The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Heathers spread suicide awareness at Chatham

Photo: Elizabeth Sawyer

On October 19, Irish indie-pop duo Heathers came to Chatham University to raise awareness for suicide prevention. The band, made up of twin sisters Louise and Ellie Macnamara, got a standing ovation and an encore before ending the night with a Q&A.

The Macnamara sisters, now 23, began the band at age 17. They grew up in a musical home—playing piano since age six. Their brother and friends were often in bands, and the sisters began going to concerts by age 14. At 17, Louise learned to play guitar, and the sisters began putting their music on MySpace where they became popular.

“I think it is amazing being able to play your own songs that you’ve written to people and for people to be able to relate to them,” said Ellie.

Louise added, “I find it quite therapeutic, I guess. It’s nice to write songs and get your feelings out that way.”

Louise and Ellie began writing their first album, “Here Not There,” when they were 17 and working towards their Leaving Certification to graduate from school in Ireland. That was when they met Ghost Mice, an American band who was touring Ireland at the time.

They played a show together and bonded instantly. Chris Johnston of Ghost Mice runs his own label, Plan-It-X Records and invited the girls to join his band on tour in the United States.

Since then, the twins have gone to university and toured quite a lot. “It’s nice knowing when you’re on tour and you’re having a really bad day that your sister’s there with you—rather than feeling alone,” said Louise.

In Ireland, one of their songs was used in a tourism ad campaign, and Ellie and Louise felt inspired to write a new album. The new album, “Kingdom,” was released in Ireland last September and is beginning to be released in Canada and Central Europe.

The new album was recorded with German producer Max Dingel who has previously worked with artists like The Killers, Muse, White Lies and Weezer.

Ellie and Louise said they do not particularly feel influenced by any artists, but they grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, Sharon Shannon, Planxty, Destiny’s Child and the Spice Girls. They listen to just about anything nowadays, which gives them a unique sound personally.

The Heathers based their band name off the 80s classic movie starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. You can see more devotion to the movie in songs on their first album such as “Veronica” and “What’s Your Damage”.

The movie has a lot to do with suicide and suicide prevention—as does the band Heathers. The sisters recently released a single from “Kingdom” in the United States titled “Forget Me Knots.” They wrote the song for a friend who took her own life, and suicide prevention is a cause that is very close to their hearts.

“There’s such a big stigma attached to mental health and suicide, and it’s just scary how people don’t feel like they can talk about these things,” said Ellie.

“Forget Me Knots” features a line in the chorus that repeats, “It’s alright not to feel okay.” The song most recently became the anthem for Cycle Against Suicide, a 1400 km bike race around Ireland to raise awareness for suicide prevention. When the Heathers came to Chatham, the girls set up a table in Eddy Theatre’s lobby where attendees could donate money to such a cause.

The freezing rain kept Eddy Theatre from getting too crowded, creating an intimate atmosphere for the show. The Heathers played their hearts out and won countless fans in the process.

After the show, everyone in the audience was very eager to find out when “Kingdom” would be released in the United States. The Macnamara sisters could not give a date, but they said it would be out sometime this year.

They had a strong, catchy set-list including their single, “Forget Me Knots”, and even a cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness”. Ellie and Louise charmed the audience with anecdotes from their childhood and praise for Chatham’s beautiful campus.

Following an encore, they concluded the night with a Q&A. The biggest questions were, “Can we buy your music on iTunes?” and “When will you be back?”

As of right now, “Here Not There” and “Forget Me Knots” are available on iTunes, and the sisters say they hope to be back very soon.

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