Even if the Band Perry’s music comes from a similar in-between space, no one would call the group underrated. In less than a year, its popularity has exploded thanks to “If I Die Young,” a stunning ballad that topped the country charts in December, earned a Grammy nomination and is nudging the band’s superb self-titled debut from gold toward platinum. On Saturday, they’ll sing it when they open for Tim McGraw at Jiffy Lube Live.
And although the Band Perry’s career seems headed up, up, up, its album is full of songs that pull in different directions. The members sing about leaving their home town in the dust while longing for the comforts of home and breaking hearts while pining for true love. Their songs feel young and old, naive and wise — which might explain why so many kids go to see the Band Perry in concert with their parents, grandparents or both.
“We walk a fine edge between the surreal and the romantic,” says Kimberly, 28. She and brothers Reid, 22, and Neil, 21, are taking a dinner break on their palatial tour bus after a performance at the Delaware State Fair, where they preceded “If I Die Young” with a punchy cover of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Their mom, Marie Perry, hands Kimberly a peanut butter sandwich. It’s cut in half, the way that only moms cut peanut butter sandwiches.
The past 24 hours have been nonstop. In addition to their 45 lively minutes on stage, the Perrys have done a photo shoot, a radio interview, an on-the-bus songwriting session and a meet-and-greet with radio contest winners. After dinner, they’ll head back to the stage, where their mom will spend two hours snapping 200-some photos of her children posing with fans already lined up deep into the breezy summer night.
“Our cheek muscles are strong,” says Kimberly, smiling, or flexing.
All day, Marie Perry has played stealth stage mom, foofing bangs before the cameras flash and conjuring snacks from thin air. She doesn’t speak to reporters, but you can tell she’s concerned about her kids as they try to pen a hotly anticipated sophomore album in the middle of a tour that won’t bring them home to Greeneville, Tenn., until late November.
On a schedule this grueling, the Perrys’ only reprieve is sleep — which doesn’t always help.
“I've even been dreaming about the songs we’re working on,” Kimberly says.
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On nights before a rehearsal, Kimberly could never sleep. At 15, she was fronting a rock band of high school buddies called Rain, named after the weather the day the group formed in Mobile, Ala. Neil and Reid — then 8 and 10 — would watch their big sister practice in the living room with awe. Whenever her bandmates left for a glass of water, they’d rush to grab the drumsticks and bass guitar.