Style setters the Pierces

Style setters… The Pierces
Catherine and Alison Pierce talk about music, style and standing up for your own sound

In the first single off of their third studio album, Thirteen Tales of Love And Revenge, The Pierces opine the boredom that accompanies a glamorous life. Don’t hate them – it’s a joke. One that some people haven’t fully tapped into, but as Catherine Pierce assures, “we are being sarcastic”. Humour is something that the Alabama native and her sister Allison seem to have a great handle on, with the cheeky commentary on their {www.myspace.com/thepierces} [blog] as proof. But beyond the laughs, the Pierces can sing. They also have great sense of style, great taste in men (Catherine is engaged to Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes and solo fame), plus a refreshing perspective on their place in the evolving music industry and the ever-eclectic Big Apple.

LL: In the first single, ‘Boring’, the lyrics state “Galliano, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, boring”. The song is clearly sarcastic, but what kind of fashion does thrill you?

CP: I think it’s thrilling to find something that you love in a vintage store or a little cheapy store. Something that you don’t have to spend a ton of money on. I would love to be able to afford designer clothes – and I certainly don’t think they are boring – but at this point in my life, I can’t afford to be thrilled by them!

LL: When you and your sister were featured in the New York Post’s style section, you noted in your blog that you were “happy that people were finally paying attention to what’s really important about The Pierces – our outfits”. How important is fashion?

CP: I was being playful when I wrote that, but [dressing up] is something that we love to do. It’s a fun way to express yourself. But I do think that you should have more creative and intelligent ways to express yourself, too. You shouldn’t completely absorb your life with [fashion].

LL: Would you consider your music and your style to be a package deal?

CP: I guess so. Especially lately, it’s important for all bands to have an image. You can’t avoid it – it is a package thing.  [Fans] google you to see what you look like, or head to your MySpace page to see your pictures. I’m sure that it’s weird for some artists, but it doesn’t bother us because we enjoy it.

LL: As much as image is important, it seems to be changing in the sense that sex appeal isn’t necessarily as important as it was before. Why do you think that is?

CP: I think that people get bored and want something different. It gets boring to see the same scantily clad girl over and over. People like to look at artists and get inspired and that’s not very inspiring.

LL: You’ve been open about The Pierces’ first two albums, which were released under a major label, not really being what you’d wanted them to be. How not?

CP: With the first record, we didn’t really know what we wanted. We were young and used to playing shows just the two of us with an acoustic guitar. So, when the producer suggested that we go in a certain way, we did. Then the second one was pretty much our producer’s vision as well. The producer and our label weren’t really interested in what we wanted. We could have been firmer about it, but you always get scared that they’re going to drop you. In retrospect, that probably would’ve been better, but in the moment, you think “cling to your deal”, and we ended up making a record that we don’t like at all. It would’ve been better just to have left, but that’s in the past.

LL: What was different about this, your third release?

CP: We made Thirteen Tales without a label, so we were free to do whatever we wanted. Our producer, Roger Greenwald, was really open-minded. Any idea we came up with, he thought was great and we’d just go for it. We had such a good time. And that’s how it should be – you shouldn’t be miserable recording your record and that’s kind of how it was with the [previous two].

LL: We seem to be on the cusp of a trend that has bands breaking away from their labels, The Pierces being a prime example, and as a result, their music sounds better than ever. What are your thoughts on that?

CP: I think that it’s all about fear. When you’re with a major label, you are scared of losing your deal. At the same time, they are scared about their investment, so they try to make it as radio friendly and marketable as possible. It’s just not a good environment to be in. With indie labels, there’s less of an investment, so there’s less risk, meaning you can do whatever you want to make yourself happy. It’s much better in the long run.

LL: Who are your biggest influences?

CP: Music-wise, we were both really influenced by Joni Mitchell and The Beatles. Fashion-wise,  it’s Brigitte Bardot and the 60’s sexy-kitten look.

LL: The Pierces are very “New York”. Is New York City an influence on you, as well?

CP:  Yeah. Living here changes you. We’ve been here almost 6 years and it definitely influences the way you think. There’s so much culture. We’ve learnt a lot about good food!

LL: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt as a New Yorker?

CP: To be more open-minded. There’s so much diversity here that you learn a lot about human beings in general. We’re from Alabama and a lot of people that live there are closed-minded – only because they don’t tend to travel, so they don’t know anything else. It’s nice to live here in a melting pot where you can meet so many different kinds of people. It really does change you and open your mind…open up your world. New York is amazing, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.