Sibling bands have long had a special place in music fans' hearts. There's always been an intrigue to how a family that plays together can stay together. Part of the fun of watching a family band jam out onstage is the uncertainty that at any moment they might start strangling each other with a microphone cord. Because as bands like Oasis and the Bee Gees have shown us over and over again, when you share blood with your bandmates, things can get ugly.
But those who hope to find drama among the two brothers and sister that make up country-music phenomenon the Band Perry will have to look elsewhere. If the trio were going to crash and burn, they probably would have done it by now. Kimberly Perry and her brothers, Neil and Reid, have been at this since before they could legally drive a car. At age 15, Kimberly started her own band. A 10-year-old Reid and 8-year-old Neil would watch her rehearse, jumping in every time one of Kimberly's bandmates would take a breather. After Neil and Reid played the role of Kimberly's roadies for a while, the family made the decision to take the stage as equals, and the Band Perry was born.
After ten years of incessant touring, they were launched into the country-music atmosphere with the 2010 smash hit "If I Die Young." The song has since amassed more than 100 million views on YouTube. Their second album was 2013's Pioneer, produced by Rick Rubin. It reached the top of the country album charts, peaking at number two overall and proving that the Band Perry wasn't just a one-hit wonder.
Now, the siblings are at it again, working on their third album, which is sure to be a fresh sound for the group. The Band Perry has confirmed that it has worked with hit-maker Pharrell on this latest attempt, and DJ/producer Diplo tweeted about collaborating with the group in February.
But for now, the Band Perry has its eyes on Fort Lauderdale, where it will be playing the Tortuga Music Festival — a sweaty, glimmering, two-day production that takes over Fort Lauderdale Beach. Tortuga, now in its third year, seems to be growing larger and larger each year, just like the Band Perry.
New Times spoke to all three siblings while they were on their way to the recording studio. Although they weren't allowed to share any details about the new album, the three did share some insights into their sibling dynamics, their oddest gigs ever, and what cover songs attendees of Tortuga might hear them play.
New Times: When did you first fall in love with music?
Kimberly Perry: So many of our earliest family memories were musical. Even as kids, Saturday night the radio would play bluegrass music. We'd always go to this one steak house in Jackson, Mississippi, and come home after and listen to bluegrass music. Our dad used to sing us to sleep with Rolling Stones and turn Queen songs into lullabies.
Neil Perry: A lot of people ask, "How do you know music was what you wanted to do?" And we say we had our first rehearsal with our parents, and since then we've never stopped. And that's the honest truth.
As adults, is it difficult to be in such close proximity with your siblings, especially in the way touring requires?
Kimberly: There's a lot of respect between the three of us. That comes in part from the way we were raised. Our parents always encouraged us to be gracious to one another and to be civil as kids. I think that early structure comes in handy these days when we have so many creative debates. We respect each other and know we have each other's backs, so when we have to make a creative decision, we always come out of the room on the same page.
Have you met other musical siblings?
Kimberly: Yeah, Ashley Campbell, of course, Glen Campbell's daughter, we're good buddies with. We got to do a cover of "Gentle on My Mind," and through that song, we got real close to that family, so we really connect with them. We also met with the Gatlin Brothers at the ACM Awards, so we got to exchange stories.
What did you discuss with them?
Kimberly: We're all three very different personality types. So even though we work as a democracy, we all have our ways of making the others go with what our opinion is. Reid is probably the most relentless one, and so he'll keep making the same comment and not stop until we sign off with him.
Reid: And it works 80 percent of the time!
Kimberly: I don't know about that. And Neil, I don't know...
Reid: Neil will take whichever side. He's a little more House of Cards.
Kimberly: Whoever he feels he'll get something out of, that's the person he'll agree with [laughs].
When you come out here for Tortuga, you'll be playing on the beach. Is this the first time you've performed on the beach?
Kimberly: We played a show for the USO on Virginia Beach earlier this year.
What's been the most interesting venue you've ever played at?
Neil: You know, we've played everywhere. The very first concert we ever played took place in the parking lot of a Walmart in Alabama. That was an interesting one. We also played a father/son camp where there was literally one father and one son. This is many, many years ago, but there were more people onstage than in the crowd.
Kimberly: One of our favorites is always Jones Beach up in New York. I remember the first time we played there. That place always floods, for some reason, and it flooded so much the crowd was probably a hundred rows back. They couldn't get any closer to the stage because of the water.
What can we expect from you guys at the Tortuga Festival?
Kimberly: Playing live music is our favorite thing to do. We consider it our recess. It's the only time we turn off our cell phones, turn off our making-music brains, and get really locked into the moment. I feel the crowd always joins in on that energy. We always play all the songs from the radio, and we play a couple of sneaky cover songs that have been show favorites as of late.
What is it about a song that makes you want to cover it?
Kimberly: Usually the beat. If we want to dance to it, we feel usually the crowd will want to dance to it. So we have two covers in the set. One of them is a classic one from the Queen catalog, and one of them is actually "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson.
South Florida is very excited to hear that rendition.
Kimberly: Some of our sweatiest shows have been in Florida. Those are some of our biggest memories. You guys really know how to dance down there. We're a couple of weeks away, but we're really excited to lead you in a sing-along.
The Band Perry. 5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at 1100 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $99 plus fees and up. Visit tortugamusicfestival.com.