CHICAGO – Before reuniting for dinner at their parents’ home during a recent break from touring, the three siblings who make up The Band Perry – known best for their quadruple-platinum hit “If I Die Young” – and their parents – who regularly join the band on tour – agreed to act like a normal family and stay away from talking about music.
“We sat in silence for a half-hour,” said Kimberly Perry, on speaker phone with her brothers last Friday, adding that they eventually got back to talking music. “We could not get away from it.”
Music has been a big part of the family’s life since long before the country trio’s self-titled debut album sold 1.5 million copies and it was nominated for best new artist at the 2012 Grammys. Kimberly was part of a band with high school friends when she was 15, and her brothers, Reid and Neil, then 10 and 8, opened for them with their band. In October, the siblings will celebrate the 15-year anniversary of their first show.
Once Kimberly’s bandmates moved on, she formed The Band Perry with her brothers in 2005 – which she said was always in the cards. As the story goes, their parents were just waiting for the siblings to get closer in height. Asked if her ex-bandmates regret their decision to part ways, Kimberly said, “They all moved on to various, cool jobs” before admitting, with some prodding, “Maybe a couple of them wish they stuck around.”
Kimberly and Co. have come a long way from their early shows, which took place at churches, restaurants and fairs. In 2005, they played acoustic shows at Wal-Marts across the country as part of the New Faces of Country Tour.
“We played anywhere and everywhere we possibly could,” Kimberly said. “There were so many shows we played where there were more people on stage than in the crowd. But we were encouraged to play for two people like it was 200 people, and eventually the right people (would) cross our path. And it was true. We did a thousand shows before we had a song on the radio. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. The live element is our first love. We’re able to handle whatever comes our way because it’s probably already happened on stage.”
(Kimberly suffered bruising and an abrasion to her leg, not to mention a ripped dress, when overly excited fans pulled her toward the barriers during a show earlier this month in Bowmanville, Ontario, outside of Toronto.)
In April, the band released its sophomore album, “Pioneer,” which includes the singles “Better Dig Two,” “Done.” and “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely.” All three band members agreed, in unison, that this album, which has sold more than 400,000 copies, was more difficult to make than their 2010 debut. That might explain, in part, why they waited three years to release it.
“There were moments when (the album) was our best friend and moments when it was our chief nemesis, but it was always our teacher,” said Kimberly of “Pioneer,” which changed producers during the recording process. “We learned to be creative on the go. We were forced to be inspired on our days inside a tour bus and were talking about life rather than living it.
“We definitely felt a responsibility to top (our debut album). Having the opportunity to record a second album is a gift. We rewrote the song ‘I’m a Keeper’ four times. It was really challenging. But in the end, it all paid off.”