‘Let’s really shock them’: Despite seismic shifts, Pale Waves always sound exactly like Pale Waves

Get the latest from Beat


‘Let’s really shock them’: Despite seismic shifts, Pale Waves always sound exactly like Pale Waves

Pale Waves
Words by Luke Carlino

From 80’s synth to Naughties pop-punk, Heather Baron-Gracie and co are bringing it all down under in March.

Despite being born in 1995, Pale Waves frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie has the unique skill of being able to capture the sound of a specific era while giving it a modern sheen. When the band, filled out by guitarist Hugo Silvani, bassist Charlie Wood and drummer Ciara Doran, released their first single, There’s a Honey, in 2017, they quickly gained a legion of fans who loved their modern 80s sound.

This sound continued through the Manchester group’s debut EP All the Things I Never Said and first full-length album, My Mind Makes Noises, before switching things up and moving over a decade to the 90s on their second release, Who Am I?

Now, with the brand-new record Unwanted, the shift has moved another ten years to pop-punk reminiscent of an early Avril Lavigne. 

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The beauty in all of these seismic shifts is that Pale Waves have always sounded exactly like Pale Waves. Something that Baron-Gracie claims is front of mind during the band’s creative process. “Half of our creative process is strategic, but the other half is us embracing the sounds we want to explore more and more. You learn what feels right and good, and that influences the next record.”

Unwanted is Pale Wave’s heaviest record to date, something Heather claims is a lot more fun in a live setting for both the band and the audience. “We really had fun with the heaviness of the last album, so that will carry over to our next record because we know that it works. We also know that we need to keep some aspects of what Pale Waves have always had; we couldn’t just release an acoustic folk record. It might not go down very well, so we try to keep certain things that have always been prominent in our world.” 

Heather discusses the process of capturing the sound of an era so well. For the first two records, the Pale Waves stereo was filled with albums from the 80s and 90s to capture and instil the feel of those periods in the band’s minds. However, the latest record didn’t require as much research.

“I was actually listening to a lot of focus music, but since I was a teenager, I feel like I’ve had a lot of pop-punk influences that have grown into me; it’s just naturally there.”

Heather and her crew are currently preparing for their second Australian visit after their first in 2018, which begins on March 18th at the Super Fun Day festival in Brisbane. From there, they make their way down to Melbourne for a show at Max Watts on March 23rd.

“Australia is such a long way away, we’ve only been once, so we really want to put on the best shows we possibly can.” The Australian tour also happens to be the very first live appearance for Pale Waves in 2023, and the band will be bringing locals Teenage Joans and Selfish Sons along for the ride.

Post-Australian tour, the group will spend the rest of the year on the festival circuit in Europe before getting back to the studio for album number four. “We have a very busy summer, but hopefully, we’ll be releasing new music this year. It will probably be singles, maybe even an album; it depends on how fast it goes.”

It’s too early for the sound of the era of this album to be revealed, and there aren’t too many places left to go if the band are working chronologically. I jokingly suggest they possibly try 50s swing music? “Haha, let’s really shock them,” laughs Heather, “I’ll start digging out some old records right now.” Based on their track record, Pale Waves would probably nail this ridiculous concept if they did attempt it.

See Pale Waves and hear their genre-crossing catalogue on Thursday, March 23rd, at Max Watts as part of the band’s 2023 Australian Tour. Tickets are available now from Oztix.