The Band Perry’s current top 10 country hit may be the decisive, rocking kiss-off, “DONE.,” but the family trio from east Tennessee is just getting started.
Big sister-frontwoman Kimberly Perry, middle brother-bassist-singer Reid, and baby brother-mandolinist-drummer-singer Neil — who play the Comcast Center Friday with Rascal Flatts — recently released their second album, “Pioneer,” and watched the manic and addictive ode to “till death do us part,” “Better Dig Two,” hit No. 1.
Following the more traditional bent of their self-titled 2010 debut — which spawned the crossover hit “If I Die Young” — the Perrys stretch in several directions on “Pioneer,” with hushed acoustic tracks bumping up against bombastic rockers. We caught up with Kimberly on the phone from Los Angeles to talk Queen and country and, of course, the tonsorial Perry splendor.
Q. Was there any trepidation that the Queen-inspired “Forever Mine Nevermind” was going too far out on the limb?
A. I think we went out that far on the limb on purpose. We did listen to a lot of Queen in the making of the album and, specifically their song “‘39,” but also the the larger-than-life thing was important for us because, as a family harmony band we wanted to take that tradition of country and push it to a new level. It’s kind of funny to us that when we get nominated for awards in country music it’s like “vocal group.” We have always thought of ourselves as a band. Before anyone knew us as the Band Perry in this current incarnation, Neil was on the drums, I was on the electric guitar — we were a power trio.
Q, You’re also developing a stable of songs that offer a badass, almost menacing vibe. A lyric like “It’s hard to bury the hatchet holding a chainsaw” from “Chainsaw” certainly evokes an image.
A. (Laughs.) It’s funny, when it comes to us and romantic relationships, we’re total softies, but I think one thing that really inspires us to write music is when we feel like we’re in an underdog position. A lot of times we’ll write our way out of that, and part of the way we do that is to be fighters. “Chainsaw” was actually written by some friends of ours in Nashville. We fell in love with the fact that it sounds like a really bad-to-the-bone lyric, but at the end of the day we’re just cutting down a tree. (Laughs.) I guess it’s the opposite of passive-aggressive.
Q. You guys seem to have gotten a pass of sorts on mixing in other sounds. While a song like “Pioneer” is decidedly country, something like “Forever Mine Nevermind,” we can agree, is not.
A. That’s our punk country song. Is that even a genre? (Laughs.)
Q. Obviously, as an artist you just want to express yourself without worrying about labels, but your genre has always been sensitive to the idea of “keeping it country.” Where do you come down on the debate on what that means?
A. “Keeping it country” is such a wide statement these days, and I really believe both at country radio and in the fanbase that everybody is wrapping their heads more around the fact that it’s an American format. As pop radio gets more beat-driven and less organic, country radio is really the last rock ’n’ roll frontier. I truly believe that if [Tom] Petty and [Bruce] Springsteen came out today they would likely be on country radio, because that’s really the only umbrella that will protect, if you will, the songwriter and true story songs. So I think there are some folks that are really sensitive about remaining really traditional in country, but at the same time there are so many things outside of that in our format that are working: You’ve got your pop country, folk country, rock country. The three of us have always been influenced half by country and half by rock ’n’ roll and Motown, and all these other cool sounds in the world. Thankfully the fans and radio alike have given us this amazing liberty to really keep everybody guessing.
Q. Tell the truth: Who rocks the most hair products backstage?
A. I will say that I do, but Neil [far left] does take the longest to get ready. And Reid [near left], honestly, has the best hair in the band. Everybody tells us that. I’ve come to terms with it.