EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Pierces

Posted by Dean Piper On August 11th, 2011

I’m loving American sister duo The Pierces right now – their album You & I is firmly one of my soundtracks of the summer. And it seems I’m not the only one! They have already made a fan out of Sir Elton John and had Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman asking to produce them. The album made the Top 5 in the UK charts last week.
They release new single It Will Not Be Forgotten today and I caught up with one half of the Pierce’s, Catherine, to chat about Elton’s baby son, performing on Gossip Girl and adjusting to life in the UK.

In the UK you’re being presented as a new act but in your home country you’ve already released three albums. Does it feel strange to be starting all over again after eleven years?
It doesn’t feel strange. We’re just happy that everyone is liking this record. We’ve learnt so much along the way and feel that this is our best record so it doesn’t bother us at all that this is the first thing that most people hear. It feels good and each record feels like a fresh start but now it just feels great on a much bigger level because all these amazing things have started to happen to us.

Your latest album You & I has been produced by Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman. How did that come about?
We met Guy years ago in New York as musicians there all kind of gravitate to the same hangouts. We chatted to him and said that we were musicians and gave him a demo copy of our last record which he liked. We spoke about maybe opening for Coldplay at one of their next gigs but that never happened because we were on and off of labels. Then Guy decided that he wanted to start a production team with Rik Simpson and they chose us to be their first project. It was a huge breakthrough for us. I was a Coldplay fan beforehand and really loved their first record – when that came out I listened to it constantly!

Have you struck up a relationship with the rest of the Coldplay guys?
We know them all well and they are great. They are the nicest guys that you could ever meet and they have welcomed us into their studio where we recorded half of the album.

Have you got to meet Gwyneth Paltrow too?
I actually met Gwyneth a long time ago and before I met Guy. It was at some New York party which her and Chris attended. I thought she was so down-to-earth, friendly and just seemed genuinely happy. She was a really lovely person.

Gwyneth has been flexing her vocal chords recently on Glee and Country Strong so is there a possibility we’ll see a collaboration between you in the future?
Maybe! I haven’t seen her since I met her years ago but she has a great voice. When I saw her perform at the Grammys it made me realise how much of a strong singing voice she has.

Will Guy be producing your future albums or was that a one-off experience?
I think we all would like to do that and we all hope that it works out that way. He is busy with Coldplay’s new record and I don’t know what is going to happen with us but I think probably. We loved working with him and he really shared the vision.

You’ve been playing so many UK festivals this summer that you must have made friends with quite a few artists?
We keep playing all these festivals and missing seeing lots of icons which is really upsetting! We played at the Hop Farm Festival with Prince but we had to leave before he came on and we also missed seeing Paul Simon at Glastonbury. V Festival is our last festival for the summer so hopefully we’ll stay the whole time if we can. We did get to see Eliza Doolittle though who was very sweet and we got to watch Aloe Blacc too. We also got to meet Elton John and his baby which was really cool. It was amazing but it is also kind of freaky to meet an icon because you don’t know what to say to them and you can’t be like, ‘So what do you do for a living?!

So what did you talk about with Elton?!
He just asked us question after question. He is so into music and was asking us which bands we liked, who we wanted to play with and who we got to see play at festivals. He was really friendly and I’m sure he is used to people being stunned by him so is very good at holding up the conversation.

And you got to meet baby Zachary too?
Elton is madly in love with his baby! He kept saying how it had changed his life and how it was the best thing he’d ever done. We didn’t get to hold him but we rubbed his little toes. Whenever I have a bad day or am feeling bad about something I just remember little Zachary’s face and it all disappears!

We often hear of family bands like Oasis and Kings Of Leon falling out so what is it really like being in a band with your sister?
It can be really great and it can be really horrible – it depends how we’re getting along! For the most part we get on really well and we love each other and we are really good friends but it’s hard when you disagree and you’re sisters because you don’t have that boundary of being able to say whatever you want to say. It can be really hard but luckily even when Alice and I fight we get over it really quickly. We are with each other so much and when we are on the road together we are each other’s only friends so if we are mad at each other then it feels really lonely so we have learnt to get over our differences really quickly. A fight does make for a good show though because you have all this pent-up energy you need to get out. We had one of our best shows after one of our biggest fights! It was a few years ago and we were furious and screaming at each other and then we just had to run on stage! It means you don’t have a chance to get nervous.

Did you have fun appearing in an episode of Gossip Girl?
It was bizarre. You see it on TV and it’s so grand and professional and then it just looks so different in real life and the actors look different. You expect people on TV to be a little larger than life and in person they are just people. It was fun and it did bring in many new fans.

Would you be keen to perform on the show again?
It was the right thing to do at the time because we were looking for a way of finding new fans and that was an obvious solution to our problem. Now I don’t know because we are getting out there more. I like some of the fashion on there but I honestly don’t really watch it. I’m sure I could get into it if I wanted to but I don’t watch that much TV. The only TV show that really affects me is Mad Men. It just sucks how long we have to wait for the next series! I’m sure it will definitely be worth the wait.

You’re spending a lot of of time in the UK playing festivals at the minute. How do you divide your time between here and the States?
We are spending much more time in England than America at the minute. We’ve only been home for two weeks this year and then we are going home for another two weeks at the end of August which will be great. We haven’t been that homesick because we’ve been so busy but we are starting to miss our siblings. We have three siblings and they’ve all just had new babies so I’m looking forward to going home and see them. I currently have seven nieces and nephews – they are all popping them out! We are staying in a hotel-come-apartment that has a maid service which is just what you need.

Are you starting to feel like England is becoming a second home for you?
Yes it’s definitely starting to feel like that. Being in England is beginning to feel normal so it’s starting to feel like home. When we first started touring here we thought the bathrooms were hilarious because there seemed to be so many strange little things in there and the bathtubs are always very high and you have to step up into them. We couldn’t understand why that was or why you would have to turn six knobs to get the shower to turn on! We’ve now stopped having to convert pounds to dollars in our heads all the time. Everything seems so expensive at first!

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