Ahead of their performance at the Hard Luck Bar on Wednesday, I caught up with HIGHS to talk about their Canadian Music Week appearance and their self-titled EP. We even talked about how Tanzania had an influence on their great sound. Check out the interview below for more on this cool group of musicians!
Kalem Mc Sween: How are you guys doing today?
Doug Haynes: Excellent! How are you?
KM: I’m very well. Tell me about how it feels to be here at Canadian Music Week.
Joel Harrower: It feels good. I live just down the street so it feels good to be able to walk here. It’s an exciting atmosphere.
KD: It feels good – I think we’ve been thinking about it for a long time, right? Because it’s more than just a one-off show. There’s speakers here and I think there’s so much hype on the radio and there are people who are asking me about wristbands and stuff like that so it should be a really good week.
DH: It’s our second year doing it and last year was a little low-key so it’s cool to be able to come into this year with a fuller schedule and to be doing more. We’re doing 3 shows this year as opposed to only 2 shows last year. It’s cool to see how our experience will change now that we’ve gotten to this point. Really excited to get into it!
KM: You guys are veterans now, that’s kind of cool, no?
JH: We’ve never been called that before, but we’ll take it!
KM: What does Canadian Music Week mean to you?
DH: It’s just cool to be here seeing part of the music community at work.
JH: Now that we’re on the Canadian music scene it’s just being able to play shows with some of your friends, which is really fun. Can’t beat that.
KM: Since you guys became a band in late 2012, have you had a hard time trying to make a name for yourself?
DH: To be honest I think we’ve been really fortunate. Because we just started in late 2012 we’ve done some really cool things I think you have to work for – and we’ve been working hard don’t get me wrong – but in our short life span we’ve been able to do things that take some bands quite a bit longer to do.
JH: Very fortunate.
KM: Who do you guys look up to? Who influences you and your sound?
DH: We could go for hours on this one.
JH: What do you want? 1? 20?
KM: Let’s say top 5.
JH: I love myself some Gord Downey, he’s my favourite lyricist and you can hear that in a lot of the music that we play. I also love me some St. Vincent and We Are The City.
DH: They’re playing this festival, they’re playing at the ACC – Half Moon Run – I’m a fan of theirs. They’re a really great band.
KD: I’ve been thinking a lot about Dirty Projectors for the past bit. There’s just this grit to them and we do a lot of harmonies that sound lovely and then there’s harmonies that punch you in the gut.
DH: I’ve got another one man. Royal Canoe. Big into Royal Canoe right now.
JH: They’re from the Prairies and they do experimental pop very well.
KM: Let’s shift to your EP now, it sounds great, by the way.
DH, KD, JH: Thank you!
KM: How did Tanzania influence it?
KD: There’s definite influences in terms of the lyrics and sounds that were being used from people that we were listening to at the time that translate into the album. You go to a place like that and you live there and you experience it and you come back and you kind of have to rework what you think life is in certain ways.
KM: How long roughly did it take to put together?
DH: We thought it would take like a couple months then it took like six which is fine because you don’t want to rush something like that.
KM: Was there any pressure because this was your first EP that you were putting out for everyone to hear?
KD: I don’t think there was pressure from anybody else. There was definitely pressure from ourselves because we really wanted to put out something that was quality and that we can really stand behind. We were all pretty motivated to do that.
DH: We wanted to put something out that was good but it wasn’t like we were putting something out with the intention of thinking this was going to get us somewhere. We just wanted to put out an EP, have fun doing it and release it. There were no expectations because no one knew we existed.
KM: Cool. We here at BestFan are all about the fans so we want to know what you guys are a BestFan of and it can be anything.
DH: I like baseball. I played baseball for 15 years.
JH: You never told me that.
DH: Oh yeah man, all day, every day.
JH: So probably just t-ball?
DH: For 15 years dude! I also like food. I like cooking. I like eating. I think about eating, I think about it all the time.
KD: You know what I discovered this week? Barton Snacks in Toronto. They’re fresh and lovely. There’s a fish taco and a chicken taco that’s delicious. I was just…I’m into tacos.
JH: I would say I’m a big fan of gear, like music gear. I spend a lot of time thinking about it. Looking at stuff I can’t afford, buying stuff I can’t afford, regretting buying, feeling good about it and then selling it on Kijiji.
KM: Alright! Thanks guys.
(Photo by Michael Sist)