Band Perry avoids sophomore slump

Kimberly Perry, front woman for the sibling supergroup the Band Perry, remembers seeing her little brother, Neil, wearing his Superman pajamas while he read the music business magazine Billboard.

Even when Kimberly, Neil and Reid Perry were still kids, they studied the business of music.

The Perry children’s parents weren’t musicians, but music played constantly in the Perry household during the siblings’ childhood in Jackson, Miss.

“Music on the radio all the time,” Neil Perry remembered. “I’d go to sleep listening to the Rolling Stones and wake up hearing Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline.”

Big sister Kimberly Perry launched her first band at 15. For a time she and her brothers performed in two separate groups. But the bands traveled together throughout the Southeast, with the brothers’ serving as their sister’s opening act.

“One thing led to another,” Reid Perry said. “The family band was always in the works. Neil and I had to get tall enough so it wouldn’t look weird on stage. We played our first show as the Band Perry in the lingerie department of a Walmart.”

The Perrys, young as they are, had amassed years of musical experience by the time they signed with Republic Nashville Records in 2009.

Things happened quickly. Their self-titled album debut, featuring the No. 1 country songs “If I Die Young” and “All Your Life,” was one of 2010’s huge hits. A flood of awards and nominations followed.

Having been one of country music’s recent breakthrough acts, the Band Perry faced the challenge of following up their massive success.

“We had been fearful of that phrase, ‘sophomore slump,’ since we were kids,” Kimberly Perry recalled. “Even before we began recording our first album, we were talking about how to avoid the sophomore slump. We did not want to be a one-hit wonder.”

So the determined Perrys got to work. Their labor included multiple rewrites for the songs that eventually filled their second album, Pioneer.

“Fortunately,” Reid Perry said, “we had about 18 months, to write and record Pioneer. We had that luxury to constantly tweak and perfect every song. That way, at the end of the process, and for our own piece of mind, we knew that there was nothing else we could have done to make it exactly what we wanted it to be.”

Pioneer debuted last month at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 2 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart.

The album’s powerful first single, “Better Dig Two,” became another No. 1 song for the Band Perry, selling more than 1 million copies. Kimberly Perry sings “Better Dig Two” from the perspective of a wife who takes the “till death do us part” phrase in her wedding vows extremely seriously.

“Bold statements always seem to work for the Band Perry,” she said. “We loved ‘Better Dig Two’ for two reasons. It has the most aggressive drumbeats and the most aggressive music that we’ve released so far.

“And the story about the girl in the song, it’s about commitment, lifelong love, albeit a crazy, psychotic commitment. But the coolest thing about that song is that we’ve had so many mothers tell us, ‘Oh, my daughter and my future son-in-law, they’re going to play that song at their wedding.’ ”

Before the Pioneer album, Kimberly Perry said, she was the bossiest member of the band.

“And then something happened during the recording of Pioneer,” she said. “I don’t even know how it happened but, all of a sudden, Reid became the boss here. He’s the loudest one of the three of us these days.”

“Reid just stepped it up,” Neil Perry, a multi-instrumentalist and backup vocalist, agreed. “I think his hair got bigger and that made his head bigger.”

The Perry siblings consider their super-supportive parents the invisible fourth and fifth members of the group. Their mother is also the group’s stylist.

“And she’s our coach,” Kimberly Perry said. “She’ll be watching the show out there at the Bayou Country Superfest. I’m sure we’ll be reviewing the game tapes as soon as we finish. She’s always making notes.”