer prior to this tour?

The band Pale Waves
The band Pale Waves. Photo credit: Katia Temkin

HBC: I did not know anyone in the band before this tour; however I have a lot of friends who know them. They are sweet guys. I obviously have heard of them because they are a massively successful band. Nevertheless, I did not know a lot of their discography. However, given I am watching them perform every night, by the end of this tour I am sure I will know all their material. 

When you have a day off from performing, what do you do?

HBC: To be honest we have not had any days off on this tour thus far. On the few days we have had off we are either recording or headlining our own solo show. All of us are so tired because we are not used to doing such an extensive tour so we are not partying as much as we thought we would be (laughs). When we have a second to rest, we are taking the full opportunity. 

You have an action-packed schedule. What can fans expect when they see you on tour this summer?

HBC: I think they can expect an exciting performance. We try to give as much as possible during our live sets. We do not take ourselves too seriously and simply have fun with it. The more shows we do on this tour, the more comfortable we get, and in turn the more we let loose. 

I admire your lyrics. I think everyone can relate to or empathize with your music because of the lyrical depth and vulnerability. For example, I’ve recently experienced a major betrayal and I have been rocking “Lies” on repeat…

HBC: Amazing! I am glad to hear it. I hope you get through it soon! 

As a songwriter, do you feel heartbreak and tragedy often leads to the best music?

HBC: Definitely! I feel like when you experience something horrific or traumatic it often leads to the best music. Music is the best way to express yourself and the best way to make something great out of a shitty situation. Even though it may be and feel terrible, you can always spin it around and make it into an amazing song which will help other people. Whenever I go through something shitty, I turn it into a song, and it will make me feel better about it. 

What is your songwriting process like? Do you find it difficult to tap into those dark emotions or do you find it therapeutic and cathartic? 

HBC: I feel it is a bit of both. I don’t really have a set method of writing; it just happens when it happens. Sometimes it can start with me writing lyrics in my notepad or a cool guitar rift which will inspire what the song is going to be about, what I am going to talk about, or I can simply become inspired by a conversation with someone. There are a variety of ways which change every time. It just flows naturally. 

The band Pale Waves lead singer
The band Pale Waves lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie.

What song that you’ve created thus far is closest to your heart or are you most proud of?

HBC: I am proud of them all and they all have a special place in my heart. The first song that does come to mind though is “The Hard Way”. I just love this song and it is so meaningful, especially to me. 

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment as well as the most challenging moment in your career thus far?

HBC: We have had a lot of amazing things happen. It was cool when we got a Top 3 album in the UK with our sophomore album. The most challenging would be writing and recording an album during the pandemic because it was difficult to be creative. However, we managed to do it. 

Kudos on all the success you are achieving. You have really blown up in the UK and are now finding success in the U.S. market. You are going to be touring the U.S. for a long time and touring worldwide until December. You also have a large LGBTQ fanbase which I attribute to your vulnerable lyrics which are easy for people who are ostracized to relate to. What message would you like to send to your fans? 

HBC: Celebrate yourselves, feel proud of yourselves, and embrace who you really are unapologetically. 

You are very easy to speak to. Lastly, are there any other projects coming up which you are working on or anything you would like to relay to your fans?

HBC: You are very easy to speak to, thank you for this interview. In a few months we are going to start writing and recording a new EP so that is something for the fans to look forward to. More music ahead! 

Make sure to stream Pale Waves brand new single, “Jealousy”.

Purchase Pale Waves new album, Unwanted