Artist Spotlight: Heathers

HEATHERS are Dublin twins Louise & Ellie Macnamara, a duo who have well and truly made their mark on the Irish music scene over the past few years. The comparisons to harmonising twin guitar-toting Canadian counterparts Tegan & Sara are inevitable  – and granted, there are some similarities – but a quick delve into Heathers’ body of work uncovers an original and instantly charming sound, with their Dublin accents proudly audible. (Heathers have stated that they had never even heard of the Quin twins until they had almost finished recording their debut album – instead, they cite Sufjan Stevens, Bruce Springsteen, Yann Tiersen, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Feist amongst their intriguing array of influences.)

It is the simplicity of Heathers’ early music which makes them so unique. The raw power of their infectious melodies and impeccable harmonies against a single acoustic guitar became a trademark sound which brought them much success on 2008 debut album Here, Not There – a joint release between Irish label Hide Away Records and US label Plan-It-X Records. Initially well received by the indie music community in Ireland, Heathers then spent summers during college touring the United States with like-minded punk-folk band Ghost Mice and immersing themselves in the DIY Scene, which subsequently led to invites to perform at both CMJ and Canadian Music Week. Back home, Heathers were cast further into the spotlight of the mainstream thanks to a seemingly meant-to-be placement of their song ‘Remember When’ on an Irish tourism advertising campaign – bringing radio airplay, TV appearances, and most importantly album sales.

They had established a successful blueprint with their debut album – but for the forthcoming follow-up Heathers have been keen to diversify their sound, by expanding on their use of instruments whilst maintaining all of the distinctive hooky vocal stylings and quirky acoustic guitar-based melodic charm. Last year, a trip to Eurosonic Festival – the European showcase equivalent of SXSW – saw them debut new material performed with a full live band, to widespread acclaim.

From there it was time to start recording the new tracks, burying themselves away in a London studio to bring it all together with producer Max Dingel. Set for release this September, the much-anticipated Kingdom has the potential to be a runaway success for Heathers. The brilliant first single “Forget Me Knots” leads the charge – an impeccably produced anthemic alt-pop anthem, which bears all the marks of being made for the airwaves.

“Forget Me Knots” is now available on iTunes, with I also available to pre-order ahead of its release in September. In the meantime, keep up to date with all things Heathers via Facebook and Twitter.

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Elaine has written 6 articles for us.


  1. Yes yes yes! AS introduced me to them via their cover of Nineteen and their song Remember When quickly became a favorite of mine. Also their cover of “float on” might surpass the original. Love them and their phenomenal harmonies.

    • *Irish. Gaelic is a sub family of languages and could mean Scottish or Irish gaelic :) We call it Gaeilge.

      • Heh, you should have been around when I was having my internal dilemma about what to call it.. It essentially went ‘some people are a bit funny about calling it Irish… but gaelic is broad and could refer to Scots… I could say gaeilge but is that a commonly known thing or would people just think I can’t spell/got drunk on verbs? *indecisive irish meltdown*’

  2. They have a song on their debut album named after me, and their next album comes out the day after my birthday. Clearly we were meant to be.

  3. One of my favourite bands that I’m used to seeing in tiny venues around Dublin have somehow found their way to AS….I think my heart just exploded.

  4. Autostraddle: filling me at once with both gay and Irish pride :) But they’d never heard of the Quin Twins? Does this mean they’re…not gay?! :( I saw them live two or three years ago, they were fab. So great to read here about bands that you’ve seen on like a Tuesday night in Whelan’s!

    • ‘ But they’d never heard of the Quin Twins? Does this mean they’re…not gay?! ‘ this!

    • WHAT!? The first time I heard them, they were playing a cover of Nineteen, which was AMAZING

    • They’ve definitely heard of them, both of them like T&S but not being compared to them. Ellie is definitely straight, I don’t know how Louise identifies but have met her out on the scene before.

    • Actually, I just remembered, Heathers have met Tegan and Sara! They had their photo taken at the T&S gig in Dublin a few years ago, I’ll see if I can hunt it down.

      • Here yah go Autostraddlers


        (not sure what code is used for inserting images, hope that works)

  5. The first time I heard this band was a couple of years ago when the local college radio station played “Fire Ants.” It was love at first listen!

  6. Pingback: Music From Ireland – Spotlight: Heathers « The Musical Musings of Elaine Buckley

  7. Wow, they’re awesome! And, even if they’d never heard of Tegan and Sara, there’s no way one of them has the side of her head shaved (in the first video) and isn’t queer.

  8. Heathers are one of my favorite bands and I’m happy to see them on AS! I saw them a few years ago on their tour with ghost mice and have been waiting impatiently for their new album

  9. Having thought about for about 30 seconds whilst listening to Heathers’ cover of it, I reckon T&S and Heathers should totally be on the same stage at the same time, singing Nineteen.
    Autostraddle should make that happen.

  10. Heathers are awesome! They also have an amaazing cover of the Mountain Goat’s song Heretic Pride.

  11. Their new album, Kingdom is out now and is amazing! They’ve developed a totally different sound from their largely acoustic debut and it works really well. Looking forward to seeing them tour the new album. Met them a few times and pretty sure neither one of them are gay, think some people assume they are because of the Tegan & Sara comparisons who in my opinion they sound nothing like.

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