Originally from Alabama, the siblings – Catherine and Allison Pierce – have been making music together for many years, but it’s only now, on their current album You & I, that they feel that their ‘sound’ has really come together.
“We love the way the whole record turned out,” explains Cat. “I think it was probably the easiest recording experience we’ve ever had.”
There’s a lot of harmony and it’s very melody-driven,” she continues. “A lot of people say it’s folk, but we’d say folk-rock-pop. “We grew up listening to The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Sam Cooke, Tracey Chapman and Tori Amos.”
Growing up, the sisters were home-schooled in a very creatively-focused, non-regimented environment which had a huge impact upon their careers. As teenagers the girls moved to New York to train in ballet, but soon their focus turned to making music together with the blessing of their family. “It always helps to have parents who support you and want you to do what you love. The fact that they let us run wild really helped.”
First single Glorious is a shimmering slice of retro-pop reminiscent of The Mama and The Papas or Fleetwood Mac. “Glorious is the only song on the record that we did not write,” Catherine explains. “A friend of ours wrote it and Alison heard him playing it one day and she thought it was a classic song that she’s somehow never heard. She asked him about it and he said that he’d wrote it and we felt ‘we have to do this song’. We never really cover people’s songs but we thought that this one was very special so we wanted to put it on the album.
It’s actually about a friend of the song-writer’s who had OD’d on heroin. He found him dead and it inspired him to write this song about how beautiful the world is, and how we must appreciate life.”
The Pierces new record, You & I, was produced by Coldplay guitarist Guy Berryman. He put in a call to the girls, at a crucial time, when The Pierces were on the brink of splitting up to pursue solo projects.
Berryman says: “I had always loved The Pierces’ songs, so when they told me they were about to split the group, I felt I had to do something.
“If you’ve been to New York enough times, you quickly realise that the musical scene there is quite tight. You get to know everyone. I knew Albert Hammond Jr [of The Strokes] who, at that time was engaged to Catherine.”
And when asked about her former relationship with the famous garage band guitarist, Cat coyly says: “That was a long time ago.”
And continues: “It was amazing to work with Guy. It just felt like a sign we should keep going. Working with him is great. He’s really dedicated, he loves music and he’s super organised so it was just a really easy, enjoyable process to work with him. He’d just set everything up, and we’d get to work with all these great musicians. Rik Simpson co-produced the record.”
And of course, the question has to be asked – the frontman of Coldplay Chris Martin has a very famous wife.. have they ever been introducted?
Catherine laughs, “I met Gwyneth years and years ago at some party. She’s the most normal celebrity that I’ve met. She just seems like a great girl and very cool.”
But however popular a band get, they are always aspiring to play a bigger gig, a better venue. Cat says , “It can be inspiring. You see the people around you, there’s tonnes of musicians in New York and some are doing really well, and some are struggling. You get to see the whole spectrum.
It’s inspiring to see that no matter what place people are in, they are striving for more. I bands that I considered to be really successful, and they were still “but why aren’t we playing this stadium” or no-one ever seems satisfied, so that inspired us to just enjoy where we were on the journey and I think that kept us going.”
Earlier in their career, the girls found success with a slot on legendary music programme Later With Jools Holland. “That was right when we were getting started over here in the UK so we were a little shocked that we got it so quickly. It was a little scary, but it was amazing and we’re so happy that we got to do it. It was scary because it was live and we didn’t have that much experience playing on TV at that time, so we were a little scared shitless but we made it through. Duffy was on the show, Crystal Castles, Heaven Seventeen, Sheryl Crow – it was a weird mix!”
And now the girls are getting ready to hit the road on a UK tour, including a gig at Glastonbury next month. “We’re really looking forward to the tour. We just played a show last night, we hadn’t played in a couple of months so we felt a bit rusty, so we’re excited to get back on the road and get back into it
We’re really excited for Glastonbury. We’ve never been and people keep telling us how amazing it is.”
Glorious is out on May 23rd, followed by You & I on May 30th on Polydor.
Catch the band on tour in June:
Wed 8 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thu 9 Leeds Cockpit
Sat 11 Manchester Ruby Lounge
Sun 12 Birmingham HMV Library
Mon 13 Bristol Thekla
Wed 15 London Bush Hall
Tickets are £10.00 (£12.00 London) – on sale now from here or call 0844 811 0051.