Jack Pierce looks at his diary for the rest of the year. For most of it, Pierce and his twin Patrick, who perform as the duo The Pierce Brothers, will be travelling the world playing shows.
Despite the fact they have just released The Records Were Ours, the first of three EPs they will put out this year, they are already looking at days off between performances when they can get down to the serious business of writing and demoing an album.
The ever-cheerful drummer and guitarist loves keeping this busy. He says it goes back to their days of busking on the streets of their hometown of Melbourne, when the amount of time they worked at their craft, pleasing passers-by with all number of covers, and squeezing their originals in where possible, directly influenced the amount of money they collected. It takes little for Pierce to talk about those busking days. Indeed, while on a whirlwind national tour to promote the EP they busked in a couple of places for old times and, no doubt, photo opportunity’s sake.
Pierce explains that he still goes into a “busking mindframe” whenever they’re on a multi-act bill.
“When it’s a huge festival audience we play just as if we were busking. When we are going onstage on those really big festivals in Europe or wherever we are really amped up and we look at each other and say, ‘it’s just a great busking set, let’s smash it out’. It’s the same every time, we are there busking.
“When you are doing your own show, you can do it your way but when you are at a festival not everyone is there to see you so it is much like a busking set where you have to win them over. But if you can get them there it is the best feeling in the world.”
Tash Sultana, one of their buddies from busking days, has signed them on as support on a month-long Canada/US tour in September/October. As well as being part of the same management stable the tour is something of a payback for the brothers who previously took Sultana on tour as support. He believes it is simply part of the Melbourne music scene – he diplomatically says he expects it is the same across the country – where everybody is willing to lend a hand to a fellow artist.
The Records Were Ours is the first of the three EPs they’ll release in 2017. All have been recorded and comprise six studio tracks plus two live recordings. The pair had been simply been planning on making an album but kept writing new material. With plans to write and demo on the road for an album to be recorded next year, the EP series is something of a cleaning house of recordings.
“We actually were just going to release an album but we kept writing and thought, ‘it’s not ready yet so let’s keep writing’. We ended up whittling it down to around 18 songs. We then knew that we couldn’t put 18 songs on our debut album so we tried to cut it down to 11 and someone said, ‘why don’t you cut it down to three sets of six?’
“And because we have had a couple of years of touring and playing these amazing festivals with people like Ben Harper that we have all these great live recordings. We eventually settled on six songs and two live tracks. Each group of songs on the EP will tell their own cohesive story. On the second EP is a group of songs that are like anthems, much bigger than we usually do. They are more like we are live. This first one has a lot of ballads on it.”
As well as the lead single, Take Me Out, the thinking behind the EPs may best be characterised by one of the live tracks, Brother, which was recorded at Amsterdam’s famed Paradiso Club.
“That was the first time we ever played it,” Pierce says with enthusiasm as he recalls the evening in question. “It went off. We went to start the next song and the audience started a reprise of it. It was one of the best moments of my life.”
The duo walked offstage and instantly agreed that that had just performed what surely would be their next single. Buoyed with confidence they hit the studio but the sailing was not so smooth. “We just couldn’t figure it out,” he recalls. “It is pretty much a call-and-response song. It’s a very simple song, the chorus is just a melody you can sing with the audience. But when you put it in the studio it is actually pretty boring, there is not a lot going on. But live, it is fantastic. We really wanted to get it on this record.”
Still sensing there may be something more to the song, Pierce says he would like to go in the studio at some point and “rebuild it from the ground up. Live, we’ve got it, it’s great, but we need to give it the time and attention in the studio to make it the song it deserves to be.”
In the live setting the Pierce Brothers are incredibly dynamic and offer something to watch for every minute they are on stage. Jack is the drummer mostly and he will keep rhythm with anything at hand. When busking this means the ground, in concert it can mean the stage or anything else at hand. It is joyful, playful attention seeking. Whether he is after your change or your heart there is something difficult to resist about a man who wants so much to please you.
Like Brother showed, trying to capture that in the studio setting, though, can present problems.
“We really worked on the songs and tried to have as much energy and excitement in them. We were trying to get away from a feeling that people will like the song but really get it when they see it live. Which I think is what it has been like in the past. I don’t think I will ever be 100 per cent happy with any recording. But more than anything that will just mean I am becoming complacent. We are always trying to get a better sound and a better recording to create something that has its own energy. When we record the songs, we want to put as much fun and movement into it without the visual element.”
The Pierce Brothers are united in their determination to take their music as far as they can. Jack says that he and Patrick have always worked together and suggests that if his twin has a slightly greater work ethic they always have a mutual understanding of what needs to be done and how best to achieve that.
“If we want our goals met we both understand what needs to happen. We have always said though if we just keep at it and keep playing and people keep coming then we are on a good path. As long as we keep enjoying it and loving doing it then we are doing the best things for ourselves and for our careers. If we start to hate it people are probably gonna stop coming. So far they haven’t and it is exactly what I want to keep doing.”
The Records Were Ours is out now through Warner Music Australia.