Members: Catherine and Allison
"One day I was in the back seat, and some song was on the radio, and it just clicked," Catherine Pierce says of a childhood moment that came to define the sound of The Light of the Moon. "I heard it, that other note. It was like, 'oh, that's how to harmonize.'
"Now," she adds with a chuckle, "that's all I do."
"Yeah, before then," sister Allison casually reminds, "I did the harmonies."
The story of the Pierces is almost too perfect: two sisters who grew up in a benignly hippie southern family - they grew up singing in church and on an un-kidlike diet of healthy hippie food- now plying their close harmonies and sensitive nature in pop music. Oh, and they're both quite beautiful, which only exacerbates the disbelief.
"People sometimes ask if we're really sisters," Allison says.
Indeed they are. It's in their aquamarine eyes and in the banter that's as uniquely sibling as their harmonies. In fact, it's hard to separate The Pierces, the group, from the Pierces, of Birmingham, Alabama.
"We were home-schooled; our parents let us do whatever we wanted when it came to arts," Catherine says of an upbringing that emphasized the creative life.
"We're not very structured people," Allison explains, wryly.
"We've been doing this our whole lives. Our dad has always been in bands. Our mom's a painter."
"Catherine is a painter, too", Allison adds.
"We sang together when we were really little. I remember doing solos in church when I was six."
"First, we were ballet dancers, and that's what we thought we were going to do forever. We danced professionally, and then we had just had enough. Catherine was dancing in Pittsburgh and I was dancing in Jackson, Mississippi, and she came to see me."
"I had a hip injury that had slowed down my ballet career dramatically. That is when I realized what a weird world ballet is. It's hard on your body and so focused on being really thin," says Catherine.
"Totally unlike the music industry," Allison quips, before continuing the story: "We decided to quit ballet and sing. So we moved back home with our parents and started playing coffee shops."
However unaffected and assured The Light of the Moon may be, the disc is as much a product of The Pierces' perseverance as what might seem like an artistically charmed life. While the duo is new to most, this is their second record; The Pierces, released in 2000, was quickly buried beneath the shifting sands of label priorities. Being so abruptly shuttled into the margins of the music business is the sort of thing that ends careers.
"I did think about quitting," Allison admits, "But we didn't feel like we were finished. There's still more music coming out of us. We weren't done, even though it hurt like hell."
Maybe it's from this determination to which The Light of the Moon owes its sense of backbone. For all the heartbreak in its 11 songs, there's an underlying sense of strength. When the chorus of Save Me calls out, "I know there's no one left to save me," it's as resolute as it is forlorn. They may have started singing as girls, but Allison and Catherine Pierce, who both write, are making music as women.
"It's completely natural. It just happens," Allison says.
Catherine replies, "We don't know what else to do."