INTERVIEW: Pierce Brothers

Pierce Brothers have been building quite a loyal following through their highly energetic and wholesome live show that finds a perfect balance of uplifting sentiments and heavy emotions. 

After releasing their debut album ‘Atlas Shoulders’ in 2018, the Melbourne folk-pop duo went from opening for Tash Sultana around the world in 2019, to playing their own headlining shows and continually showcasing their growing artistry. 

For the beginning of the next chapter, they have decided to strip it back completely and give fans an intimate track that channels the folk vibes of Angus and Julia Stone and Ziggy Alberts.

‘Kanko’ is the first single from their forthcoming sophomore record and through the stripped back production they have created this really special euphoric track full of love and reflection. 

I recently chatted to Jack Pierce from the Pierce Brothers about the spiritual inspiration behind their new single ‘Kanko’, explored the creative direction behind their forthcoming sophomore studio album, as well as discussed adjusting to a COVID-19 world and the digital influx of live streams. Check out the chat BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Kanko’ hears you stripping everything back and heading back to your folk roots. What inspired that reflective journey and the connection to the Japanese Mountain?

JACK PIERCE: It’s a song written about getting in to nature, escaping sorry and stress, and being with the person you love in the wilderness. 

I was about to head over to New Zealand for my honeymoon for a 1000km hike over about 10 weeks. When we wrote the lyrics with Garett Kato, that trip and feeling of being free kept coming back.

TB: What is your favourite lyric from the song?

JP: ”Know that the light will come, here in the mountain song”. For the longest time we were actually going to just call it ‘Mountain Song’. I’ve often looked to the wilderness to clear my mind, and this really encapsulated that emotion.

TB: The music video saw you cutting together footage from your time on the road which must’ve been quite nostalgic. Was there a particular memory or feeling that sorting through this footage brought back?

JP: Yeah, Canada! All the fast forward footage from the car was from when we were traveling across country in Canada. From the mountains in the west across the prairies to the east! It was one of the best trips we’ve ever done. 

I mean, the tour didn’t go well. We played some EMPTY rooms, but the best part of it was 4 of us mates in a van, making hectic drives, and it was just the best adventure. Really brought back those memories for sure!

TB: You are currently working on your forthcoming sophomore studio album. So reflecting on the release of ‘Atlas Shoulders’ and where you are not creatively, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself as a band? 

JP: The biggest thing that we’ve learnt over the course of the last few years is being comfortable with mistakes. We have prepared and written a whole lot more for this new album. We’ve been sure to put pen to paper, even if we’re unsure of the quality. 

I’ve always been afraid to fail, and that has been the biggest thing to get in the way of my writing. I’ve been putting more lyrics and thoughts down than ever before. It’s been a huge boost for when we’re in the studio writing and jamming new material. I’m really excited to get some of it down, and really start building some big songs!

TB: Your live show has quite a bit of energy behind it. After building that up over the years, is that something that you’re consciously thinking about when you’re making this new music because obviously ‘Kanko’ is a lot more stripped back which may have surprised some people? 

JP: We definitely wanted to pull back a little and go more folk for this one. Being such an energetic act that jumps around is so much fun, however it can get a bit old if every song is going a million miles a minute. 

We wanted to focus on our harmonies and the the themes of the album a little more for this one. Not to worry though, there are plenty of high energy ones to come!

TB: You guys recently played live stream sets for Recharge Festival, Isol-Aid and Splashy Fen. How was playing a show again because it must’ve felt strange knowing a lot of people were watching you but not being able to see or hear them?

JP: It’s really difficult! We focus on trying to perform the best we can without an audience, and that can be quite tricky. We tend to start over explaining or just going into random jams that can get a little messy. That’s something we try and keep in control. 

Although we’re moving more towards a tighter set, with my home studio just getting the equipment to stream professional audio and visual, rather then just using the iPhone. So expect some better quality stuff!

TB: With so many artists doing live stream shows, acoustic sets and uniquely engaging content, who has been an artist that you’ve been thoroughly enjoying watching during this current time?

JP: I saw Ash Grunwald do an incredible job shortly after we did one of our live streams. I was immediately ashamed *laughs*. He was just fantastic! He had lights and everything set perfectly. He’s honestly a really wonderful musician! 

John Butler has also been doing regular jams that are always a pleasure to watch. And Brooke Taylor from Melbourne has also had some terrific live streams.

TB: You guys have rescheduled your regional tour to now commence at the end of October with scattered dates leading up to Christmas. What is something that you guys particularly love about regional touring?

JP: I love that I’m never far from home. Touring overseas is fun, but I love being able to visit around this beautiful land, and knowing that home is never far away makes it all the more enjoyable.

TB: With Covid-19 restructuring the ways we connect with artists and music, has this triggered any thoughts about how you want to tackle releases, touring or interactions differently in the future? 

JP: Definitely! We’ve had all sorts of different conversations about every aspect of touring. From room sizes, to how we release singles, to how we go about sending merch.

I think the most important thing here is to make informed decisions, and not to rush anything or get too greedy. If we don’t do this right from the get go, then it’ll be a lot longer before things are back to normal. So we’re always discussing about different ways we can do things. Maybe merch signings won’t be as popular if we’re moving from city to city. You never know.

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions. You ready? 

JP: No… but let’s do it *laughs*!

TB: If we were to have a drink inspired by the band, it would be called the…

JP: Double Trouble. 2 parts whiskey, 2 parts whiskey. It’s a terrible drink. It’s basically a pint of whiskey. Do not drink this.

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

JP: Fine, as long as there’s olives.

TB: Our pre show ritual involves… 

JP: Three Deep Breaths. Our crew and us will huddle together, take a moment, have a pep talk, take three deep breaths, and then hug each other. Super normal these days right?! *laughs*. 

TB: A TV show I’ve been binging during isolation is… 

JP: ‘Fleabag’. It was awesome!

TB: The messiest brother on tour is… 

JP: Patrick.

‘Kanko’ is out now on all streaming services!