The Band Perry Cover Billboard, Reveal Rick Rubin Was Their ‘Song Doctor’
The Band Perry — lead singer Kimberly and her younger brothers Reid and Neil — cover this week’s issue of Billboard, as the release of ‘Pioneer’ looms large. The trio details the road it took to get here, including how originally planned producer Rick Rubin was their “song doctor.”
The sophomore set makes landfall on April 2, with big expectations on its back, since the band’s self-titled debut was a breakthrough, platinum-plus success.
In the feature, the Perrys reveal their never-ending quest for perfection and how producer Rick Rubin, known for his work with rock acts (Red Hot Chili Peppers), metal acts (Slayer) and country acts (Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks), was their “song doctor,” even though he doesn’t have a credit as an actual producer on the album. He was supposed to produce, but things didn’t quite work out, which the Perrys are candid about.
Kimberly, who called ‘Pioneer’ a “journey, it’s us going from point A to point B and every step along the way, and that journey led us to a new horizon and a new place,” and her brothers are ecstatic to get the record out. They worked so hard on it and have spent the past two years playing the same 11 songs and want to share new ones, as Kimberly says in the behind-the-scenes video clip.
Neil estimated that every song on the album was written and then rewritten at least four times until it was perfect, in their eyes and ears.
That’s par for the Perry course, as Neil admitted,”Literally after every single show, we watch the video of that show like a game tape to see what we can do better.”
They sound like football players looking to study and improve by watching footage of every down. Nothin’ wrong with that, Perrys!
For ‘Pioneer,’ the threesome hit the road, literally, on a sojourn to Rubin, who was supposed to produce the album. But it didn’t quite shake out as planned. “To begin the recording process, we took a road trip out to Malibu,” Reid said. “And during that time we wrote a lot of the music along the way, including at the Grand Canyon. We wrote the song ‘Pioneer’ in Santa Fe.”
They eventually made it to Rubin and he worked them. Neil even dubbed him “the song doctor.”
“Rick also opened up our minds to the spirit behind music,” Kimberly confessed. “He was a teacher in that area. There were times where we walked into the control room that he had tears in his eyes because the music so moved him.”
But the producer was no soft touch, challenging them on things like rhyme scheme. He also helped them refine their songs.
“He was kind of like an editor,” Reid said. “He helped us with rhyming words, for example. We rhymed a lot of words that he doesn’t find good enough. He really pushed us in that aspect.”
But his minimalist approach wasn’t what was needed to see ‘Pioneer’ through to completion. While Kimberly says that’s a quality that they love about the uber producer, she admitted, “We also knew that to accommodate all of the goals that we had, the best producer was Dann Huff.”
So they journeyed back to Nashville so Huff could help capture what TBP are like live on record, which was a key goal for the album.
Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta acknowledged that the band “felt and expected the pressure” on their follow up, given the sophomore slump conundrum that often afflicts bands of all shapes and sizes. Despite a bit of a false start with Rubin, the label is stoked about the final product, with Borchetta saying, “They completely delivered.”
Watch the Behind-the-Scenes Footage of the Band Perry Billboard Shoot