An Interview with Heathers!

Photo: Laurence Philomène

Beansie Saretsky from CJLO's Maiden Voyage (Monday 5-6 PM) caught up with local three-piece Heathers to chat about the Montreal music scene, riot grrrl, and the tunes that inspire them.


How did Heathers get started as a band?

We formed through a random draw to be a Sleater-Kinney cover band for the "Riot Grrrl Band Off" in 2012, which is an annual fundraiser for Rock Camp for Girls Montreal. We played that one-off show as a four-piece, with an additional member on drums (Dominique Montgomery, whom we miss and love!), and decided to keep playing together because we enjoyed our band chemistry so much. Dominique moved away a few months after that, so we re-structured the group into our current formation, which is Helen on guitar and (lead) vocals, Heather on guitar and (backup) vocals, and Nikki on drums. 

Where do you draw musical inspiration from?

Initially we wanted to create a Sleater-Kinney-inspired project; something that draws on riot-grrrl but isn't that kind of music specifically. We have continued playing with elements of riff-based guitar parts, vocal-centric performance (we like to play with vocal duality), and a variety of drum beats. We each bring our own influences to the table, although we definitely all cite PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, and other grunge-y nineties bands, especially with female members, as major sources of inspiration. We're also often inspired by our friends' bands, and bands we play shows with!

What's your favourite venue to play a show at in Montreal? Why?

After a year or so of playing live, we've found that we always feel most at home in small-ish "dive bars" like Brasserie Beaubien or Bistro de Paris. There's something about the casual vibes, and low pressure to "fill the venue" that allows us to feel more comfortable on stage and put on a fun performance. We also prefer small stages in general, so that we don't feel so far away from each other, and from the audience. Even if we're on a larger stage, we try to set up as close to each other as possible!

Where's your favourite space to practice?

We started off practicing at Cité Musique, which is a pay-by-the-hour spot on Beaubien, so that studio has a place in our hearts, however we are starting to own most of our own gear, and we now share a space on Van Horne with several other local bands. It's nice to have our own space and gear so that we can work on fine-tuning, and being able to create a more consistent sound when we record, or perform live. 

What's the top played song on your iPod right now?

Heather - "Silent Partner" by Weed
Helen - "Way Out of Living" by Linear Movement
Nikki - "Severed Crossed Fingers" by St. Vincent

What is one piece of advice you'd give to those wanting to start a band in Montreal?

Be honest about yourselves and your "band identity" - don't try to be anything too specific or it might come across as disingenuous. Be organized, keep some semblance of a band fund to go toward things like recording and merch, and try not to "oversaturate" by playing more than once a month. Ask for help and feedback, and reflect on shows, practices, and recordings. Practice giving and receiving constructive criticism and positive support. Push yourselves creatively and you'll get better, and probably surprise yourselves along the way. 

Where can people currently find your music?

Our demo (recorded in August 2013) is online on our Bandcamp. We are currently working on recording a full length album with a bunch of new material that should be released within a few months. You can also see us live at one of our shows, check our Facebook for upcoming events!