10 Questions with Doug Haynes of HIGHS (Indie / Afro-pop / Pop-Rock)

Aaron of Indie Underground recently got the chance to interview HIGHS front-man, Doug Haynes (above photo/middle) before the Toronto indie / afro-pop / new wave band embark on their cross-country road trip (and making a stop in London at Call The Office on Saturday November 8th).

Learn where Paul likes to eat in London Ontario. Hear what Doug, Paul and Karrie randomly got tattooed during CMJ two weeks ago in New York. Discover what song the band would sing at karaoke that’s also featured in the Wes Anderson movie, “The Darjeeling Limited”. If that’s not enough, listen to a music sample from the band’s latest album, “HIGHS EP”.


Aaron of Indie Underground: I first saw HIGHS perform back in 2013 at The Annex Live in Toronto for Canadian Music Week, sharing the stage with Reptile Youth and First Rate People (also from Toronto). What changes has your band incurred changed since that show?

Doug Haynes: Those were some of our first shows as a band so we’ve changed quite a bit since then. We’ve gone through the ‘growing pains’ that a lot of bands go through. The main change would be that some of the members aren’t the same as they were back in 2013. This inevitably affects the way the songs sound and are played live. Two years of playing shows, traveling, and practicing does a lot for strengthening and maturing the band’s live show and writing. We’re in a pretty good place right now.


Highs Northcote Twin Forks

Aaron of Indie Underground:
You’re about to embark on a cross-country tour (set to play with Twin Forks and Northcote at Call The Office in London Ontario on Saturday, November 8. View all listings below). What things are going through your mind?

Doug Haynes: It’s our first cross country tour so many of the experiences are going to be new and ones that we have very little experience with. With that in mind, we’re going to be playing in places that we’ve never played before and connecting with people where it will be their first time seeing us live. It’s an opportunity to impress and resonate with people right out of the gate. There’s nothing like seeing a band for the first time – it either solidifies whether you like them or dislike them. Seems like a bit of pressure but it’s a pretty cool thing to be in that position.


Aaron of Indie Underground: What music have you been listening to lately in your tour van?

Doug Haynes: Popcaan’s album “Where we come from” and Rubblebucket’s “Survival Sounds” are all up in our tour van lately. With that in mind, we may have to supplement these two with a few other albums for those long drives during this tour. For instance, London to Winnipeg.


Aaron of Indie Underground: Have you ever been to London before on your own or as a band? If so, what’s an experience you’d like to share?

rock au taco - HighsDoug Haynes: The band has never played London before so we’re really excited about Call the Office. However, Paul actually lived in London for 3 years. If you want a good experience the word is to go to Rock Au Taco. Great tacos!


Aaron of Indie Underground: Indie Underground’s favorite track on the HIGHS EP has got to be, “Summer Dress”, followed closely by, “Nomads”. What is your favourite track and why?

Doug Haynes: Overall, whatever song is the newest is always going to be our favourite. However, if we had to choose one from the EP I think it’d have to be Summer Dress as well. That song resonates slightly more than the others for me because of the way that it was written and came about as well as the energy that comes from both playing and listening to it. It’s just a fun song.


Aaron of Indie Underground: Tell us about your experience two weeks ago at CMJ.

Doug Haynes: It was awesome! NYC is a magical place even without having the opportunity to play live music in the city. This year was a little crazy for us because we played 7 shows in the 5 days that we were there. Honestly, going into it it was slightly nerve-wracking due to the fact that we’ve never played that many shows in that amount of time. It ended up working out pretty well and we had a really successful week. We met some great people and bands and left feeling as though a few of those shows could be some of our best within the past year.


Aaron of Indie Underground: On HIGHS instagram (@highsmusic) it shows that Paul and Karrie recently got tattoos? What are the tattoos of and is there any meaning or story behind them?

Doug Haynes: Three of us actually got the tattoos (Doug, Paul, and Karrie). It was a really spontaneous decision with very little planning. Well, no planning. We had just finished playing our 6th of 7 shows in the five days that we were there in this awesome venue called Brooklyn Night Bazaar. The venue consists of 75% vendors – clothing, jewelry, and to our surprise, a mini tattoo shop – and 25% music venue. Paul and I went and checked out the art and I said to Paul half jokingly “Hey, you wanna get a tattoo with me?”, to which he replied “Yup!”. We wanted it to be band related so we ended up deciding on the hand outline from one of our first t-shirt designs. Karrie then got on board and it became a party. I guess in a way we got them to celebrate the week we just spent in NYC. Had the week not gone so well we probably wouldn’t have come back with the extra hand.



Aaron of Indie Underground:Did any of you dress up for Halloween this year? If so, what did you dress up as? Did your costume go as planned?

Doug Haynes: Paul dressed up as Wilson, the neighbour, from the T.V. show Home Improvement. He looked great! He had a fence covering half his face – it definitely worked out for him. Joel was a train conductor. Pretty standard stuff. Hard for that one not to work out, very charming costume.


Aaron of Indie Underground: If you had one song to sing at Karaoke, what song would it be?

Doug Haynes: We’re going to go with 3 songs because there are 5 members in the band and that adds up to 0.6 songs which is even better than 1 song! In no particular order…

  • Typewriter Tip Tip Tip – Kishore Kumar
  • That Song – Big Wreck
  • Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus

(Paul thinks he could totally kill She Hates Me (uncensored) by Puddle of Mud – jury’s out so it didn’t make the official 2015 selections)


Aaron of Indie Underground: What’s Next for HIGHS?

Doug Haynes: The goal is, following the tour, to really put ourselves into the mindset of finishing to write and then record a full-length. We’re pretty close but the goal is to go into the studio with a lot of content and then come out with only the best songs on the record. We’ll still be doing some touring but the big “next step” for us is releasing a full length.

Aaron of Indie Underground: A big thanks goes out to Doug Haynes for taking time to answer 10 Questions before HIGHS upcoming tour! Stream or purchase the 6-track HIGHS EP in it’s entirety, below!

HIGHS Upcoming Tour Dates:

Nov. 05 @ Mavericks, OTTAWA, ON *
Nov. 06 @ Cavaret Du Mile End, MONTREAL, QC *
Nov. 07 @ Lee’s Palace, TORONTO, ON *
Nov. 08 @ Call The Office, LONDON, ON *
Nov. 11 @ Park Theatre, WINNIPEG, MB *
Nov. 12 @ The Exchange, REGINA, SK *
Nov. 13 @ The Starlite, EDMONTON, AB *
Nov. 14 @ Communitea Cafe, CANMORE, AB *
Nov. 15 @ Republik, CALGARY, AB *
Nov. 17 @ Imperial, VANCOUVER, BC *
Nov. 18 @ The Blue Grotto, KAMLOOPS, BC
Nov. 20 @ The Flying Steamshovel Inn, ROSSLAND, BC
Nov. 22 @ Amigos, SASKATOON, SK
Nov. 28 @ The Sanctuary, RIDGEWAY, ON
Nov. 29 @ Clarkson Pub, BARRIE, ON

* Twin Forks & Northcote


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Aaron McMillan

Aaron is the Founder / Chief Editor and curator of Indie Underground. He was the Festival / Music Director for the 2017 Dundas Street Festival and the Music Director in 2016. He is scene builder / promoter for select events in London Ontario, Toronto, Canada, and Southwestern Ontario. When Aaron's not working on Indie Underground, you'll usually find him at a concert or DIY event. He's a sucker for anything that glows in the dark and the company of his cat, Charlie. Watch for Aaron to make a return to DJing in 2018 when he will begin to mix Trance.