The world on their shoulders

By Paul Rigg

Australian twins The Pierce Brothers, Jack and Pat, 30, (27 July 1988) began their career busking on the streets of Melbourne before shooting straight to the top of the iTunes charts with their critically lauded 2017 EP 'The Records Were Ours'. The pair then embarked on a world tour, which doesn’t seem to have stopped since. Their journey has included supporting virtuoso guitarist Tash Sultana on her tour of north America.  

Now their much anticipated debut album Atlas Shoulders is released on 26 October 2018.

One of their most important concerts in their career took place at Fairport Convention's Cropredry Festival in 2016. When they asked which stage they would be playing on they were “blown away” to be told the Main stage, in front of over 20,000 people. However their infectious folk-rock rhythms captured the audience and led to a unique and overwhelming demand for them to return for Cropredy's 50th anniversary celebration. Guitars Exchange was there to talk to them shortly after they stepped off the Main stage on their triumphant return.

GE: How are you feeling after that reception at Cropredry?   

Pat: We cannot believe the reaction we have had here. It has been amazing. I've just heard that Robert Plant, one of the best musicians of the modern era, was here backstage listening to the show tonight and that is the most unbelievable thing ever, so I'm still coming down off of that.

Jack: Coming here the first time was a surprise because we didn't know how it was going to be. Returning this time, after six months of expectations and excitement, I couldn't help feel that we can't possibly have as much fun here again, and yet Cropredry proved us wrong. The hand wave - with 20,000 people - was just insane. I'll never forget it.  

GE: How have audiences responded to you on this world tour?

Pat: The Ostravia festival in the Czech Republic was also around 20,000, and that was also nuts! But the tour has gone from like 200 in Paris, to 60 in Copenhagen, to something like this today. It's been unbelievable and the audiences have been phenomenal. However big the crowd has been they have rocked the shit out of it and that is why we do this - it's been amazing.  

GE: Do you both play guitar?

Pat: Yes, but Jack now plays a lot less because he focuses on drums. Jack does more of the ditch and I guess I do more of the fiddly stuff.  

Jack: I've never been much of an electric guitarist. Pat is much more intricate so I have been sitting at home for the last few months literally learning the simple basic blues scales, the Pentatonic, so that I can start freestyling more.    

GE: What is your favourite guitar?

Jack: My favourite is a custom built Maton CW80 that we got when we were young through a very lucky connection.  

Pat: Our dad built Maton a boardroom table when we were saving up to buy one of their guitars at 14 and then at Christmas the staff at Matons showed up with two as a gift for us. They are the only two in the world as they are made from wood from 1,800 year old red gum in the bridge and fretboard. They are gorgeous, and they are what we built our careers on.  

We had to retire them because we nearly lost one between Amsterdam and New York and it was one of the worse moments of my life. So they stay at home now locked up, apart from when we do studio work.  

We do have a 52 Fender Reissue Telecaster that was signed by Ben Harper when we toured with him. We snapped the neck on our Gibson ES-335 three times - that is probably our most expensive guitar and we love it.

We also have a Gretsch Electromatic original, which is a gorgeous guitar. To get the sound out of that we use effects.  

GE: Which guitarist, dead or alive, would you love to jam with?

Pat: Jimmy Page or John Butler. John Butler has been a big influence on me.

Jack: Johnny Cash. I thought about saying Jimi Hendrix, but I'm just not good enough for that as I write simple three chord kind of stuff. I'd just really love to jam with Johnny Cash.

As the interview ends, a young fan moves forward and is invited to ask a question. 'Are either of you single?' she asks the twins. When they respond that they are both in happy relationships, she asks 'will you be my friend if I move to Byron Bay?' As the conversation collapses in laughter, the brothers offer big bear hugs and wander off to prepare to catch the plane to the next stop on their tour. They are both clearly loving every minute of it and - with their relaxed but passionate style - are surely destined for much bigger things.  


©Chelsea Dennison