For many people, the dead of winter can't help but conjure wishes for warmer climates. The Band Perry, however, charted a different seasonal course. The chart-topping sibling country pop trio spent January on the road — in Canada.
But there was a method to such wintry madness. The trek through the Great White North was a non-literal warm-up for the group's first headlining arena concerts in the United States. Dubbed the "We Are Pioneers Tour," after the group's top-selling 2013 sophomore album, Pioneer, the run of dates includes a performance Saturday in Corbin.
"It's a little bit amazing that we haven't even got to bring this tour to the States until now," said singer/guitarist Kimberly Perry, 30. "We started the first leg of We Are Pioneers in Europe for about a month. That was on smaller stages because we couldn't bring the full production over there. But it was really a good chance to experiment. In Canada, we got to break in the whole stage show. There was an overwhelming response up there, so we're just thrilled to bring it back home to the States."
Given the visibility and popularity that The Band Perry has enjoyed since the release of its 2010 self-titled debut album — which boasted the multi-platinum hits If I Die Young, You Lie and All Your Life — one might have expected the trio to be arena head liners by now. But during the hitmaking years leading up to Pioneer, the Perrys, who hail from Greeneville, Tenn., found themselves on the road as show openers for numerous veteran stars. At Rupp Arena alone, they have opened for Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts.
"The three of us like to pick up bits of information from everyone we go on tour with," said multi-instrumentalist Neil Perry, 23. "Going from playing small theaters and small clubs to playing arenas and amphitheaters, I think one of the biggest pieces of information that we picked up was from watching Keith Urban. He was the best at making the person in the nosebleed section at the very back of the arena feel like they were in the front row. That's an art the three of us are always trying to hone."
The journey to arena headliner status included the recording of Pioneer. Traditionally, in pop and country circles, maintaining the popularity of a top-selling debut is one of the keys to achieving career longevity. Pioneer entered the Billboard country charts at No. 1 and the trade magazine's all-genre Billboard 200 at No. 2. That doesn't mean recording sessions were pressure-free, though.
"I felt like Pioneer was certainly more about survival," Kimberly Perry said. "I think you can hear that in a lot of the spirit in the tracks. It was all about rising above a moment and feeling like we were going into a particular mode where we were bound and determined to come out on top. I think that really came from, as you said, feeling the pressure and the responsibility. Coming off of the first album, we did not want to be viewed as a one-hit wonder. The three of us wanted to show real workmanship, where we felt like we really had to dig for every song."
Pioneer has already scored the hits Done and Don't Let Me Be Lonely, but its most personal statement is Mother Like Mine, a tune the siblings wrote as a tribute to their mother, Marie Perry.
"It was a little interesting when we played that one for our mom for the very first time," said bassist Reid Perry, 25. "Everything in that song rings true, but we were still a little nervous because we didn't know how she was going to react. Fortunately, she cried. But that's not saying a whole lot because Mom cries for just about anything."