Magic, musical twin brothers, Jack and Pat from the Pierce Brothers have provided us with this weeks Savvy Seven goodness and aren’t we pleased! These guys are my underrated pick of the year, they are so full of crowd powering energy and multi-instrument surprise covers, I advise a Youtube binge on them because I can’t come close enough to describe it. After selling out rooms cross UK, Europe, Canada, USA and homeland Aus, Pierce Brothers are now embarking on a mega World tour across Europe/UK, Australia/NZ and a lap of North America supporting Tash Sultana.
Their EP The Records Were Ours came in at #9 on the ARIA chart after topping the iTunes charts across the globe. They’ve recently dropped a new tune Follow Me into the Dark , a song that perfectly encapsulates their acoustic energy and storytelling ability.
We had a chat with Jack, who’s savvy experience comes from endless days of touring Europe and navigating the music industry abroad and at home.. this is Pierce Brothers’ Savvy Seven!
1. Who was your first musical inspiration?
Paul Kelly, weird, I was thinking about this the other day. I think it was some of the first music I learned. He’s kind of like everyone’s uncle, his writing style always stuck with me and his lyrics are an interesting mix of poetry and storytelling. Damien Rice is a big one. I always really loved really melancholy sad subject matters, but we try and do it in a really fun way. We try and make it sound as fun as possible but also acknowledge the fact that really this song is depressing as shi$. I was around five or six, 1994, 1995 era, a lot of Pearl Jam, Nirvana. The first song that I really wanted to play was To Her Door. It was the first song that made me want to learn guitar. So yea, defs, old PK.
Who inspires you now?
At the moment, Gang of Youths, their new album is one of the most inspiring albums of the last decade. I’ve listened to that, after the first listen I thought, this is the new Odyssey Number 5. This is one of the best Australian albums I’ve ever heard. It starts with a really Springsteen esk eat street band vibe. Then it goes in all sorts of directions that album. Kings of Leon vibe, The Killers, even Queen they’ve got a bit of. It’s this huge wonderful sound and these incredible soulful lyrics that really spoke to me quite a lot.
Especially lately because we’re back in the studio already recording the next album in between touring. The good thing about touring in Australia is basically I’m working on the weekend and then I come home and I’m in the studio. I’m only away from home for a day or so. It’s a refreshing change from being away from Aus for the last 5 months. A lot of the writing at the moment is influenced by Go Farther Into Lightness, incredible album, incredible lyrics.
2) What advice do you have for someone who is about to start on their first tour?
Take every opportunity you can, drink lots of water, work hard at every place you play. Build up each market piece by piece. That’s what we always do when we travel. Europe is a separate market, well every country is a separate market to each other. Sydney is a different market to Melbourne. If you think of it in that way, all your doing is building markets. You’re going place to place building it up piece by piece. It can sometimes get repetitive and be a bit disheartening but that’s the nature of the beast. Have faith in yourself and stick with it.
We’ve never been a band that had a big song on the radio that got us famous or went viral. We started by working from the ground up, we’d get to play a festival and we’d see it as an opportunity for all these people who’d never heard of us, to become fans. Let’s take that, run with it and put the best show on we can. It gave us this drive that really helped when you’re four gigs down, tired, haven’t slept much, and you’ve got another five-hour drive to do to get to the next one. You persevere, and find motivation where you can.
You’re about to tour with Tash Sultana?
We’ve known each other since we were all busking back on Bourke St. Our goal on this tour is to introduce ourselves to another market. But at the same time, our careers are vastly different. On a tour like this which is going to be stressful for her as it is, we want to be as invisible as possible. We want to do these great shows, but we want it to be as professionally seamless as possible. We don’t want to be causing any issues. We get up early, get everything done respectfully, fast, efficiently and well. It is a workplace, if you get drunk and piss around all the time it’s not easy for anybody, that said, we still have fun and she’s our friend first. We want to be there and be the best worker we can be, that’s what you want on your tour, you want the best tech, the best sound engineer who takes it seriously. It can be quite easy to fall into a trap, people think that it’s music, it’s partying and this and that. That’s not the case most of the time. It’s setting up, doing lines and checks and missing home. On this tour with Tash, we plan to be as efficient and hardworking as possible and it will be great.
How is it touring with possibly the closest family member a person can have?
…Pat and I bloody hate each other. Haha no, he’s my best friend and we do everything together. That is absolutely challenging. With a band mate who’s not your family member you might hold things back if your arguing. When it’s your brother, we can really get stuck into each other and say some horrible things. When you’re tired and burnt out and stressed you can lash out for no reason, it’s easier to be comfortable about being a dick to your brother than to a friend. We are dicks to each other all the time, it can be really challenging. We really had to learn how to talk to each other, were both pretty good at apologizing now and admitting when we’re wrong. It’s an extra stress but its also a great relief when you have someone who you can trust like your family members with you.
3) What has been one of your most defining moments in your career?
Our first show in Europe, we got our foot in the door at a festival called Lowlands. We got up, and there were about 5000 odd people I think, we just came of the gates sprinting. We got them singing along, got them dancing, got them jumping. We did everything we could to make these people have the best night they could, and we end up being the highest selling act in merch at that festival. Which apparently is something the industry keeps a close eye on over there. This is a festival that Queens of the Stone age, Snoop Dog, Boy and Bear, Mumford and Sons are playing at. A huge list of amazing artists. We came on top for merch, I think it was purely down to the fact that we had a lucky time slot, and nobody knew us, nobody had ever heard of us, so everybody bought a CD. That made a big impact on our career, it really kickstarted our entire career in Europe.
4) How has your music changed over time?
We started out as a busking band, that’s where it began. The thing about busking is, nobody is there to see you, people are just shopping or out to lunch. You really have to earn your audience. When we got to that festival, we had the same approach, but we had our audience provided, it was much easier. The approach was solidified by that experience. Viewing it as a basking thing and trying to get people involved, it just worked for us really well. We’ve followed our instinct and advice since. We just did The States for the first time with Tash Sultana, it’s just an opportunity for us to make our mark.
6) My biggest career mistake has been…
Well yes, we make heaps of them. These are weird, but I assure you relevant. We did an insight on SBS once, it was an episode about twins and they invited us because we are twins the same industry etc. etc. We arrived to all these twins all dressed the same… and I knew, this was a mistake. The fear was immediate. That was actually a very interesting night though, it was very fascinating and I’m happy I did it. Not a mistake.
Here’s one, taking on more work than you can handle. You take on these gigs, then more gigs come up and then more and more. It happens a lot in Europe, and the more the better because when you’re not working there you’re just burning money. So, you try to fill it up as much as possible. You’ll do six or seven shows in a row with big drives trying to fill up time. You look at the schedule and think great look how busy we are that’s going to be fantastic, but what you really should be thinking is f**k. That’s stupid, I’m going to be so burnt out, I’m going to hate life at the end of it. That doesn’t make touring fun, you need to strike a balance between career and yourself. You don’t want to work so much that you end up hating it. That’s something that’s quite easy to do. Even Tash for example, had to cancel a leg of her tour because she was just worked to the bone. She said I have to postpone this for my mental health. It was a really big thing to do, to cancel or postpone dates, I admire her for doing that because it’s a hard lesson to learn. To be aware of if it, is hard, its an important lesson to learn and be aware of. It can be quite easy to burn out. It’s not because you’re doing anything too wrong like parting too much or something, it’s just that your workload is too big. Whenever we’ve done that it comes from a place of wanting to work and seeing a day off as a waste, however a day off is essential.
7) In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…what do you think can change that?
Well right now, sexism obviously is a big issue. But at the same time, it’s not an issue that directly affects me, I’m in a band with my brother, it’s just the two of us on the road and we’re both middle-class white guys. We don’t have to deal with that, were privileged in that way. I think sexism is an overarching issue, there are others like alcohol and drug abuse but those don’t affect me. It’s everywhere, its an industry associated with power and drinking, and the audience is looking to relax and let steam off. The nature of the industry is that its ok to be inappropriate to an extent, but sometimes it’s not ok. I think it’s everywhere and something everyone should be aware of and do their best to remove.
Check out all their tour details here!
If you enjoyed this Savvy Seven, click HERE to read more.