The-Band-Perry-Issue-No26THE BAND PERRY

Guidance from a production guru yields a meticulously crafted album


After the success of the Band Perry’s 2010 debut album and multiplatinum smash “If I Die Young,” the family band was uncertain about their follow-up record, Pioneer. So the country trio trekked to Malibu, Calif., to hone their songs with the man they called the Song Doctor, producer Rick Rubin—and hone they did. “Every song we wrote, we rewrote again and again,” says bassist Reid Perry. The drive for perfection didn’t stop when they returned to Nashville to record with producer Dann Huff. Reid told us why he and his siblings, vocalist Kimberly and mandolinist Neil, are so happy with the results.


Did you feel pressure this time?

There was a bit of pressure, but more of a sense of responsibility. We wanted to make sure that everything we did was supposed to be on the album. There were a couple of tracks that were re-cut probably six times before we got them exactly right. We were writing for 18-plus months, and ended up working until the eleventh hour. We were on the road for about 630 days over the two years we wrote Pioneer. A lot of that time, we had to write on the bus, which is hard because you’re not living life at home.


What was your main goal?

You get the truest sense of the Band Perry when we play live. We wanted to make the album more like our live performances. For Pioneer, we added a lot more electric guitars and aggressive drumbeats than on the first album. For the first album, we were playing theaters and small clubs, but now we’re playing arenas. We wanted music and production that would fill up those rooms.


What was it like working with Rick?

We took a road trip from Nashville through the Southwest, writing songs and collecting ideas on our way to Rick’s studio in Malibu. We spent several weeks in the studio with him, finishing those songs and starting new ones. We called him the Song Doctor. But more than that, Rick was the therapist. One of the first things he said to us was that this wasn’t the second album, just the next step. He put us in a great mindset to make Pioneer, and for somebody like Rick Rubin to say, “I believe in these songs,” it gave us a little bit of peace going into the whole process.


Describe the recording process.

We recorded for a fairly short period, but we were writing right up until we went into the studio with Dann. What we love about Dann is that he’s a musician and approaches producing with that mindset. He would try every single idea we had. I can’t say how many crazy ideas we threw out there and how many times we’d have serious debates over the tempo—we’d move the tempo up or down not even a full beat to make sure we had it just right. Dann was so willing and open to go that extra mile, and whenever we came to a roadblock, he always seemed to find a way out. We wanted every song to have its own voice. As you go further and further into the recording process, you strive to make each song unique.


How did you make the final picks?

We wrote about 50 songs. We recorded about 14 or 15 and then narrowed that down a little more. In a world where singles rule the business, we wanted the album as a whole to have its own voice and to mean something. That’s why we would rewrite and re-record, to make it the best it could possibly be.

–Juli Thanki


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