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The Pierces

By Gary Wien


Imagine if Simon and Garfunkle were a couple of really hot, young, talented women with Southern accents that melted you every time they opened their mouth...

Well, get ready to meet The Pierces.

The Pierces are a pair of sisters (Alison and Catherine) from Alabama who currently live in New York City. Whether you like folk music or not, chances are their harmonies will seduce you like the Sirens faced by Odysseus.

After several delays, their second record is finally being released this January. If their name doesn't ring a bell with you chances are it's because the first record didn't get much support at all. In fact, they fell victim to a story heard zillions of times by musicians around the world.

"The guy that signed us left the company right before our record came out," explained Catherine. "So, we were just sort of shuffled along. It happens so often. Labels will just sign bands just in case something's going to happen. Sometimes they'll be a couple of labels interested in you, so they get greedy and want to keep you just in case. But they don't really love your music."

Her sister disagreed with her a little. "I think in this case, they really did love us and love our music," said Allison. "They just didn't know what to do with us. It was in 2000, Britney Spears was huge, the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC - all that stuff was massive and we made an Americana record."

Although they regularly perform as a duo, the records were both recorded with a full band and full production behind them. The Pierces will also begin touring with a full band on select dates this month.

The level of production behind each song was a constant battle during the recording of Light of The Moon, their upcoming release. The sisters explained the difficulties faced in the studio.

"The guy we worked with had a vision," explained Allison. "He was like 'it's got to be this way'. He had very specific ideas. The record may be a little bigger than we wanted it to be."

"We fought with him a lot," added Catherine. "But I think he may have won."

"He definitely won," agreed Allison.

"I love the record for what it is, but I think, in the future, the records will definitely be more stripped down like our live show," said Catherine.

The Pierces are having a record release party at the Saint in Asbury Park on January 25th and one with a full band at The Living Room in New York City on the next night. Asbury Park has been one of the places to take to the Pierces early on. In addition to several shows at the Saint (including residences in December and January), they were the first duo to perform during the Writers In The Raw series and they took part in the Light of Day show at the Stone Pony.

"It's so important to get responses from people," said Catherine. "It's disheartening if you play one club after another and nobody's there. That's kill you."

Outside of this area, The Pierces made many new friends in the South in the last couple of months as they played a string of successful shows, including the Austin City Limits Festival where they sang to a crowd of 75,000 people. Their performance was broadcast and streamed live on Yahoo. The broadcast received 90,000 hits over the weekend.

The sisters are not scared of playing anywhere and they come from a very artistic family. Their father is a musician and their mother is a painter. They grew up in Birmingham in a very loose and free setting. Both were home schooled, which allowed them more time to pursue ballet and music. And both danced professionally for several years. When they got tired of dancing around the country, they decided to pursue their dream of music together.

Catherine believes that being sisters makes going after the dream a little easier. "We fight like sisters, but we can be completely honest with each other. Maybe if she was just my friend and I was in a band with her I'd be like, 'yeah, that song's great' and I wouldn't really like it. But we can be totally honest and open with each other. I mean, we've known each other all of our lives."

The pair have already seen a glimpse of how difficult it can be to be successful in the music industry with the shelving of their first record; yet, they approached this new record with high spirits and confidence as well as a healthy dose of reality.

"I think that you always hope that you can support yourself and do what you love," said Allison. "It would be amazing if we sold millions of records and became huge or whatever, but as long as we can just keep doing what we love that'll work for me."

Catch the Pierces live this month:

Jan. 12 The Living Room, NYC
Jan. 18 - The Saint, Asbury Park
Jan. 25 - The Saint, Asbury Park
Jan. 26 - The Living Room, NYC


Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.


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