Music interview: Hallucinogenic brew gave Pierces a ‘new perspective’

The Pierces.

The Pierces.

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After The Pierces released You & I in 2011, it turned into a word-of-mouth hit.

Backed by radio play - BBC Radio 2 especially loves them - and TV appearances ranging from Paul O’Grady to Later... With Jools Holland, sisters Allison and Catherine finally had the success they’d been dreaming of.

It was their fourth album and came at a point in their career where they felt they’d toiled for long enough without anyone listening and were just about to go their separate ways.

Now, with that success under their belts (You & I peaked at No 4 in the charts and sold more than 100,000 copies) it was time to make a follow-up.

“It was supposed to be out ages ago,” says Catherine, referring to the forthcoming Creation.

Even though the pair finally thought things were going their way, they hit a huge bump in the road.

Despite being confident with their songs and the producer having “lots of talent and a great reputation”, they spent six months recording, only to have what they’d done knocked back by their record label.

“It went well at first,” says eldest Pierce, Allison. “It’s hard to put your finger on why something doesn’t sound right, but you know it doesn’t. It didn’t have the energy or the emotion or life that we wanted it to have, and the label agreed.

Working out what to do took a while,” says Allison. Catherine, meanwhile, went travelling, to South America for a time, where she took part in an ayahuasca ceremony. Ayahuasca is a brew made from the banisteriopsis caapi vine, known for its divinatory, hallucinogenic effects and is traditionally consumed by Amazonian Peruvians.

“We all felt like we were in a really delicate place,” says Catherine. “We were scared we were going to get dropped, scared we hadn’t written the right songs, and then we did ayahuasca and it put everything in perspective.”

“She clams up a little when talking about the experience, largely because she’s aware it makes her sound like an old hippy, and when she mentions the drug helping her discover the “oneness of humanity” she visibly cringes.

“It’s hard to talk about the experience, hard to describe, but it’s given me a whole new perspective,” she says. “People get so caught up with career, with money, with future, and I had a lot of anxiety about those things, but during the first ceremony, I realised I have a home, I have loved ones, I am generally happy, and it took the pressure off all of that.”

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20th April 2017.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

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