TRANSCRIPT Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Alana Haim

Alana Haim has been leading two very distinct careers. First, there’s her music – Alana is one third of the Grammy nominated, critically acclaimed rock group Haim. And then there’s her acting. Alana made her big screen Debut in the new Paul Thomas Anderson film Licorice Pizza. The role has earned her a Golden Globe nomination along with a bunch of other awards. It’s also up for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director at this year’s Academy Awards. Alana joins the show to talk about Licorice Pizza and how she found out she got the lead part in the film. She also chats with us about what it was like growing up in the San Fernando Valley, playing in a band with her family and more.

Guests: Alana Haim

Transcript

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Gentle, trilling music with a steady drumbeat plays under the dialogue.

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Speaker: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of MaximumFun.org and is distributed by NPR. [Music fades out.]

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“Huddle Formation” from the album Thunder, Lightning, Strike by The Go! Team. A fast, upbeat, peppy song. Music plays as Jesse speaks, then fades out.

jesse thorn

It’s Bullseye. I’m Jesse Thorn. Alana Haim grew up in the San Fernando Valley, either just north of LA or in LA, depending on how you count it. Her parents were musicians. Her older sisters, Danielle and Este, were also musicians. Alana got a tambourine when she was four and pretty soon, she was a musician too. She and her sisters and her parents started a band. Eventually, they got rid of their parents. [Music fades in.] They started writing their own songs. And not long after that, they had a hit.

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“The Wire” from the album Days Are Gone by HAIM. You know I’m bad at communication It’s the hardest thing for me to do And it’s said it’s the most important part That relationships will go through And I’d give it all away just so I could say that I know, I know, I know, I know That you’re gonna be okay anyway [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

jesse

The band is, of course, called HAIM. They’re adored by fans and critics alike. A few years ago, Alana got a call from director Paul Thomas Anderson. He had a part in a new movie that he was working on. It was called Licorice Pizza. He thought Alana might be up for it. And actually, when he told her all this stuff, he kind of undersold it. The character’s name was Alana. And also, it was the lead in the movie. And despite never really acting before, Alana Haim took the part. It’s earned her a Golden Globe nomination along with a bunch of other awards. The film is up for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director at this year’s Academy Awards. Licorice Pizza is a sort of meandering coming-of-age movie. It’s just as much about its setting, the Valley, as it is about its main characters. There’s Alana Kane, played by my guest, Alana Haim, and Gary Valentine—a 15-year-old child actor played by Cooper Hoffman. Early on in the movie, Gary asks Alana out. And Alana—who’s in her early 20s—says no. But she does agree to hang out with him as friends. And so, they meet up at the neighborhood stained glass, red-checked tablecloth Italian restaurant.

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Music: Relaxed, jazzy music plays in the background. Gary (Licorice Pizza): What are your plans? Alana: [Beat.] I don’t know. Gary: What’s your future look like? Alana: I don’t know. Gary: How do you like working at Tiny Toes? Alana: I hate working at Tiny Toes. Gary: You should start your own business! Alana: [Laughs dryly.] What business should I be in? Gary: I don’t know. What do you like? Alana: I don’t know. Gary: You’re an actress. You should be an actress! Alana: [Chuckles.] So, how’d you become such a hotshot actor?

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Gary: I’m a showman. It’s my calling. Alana: Ugh. Gary: I don’t know how I’d do anything else. It’s what I’m meant to do. I mean, ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a song and dance man. Alana: Come ooooon. Ever since you were a kid? [Chuckling.] Song and dance man. Where are your parents? Gary: My mom works for me. Alana: Oh, of course she does. That makes sense. Gary: She does! In my public relations company. Alana: In your public relations company!? Because you have that. Gary: Yes. Alana: And you’re an actor. Gary: Yes. Alana: And you’re a secret agent, too. [Chuckles.] Gary: [Sighs.] Well, no, I’m not a secret agent. That’s funny.

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jesse

Alana Haim, welcome to Bullseye!

alana haim

Oh, thank you for having me!

jesse

So, when you got a script from famous movie director, Paul Thomas Anderson, that had your name attached to the title character, to what extent did you realize that that meant that maybe you would be in the movie and not just that he had named a character after you?

alana

I mean, he talks about it all the time—that like it was outrageous of me to not just assume that I was gonna be Alana. And that’s just like not [laughs]—that’s not the kind of person that I am. I mean, he was like, “Of course you’re gonna play Alana! Who else would play Alana?” But in my mind, you have to like understand like—okay, Paul is—I consider him a part of my family. But on the other hand, like he’s Paul Thomas Anderson. He’s one of—one if—maybe the greatest director/writer/cinematographer of all time. Like, I’m such a big fan of his. So, the notion that he would write a part for me in a movie and a lead part for me was just so outrageous to the point where I just could not believe it. And he finds it very funny that I just found it so unbelievable. But after reading the script—he sent it to me, and I read it and I was obsessed with it. And I think in my mind, I was like, “I don’t know who else could play this part, because she’s—there’s so many stories that I’ve told him that are mine.” But like, I’m never—I’m never going to assume that he’s just gonna—you know, say like, “There you go!” I was like, no. Like—I mean, it’s a big deal and I didn’t take it lightly. So, it was very shocking. I was like I don’t know—[stammering] I was literally—I think the first thing I said was, “You’re crazy for doing this, ‘cause I’ve never done this before.” [They chuckle.]

jesse

I mean, it is an unusual situation to be in the situation of being offered a starring role in a movie by one of the great filmmakers, but also know that you have not so much been in a supporting role in a movie—

alana

Yeah. I’ve never done anything!

jesse

—by a bad filmmaker. [Alana agrees with a laugh.] So, to what extent were you talking him into it and to what extent were—was he talking you into it?

alana

I mean, it immediately was a yes. [Music fades in.] We were fresh off of filming “Summer Girl.”

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“Summer Girl” from the album Women in Music Pt. III by HAIM. LA on my mind, I can’t breathe You’re there when I close my eyes So hard to reach Your smiles turn into crying It’s the same release And you always know, and you always know I’m your summer girl I’m your summer girl I’m your summer girl [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

alana

It was so fun, because it was so DIY. It was so guerilla style, and we were just having the best time doing it. So, having an experience like that and being fresh off this like—we were, you know, collaborating and running around Los Angeles and like taking these articles of clothes off. That was—you know, very chill. But, um. [They laugh.] Saying it on the radio—you have to just—just go watch “Summer Girl” and you’ll understand what I’m saying. It was very tasteful. There were no—nothing bad. But we were just so like energized by this experience of just having such a good time working together. And then, I think when he sent me this script, I was like kind of still on this high. And really, the conversation was short. I read it. I was obsessed with it. I was—I was incredibly jetlagged. I was like in London when I got the script. And I immediately read it. I was obsessed with it. I called him and I was like, “This is amazing.” I could not—it was a page-turner. I could not turn—like, I couldn’t put it down. But I said yes and then I went to bed and immediately like closed my eyes and thought, “Oh, what did I get myself into?” Like, what—is this—is this even gonna happen?! Like, is this—is this real? Like, can I even start getting excited about this? Like, am I gonna be okay? I mean, all the—all the questions that go through your mind of like insecurities and everything and—. But the thing is, Paul like—there was not one point in this whole process—I mean, he—at least, he never told me. [Chuckles.] Like, there was never a point in the process where he was like, “Maybe she can’t do it?” Like, he fully, fully believed in me from the beginning, which was shocking and very nice.

jesse

Did you?

alana

No! Oh my gosh, no! I mean, I’m a musician! For—I’ve been a musician since I was four years old. Of course, I did the odd like high school plays or middle school plays. Like, nothing crazy. I never would—you know, growing up in LA, you go to like school, and everyone has a headshot and like that was not my thing. Like, I was like, “Oh no. Like, that’s not—” My parents were not like trying to get me on Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. Like, nothing like that. Like, we were just musicians. You know what I mean? I’ve just always considered myself a musician. Maybe it was fear? I don’t know—that I didn’t think I could do it? But I just—it somehow got figured out for me. I mean, Paul saw something in me that I very much did not see for myself. And I didn’t realize how much I would love it, and now I’m kind of going through the like—having to let Alana Kane go. That’s like the next [chuckles]—the next chapter of my life, which is honestly like very sad. Like, I’m going through like a very like harsh reality of like, “Oh, this isn’t—like, I’m not gonna be her anymore.” ‘Cause I’ve already not been her for a while, but like I have to let her go. And I’ve never had that experience before. [Chuckles.]

jesse

What did you find in the script that you recognized when you read it that first time?

alana

That was like from my life? [Jesse confirms.] The first thing I saw was—and it eventually got cut, but there was like a whole monologue that I—that I shot, but it never made it in the movie. But there was like a whole monologue about bat mitzvah season, where I was like talking about how all I wanted to do was make out with somebody at a bat mitzvah and nobody wanted to make out with me, which is literally my life. There was like this whooole like monologue about how I was like so sad that like the only reason why I wanted a bat mitzvah was so I could kiss somebody. And that got cut, which—but that is my life.

jesse

Was there making out going down at bar and bat mitzvahs?

alana

What?! Of course!

jesse

One time I—well! I guess I wasn’t…!

alana

I mean, I wasn’t partaking. I wanted to! But like it was going on in the Valley. It was going all—everyone was making out with each other.

jesse

Getting this Valley lifestyle! Aah!

alana

Seventh grade was like a very, very informative year of my life. Like, no, everyone was making out. No one wanted to make out with me, but that’s—I mean, we don’t have to go down that road. [Chuckles.] I don’t need to tell you my like sadness from seventh grade, but yeah. No. It was like this whole monologue. And then—and then obviously, later in the script, there is a part where I bring a atheist to Shabbat dinner, which actually happened. It wasn’t Shabbat. It was Passover. And my middle sister had brought a boyfriend that she had been dating for a while that was Jewish, but had become an atheist, but we didn’t really know that. He didn’t—he kind of kept it quiet. And then when it came to him reading a portion of the Haggadah, he refused. And it was like in front of my dad, in front of my whole extended family, also. Like, ‘cause Passover, everybody gets together and reads the Haggadah, which is the story of Passover. But yeah, it was insanely awkward, and I remember telling Paul that story and he was like crying of laughter. And then, when I—when I read that story, that that was in the script, I was like, “I can’t imagine anybody else can do this, because this is literally from my life.” But that was—it was hilarious.

jesse

There’s a line in that scene [chuckling] where your character goes like, “He was almost maybe gonna be a boyfriend!”

alana

Yeah. [Chuckles.] “He was gonna be my boyfriend!” I mean, all that—the funniest part about that scene is—so, me and Cooper Hoffman were pretty much the only people that had full scripts on the whole movie. Like, we—I mean, ‘cause obviously we were in a lot of the scenes. But my dad—who plays my dad in Licorice Pizza; My whole family plays my family—didn’t get any script. Like, period. There was not one line that he saw on—written on a piece of paper. Like, it was very much like Paul set up the scene and was like, “Something’s gonna happen. Just react to whatever happens.” And usually, the first take was always the best take, ‘cause like my dad was just so shocked at like—I mean, I had never screamed at my dad in my whole life. Especially not like that. Like, maybe I would do like the occasional like, “You don’t understand, Dad! You don’t understand me!” But nothing like I’m screaming at you and I’m like in your face and like going for it. But I thought that it was so funny, ‘cause my dad [chuckling]—my dad, for the first couple of takes, was like, “Alright. Okay. This is funny.” And like obviously reacted. But after like seven takes, I would like go to hug him and he was like visibly mad. [Jesse laughs.] Like, he actually—he actually like did not wanna hug me. He didn’t wanna be around me. He was like over me screaming at him. And he—I mean, the scene is like he has to—you know, like kind of—he kind of lets me do my thing. Like, he can’t really retaliate the way that he wanted to. But I thought that was so funny that like I [stammering]—I have a vivid memory of like one of the last takes, I like wanted to go hug him and he kind of like backed away a little bit. And I was like, “Dad, this is not real! Like, we have to remember this is not real.” But he was so great. My dad is so funny.

jesse

He looks like he’s about to like Krav Maga you.

alana

Oh, 100%. My dad—I think that my dad is one of the funniest people on this planet. I feel like everyone kind of thinks that about their dad. But my dad was so funny and was such a good sport, filming this. And like, not having a script and not knowing what was going on. He really did kill it. [Chuckles.]

jesse

Let’s hear a little bit of that scene.

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[Door slams and cutlery clatters.] Alana: Why would you do that?! Why would you do that? He was maybe gonna be my boyfriend! Moti: Listen, young lady, you don’t bring this idiot to Shabbat dinner, here! Alana: Listen, Dad, he’s an atheist and an actor and he famous! Moti: But he’s Jewish! Alana: [Screaming.] He was gonna take me out of here. Este, don’t you even look at me! Don’t you even look at me. You’re always looking at me! Este: Oooh. Alana: What are you doing?! Este: [Trying not to laugh.] I didn’t even say anything! Alana: What are you doing?! What are you thinking, huh? [Mockingly.] “I’m Este. I work for Mom and Dad. I’m perfect. I’m a real estate agent. Alana doesn’t have her life together. Alana brings home stupid boyfriends all the time.” Este: I mean… Alana: I knew it. I knew that was what you were thinking. You’re always thinking things. You thinker! You thinker! You think things!

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alana

So funny. [Jesse laughs.] Every take that we did of that—‘cause that was all improv. There was no—that scene wasn’t really scripted. And every time we did that scene, we all did something different. So, it was just—so, it was chaos. It was pure chaos. [Chuckles.]

jesse

I mean, you—before we were coming into the studio, not to spill too many beans, but you left your phone on the sofa outside. [Alana confirms.] In case—in case your mom called. Because if your mom called and you didn’t answer, then your dad would call.

alana

Oh yeah. And then, it would go through the sisters and then it would just be like a funnel. Then—if I don’t pick up both my parents, then my parents will call Este. And then if Este—Este then will call me. And then if—‘cause they think like, “Oh, maybe she doesn’t wanna pick up because we’re not one of her siblings.” Or whatever. And then Este will call me. And then if Este can’t get a hold of me, then she’ll report back to my parents. And then if that—if it gets to that stage, then it’s like, “Something’s wrong.” And then it’s like all hands on deck. We gotta find Alana. And I’m like, “You guys, I’m literally just living and working.” [Chuckles.] “Like, please.” And it’s always at like the most inopportune—like the worst time. It’s always the worst timing where I’m like—I literally, physically can’t call them back. And then I know that my mom is like sitting by the phone worrying, like crying, like, “Where is my daughter?!” I’m like, “I just woke up. Like, everyone calm down.”

jesse

So much more with Alana Haim still to come. After the break, we’ll talk more about the Valley. Du-pars! The Northridge earthquake! 818 ‘til I die! Don’t miss it! It’s Bullseye, from MaximumFun.org and NPR. [Beat.] Welcome back to Bullseye. I’m Jesse Thorn. If you’re just joining us, I’m talking with Alana Haim. She is the guitarist and a singer for the band HAIM, who were nominated for Album of the Year at last year’s Grammys. She’s also the star of the new movie, Licorice Pizza, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Licorice Pizza is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards. And if you ask me, Alana’s the best part of the whole thing. Let’s get back into our conversation. I mean, it’s pretty wild to think that you are going through these experiences of—you know, being in a film by a great American filmmaker and also like, “Oh yeah, we’re on the road with Taylor Swift,” or whatever. [Alana chuckles.] But also, while still within your like family of origin. [Chuckles.] [Alana confirms.] You know what I mean? Like, you’re touring with your sisters in the band. Your mom is calling you and you’re like, “I’m 28.”

alana

I’m 30, now!

jesse

“And I’m the young one.”

alana

Oh yeah, no. It’s totally—my family—like, we have no boundaries. Like, I always like when people are like, “Don’t you—” Like, “Set boundaries with you family.” I’m like, “Boundaries? You think I can set boundaries with my family?!” Like, no! We’re not a boundaries family! But I love that. I mean, we’ve always been so close. I started a band with my parents when I was four years old. Like, we were—we were like The Partridge Family. And I love my parents. I mean, my phone’s out there, but I would show you like the—literally, the wallpaper of my phone is my parents on their wedding day. Like, every time I pick up my phone, I see a photo of my parents. So, even though we’re a little crazy, we’re still great. I love them.

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“The Steps” from the album The Steps by HAIM. So, baby, when I’m near you You can’t feel me [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

jesse

What were you doing in the band when you were four years old?

alana

I could only play percussion, because I couldn’t—you know—lift an instrument, obviously. But my dad had shown me—

jesse

Oh! It was a marching band?

alana

No! [Chuckling.] No, no, no. It was a—it was—we were—we just played covers. I mean, my mom—in the ‘70s—also, my mom always loved playing guitar. Like, she grew up playing guitar. She—you know, wanted to be a singer and—but her parents were not supportive. But she played guitar and she—like, her claim to fame was she won The Gong Show in the ‘70s. She like, got on twice. She lost once. Didn’t get Gonged, but she lost to a father-son pop and lock crew. Which, I mean, given. Obviously. [Jesse agrees.] My mom’s not good enough like for that. Like, she—they should’ve won. But then I guess Barris like loved my mom so much that he like invited her back to do just the same exact thing. And she won. And we have a gong in my house, which is so crazy. [Jesse reacts with surprise.] Like, we have her trophy that says like, “Donna Rose: Gong Show Winner”. Which is amazing. And my dad always played drums. And so, like as—I mean, it’s like a funny or just sounds like a movie. It’s like a very funny origin story, but my dad apparently had a dream that he like violently woke up from and like woke up my mom and was like, “I had dream that we had a band with the kids. That like we played music with the kids.” And not in like a professional way. Like, there was never like—we were called Rockin’ Haim. just so you know. Rockin’ with an apostrophe. Rockin’ Haim. No ‘G’.

jesse

You already had a plan, a map to stardom with a name like that.

alana

Yeah. I don’t know who—honestly, I should actually ask who came up with the name Rockin’ Haim. I’m sure it was my mom. [Jesse chuckles.] That sounds like something my mom would do. But it was like very much just like our version of like a family activity. Like, we weren’t like a camping family or like a—I don’t know what other families do. [Chuckles.] I don’t know like what activities families do, but like that was like our version of like camping. It was like on the weekends, we would just like play covers together and like we—it was never for money. Like, we did like charity events and like country fairs and like street fairs. Like, we played the Sherman Oaks Street Fair every year. We played the St. Francis de Sales Fair every year. But my dad had showed me Sheila E at like a very young age and she plays timbales, and I was so obsessed with Sheila E growing up. I love Prince. We were like a very big Prince and Sheila E family. And I just thought she looked so cool. And so, my first instrument was timbales. And then, obviously, like give me a maraca. Give me a tambourine. Like, it was like very low stakes. But then when I got old enough to actually be able to play an instrument, I started on piano. And then I got jealous of both my siblings, because Este was playing bass and Danielle was playing guitar and I just thought they looked so cool. So, I was like, “I wanna play guitar.” And so, I moved over to guitar. And then—I kind of wish now that I stayed on piano, because now I love it so much and I kind of wish that I would’ve just stuck with it, ‘cause I probably would’ve been really good by now. But I kind of just play everything under the sun in HAIM. Like, there’s not—if I had two extra hands, I would be the most incredible—it would just—I could do anything.

jesse

First of all, I am also—I love Sheila E. Sheila E, go on—

alana

Oh, she’s the coolest.

jesse

Sheila E, go on Bullseye. If you’re listening, please. We’ve invited her before. Never managed to book her. You’re very welcome on Bullseye, Sheila E.

alana

Yes! Please! And can I be here when that happens? [Chuckles.]

jesse

You’re invited. But did you ever get tempted to have one of those like—you know how Sheila E, especially—I mean, I’ve seen videos of her doing this relatively recently on YouTube. Like, she’s still doing. She still looks great, too.

alana

I know.

jesse

But like, these giant standing kits that she’s got with 75 drums.

alana

Oh, we had that!

jesse

And 24 different percussion instruments. [Alana affirms.] All arrayed so that she can play them while she’s singing and dancing.

alana

100%. No, HAIM does—like, on our last tour we had like a version of it. Like, it’s obviously not as cool as Sheila E’s setup, ‘cause like she obviously has like her own cymbals and her own branded cymbals and just like is the [censored] coolest—sorry if I can’t swear.

jesse

It’s okay. It was about Sheila E. [Chuckles.]

alana

I mean, I only swear for her. But no, we literally made a setup because wanted it to be like that. Like, we had a setup like with like these like crazy bars that had all these different instruments. But we called it Bongotron. [They laugh.] ‘Cause there was just so many different—like, any type of drum was like on that thing. It was so crazy. But yeah, no. She’s the greatest. And to see a woman that could—you know, is like a badass musician was like very inspiring for me, growing up. But yeah. Rockin’ Haim. We played as Rockin’ Haim until I was like 16. And then when I was 16, me and my siblings decided like, maybe we should try to be a band together, because like we’ve been playing with each other for so long. Like, we know exactly how to—you know, work together. And we were like, “But maybe we should like try to write a song.” ‘Cause like Rockin’ Haim never did original songs. Like, weren’t like sitting like being like, “Mom, what do you think about this line?” Like, it was all covers. It was like Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Tina Turner. We never did Prince, because Prince was like so hard. You like—it’s so hard to do a Prince cover and we were all like children. A lot of Beatles. A lot of Rolling Stones. Like, Santana I think. I’m not sure. But when we started, you know—we started writing our own songs and kind of went from there. And we played every venue under the sun for I think seven years. And no one ever wanted to sign us in America. And we put out an EP—The Forever EP, which is actually what led Paul to us. [Music fades in.] He had heard “Forever” on the radio, and that’s how he got connected to us.

music

“Forever” from the album Days Are Gone by HAIM. Hey, you Remember me? Remember love? Remember trying to stay together? My time, you took it all You tried to see You tried to bring yourself up without involving me It isn’t fair to have your way To try get up and go and na-na-na-na-now can’t you see? It isn’t fair to have your way But I’m trying to get your attention And I need you to know, baby Hey, you! Hey, you! Can’t you make the scene I know, I know, I know [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

alana

We put out this EP and still no one wanted to sign us. No one cared. And so, we heard that there was something happening in the UK, and we just went to the UK and then got signed there and just stayed there.

jesse

When you were working up a set with your parents and you’re like sisters are teens and you’re nine or whatever, like—does like one of your older sisters come in and be like, “I wanna play this—I wanna play The Cranberries.” [Alana confirms with a laugh.] And then—and then your mom—your mom is like—

alana

My parents were like, “What are you talking about?” Um.

jesse

She’s just like, “People like these other things.” [Chuckles.]

alana

Totally. No. There was definitely a point where like—I mean, me, Este, and Danielle would like learn songs together that like we would hear on the radio. I mean, that’s like—that’s how we learned how to play instruments. And we had lessons but like to learn like songs that we were learning on the radio, we would like actually record them on a tape deck on the radio and like go try to like figure it out by ear and then try to write out—‘cause this was also before—before the internet, you had to like listen to a song and write down the lyrics. Like, you couldn’t just go to like lyrics.com. So, half of our lyrics were wrong, obviously. Because there was no way you could get everything right.

jesse

And for our audience at home, when you said lyrics.com, you showed how you would type that into a keyboard.

alana

Yes. Lyyyyrics dot com, enter. But I remember, Este was like, “I wanna play “Celebrity Skin” by Hole. And I was like, [whispering] “That’s so cool, oh my god.”

jesse

I mean, it’s really cool.

alana

She also wanted to play like Korn and like my sister was super into like new metal. Like, she was definitely like Korn and The Offspring. [Chuckles.] Like, things that like—

jesse

She was jamming on KROQ. She was listening to KROQ.

alana

Totally! She was sooo like—all she wanted to do was go to Weenie Roast. Like, that was like her jam.

jesse

The festival concert put on by KROQ.

alana

Yes. Like that was like her like thing. Like, I remember we got the like Weenie Roast like—she never got to go, because like my parents were like, “You’re not going to a concert by yourself, missus.”

jesse

[Laughing.] “We have a concert that night!”

alana

Yeah, exactly. No, but yeah. There was definitely a point where she wanted to like play her songs that she loved, but like we weren’t playing—no disrespect to classical music. Like, I’m obsessed with classical music. I love it. But we were playing like songs that were like cool. They were like from the ‘70s and they were like great songs that like I still love to this day. So, it wasn’t like we were playing boring songs. Like, we were playing like sick songs. But of course, yeah, no, I’m sure Este—I remember Hole’s “Celebrity Skin”. That was like a big one. [Chuckles.]

jesse

I can understand! I mean, that is like a generational touchstone song. [Alana agrees.] It is a super cool song.

alana

It’s the coolest song! Are you kidding?

jesse

And it’s a pretty different kind of thing.

alana

And they were girls! Like, we wanted to like—I mean, we looked up to them. You know? Like, that was—they were the coolest. They still are the coolest!

jesse

Even at the level of success that the band is at, I don’t think you could say the future is promised, just by the virtue of the entertainment industry. [Alana agrees.] Like, do you ever think like, “Oh my gosh, my life has been on rails. Like, I’ve been doing this since I was four years old. What would happen if I weren’t doing this?”

alana

Oh, I think about it all the time. I mean, especially with my siblings. ‘Cause like it is kind of like weird that like all of us loved music so much that like at such a young age like one of us was like—what if one of us was just like really good at science? Like, [chuckles] or like really good at like chemistry? And like wanted to be like a doctor or something like that? But yeah, no, I mean like I feel like I was always meant to do something in music. If HAIM didn’t work out, I probably would be working in music in some capacity, whether it be like producing or songwriting or something like that. But it was always—it was my first love. And I will always—I mean, it’s like hard to give up your first love. It’s like such—it’s like imbedded in my veins. Like, it just—it was always meant to be this way.

jesse

Being a grownup—and like you are the last of your siblings to become a full-on grownup. [Alana laughs.] Because you’re the youngest, right?

alana

I don’t wanna be a grownup! [Laughs.]

jesse

Being a grownup, is it like—is it hard to figure out what it means to be an adult when your life remains so close to the things that you were when you were a child? That it is so—you know, outside of your bat mitzvah maybe, like so unmarked by—

alana

[Laughs.] I mean, it’s funny! I don’t know. I mean, I’ve always felt very young at heart. And I feel like I’m very much like my mother in that way. Like, my mom is just still like—I look at her sometimes and I feel like she’s—I mean, I said this story before, but like it was a very like poignant story of my life that I feel like is going to be a core memory. [Chuckles.] Like, if we’re talking in like Inside Out terms, the Pixar movie. But like this core memory—like, the night before I turned 30, I talked to my mom and I was like, “Mom, can you believe that I’m 30?” ‘Cause that’s like a big deal for my parents, too. I mean, again, like it’s basically saying like our—the baby of the family is a grownup, even though I don’t feel that way. But I was like, “Mom, isn’t it crazy that I’m turning 30?” And she was like, “It’s insane.” And I was like, “Mom, I still feel like I’m 13.” And she literally just paused for a second and went, “Me too.” [Laughs.] I was like, “You still feel like you’re 13, Mom?” And she’s like, “Yeah. I still feel like I’m 13. And I just like—it never has changed.” And it like made me feel like so comforted that like you never fully grow up. Like, we’re all just like putting on this costume of being a grownup. Like, you—like, I feel like I’m wearing a costume. Like, even saying—when you said like, “You’re a grownup,” I was [whispered] I am?! I’m a grownup? Like I still feel like—I mean, obviously like now I have to pay bills and stuff. Like, I’m not on the family plan anymore, which was a big deal. [Chuckles.] I’m not on the phone family plan. I have to pay for—I mean, obviously. But I’m 30, I have to pay my bills. But that’s like the only thing that like really signified me growing up is me like being like, “Oh, [censored], I gotta pay for everything.” [Laughs.] Like—but like, I still feel like I’m 13. And I don’t think that that’ll ever change. ‘Cause it hasn’t changed yet. I mean, I’m 30 and I still feel like I’m going to a bat mitzvah this weekend. [Jesse laughs.] And hopefully the love of my life that refuses to—you know—date me will, you know, turn the corner and wanna date me.

jesse

Who would you have liked to have made out with at a bat mitzvah?

alana

Oh my god, like anyone. [Jesse laughs.] Like, literally anyone. I was like such a late bloomer in that sense. Like, I don’t know what it was about me that like no dude—I mean, we all have to think about seventh grade. Like, you finally have hormones. Like, everything is going crazy. It’s literally like Big Mouth. Like, when I watch Big Mouth, I’m like triggered. [Chuckles.] Like, that was literally me, like all these like hormone monsters were like driving me nuts. Um, but yeah, no. I would—I would’ve made out with anybody, and no one wanted to make out with me. So, I had to wait ‘til I was in high school to like finally kiss someone. Which is—in the Valley, I don’t know what was going on, but like everyone like got their first kiss in like sixth grade. And I had to wait until like ninth grade. [Chuckles.]

jesse

That’s like a—that’s a Valley thing?

alana

I guess? No, I mean, I just—I just lived it. Being in middle school was like everyone had boyfriends and everyone was like making out and I was just like, “My time will come soon. Hopefully.” [They chuckle.]

jesse

Now you’re saying it like you were like gazing into the stars out your—out your window!

alana

It’s true! Like, [singing] if you wish upon a star! Please make out with meee, please! Like, that’s really what it was! And it hasn’t changed—I mean, I still feel like—again, I still feel like I’m in seventh grade. So. [Chuckles.]

jesse

We’ll wrap up with Alana Haim in just a minute. Stay with us. It’s Bullseye, from MaximumFun.org and NPR.

promo

[A shop door opens, ringing a bell.] Speaker: Um, hi. I’m looking for a movie. Ify Nwadiwe: Oh, I gotcha! Drea Clark: Uh, there’s that new foreign film with the time travel. Alonso Duralde: There’s an amazing documentary about queer history on streaming! Ify: Have I told you about this classic where giant robots fight?! Alonso: Or there’s that one that most critics hated but I thought was actually pretty good! Drea: Oooh! I know, the one with the huge car chase and then there’s that scene where— Ify & Alonso & Drea: [In unison.] The car jumps over the submarine! Speaker: Wow, who are you eclectic movie experts? [Fun, upbeat music fades in.] Ify: Well, I’m Ify Nwadiwe. Drea: I’m Drea Clark! Alonso: And I’m Alonso Duralde, and together we host the movie podcast Maximum Film. Drea: New episodes every week on MaximumFun.org! Ify: Aaand you actually just walked into our recording booth. Speaker: Oh! Weird?! Sorry! I thought this was a video store. Drea: You seem like a lady with a lot of problems. [Music fades out.]

jesse

I’m Jesse Thorn. You’re listening to Bullseye. My guest is Alana Haim. She’s one of the three members of the band Haim. She’s also the star of the new movie Licorice Pizza. Let me ask you this thing about your mom, because I was reading about—your mom was Paul Thomas Anderson’s elementary school art teacher. [Alana confirms.] As I heard you tell the story, you didn’t realize that when you first—he didn’t realize that when you first met him.

alana

He had no idea.

jesse

But you knew. And the way that you—the thing that you said your mother would say when one of his movies was being discussed on television or whatever was very particular, to me. Which was, uh—it was—she said, “That’s Paul! He was my student. I made him creative!”

alana

[Laughing.] Yeah! She got so mad at me when I said that, because she was like, “Oh, Paul—I—you know, you’re paraphrasing what I say. I always knew that Paul was creative.” Paul was one of my mother’s like favorite students, because he would always never listen to her. Which was like my mom’s dream. Like, my mom like loved when students would like be so creative that they like needed to make art. [Chuckles.] Like, they knew exactly what kind of art they wanted to make. So, like they—my mom would be doing—my mom was very into like recycled art. She would always love to take newspapers and make them papier-mâché into like some sort of like flower arrangement or something. Like, she was very into like—my mom was like a hippie. She like loved recycling like old bicycle tires and making them into stamps. It was like—I mean, the school loved it, ‘cause she was like, “I don’t need any money! I don’t need any budget! I’m just gonna recycle things.” But she would always say that like Paul—there would be like some sort of like thing happening and Paul would just kind of do his own thing and would run around the class. And like for someone like my mom, who’s like a baby angel—like it’s so funny that she like loved that part of a child. Like, any other teacher would be like pulling their hair out and my mom was just like, “Yes! Art! Create!” I mean, she was the coolest. She had like—always played guitar in class. She brought her record player into class and would let the students like listen to records that she had. ‘Cause she was young! I mean, she was in like her early 20s when she was like an art teacher to like all these kids. So, like she felt like a kid, too. She was like, “What would I want an art teacher to be like for me?” And it was like run free. Like, do whatever you feel. Me saying that, you know, she said that I created his creativity—I mean, maybe I was paraphrasing just a little bit. [Jesse laughs.] But she did—but she did always say like, growing up—like whenever his movies would be on TV, she’d be like, “I taught him!” And like we all believed her, obviously. I don’t think that like my mom’s a liar. But also, I was like, “But are you sure, Mom?! Like are you sure you taught PTA? Like, that’s like a big deal.” And it turns out, you know. She was Ms. Rose, though. She hadn’t even met my dad. So, she wasn’t Ms. Haim. So, that’s why he didn’t know that we were Ms. Rose’s daughters. Also, her name was Ms. Rose. Like, come on. It’s like too perfect for an art teacher. Ms. Rose?! Like, it’s insane.

jesse

So, we were laughing before the show about the late and well-remembered comedian, Brody Stevens, who would often scream “818 Valley ‘til I die” onstage. And this is such a Valley movie, but I don’t think people have all that much idea of what the Valley is, outside. [Alana agrees.] In fact, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 15 years and, outside of my old therapist’s office in Toluca Lake, I don’t have a strong understanding of the Valley.

alana

It’s true. There’s a lot of therapists in the Valley. I wonder why. I mean, it’s like therapists and like the porn industry were like a big deal in the Valley. I mean, I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. It’s funny, like with this movie coming out, like a lot of people are like, “I wanna visit the Valley.” And I’m like—I feel bad, ‘cause I’m like—I mean, Paul really painted such a beautiful picture of the Valley and it’s like not that great. I mean, I love it. I love the Valley. I mean, talk about “818 ‘til I die”. I mean, I live, breathe, and die for the Valley, because it’s where I’m from. But it was really just a suburb. It was like a suburb. And now it’s like kind of taken on a whole life of its own. I mean, there’s like all of my favorite places have now turned into—you know, other places that make me sad. There was a diner called Du-par’s that was like my heart and soul. Like, it was open late. Me and my siblings would go there every weekend when we were like done, you know, going to a venue like to see a band. And like, you would get pancakes at like three in the morning and it was the best. And now it’s a Sephora. [Chuckles sadly.] Now it’s fully a Sephora. Like, the façade of the building is still the same. They haven’t even changed the sign. They just like literally put “Sephora” on top of this Du-par’s sign. That was like so heartbreaking. But I love the Valley. I mean, it was a great place to grow up, because Valley kids like always stuck together. And even growing up like going to a party like on the east side or something. Like, if you heard that someone was from the Valley, you immediately gravitated towards them. And you knew that like you kind of grew up—you went to the same spots. You went to the same restaurants. Usually, your parents are a lot alike [laughs]. But it was just a great place to grow up. And unfortunately, it got a bad rep, I think—in the ‘80s—with the Valley girl stereotype. But you know, I think the Valley girl kind of died in the ‘80s. When the Northridge earthquake happened—the ’94 earthquake—I feel like the Valley girl kind of died. But I still am a very—very much a Valley girl.

jesse

Do you remember that earthquake?

alana

Oh yeah. I was four. I actually—apparently, I saved my family. Because I was like a baby, and I needed like food or like a bottle or something. Maybe I was three. Food!

jesse

[Laughing.] Whatever it is that babies need!

alana

I think it was like maybe three or something and I needed a bottle. And so, like my mom had woken up to like go get me a bottle like an hour before the earthquake. And so, like my parents were kind of like not sleeping, but not awake. Like, kind of in this half-zone of like—I was in the bed with them. I mean, I don’t remember the actual earthquake, but apparently it was insane. Like, it was terrifying, and it lasted a really long time. Like, that’s the thing about earthquakes that’s so weird is like I’ve been—I mean, knock on wood—lucky enough where it only lasts like a matter of seconds. Like, it’s not really—it doesn’t really like go to a minute. And I think that the Northridge earthquake went a lot—went on for a very long time and there were a lot of crazy aftershocks. But yeah, no, because I cried, my dad was like kind of like ready to go. Grabbed Este in one arm, Danielle in the other arm and like ran outside. And my mom always said that the one memory that she has of the ’94 earthquake is like crystal being—like, my mom was like kind of like the historian of her family and got all of like her great-grandparents’ like crystal and she said like, “I would just hear like glass breaking of like all these family heirlooms that I had kept, and they were just gone.” And yeah. And our house got—you know, pretty messed up. But yeah. The crazy ’94 earthquake. [Chuckles.]

jesse

So, now that you have been—and you’re wonderful in this movie. You really are wonderful in this movie. But now that you’ve been the star of a movie with one of America’s great film directors, would you be scared to be in a regular movie? Or do you feel ready to be— [Alana chuckles.] Like, if you got a call to say like, “We need fifth on the bill in a new Transformers movie.” Would you be ready to do—not like—I’m not asking you for a value judgment of would you want to do it. I’m saying would you be okay with it? Would you—could you do it with your heart? Would you feel secure?

alana

I mean—[laughs]. Would I feel secure? I mean, the thing is like—for me, and it goes—it comes from HAIM. I mean, I would only do something that I love. Because how we make records—I mean, it’s such a stifling process, making a record, ‘cause you make this thing that you love so much and then you put it out in the universe and then like you—it has to be judged and it’s terrifying. But I think very early on, we kind of made the decision of like you cannot listen to what people say. Like, if you love it and it’s truthfully yours and you took no advice from outside people—I mean, we take advice from Paul. He’s the only person that we take advice from. If it’s truly yours, then no matter if it’s good or bad, you’ll love it because it was your decision. It was all about you. When it comes to this new chapter of my life, of working with somebody else maybe—I mean, it’s hard to imagine working with someone that’s not Paul, because our working relationship was just so—he was so hands on with me and so like checking in on me and making sure that I was like good. And he was anything—any type of idea that I had, he would welcome. Like, there was no bad ideas. If I could make him laugh, it would stay in. And that’s like—what a beautiful way to work. Like, I went to work every day with bells on. I woke up at five AM every day and like did my hair and makeup and went to set. And it was so fun. And I think that’s the beautiful thing about Paul is that like he really is an incredible director. I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. But I do know that I can’t work with him forever. [Laughs.] I think that’s—I think that’s like the sad part about it is—but I haven’t really thought about what I’m gonna do next or if I’m gonna do it. I mean, I would love to act again. It was so fun and I—and I loved it so much and it was such a great experience. But there’s nothing in the pipeline other than tour. I’m going on tour. Which is my—I’m going back to my first love.

jesse

Did you keep any of these sick ‘fits that you rocked in the movie?

alana

Dude, I tried!

jesse

Maybe the weird baby doll dress from the audition? [Laughs.]

alana

I tried, dude. I triiiied, duuude! No, I couldn’t keep anything. A lot of it was rented, so I couldn’t keep it. I really was like, “I’ll pay. I wanna just have these bellbottoms for the rest of my life.” I did get—there’s like in one scene when I’m calling one of my various boyfriends in the movie, called Brian—where I’m calling him in the bathroom and I’m wearing this blue robe and I’m asking him if he needs help with [inaudible]. I got to keep that robe. [Jesse laughs.] And I got to keep—I stole this ring that I don’t let go of. I like stole the ring. I was like, “I’m keeping this ring.” It was the ring that—it was one of the first things that I chose to wear for the character. It’s like my favorite thing that I own, and I never take it off.

jesse

Can you describe what it is?

alana

It’s like a—it’s honestly like costume jewelry. It makes my—it makes my finger black. Like, it’s like not—it’s not an expensive ring and it—like, it looks like it came out of like a gumball machine, but it has like this piece of like ceramic in it that I—when I looked at it, I thought that it was really interesting. I was like huh, I’ve never really seen that before. And it kind of felt like she would wear something like that. And I just—it just stuck. And then I just—it was the kind of thing where I put it on, and I think I forgot about it. And then every day, I would just wear it. And then it was just like a part of—a part of the ‘fit. [Chuckles.]

jesse

And this moon necklace?

alana

This moon necklace I got after our first album. And I don’t mean to namedrop, but Stevie Nicks gave it to me, which was like one of the biggest deals of—I think the biggest deal of my life? Because Fleetwood Mac—I mean, it’s no secret that HAIM was heavily influenced by Fleetwood Mac. I mean, from the time that I was four and then from the time that we started HAIM. And we got to meet her, and she was—she’s been such an incredible, you know, mentor to all three of my siblings. And the first time I met her, she gave all three of us moon necklaces, ‘cause we are sisters in the moon.

jesse

Do you like text her questions?

alana

I don’t text her questions. We see her from time to time. I mean, with COVID, it’s—obviously we can’t see her as much as we want to, but we’ve hung out quite a number of times and every time we hang out, it’s like she just has the most incredible stories and is so supportive and like loves our music so much. And every time we come out with an album, like she always like listens to it and sends us videos of like what her favorite songs are on the albums. And it’s like, “You’re Stevie Nicks. Like, you’re a god! Like, you’re one of my biggest influences in my life.” It’s very mind-blowing. It’s like very mind-blowing and like very much like, “Oh my god.” [Chuckles.] Like, how is this my life? It’s crazy.

jesse

Well, if we’re lucky, we’ll get this Sheila E thing set up.

alana

Dude. I will be here. I will get—I will get you guys coffees. [Jesse laughs.] I will—I’ll just sit in the other room. Like, you won’t even know that I’m here. Like, I just wanna like be around her aura. Like, she’s just like the coolest. She is the coolest. [Music fades in.]

jesse

Well, thanks for taking the time to come in. It was nice to get to talk to you.

alana

Oh, I’m so happy to be here! This was so fun!

jesse

Congratulations on your performance in this movie. It’s really something special.

alana

Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.

music

“Honey & I” from the album Days Are Gone by HAIM. Good at night, I know there’s nothing good in goodbye But you lead me to no other line, no other line Eyes wide when you walked through the door You made your way across the floor All of the girls ought to try that dance Try that dance, no [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

jesse

Alana Haim. If you haven’t seen her in Licorice Pizza, she is great in it. That movie is still playing in theaters now, and it’s a lot of fun. Look, we don’t have the kind of office where we ask guests for pictures, but it just so happens that Max Fun production fellow Valerie Moffat is a HAIM superfan, so we made sure that Alana took a picture with her. Thanks to Valerie for helping us out on the HAIM end of this segment. We asked her to pick a song from the band for us to go out on. This is “Honey & I”.

music

[Volume increases.] … honey and I D-doing just fine, yeah [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

jesse

That’s the end of another episode of Bullseye. Bullseye is created from the homes me and the staff of Maximum Fun, in and around greater Los Angeles, California. At my house, I just put together a swing set. It’s actually not a set. It’s one swing. And it’s not the kind with a seat. It sort of looks like a UFO? Anyway. [Laughing.] Kids don’t seem to use it that much. The show is produced by speaking into microphones. Our senior producer is Kevin Ferguson. Our producer is Jesus Ambrosio. Production fellows at Maximum Fun are Richard Robey and Valerie Moffat. We get help booking from Mara Davis. Our interstitial music is by Dan Wally, also known as DJW. If you need some chill beats to study to or whatever, you can actually download music from Bullseye on Bandcamp. It’s called Target Practice: Interstitial Music from NPR’s Bullseye and it’s pay what you want. So, uh, you know. Whether you just wanna drop some bars on an instrumental or hang out at your house and feel chill, go grab that DJW music. Dan’s a good dude. Our theme song is “Huddle Formation” by The Go! Team. Thanks to The Go! Team. Thanks to their label, Memphis Industries, for letting us use that song. Bullseye is on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, as well. You can find us there. You can give us a follow, hear all our interviews. I think that’s about it. Just remember: all great radio hosts have a signature signoff.

promo

Speaker: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of MaximumFun.org and is distributed by NPR.

music

[Volume increases.] My, my, my honey and I My, my, my honey and I My, my, my honey and I [Music fades out.]

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

If you would like to pitch a guest for Bullseye, please CLICK HERE. You can also follow Bullseye on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. For more about Bullseye and to see a list of stations that carry it, please click here.

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