The Band Perry, ‘Pioneer’ Blazes New Trail for Close-Knit Trio
The Band Perry is many things. First and foremost, of course, Kimberly, Neil and Reid Perry are siblings. They are a platinum-selling country group at a time when those are in short supply. And, these days, the Greeneville, Tenn., natives are riders on a wave of hit singles, including the No. 1s "If I Die Young," "All Your Life" and their most recent chart-topper, "Better Dig Two." Now, with the just-released Pioneer, the Band Perry is poised to witness themselves becoming even more things to a larger group of fans with an album that stays true to their roots but opens the door to a bit more adventure, with tunes running the gamut from sweetly simple to thrillingly aggressive.
"I kind of feel like Pioneer is a modern throwback of the Band Perry," Kimberly tells The Boot in our exclusive interview with the trio. "We still have everything from our first album; our vulnerability. There's so many cool moments where we strip it down to just the three of us -- mandolin, acoustic [guitar], bass and we start out very intimate. But then the songs always grow into this journey."
"One part of Pioneer that is definitely true to the first album is our love for Southern Gothic literature and the way that influenced us," adds Neil. "Like Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, we definitely wrote one song in particular to kind of honor that style of writing that we love. It's the very last song of the album, called 'End of Time,' and it's kind of our take on what the south would look like at the end of the world."
"One of the exciting things while we were recording Pioneer is that we tried any and every idea no matter how crazy," says Reid. "Our producer Dann Huff, who's a dear friend of ours, was really great at letting us go to those places. I can't tell you how many ideas on one song we would throw out until we got to the perfect idea. I remember after one particular song that we recorded we came out of our recording booth and looked at each other and said, 'Wow, we really just went to that place.' That willingness to go to those crazy places led us to the best possible music that we could make."
While the trio acknowledges that they retain some of the vulnerability found in songs on their 2010 self-titled debut, bold choices and experimentation also find their way onto Pioneer, particularly on a tune called "Forever Mine Nevermind."
"On the bridge, we literally stacked probably 10 vocals on top of each other," notes Reid. "And Neil even hits two octaves above Kimberly at one point! But we were listening to a lot of Queen at that moment. We really wanted to bring in those kind of dramatic, over-the-top vocals as well."
The classic rock vibe is one the threesome were exposed to early on, since their dad was the rock 'n' roll lover in the family. It's an influence that has made its way into the group's live shows, yet has also caused some confusion with fans.
"I mean, his name is Steve Perry," says Kimberly of the siblings' father. "Not the one from Journey. So sorry to disappoint. I can't tell you how many folks come to our shows hoping that Dad will come out on stage and start singing!"
"They look just like their father," jokes Reid.
"But [Queen's] 'Fat Bottomed Girls' is a staple now in the Band Perry show," explains Kimberly. "Neil actually sings lead on it. It was just kind of a tip of the hat to our dad and then ... at the end we do this bluegrass breakdown, and so our mother, who was the country music fan, that's our tip of the hat to her. Within one song, we've honored both of our parents."
With a tour schedule that kept the Band Perry on the road for about 600 days over the past two years, packing their suitcases has become something of an art. But they each have their essentials.
"Packing in the Band Perry house kind of looks like on 'Home Alone' whenever it shows them packing to get ready to leave," says Neil. "That's how hectic it is for the Band Perry to start packing."
"Our mother is our stylist and there's three of us," explains Kimberly. "We never want to look too matchy but, I mean, you've got to rock the color scheme. So, I will say this, that for every performance or interview that we do, we have a mini-fashion show, because we have to kind of figure that out and only pack the pieces we're going to need. It's a madhouse. But the one thing that I have to have on the road is my own pillow from home. It's kind of like bringing that one little piece of familiarity out on the road. I have to have that."
"I have to have my iPad," adds Neil, who notes that he sometimes will do FaceTime [the feature on the iPhone and iPad that acts as a video phone call] with friends, but also tries to limit the amount. "I think once in a while is pretty good. But I think it makes the times when I actually see them face-to-face more special."
"For me, I have to have a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch [cereal]," Reid reveals. "That's like every time we come off the stage. If I'm being good, I'll run the stairs. If not, then I'll have a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch."
"And when he says 'a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch,' he means just for himself," Neil interjects.
"I think a staple for us is hairspray, clearly," Kimberly adds. "I mean, our hair is our superpower in the Band Perry. If it's flat, our performance is going to be flat also, and I can tell you, we always have various amounts of spray in a can but for some reason we never finish one can before starting another. So we have all of these [cans] stacked up in the back of the bus right now. We need to do our spring cleaning with hairspray!"