The beautiful Pierce sisters Catherine and Allison are currently travelling the length and breadth of the UK, on a sell out tour. The folk/pop duo recently released their fourth album on the Polydor label, ‘You & I’, produced by Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman and Rik Simpson, and subsequently notched up the number four spot in the UK album charts. Over the past twelve months the foxy duo have also been doing the rounds of the daytime TV slots with appearances on Lorraine, The Alan Titchmarsh show and even a late night appearance on The Jools Holland Show.
Catherine and Allison were born in Birmingham, Alabama, USA. They were raised in a bohemian family lifestyle, travelling consistently, and home taught by their non orthodox parents. Both Girls were brought up with music and the arts from an early age, their Father played guitar in a variety of bands, and their mother was a painter. Whilst developing they were encouraged to participate in the creative aspects of life and often performed their own brand of music in an assortment of settings.
Their Debut album ‘The Pierces’ was released in 2000, but undeterred by the lack of support, they continued on their musical paths, until August 2005, saw their second album release ‘Light of the Moon’ released by Universal, featuring 11 tracks that the sisters had a large hand in writing. March 2007, a third album ‘Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge’ was released. This was the album that finally saw the Sisters receiving some recognition, notably for the catchy single "Boring". In December 2010, the sisters and their band toured with Lissie as her support act. It’s been a long road for the Pierces, but they are finally showing exactly what they can achieve, having changed directions slightly with a more pop/folk sound. There is no doubt that 2011 has been their year to shine, with their first UK tour commencing in June 2011, supported by Liverpool’s Delta Maid and Alice Gold. They were also invited to play at Glastonbury and supported Coldplay at the ITunes Festival in July.
It’s now October and we are here to catch them on the North West leg of the tour. We arranged to meet the sisters backstage at the Manchester Academy prior to their show this evening. Both Women were warm and welcoming, introducing themselves and shaking hands, we launch straight into the interrogation.
MEL: First question sibling rivalry is occasionally notorious in a band, take Oasis for example. What’s it like to be sisters in a band, do you ever fall out/disagree?
ALISON: That’s funny we were just talking about that with the rest of the band we were talking about all the siblings that have fallen out. We saying just how hard it is to be in a band with people to begin with, and then if your siblings on top of that its even harder. They said The Everley Brothers don’t speak anymore at all, except on stage, of course the Gallagher Brothers. So, like I said its hard to be in a band with people anyway, but I think we do pretty good, we’ve really tried hard to be learn how to be respectful of each other. We wanna be happy and that means we have to get along if we are gonna be happy. I think things work pretty well.
CAT: We don’t let things build up, if there’s an argument we always work it out usually via text or e-mail [laughs and adopts a tone of voice] “what do you mean when you said that”!
MEL: What do you get up to whilst touring – on the bus –travelling/ any time for sightseeing maybe?
CAT: A lot of reading, those kindles, our Manger gave them to us for Christmas and they are amazing, you can have a million books right there, instead of lugging around, a bunch of novel! We listen to music, we watch a lot of movies.
MEL: Do you ever get chance for sightseeing?
CAT: Not that much…cos you roll into town, you go straight to soundcheck and then there might be an hour or two between the gig, you go maybe eat. Then you’re done with the gig and you’re tired so you go and sleep and leave the next morning.
MEL: Have you not been anywhere around Manchester?
ALISON: Not this trip but we have. We had a walk around.
PHIL: Now that you’re becoming very famous is the reality of it the same as you imagined?
CAT: No, cos we just laughed when you said very famous, cos we don’t feel like it, people get excited to see us, and some people cry, they are shaking. We are like what’s wrong [laughs]. We don’t feel any different and we’ve been doing this so long that …
ALISON: Any illusion we had has already died.
CAT: And there has been like tons of our musician friends that have become famous, then not be famous, so you just know it can be fleeting, or it can be fleeting.
PHIL: Is it the same experience in America, as travelling in England?
ALISON: We’ve done a lot more travelling here…
MEL: Are you more famous here than America?
CAT: Yea, we have a following in the US but its mostly because we had a couple of songs on TV shows. That’s really the biggest exposure we’ve had. We haven’t had a chance to tour around the Countries yet, we haven’t had the funds to do it for whatever reason.
MEL: I think America is always a bit behind us in music anyway.
CAT: [laughs] Yea…but now they are coming back around and we have a new label there and we will go back and promote this year.
MEL: You talked about reading, I had a look on your web site and Cat mentions that she was reading the book “How to Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran. Has this book inspired you at all?
CAT: I actually haven’t finished it yet. We went on tour and accidentally left it behind, but it’s a really great book, its really funny, she’s very funny, its mostly about her experience and like her deciding what’s right for her or not. Some of it I can relate to, some I couldn’t, but I was just inspired to by her story to figure herself out.
MEL: You both seem to enjoy reading books that stretch the mind, self help type books. What are you currently reading?
CAT: I’m reading ‘Ask and It Is Given’: Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther & Jerry Hicks. Its basically about creating the life that you want, having intentions for certain things to happen, focusing on positive things and saying that it draws more positive things into your life. It seems to work!
PHIL: Do you as female artists, do you feel any pressure - I think it’s a bit unfair for Women than it is for Men. Men can get up on stage without having a shave and do you feel that your presentation has to be of a certain standard?
ALI: In the pop world, its different for Men, like certain Guys can’t go out there unshaven, like Enrique Iglesias or something like that.
CAT: He’s had a hair transplant [laughs]
ALI: Some in the music circles have to keep fit too…or looking really good.
CAT: I mean you don’t have to...like Lizzie, she’s very unglamorous, she goes out in a tee shirt and doesn’t shower, wash her hair and doesn’t, wear make up. We kind of enjoy aspects of that, sometimes it’s a pain especially when you’re on the road and have to lug around a suitcase but I like seeing woman and take it to that place sometimes. I like both but that’s just what we choose to do.
ALI: It is a choice and it’s our choice to put on our high heels, it’s our choice to put on make up. We don’t have to!
CAT: Right…cos Lizzie doesn’t do it and people love that about her. I don’t think that would work with our kind of music, the whole package forever but…...
PHIL: Would you rather than be a star, or release the greatest album of all time?
ALI: Wouldn’t you be a star if you released the greatest album? [laughs]
PHIL: I don’t know would you call Bob Dylan a star?
ALI: I would yeah!
CAT: Yea, we don’t really love the fame part of it, we don’t go to parties and try and get our pictures in the papers and stuff. We’ve done that a couple of times and we are always miserable. [Phil – Boring] yea [laughs] It is boring! Everyone looking round, the music is too loud, its very superficial and its not what we love about what we do.
MEL: You both seem down to earth people as well.
ALI: For the best part….we try to be [laughs]
PHIL: Being musicians I guess it has two strands – you have the writing and recording part, then you have this bit, the touring and the promoting of the LP. Which one do you prefer?
ALI: They are both very different, its really great to be in the studio and see your creations come to live and become an album, sometimes don’t turn out great, but then its not a happy time. Sometimes live shows can be horrible, and that’s not happy either, but when they are good it’s a wonderful feeling.
CAT: It would be hard to choose between them as they are both really different. Its hard to compare them.
PHIL: Do you ever fake it on-stage? [Mel – laughs…he doesn’t mean an orgasm]. Like you get up and you just don’t want to do it?
ALI: Yes, definitely!
CAT: I have days when I don’t want to do it, but then the second I step out there – I never have that thought on-stage.
ALI: Oh I have, I’ve been at the stage when I have thought….get me the fuck off-stage!
CAT: Really? [laughs] I’ve had worst shows, when I don’t feel the best about it, I sort of learn from that too. You might learn not to do that next time or realise something you can work on.
ALI: We are just getting to the point where we have like a lot of fans coming to the shows. Like this tour – about a thousand people at each show coming to see us and that is an AMAZING feeling and that makes it fun! All those times when we gotten up in clubs and trying to win people over, that can be very draining,…that’s when I want to kill myself and get me off stage.
CAT: Very draining! Last night we singing an acapello song, it was very quiet and no one was talking and everyone was paying attention, so that’s a great feeling. They are there for you, they are not there to get drunk and see the next band, or whatever, they are there for you, then that does feel really good.
PHIL: Do you sign records after the show?
CAT: We don’t - we can’t when its this big. We’d be there for hours and we’ve got to get to the van and get to bed, but we do always sit and talk to people who have come to see us and waited out there.
PHIL: It must be the worst feeling to be asked the same questions over and over!
ALI: Well its all been good so far, its just a good conversation.
MEL: What inspires you to writes songs, are they [I struggle to pronounce the word] autobiographical in anyway?
Both Girls attempt to spell it out slowly [laughing]
CAT: Yes, they usually are, maybe there’s a couple that aren’t. The ones we write together tend to be less autobiographical, because we are just telling a story and its not as personal. Like ‘Kissing You Goodbye’ its just a tale. It was like I’ve done this so I need to write it down.
MEL: How did that song come together?
ALI: Well I started out with the melody, with that song them asked Catherine for the lyrics and so that’s pretty much it.
CAT: I wrote the chorus..
ALI: We wrote it together..
MEL: [laughs] No arguing…Your music speaks warm summer days and festivals to me and reminiscent of the 60’s bands like The Mama’s & Papas. I love your style, fashion sense and the themes in your videos, who puts all the looks together and what inspires them?
CAT: A lot of people say that…well until recently we didn’t have a stylist; or anyone helping us, it was always just stuff we liked. Now we don’t have time to shop, we really don’t, now we have a girl who goes out and brings us a bunch of stuff. We tell her basically what we want and she brings a big rack of clothing and we go this, this and this…..which is really fun ya know!
ALI: That’s one of the best parts of the job.
MEL: Do you get a lot of free clothes?
CAT: We do yeah, its always what we want, there’s just another eye there to help.
ALI: So we’ll kind of say what mood and they will bring us stuff to choose from.
MEL: The themes you use in your videos are of maidens from another era in particularly ‘It Will Not Be forgotten’ – very romantic and misty. Where was this filmed, it’s a beautiful video. Can you tell us a bit more about this song and video.
ALI: Well the video …Catherine comes up with most of our video ideas…she wants to be the Director!
CAT: I just wanted it to look like a play. I had this really strong vision of the curtain opening to reveal the story. A lot of it didn’t turn out the way I imagined but I still like it, I like it a lot. I’ll have this clear vision of how it should be, but its really hard for someone else to see behind your brain.
MEL: Where was it filmed?
CAT: It was filmed in a sound stage outside of London. [Mel – Oh right so it wasn’t on location anywhere?]
ALI: Did you think it was really outside?
CAT: It was amazing, I mean a lot of it was made out of trees and moss, natural things, what they made was really cool.
"It Will Not Be Forgotten" was the third single released from the album, It was released on 8 August 2011.
PHIL: A lot of your songs are about personal relationships, there is a lot going on politically at the moment. Do you ever see yourself making a comment on that?
ALI: I think it would have to happen very naturally, I have friends that sing about political things, but when I hear them it always irks me a little bit, ‘cos I feel like ..its them with their political views, not that there is anything wrong with that when I hear them doing it and I know them, I’m just like oh do they have to talk about that.
I guess it is effective and it does bring awareness, but I’ve just never been inspired to write about it, the only thing has inspired me poetically is just how outrageous war is. Like we sent people to war to die, that’s the only thing. Politics is so much bullshit; I couldn’t even begin to address it in a song.
MEL: Its not really what your about though is it?
CAT: We have kind of addressed it like in ‘We Can Make It’ we are lightly addressing just the turmoil in the world, but the song still sounds like its about love, and it is about love. That’s our political view but that people should be more loving [laughs].
MEL: Are you both romantic types? Do you believe in true love and love at first sight?
CAT: Hmmmm I have thought that I was in love at first sight and it turned out that it was just this longing for something to fulfil me. So I would see someone and kind of put that onto them.
ALI: I think the only true love you can have is if you can learn to love yourself truly. Generally relationships aren’t gonna last forever but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real love, it just means we evolve and so the love could be true but that don’t mean its gonna last forever. We don’t have to put that kind of pressure on anything. I want to find a love that will last forever, we all do but its just like until you can straighten yourself out.
CAT: A lot of people stay together forever, but they are not in love, they stay for the for the sake of the children or stay together because he brings home the bacon. Maybe they have their roles and they are scared to break away from that. I still think I’m a romantic though [smiles].
ALI: I am too [smiles]
PHIL: Do you get many opportunities to meet the opposite sex?
CAT: Well we both have boyfriends, so we don’t need to. [laughs]. We meet them but…[laughs]
PHIL: As you get more famous, I assume you have more money, it must be difficult to tell who is being honest and who is not?
CAT: We are not there yet [laughs]
MEL: Do you have partners in the music industry?
ALI: Catherine’s is in the band!
PHIL: Why should people come to see The Pierces?
Lots of smiles…laughs
ALI: I don’t think I want to answer that..
CAT: Well I might…I think its kind of refreshing and different than what's going on!
PHIL: Which of the albums would you say they should listen to first?
ALI: Our new one.
CAT: The last one and this one, I don’t love the first two.
MEL: Finally if you could change the world and make it a peaceful one, what is the first thing you’d want to change?
ALI: I think I would change – its intense but [laughs] …..I would put an end to abuse in the home, cos I think that so much pain in the world that’s where it starts.
MEL: Is there anything you want to add?
CAT: Free Pizza [laughing]