Sibling chemistry propels band Perry past generation, genre gaps.By Chris Richards
The three siblings in the Band Perry like to brag about how their mom used to play them Loretta Lynn Loretta Lynn (born Loretta Webb April 14, 1934) is an American country singer-songwriter and was one of the leading country female vocalists during the 1960s and 1970s and overall is revered as a country icon. records but that dad was into the Stones.
They have a thing for "the romantic" and "the grotesque".
They like steampunk.
They think "Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events" was totally underrated.
"It was too dark for kids and too childlike for adults," says Reid Perry, bassist and middle brother.
Even if the Band Perry's music comes from a similar in-between space, no one would call the group underrated.
In less than a year, its popularity has exploded thanks to "If I Die Young", a stunning ballad that topped the country charts in December, earned a Grammy nomination and is nudging the band's superb self-titled debut from gold toward platinum.
This week, they'll sing it when they open for Tim McGraw at major venues in Charlotte, Cleveland and Washington.
And although the Band Perry's career seems headed up, up, up, its album is full of songs that pull in different directions.
The members sing about leaving their home town in the dust while longing for the comforts of home and breaking hearts while pining for true love.
Their songs feel young and old, naive and wise which might explain why so many kids go to see the Band Perry in concert with their parents, grandparents or both.
"We walk a fine edge between the surreal and the romantic," says Kimberly, 28.
She and brothers Reid, 22, and Neil, 21, are taking a dinner break on their palatial pa·la·tial
1. Of or suitable for a palace: palatial furnishings.
2. Of the nature of a palace, as in spaciousness or ornateness: a palatial yacht. tour bus after a performance at the Delaware State Fair The Delaware State Fair is the annual state fair for the state of Delaware. It is held in Harrington. The fair is a ten-day event at the end of July. History
The first fair was held in 1920 and was known as the Kent and Sussex County Fair. , where they preceded "If I Die Young" with a punchy punch·y
adj. punch·i·er, punch·i·est
1. Characterized by vigor or drive: "He speaks in short, punchy sentences, using plain, populist words that excite" cover of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls".
Their mom, Marie Perry, hands Kimberly a peanut butter sandwich.
It's cut in half, the way that only moms cut peanut butter sandwiches.
The past 24 hours have been nonstop.
In addition to their 45 lively minutes on stage, the Perrys have done a photo shoot, a radio interview, an on-the-bus songwriting session and a meet-and-greet with radio contest winners.
After dinner, they'll head back to the stage, where their mom will spend two hours snapping 200-some photos of her children posing with fans already lined up deep into the breezy summer night.
"Our cheek muscles are strong," says Kimberly, smiling, or flexing.
All day, Marie Perry has played stealth stage mom, foofing bangs before the cameras flash and conjuring snacks from thin air.
She doesn't speak to reporters, but you can tell she's concerned about her kids as they try to pen a hotly anticipated sophomore album in the middle of a tour that won't bring them home to Greeneville, Tenn., until late November.
On a schedule this grueling, the Perrys' only reprieve is sleep which doesn't always help.
"I've even been dreaming about the songs we're working on," Kimberly says.
On nights before a rehearsal, Kimberly could never sleep.
At 15, she was fronting a rock band of high school buddies called Rain, named after the weather the day the group formed in Mobile, Ala.
Neil and Reid then 8 and 10 would watch their big sister practice in the living room with awe.
Whenever her bandmates left for a glass of water, they'd rush to grab the drumsticks and bass guitar.
The boys eventually started their own group "the Mobile Music Machine," Reid says, almost blushing and would rehearse in the foyer of their pediatrician father's practice.
(These days, papa Perry works in Tennessee while his wife travels with the band.
His name is Steve Perry.
No, not Steve Perry from Journey.)
In 2005, Reid and Neil were finally tall enough to stand next to their sister onstage without looking ridiculous, so they started performing together.
Reid played the bass, and Neil picked up mandolin mandolin (măn'dəlĭn`, măn`dəlĭn'), musical instrument of the lute family, with a half-pear-shaped body, a fretted neck, and a variable number of strings, plucked with the fingers or with a plectrum. and accordion.
"I think we always knew we were gonna do the family band eventually," Reid says.
"We needed a lead singer, and she needed a band."
They embarked on a radio-sponsored tour of Wal-Marts across the Southeast.
There the trio nurtured a sibling chemistry for vocal harmony that would propel the songs they had written in their parents' basement in Greeneville, where they moved in 2002.
They started recording them after Garth Brooks' manager, Bob Doyle, discovered the group in 2008.
In 2009, the Perrys were signed to Republic Records Nashville by Scott Borchetta, the man credited for launching the career of Taylor Swift Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is a Platinum-selling, American country music singer-songwriter. In 2006, she had her first hit at 16, "Tim McGraw", about a summer love. Since then, she has risen to fame, with an especially large Internet following. .
In summer 2010, "If I Die Young" was all over country radio.
This summer, it has crossed over to pop radio.
Since the band's album was released in October, it has produced other big singles, the jouncy "Hip to My Heart" and the fiery "You Lie".
But "If I Die Young" is the song the trio hears about over and over, on Twitter A Web site and service that lets users send short text messages from their cellphones to a group of friends. Launched in 2006, Twitter (www.twitter.com) was designed for people to broadcast their current activities and thoughts. , on Facebook, and in the autograph lines that form after every gig.
Equal parts sentimental and fatalistic fa·tal·ism
1. The doctrine that all events are predetermined by fate and are therefore unalterable.
2. Acceptance of the belief that all events are predetermined and inevitable. , the song imagines the fallout of a premature death Premature Death occurs when a living thing dies of a cause other than old age. A premature death can be the result of injury, illness, violence, suicide, poor nutrition (often stemming from low income), starvation, dehydration, or other factors. in sepia-toned melodies that have touched listeners who might have lost someone too soon.
"All the stories come out of the faucet," Neil says of fans' intense response to the song.
"It's been really cool to be a part of these people's lives in a very personal way.
I think that's what country music is."
The lights of the fair are hardly visible from the tinted windows of the Perrys' tour bus, but they still enjoy being near it.
The trio has toured the state fair circuit heavily in previous summers, and various swatches of carnival imagery have seeped into the band's lyric sheet along the way.
"Walk Me Down the Middle" depicts a young romance blooming beneath the glow of a Ferris wheel Ferris wheel, amusement park ride. It consists of a power-operated wheel that is about 50 ft (15 m) in diameter. It has two rims that are parallel to and equidistant from the shaft about which the wheel rotates. , and "Lasso" describes love as "a ride on a tilt-a-whirl that sits on top of the world".
They loved going to the fair as kids, and they still like to watch Ryan and Tatum O'Neal in the flick "Paper Moon".
"The image of the fair in that movie is always in our heads when we're writing," Neil says.
Tonight, movie memories will have to do.
They can't sneak out Verb 1. sneak out - leave furtively and stealthily; "The lecture was boring and many students slipped out when the instructor turned towards the blackboard"
slip away, sneak away, sneak off, steal away on to the midway for a funnel cake Funnel cake or funnelcake is a regional specialty food originally associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch region of the United States. Funnel cakes are quite popular around the United States at ballparks, fairs and festivals. or ride on the teacups
The Teacups are an amusement ride that have a rotating floor. Each set of teacups has a circular floor, or a motor that will turn 360 degrees. .
There's a sophomore album looming, and the Henningsens a father-son-daughter songwriting team have been flown in for a writing session.
The band writes nearly all of its material and says that other songwriters are brought in to keep them on track and pull their tunes into focus.
"We have a lot of ideas swirling around," Kimberly says.
Then "somebody comes along with a needle and thread and helps us sew up all of these really cool ideas".
Most of the ideas on the Perrys' first album formed in Greeneville, where Reid, Neil and Kimberly all still live with their parents.
There's no point in buying apartments or building houses when they were home only 19 days last year, they say.
"The biggest pressures, to me, are the ones that come externally the pressure of trying to maintain the pace on the road," Kimberly says.
"Some days, you want to go home."
Marie Perry silently glides up the tour bus stairs carrying three huge bags of cotton candy.
Her children laugh, jump up from their seats and start tearing into pillows of pink and blue.
They take a few sticky bites, but that's it.
It's time to pick up their guitars and get back to work.
Washington Post photos
by Marvin Joseph
2011 Jordan Press & publishing Co. All rights reserved.
Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company