The Band Perry on 'Coordinates' EP and Live Shows: 'We Just Want to Be Our Most True Selves'
The Band Perry promises its upcoming live shows will be just as different as the trio's just-released Coordinates EP.
Stepping fully away from its country roots, the five-song outing -- written and produced by the band along with regular collaborator Owen Thomas, and executive produced by Rick Rubin -- moves firmly into the contemporary pop realm, with plenty of rich ambience and electronic enhancements, including vintage analog gear. "It felt almost like a chemistry lab with all the new toys we have," Kimberly Perry tells Billboard.
And the group's concert stage will be similar as the Band Perry hits the road.
"Our choreography these days is when to put the floppy disc in, when to take the floppy disc out," Perry tells Billboard with a laugh. In addition to some of the old school synthesizers used on Coordinates, the group is also hauling out some Akai sample boards and other gear that will allow the trio to straddle the line between technology and organic performance at each show. "It's important for us to feel like we're not just running a track that's locked into a three-and-a-half, four-minute arrangement every night," Perry explains. "We want to maintain our band's culture on stage, and part of that is the freedom to jam with each other, the freedom to never have an arrangement feel exactly the same way each night. So to bring the sound we made in the studio we have to put some of it in the samplers and play them through the instruments, live. It'll be an interesting hybrid of everything we've been and everything we're doing now."
The hardest part, she adds, has been finding floppy discs in 2018. "Amazon has been our champion for that," Perry says. "We did call every single Best Buy in (Nashville) a couple days ago, and it's like crickets. They do not exist."
The stage approach does, however, takes Perry and her brothers Reid and Neil back to their roots in a way. "In the oldest days of the Band Perry, before we ever had songs on the radio or any of that, we were an indie power trio -- me on electric guitar, Reid on bass, Neil on drums," she recalls. A tour drummer, meanwhile, will allow Neil Perry to play a variety of instruments and help man the technology during the shows.
Coordinates is the Band Perry's largest collection of new material since its 2013 sophomore album Pioneer, which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart and was certified gold. The trio spent much of the interim navigating its way out of the major label world and launching ARTRAT, a "creative house" with Thomas that will produce all of the group's future material. "ARTRAT is one of the things the three of us have spent a lot of time dreaming about," Perry says. "A lot of elements will come out of that. We love the visual side of things as much as we love songs, so there's a lot of things we want to do. Our mission is to be exactly who we are and be able to put it out in real time."
That, she promises, means more new music -- and soon.
"Our mission is to release our music hot off the press, as soon as we make it in the studio, so I think there'll be a series of collections from us," Perry says. "I have a feeling they'll live under the Coordinates title for a second, but who knows -- If we wake up tomorrow and feel like we have a better name for some songs we want to put out tomorrow, we'll put it out that way. There's a difference between singers and entertainers and artists, and I think those can all cross-pollinate and work together to communicate what we're feeling and what we love as we do it."
The Band Perry gives Rubin full credit for pushing them in its new direction. The group played him 30-odd songs it had accumulated at a time it was unsure of where to take its next project. "We loved all of it," Perry recalls, "so we needed that compass to help point us...so we said, 'Hey, let's call Rick. He'll have some way,' 'cause he's always been Yoda for us. We played him everything and he picked out one song, the most recent song we had at that time, and said, 'This is it. This is The Song! This is the nucleus you need to go with and work around and try beat that song. Go and hole up as Kimberly and Reid and Neil and Owen and go in a room and try to figure it out.'
"So we did that and we a) never had more fun but b) got extremely focused on what the sound needed to be and how to execute that."
Coordinates is a long way from "If I Die Young," of course, but Perry and her brothers are more excited than apprehensive for the reception. "The concept of genre lines was never a part of our household," Perry says. "Gratefully, something that's happened over the few years since our last LP is that so much of the world has become fluid, and genres are one part of that fluidity. With Spotify and streaming we all have access to everything we can possibly want and decide as listeners that it all fits together. We just want to be our most true selves and most excellent selves, creatively. We really feel like the world deserves that from us. That was the initial perspective we brought to country music; It served us well there, so I think it will continue to as we just make the best, most true music we can."
Below, find lives dates for The Band Perry. Tickets go on sale Sept. 22.
10/20 Bloomington IN Bluebird Nightclub
10/21 Madison, WI Majestic Theatre
11/30 Houston, TX HOB Houston
12/1 Dallas, TX Granada Theater