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INTERVIEW: PAT PIERCE, The Pierce Brothers – October 2015

| 19 November 2015 | Reply

INTERVIEW: PAT PIERCE, The Pierce Brothers – October 2015
By Shane Pinnegar

Straight off the plane from playing a massive array of dates in Europe, including the enormous Pink Pop Festival in The Netherlands, The Pierce Brothers head off for another lap around Australia in support of their Into The Dirt EP. SHANE PINNEGAR talks to Pat Pierce about their worldwide popularity.

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‘Into The Dirt’ EP Tour:

Alongside twin brother Jack, Pat has come a long way from busking on the streets of Melbourne to playing international festivals to huge acclaim.

“We started out on Bourke Street,” he reflects, “We were playing little cover shows and stuff until [we were] like, 15. Towards the end of our time at university, our now manager was in a band called Bunja. They started us off and said, ‘look, guys, go and start busking – it’s awesome, it’s exactly what you need to do.’ So, we went out and started playing shows. All of a sudden, all these people… we had this little blackboard saying we’re playing here. We started selling all these CDs. Facebook and social media started going crazy. All of a sudden everyone started showing up at shows. It just sort of got bigger and bigger. It was just good for us. Every day we were just honing our skills and getting better. It was just fantastic.

“We had a bunch of original songs we were playing at the same time as playing covers as well. Our deal was like, do a couple of covers, get them in. Now, we don’t have time to go busking as much now. We’ve only been out twice this year. When we go out now, we just do our originals. It’s good. I miss it. It was such an easy lifestyle to lead. Just to sort of get up, rub our eyes and stretch, [then] say, ‘alright, lets just wander in.’ We’d go in there and play some music and then there’d be a bunch of other artists and musos and they’d all be busking as well. We’d all finish up and go, ‘alright, let’s get a beer.’ [laughs] It was just the most fun time in our life. These days, it’s like, ‘alright, let’s go on tour and absolutely smash ourselves for four months.’ Get up and go to this [gig], then go to the next one. It may seem like I’m complaining, but I’m not. It’s still a lot of fun. One’s a just little more hectic than the other.

“The great thing about [busking] is, you can’t screw up. It’s just easy. You go out, play music. There’s no stress. It doesn’t matter if no one listens to you because there’s no expectations. You can try out new songs and do whatever. We’re going to be just sort of taking a bunch of new songs to the street and testing them out. A bunch of our songs are about half finished. We just started playing them. We finished writing them just by improvising. And, they’re some of our most popular songs, so. I just can’t wait to get back out there and try out some new things. “

Pat says being twins – and despite the different hairdos (Pat sports a fine mop of dreadlocks) – they can get mixed up by people.

“We do. We get the government doing it more often than anyone. Because, our parents,” he sighs good naturedly, “our names are Patrick John and John Patrick!

“It actually gets funnier, because for two years we both had girlfriends called Laura. One of us don’t anymore. But, it was pretty confusing there for a while. We had problems voting and stuff like that because we’ve got the same name, same birth date, same address… we’ve definitely had issues before with getting mixed up with each other. We’re kind of used to it now.”

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The suggestion that the Federal Police might find that suspicious is greeted by a laugh, before Pat jokingly confides, “we figured out that if one of us ever wanted to kill someone, then we just take the other one’s passport. We’ve got a whole plot!”

The perfect alibi, indeed! Luckily for everyone, he is just kidding.

The brothers have spent a lot of the past two years overseas, with repeated trips to Canada and Europe taking more and more of their time. He says so far they’re managing to balance their presence at home and in those territories pretty well.

“It’s full on. Home is really where our base is and there’s a lot of people. We left for four months and then came back and we weren’t sure whether by coming back we’d sort of leave them wanting more, or if we’d lose momentum or something like that. It’s a bit of both. We do feel like maybe we sort of slowed a little bit when we first got back. Now that we’re back, it’s actually all of sudden picked up again.

“We were sort of worried about it. Everyone was just saying, ‘no, get out there, play music.’ We’re going to try not to do as long stints overseas. We’re going to try and do six to eight weeks at a time, come home, do a few shows, g back. Just because, it’s hard being away from home so often, you know?”

Having built ardent fan-bases in different parts of the world, Pat says audiences are a little different in some of the places they play.

“There’s no one key demographic or anything that would stand out in any country, [but] we have noticed that audiences will watch differently. There’s some audiences in smaller towns, in the United Kingdom or something, that are a bit more stoic with their arms crossed. They’re enjoying it, but it’s not like in the Netherlands – [but] those shows are really good. As buskers, we’d know that by the end of the set, we’re going to have them dancing. Sometimes, it’s a lot harder than others. In the Netherlands, we just walk on stage and they just start going mental. Hands are in the air, we can get them all singing along and stuff. Really, some [crowds] are more stoic than others. Generally, we can coach them into getting a bit relaxed and having a bit of a party vibe. The way we look at it is, that’s our job. The music is what we use to do that job. Our job is to really to get that party vibe, and get those inhibitions going. Get them dancing.”

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It’s that attitude, dedication to their craft and high energy gigs that has seen them come so far since their busking days. Pat says Pink Pop Festival was a career highlight.

“Yeah. We couldn’t believe it. We walked off stage. I was shaking. I was shaking when I walked onto that stage. Absolutely blew my mind. We’ve got photos of us to look at, man. I was like, ‘how did that happen?’ It was just unbelievable. I can’t wait to go back over there.

“What’s great is that our second Netherlands show has sold out. That’s still a month [away]. That’s about a 1,000 or 1,200 tickets or something in The Netherlands, sold out way in advance. The London show is close to selling out. Then, the rest of the shows are all Cat Empire shows – they’re all going to be big theaters. I think they’re all going to be quite packed. Every show on this next European run before our Australian tour, they’re all going to be big crowds and big venues. It’s just going fantastic. I can’t wait.”

Have a look at any YouTube clip of The Pierce Brothers on stage and you’ll be struck by their energetic act – they’re like two one-man-bands doing almost slapstick, without the comedy. It’s mad, and the certainly wouldn’t sound the same if they just sat there on stools strumming away.

“No, well, when you’re busking, you’ve got 10,000 people walking past you each hour. You’ve got to make them stop somehow. We just sort of started doing it. Lately, I’ve been watching a bunch of music documentaries about the early days of Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters and Nirvana and the Doors. And, I’m watching all this stuff and I was going, leaning over to Jack on the plane and going, ‘watch this! What we should start doing is keep the music the same but play it as though we’re in a punk band. Just start doing a Jim Morrison, lying on the floor and just start going mental.’ We’ve got to learn to do that without compromising any of the sound of the music we’re singing. So, the people watching it just go, ‘what the fuck is going on. This is awesome.’ Which is the whole idea. I don’t know if that’s going to work. I was just like, let’s just see how far we can push it. Okay, let’s see how crazy we can make it.

“You look at a video of Eddie Vedder at Pink Pop in ’92. No way. That was nuts. He was like climbing to the top of this massive main stage, hanging off the trusses like 20 feet into the air. Then, throwing himself in the crowd. I can’t quite do that. You just have to look at it and go, there’s a reason that everyone just remembered their shows. I’m just trying to think of how much further we can push it.

“We’re training at the moment because we’ve got such an intense run for the rest of the year. In this time that we’ve got off, I’ve actually, I’m not because I’ve done my knee. We’re both sort of doing endurance training for a triathlon. The whole idea is that we can do these mammoth hour and half sets, night after night and actually survive and not die.” [laughs]

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All signs point to The Pierce Brothers being on the cusp of something pretty big, a prospect which excites Pat no end.

“Thank you – we’re really excited about it,” he says enthusiastically. “We’ve got a lot of people behind us who are really supportive. I guess it’s just coming down to us a bit. With all that pressure we’re going to have to make this next record [really good.] Or [we think], I hope these new batch of songs are good. Shit, what if these songs aren’t any good? Or, I hope this one gets over the line. Or, I hope the people… You always have those questions, then you go and play a festival like Pink Pop or Lowlands or you do some headline shows that end up selling out. You just look at it and go, ‘I mean, I must be doing something right.’ There’s a lot of self doubt that comes along with it. I think that’s natural given the position we’re in. We’re really excited to see what the next year brings. We’ve got big ambitions.

“Well, we’ve just got to keep doing the live shows and just keep at it. The minute that we just stop sort of reaching, I think is the minute we should stop playing music. We’re trying to get bigger and more bombtastic at each show. Any new idea, we go, ‘yep, let’s do it.’”

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Living out of each other’s pocket on the road is always going to grate on people after a while. Is that multiplied when it’s a brother?

“We’ve gotten used to it. We used to argue a lot more than we do now, but we still do have some pretty horrid arguments. Really, about nothing. We could have some huge arguments, if we were just like in a shit mood. [When we’re a bit] sick of each other, one person will have a go and just say something a bit snidish and the other one will pick up on it. Even though, technically, he hasn’t said anything wrong, the way he said it, the other one will go, ‘what’s your problem?’ It’ll just erupt into nothing.

“It’s just what happens on the road. The time we’ve had off – we live apart now. We’re just sort of taking some time, but we’re still seeing each other, pretty much, every day. At least, we’re not sort of staying in the same room most nights!”

Sometimes everyone needs to take a break for their own sanity.

“That’s exactly right!” Pat concurs. “We’re just sort of using the time now to get down and get in the water and surf as much as we can. Again, I can’t because I’ve torn my Patella tendon. That’s sort of screwed me around a bit. We’re just having some time off. We’re doing some writing and getting used to it until the whole crazy circus starts again in just about a month.”

Category: Interviews

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