A sororal covenant of melodic harmonies, Heathers began when the Macnamara twins started writing music while preparing for their Leaving Cert. Since then the pair have released two acclaimed albums, topped festival bills, toured Canada and are now set to release their second record, Kingdom, in America, followed by a tour of that behemoth country.
The lead single from the aforementioned album, ‘Forget Me Knots’, has become an anthem for mental awareness in Ireland and their involvement with the recent number one single ‘Simple Things’ has assured that Heathers are not forgotten while they conquer foreign lands. We caught up with Louise ahead of their upcoming Irish tour and discovered that the duo are as busy as ever.
The last time we spoke was September 2012, since then you’ve spent most of your time promoting Kingdom abroad….
Yeah, it’s been pretty crazy. We were over in Canada around April, when we released our album Kingdom there, so we’ve been going over and back to do tours, I think three times since then. We were also in Germany and central Europe when we released ‘Forget Me Knots’, so we were over there a lot over the summer playing festivals and doing a lot of promotion and stuff. We just released ‘Forget Me Knots’ in the States, so we were doing a couple of dates over there, and then a tour in Canada [before we] finished up with some promo in New York. So it’s been quite busy but great at the same time.
And the reception has been positive?
Yeah, it’s been really good so far. There’s sort of different crowds and types in each country, and it’s been interesting to see that. Not necessarily comparing it Ireland. but to meet different people is great.
Tell us a little about how you became involved with ‘Simple Things’ and the Cycle Against Suicide album.
It kind of started back around May, the time of the cucle. Jim Breen, who organised the whole thing, had got in touch with us because he really liked ‘Forget Me Knots’, so he asked us would we be interested in being part of the project. We were only absolutely delighted and our song was kind of the anthem to the cycle. We took part in it and did a bit of the cycling, and it was a great atmosphere, and so many people took part which was fantastic.
Then a couple of months ago, Bressie contacted us about Simple Things and said he was putting together this album for Cycle Against Suicide to raise awareness. He told us that a load of artists would be writing songs for it or contributing songs of theirs for it, so we recorded a version of ‘Forget Me Knots’ with the Dublin Gospel Choir. We also collaborated with all the other artists on the single ‘Simple Things’.
Was there anyone in particular that you were looking forward to working with on the record?
Yeah, so many! I think Gavin James is amazing. I’m a huge fan of his; he’s incredible, he gives me goose bumps. I was really excited that he was involved with it, and y’know Paul Walsh from Royseven is a really nice guy and the Dublin Gospel Choir as well, I think they’re absolutely incredible. It was just such a great project to be involved with.
The David Guetta connection has led to some interesting offers…
Yeah, ahm … it’s pretty crazy. It’s kind of all still in the process. There’s two parts to it. September last year we were contacted by David Guetta’s team of people, and they had heard ‘Forget Me Knots’ on a blog in America and really liked it. They contacted us asking if we would be interested in writing for future projects of his, which was so out of the blue. When our manager texted me that telling me, I just didn’t believe him I just kind of laughed. And then, on the other hand, we signed a publishing deal with Universal about two years ago, so part of that means they’ll send us tracks or maybe say, this artist is looking for a song for their album and would you be interested in writing.
So through that there have been a couple of things, Cee Lo Green, some Disney stuff and a number of different artists that we’ve constantly being writing for. So, I guess it’s a constant thing of writing and pitching songs when we have time; the past couple of months we’ve been so busy touring that we’ve had less time for song writing. You never know if things will be picked up or not, so it’s a constant relationship thing, and it’s all still in the works.
Plus you’ve started writing for Heathers third album?
Yeah, starting to try and fit that in! The next few of months are pretty busy but over the next couple of weeks myself and Ellie have decided to go down to Clare to just get away from everything and just write. So album number three has begun with hope of recording it this time next year.
Do you think you’ll return to the stripped back, acoustics of old?
I don’t think so, possibly a bit more electronic maybe some more poppy songs. Definitely still Heathers with our harmonies, but we really want to challenge ourselves a bit more and try out new things, so we’ll see what will happen.
So, do you prefer playing with a band now?
I think both ways have things that I favour more. The full band definitely has more energy, and it’s nice to be able to play the songs like they are on the album, as we’ve written them. It also brings a different energy from people. I really enjoy playing with a full band, but at the same time, it brings a lot more technicalities with set-up and a lot of things can go wrong. What appeals to me about the acoustic side of things is that I guess it’s what myself and Ellie are probably most comfortable at, and that’s the great thing about Heathers is that it can be really stripped back with just vocals and guitar and still sound good.
Will 2014 be mainly spent writing and promoting Kingdom abroad?
Yeah, we are releasing Kingdom in the States early next year and gonna be touring a lot over there. So that’s going to be the gist of most of next year and then writing to start recording this time next year.
Heathers will play Cyprus Avenue, Cork (27th November) and the Academy, Dublin (28th November) as well as acoustic dates with Gavin James at Number 1, Mullingar (12th December) and the Forum, Waterford (22nd December). Details can be found on Facebook.
Photo by Paulo Goncalves.