Indie folk-roots duo Pierce Brothers keep sights firmly on national tour

Indie folk-roots duo Pierce Brothers keep sights firmly on national tour

Photo by Ian Laidlaw
Words by Kyra Gillespie

Indie folk-roots duo Pierce Brothers still have their hopes high for a national tour after a string of gigs joined a long line of events called off by COVID-19.

Siblings Jack and Pat Pierce were due to bring their high-energy set and new album Into the Great Unknown to Warrnambool and Adelaide last month, and WA, Canberra and Albury this month.

With the international touring circuit off the cards for the foreseeable future, the pair look forward to playing across Australia.

This pandemic has certainly shaped up to present many great unknowns – particularly for new dad Jack Pierce who also had to cancel his wedding in 2020.

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Their latest album released this year is their most ambitious yet; elevating their usual sound with soaring strings by The Cat Empire‘s Ross Irwin, the result is a composition more mature and more full of love than previous works to date.

Where earlier singles like ‘It’s My Fault’ and ‘Overdose’ were written from the melancholy, this album is full of more optimism.

The album, Jack Pierce explained, was greatly influenced by Gang Of Youths’ 2017 album Go Farther In Lightness.

“I always really loved to write upbeat songs in the melancholy – what we aimed to do with a lot of the really upbeat ones was to have these dark lyrics juxtaposed with the sound,” he said, referencing Foster the People’s macabre summer anthem ‘Pumped up Kicks’ to illustrate the point.

“We don’t have so much sad stuff to write about anymore.

“A lot of Into the Great Unknown was in one way, a stepping into the great unknown where all our future in music was up in the air and I was about to become a father and there were all these feelings of unknown about that.

“I think it was a much more optimistic record.”

“We’re really happy with the feedback on the album, it’s been great,” he continues.

“We’re working on some new stuff at the moment and I’m really looking forward to moving on and keeping stuff going. It’s going to be something different again that we haven’t done before.

“I can’t say too much about it yet but there’s some exciting stuff on the cards.”

The Pierce twins hunkered down at Jan Skubizeski’s Red Moon Studios last year between Melbourne lockdowns, recording in six weeks their most ambitious album yet

“For one we weren’t so road worn; when we wrote it we were in the studio and had a lot of time,” Pierce said.

“We set up in the studio for a whole month and we got to explore deeper sounds and explore further what we could sonically and emotively.”

It was their first entirely self-funded and independent record since 2014, a decision which in hindsight, wasn’t greatly timed in the midst of a pandemic but which ultimately paid off.

“We were looking forward to doing it all ourselves and then COVID happened – we had this big tour that was going to pay for it,” Pierce said.

“It put everything on pause for a bit but we scraped every ounce of money we had left and that’s kind of how we got through.

“We wanted to branch out and do something of our own and be completely in control of it.

“It was very lucky that we got there in the end.”

The two brothers cut their teeth on the Melbourne busking scene and were, for years, a staple of Bourke Street until their breakout EP The Night Tree in 2014 saw them pack out stages in some of the state’s most iconic venues including The Corner Hotel and the Forum.

They’ve toured extensively across Europe and the U.S, and have become synonymous with the Melbourne music scene.

“It’s definitely been quite a journey from busking to all over the world,” Jack said. “Not that we’re doing any of that at the moment,” he added wryly.

“It started from busking and that’s definitely influenced the way we play as well; we started from an empty street of people that aren’t there for the music, and whether it’s that or a packed festival or a venue, it’s always the same – we want to put on as big a show as we can to make people engage.

“It really directed the way that we’ve done everything from the outset.”

Their street performances were so successful they bought their first tour car – “the Pierce Brothers mobile” – entirely with busking coins.

“We counted it out in coins and that’s how we paid for the car… super embarrassing now that I think about it,” Jack laughed.

“We ran that car into the ground.

“We’ve bought ourselves a new van just for this tour because we’re just touring around Australia now and we needed a new car.”

For those who haven’t yet seen the Pierce Brothers live, they are no simple acoustic duo.

For one, instrument-wise, Pierce laments humorously the carrying around of 37 different instruments on tour that got lost many times; notably between connector flights in America and another time in Amsterdam.

They’re an act that are a must-see live; their stage presence and infectious energy evidenced by the lacquer on the side of their guitars worn away by the impact of drum sticks – where one plays the drums on the side of the other’s acoustic – and the often sweat-soaked crowd.

It’s not uncommon to see one of them scaling the stage, or in the thick of the dancing crowd.

Their passion for the craft and talent is a genuine marvel to behold.

Even though the twins’ lives have evolved in very different ways over the years, music always brings them back together.

“We’re very different people in a lot of ways and that can make us butt heads quite a lot,” Pierce said.

“I think it’s helped that when we get home we can pursue these other things and take it in different directions in a lot of other avenues in our life.

“We come together for the music and once we’re done, head back out and keep wandering.”

The pair have their sights set on Queensland, and will return to ACT and NSW later this year.

Check out their socials for all the up to date announcements. Word is we may hear new Pierce Brothers material as early as Christmas.