Interview: The Pierce Brothers at The Cambridge Folk Festival

With an unconventional and almost defiant approach to making sound and using everything they can throw at it, The Pierce Brothers create a near marching yet heartfelt litany of music that creates a whole world for you to step into. There set at the Cambridge Folk Festival last weekend was the sleeper surprise and not one person who was there for it left in any way disappointed. Sitting and chatting with them, their energy and charisma is obvious and enviable and you sort of don’t want to leave their company. Because, you know that as soon as you do they will probably do something so incredible as they are just all about that level of magnetism. It is pouring out of them, constantly. They are not tethered by the rigors of normal song writing and playing. And, their smooth working relationship as twins just enhances their ability to feed off of each other and generate something jaw-dropping really.

 

How did you guys come to find this style of music?

Jack: I think really busking determined the style and not so much the genre we played but certainly the style in which we play the genre. We love folk music, we love sing-a-longs. Being Australian, we love story-telling.  When we started busking, we needed people to stop and look at us more so that they would buy a CD! And so, we would run around and just bash everything with sticks, I’d hit Pat’s guitar a lot and incorporate lots of instruments. And, that really dictated the kind of direction that we took the genre in the way we would play it.
Pat: It’s like punk folk! [laughs]

Do you find that people gravitate to this style of music more now as the world seems increasingly more tense and inauthentic?

Jack: I think people like to dance! And, that is what we really love to do in our shows is get people moving. It’s cathartic. We write a lot of visceral lyrics as well. But, I love sad songs, we both do. It something that connects a lot of people. Especially in our set, we are very much ourselves. We are not good at being the cool, rock-types.
Pat: We are very accessible! And, that very cool, rockstar unattainability that some people have, well, that’s awesome. Whereas we are like, ‘We are just excited to be here, this is f***ing incredible!!!’
Jack: And, I think the way we are just takes them to that place and gets them as excited as we are.

What is it like playing on stage, this genre of music, to such eager crowds? What is it like to be up there on stage and sharing that experience with them?

Jack: We get very anxious. I was just saying today, I am having that ‘start of the tour’ jitters. We haven’t had a show yet. And, then we got here to the festival and we were like, ‘Oh yeah, I know this! I’m at home!’ I will get nervous before going on tonight I’m sure, but then when you get on stage it’s great.
Pat: And, especially folk crowds, and when people are you know, right there, everyone speaks the same language.

You must be thrilled to be at such an iconic festival…

Jack: Absolutely, we have been wanting to play here for a few years. We have been looking to try and get on to the festival. Then the offer came through…
Pat: And, we were like, ‘YES!!!!!!!’ [both laugh]


Pat: We are bummed out that we are missing St. Paul and The Broken Bones as they are on the other stage at the same time as us. We have toured with them twice. But, that does mean we get see First Aid Kit which we are excited about.

You have travelled so extensively to such adoring crowds because you have such amazing fans, where do you want your music to take you next?

Jack: I want to get North into Scandinavia.
Pat: Ah, I want to go there! [laughs]
Jack: We just did South Africa as well, that was amazing. We are about to do the Rodriguez tour in Australia, and its such a big thing in South Africa so that should give us a lot of cred.

Who do you look to for inspiration when you looking for new material?

Jack: It changes all the time. Like for this latest album, we were listening non stop to Gang of Youths.
Pat: Oh yeah!
Jack: It is the biggest album in Australia in decades! And, the lyrics and storytelling are amazing and really affected me lyrically.
Pat: What we are listening to at the time, we just sort let that affect our themes. And, we will just listen to a record as just go, ‘Far out, I love how he said that.’
Jack: They just grow organically from there. The next album is called ‘Atlas Shouldered’. You kinda got the scoop on that because we aren’t announcing that for a few weeks! [laughs] Um, that is sort of all about anxiety, feeling like you have the world on your shoulders. We didn’t mean for theme of that record to be mental health, but it ended up that way a bit. We have really traditionally tended to write in the melancholy. That’s what we like to do, play really upbeat songs with miserable lyrics! [laughs] But, on this album there is definitely a lot to be said about the subject but there are also a lot of songs about hope and just good ‘ol love songs too. And yeah, we wanted to do some really hopeful, beautiful songs actually. Optimistic songs. It all came naturally.

What does the rest of the year hold for you guys?

Pat: Busy!
Jack: Yeah, busy! So, this is the first show of many. But, soon we go home and release the record in October. But, we really want to get it out in time for our show in London on the 12th October at The Electric Ballroom. We are really looking forward it!

 

Words by: Dana Miller

Photos by © PremiumPhotographic

Written by Dana Miller, Head of Music News for GSGM

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