The Pierces: Lucky Strike

Sibling rockers The Pierces have tried, tried and tried again, releasing three albums during a 10 year stint in the music industry. But with their fourth album, the sisters from Alabama have struck lucky.

Catherine and Allison Pierce were about to give up on a musical career that had seen them fight with a record label for support in creating their music “We’d had ten years of almost making it, almost getting somewhere,” says Allison. “We were going to finish it, but then we got that call.”

The call was from Coldplay’s Guy Berryman. “He [Guy] heard our last record, Thirteen Tales Of Love And Revenge, and kept saying he wanted to do something with us,” says Allison. “He invited us to tour with them [Coldplay] but that never worked out as we couldn’t afford to go with them to South America.”

Although they didn’t get to go on tour, Berryman’s interest led to a new deal with Polydor Records and an offer from Berryman and Grammy-award winning producer Rik Simpson to work on the girls’ new material.

Their single ‘Love You More’, part of their EP How Can I Love You More, is a dark and alluring pop anthem with a bold eighties riff. Their new material is a departure from their more folksy previous albums, (The Pierces, Light Of The Moon and Thirteen Tales Of Love and Revenge) which fell flat between 2000 and 2007.

“It feels much different this time, I think we feel a little more grounded and more confident and we have more confidence in our label,” says Allison. “Working with Guy, Rik and the band was really exciting, we really felt like we were making something great.”

The welcome side effect of recording with Berryman and Simpson as producers is that many now compare the Pierces to Fleetwood Mac rather than the Dixie Chicks – a much more favourable comparison than before. “Being compared to Fleetwood Mac is obviously a good thing,” says Catherine “We don’t like it when people say we sound like country; people say that because we’re from Alabama and because of the harmonies. There is also a certain amount of southerness and American-ness to it.”

“We don’t mind the Dixie Chicks,” interrupts Allison. “In fact I love the Dixie Chicks, but we don’t really want to be compared to them.”

Looking at Allison and Catherine, with their leather jackets, bold jewellery and heavy eyeliner; it’s difficult to believe that they were once destined for careers in professional ballet. Allison explains that aged 19 and 17 the girls were dancing at ballet school in Pittsburgh and Catherine became injured “She was like: “let’s quit this ballet shit and start a band and I was like “that is a great idea.”

The sisters moved to New York where along with sending out demo tapes and gigging they made some fairly well known friends from the New York music scene along the way, most notably The Strokes, with Catherine being engaged to Albert Hammond Jr. “We were very idealistic at that stage,” says Catherine, “we just wanted to play music.”

Now, with their new record deal, the sisters that were once credulous ballet school drop-outs are finally inside the industry looking out. So what have they learned that surprises them the most now they are in? “How no-one ever feels like they’re doing well enough,” says Catherine adamantly. “We’re at the start of our industry but we have friends in bands who are doing pretty well. With them it’s always ‘how come I’m not selling as many records as U2’,” she pauses, “no one is ever happy.”

Allison and Catherine are happy though, to be given another chance to work on their music when it was almost all over. “All that matters now is this great record,” says Catherine.

Words: Rhiannon Edwards
Photo: Michael Robert Williams
Art Editor: Elliott Webb

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This feature was first published in Issue 08 of FASHION.MUSIC.STYLE, February/March 2011.