With their striking imagery, hook-laden songs and emotionally potent lyrics, Pale Waves always had the potential to attract passionate fans.
And so it is, that even as they release their debut album My Mind Makes Noises, the band are already filling sizeable venues – they play at the 02 Guildhall in Southampton on their current tour.
And the day before frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie spoke with The Guide, the band had returned from playing the two legs of the Summer Sonic festival in Japan.
‘It was our first time out there and it was absolutely mental. The shows were out of this world.
‘We did this in-store at Tower Records in Tokyo, and we met like 100 fans and they were all so welcoming and polite, and they gave us loads of gifts. They were absolute angels.’
They also played a handful of American festivals over the summer, and will be heading back there in October to start a whopping 27-date tour in just six weeks.
‘Lollapalooza [in Chicago] was mental, and so was Outside Lands [in San Francisco] - we played the main stage, I couldn’t believe we were on the main stage!’
When we spoke, the album was about to be released and Heather couldn’t wait. It has since gone into the top 10 album chart.
‘It feels like we’ve worked on this record for years – it’s been a long time coming but now it’s literally around the corner and it terrifies me a bit. But at the same time I’m so excited and can’t wait to give it to the world.’
The band began in 2014 when Heather got together with drummer Ciara Doran while both were studying at BIMM Manchester. The pair formed an immediate musical bond and from there they found guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood.
‘It was always the intention to be a full band. We did start off as me and Ciara but we knew that we wanted to be a band, not just a duo. I think the image is a lot stronger as a full band, I’ve never really been into duos. As well as the live performance side of things, it’s much stronger.
‘We actually started out writing music similar to the band Daughter - really like shoegazey, but we made the decision that we wanted people to be able to dance at our shows and that’s when we changed it up.’
Given their image, the band is often described as goth-pop, but how does Heather see themselves? ‘I would say it’s emotional pop music, or honest pop music.’
This sounds apt, as even a cursory glance at Heather’s lyrics shows that she wears her heart very much on her sleeve. How does she feel about opening herself up like that?
‘It makes it all real. You think things in your head but when you write them down, you think, god I must really feel like that! And it really takes you back. It’s a way of admitting it to yourself as well.
‘It is quite petrifying, but I feel like to be a great songwriter you have to be honest. I feel we help a lot of people with our music because I’m so direct and open within our songs that people find it easy to relate to it and find comfort in them. For me that makes it worth it, for me to feel really vulnerable.’
And as a result she has already become something of a role model to their growing army of fans.
‘Yeah, I do feel like that because we do have quite a young fanbase so I do get a lot of messages from a lot of fans saying they look up to me and for me, that’s really surreal. I grew up with Avril Lavigne as my role model, to think that I’m now someone’s Avril Lavigne is bonkers.’
Early on, the band were taken under the wing of label-mates The 1975, particularly their frontman Matt Healy. He gave them advice on the songwriting process and directed the video for Pale Waves’ second single Television Romance. They also toured together, and will be again next January.
‘It really helped us out at the start when we worked with them as it gave us quite a lot of attention almost immediately,’ says Heather. ‘They gave us a wider audience to release our music to which we’re really grateful of.’
But this now is by far Pale Waves’ biggest headline tour.
‘For me there’s nothing like playing your own show. We could play a support show in an arena, but our own show will always mean a lot more to us – everyone’s there to listen to your music.’
O2 Guildhall, Southampton
Tuesday, October 2