TMF meets The Pierces
2011 saw Alabama sister duo Allison and Catherine Pierce arrive in the UK with their fourth studio album You & I and the country, like the fine spotters of musical talent that we are, welcomed them with open arms. You & I charted fourth on debut ahead of an extended stay in the charts, racking up Gold status before its run was over.
And now, The Pierces are back with Creation and even though they've both decamped back to the States, they still feel almost like one of our own, especially with no current record label in the US and a home here thanks to Polydor Records. They even like tea, as proved when we sat down in a London pub with them last week to find out more about album number five. Welcome back.
By the time Creation comes out, it will have been three years since you came to the UK for You & I. How do you reflect on that period now? Was it the right decision?
Catherine: It was definitely a good call. It was a strange experience to come to another country and have your album do well. We’ve been making music for almost 15 years and we’ve had little bits of success in America but never a full-blown thing, so to come here and have that happen was amazing. And fun. And weird.
Allison: And exhausting.
C: Now we’re back, it feels like no time has passed.
One of the most notable things around You & I is that you were close to breaking up before recording the album...
C: We did break up, for a day.
Was it a smoother process this time around?
A: There’s always obstacles, even if it’s just your own bullshit, but for the most part, we knew… Well, maybe we did almost break up?! [laughs]
C: We were talking about doing solo things and projects.
A: It’s hard being in a band with someone. It’s like being married and being siblings on top of that can make it even more complicated. Any relationship you’re in, there’s times when you hate the person. We’ve had our moments for sure but we’re very happy with the way it turned out.
If we're to believe Twitter, Creation was meant to come out last year. If that's true, any reason it was pushed back to this year?
C: We started recording with a producer and the songs just weren’t turning out right. They didn’t have the emotion we wanted and just didn’t click, so we had to start all over. That was a bump in the road and you think "Are we doing the right thing... are we even going to make another album?" and when that happens, everyone gets nervous and you start to doubt yourself.
But then we started making demos with Christian "Leggy" Langdon, and it just started to feel right again. We sent them to the label and they loved it, so we thought "OK, we’re back on track" but all that took a little bit of time and was a little scary but it worked out.
So Creation is a completely new collection of songs to that first take?
C: Some were the same and some were new.
How do you approach the writing? Do you write together?
A: We generally write separately. On every record, there’s at least a couple we’ve written together but with this one, the songs we wrote together didn’t make it on the album.
C: They might surface one day.
On our first few listens of Creation, it feels very much like the progression of You & I but dreamier with a wider soundscape, with echoes of Thirteen Tales Of Love And Revenge. What were the influences this time around?
C: A lot of people have said that it sounds like You & I meets Thirteen Tales. There was some talk about that. On Thirteen Tales, we were all over the place and on the last one, we were like "OK, let’s make something that really makes sense" [laughs]
We did that and it worked, and I think we wanted to just make it a little more experimental on this one and go for later influences like Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.
A: Also Leggy had a really strong vision and really carried it in a way and in a direction that I don’t know we would have naturally headed.
This is now your fifth studio album. If you could name one thing that's changed between your debut and now, what would it be?
C: Now we just know more. When we first started, we were like "what?!" The only way we heard our music was Allison playing guitar and the two of us singing. So when people started adding other instruments to it, it blew our mind and we weren’t sure what we wanted.
Now, we understand how much production can change the feel of the song and how important that is, as well as how important it is to find a producer that can translate what we want and will take the time to get us to our goal.
A: After doing it for as long as we have, things become a little easier. Easier to sing…
Easier to write as well?
A: I wouldn’t say that for me. Maybe we’re more discerning with what we write. Back in the day, we’d be like "Ooo, I wrote a song!" and now you kind of think they aren’t all great and you have to sift through them to find the good ones.
Have thoughts turned to a Creation tour? How much of your back catalogue will be on display?
A: We’ll definitely pull some stuff from You & I, I don’t know how much, and then a couple of songs from Thirteen Tales but not anything before that. Not unless there’s some strange demand for it.
How different will it be playing to a crowd that now knows more about you, than compared to when you toured You & I?
C: That’ll be nice. It’s funny because Thirteen Tales has a song called ‘Boring’ so people in the crowd will sometimes shout out “Boring!” and other fans who don’t know that record get all offended. They don’t realise they’re requesting a song, they just think they are just yelling at us saying we’re boring! [laughs]
A: At least that’s what we hope.
C: [mimes shouting] “Shit!” We don’t have a song called Shit…
We asked some of your Twitter followers to do our work for us, so first question from @Davieste1 is, 'What is your favourite track on Creation?'
A: ‘Creation’ may be one of my favourites because originally it wasn’t a song that I thought should go on the record, but now I love it.
C: I love ‘Creation’ too but I don’t know if it’s my favourite because it changes. I’ll say ‘Creation’ or ‘Monsters’ or ‘Kings’. You know you get sick of one and then "Oh wait, this is my favourite!"
Next one's from @itsjaasmine and they want to know what are your favourite records of 2014 so far?
A: I’m really into Luke Temple, the guy from Here We Go Magic, and his new solo record. And Cate Le Bon.
C: Future Islands and Hozier.
And finally from @PiercedStardust, 'If you weren't (or couldn't) be involved in music, what would you be doing instead?'
A: I’d like to be an interior designer.
C: I would be painting. Just something creative. I like to make things, something in the arts.
And finally, what question should we have asked you today?
C: What’s my favourite food? Healthy, with a lot of flavour!
A: There’s a place in Los Angeles called Café Gratitude which is one of my current favourite place. Super healthy, all organic but delicious.
C: But not boring. Healthy but exciting!
'Believe In Me' is out now; Creation will be released on June 2nd via Polydor Records