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The Band Perry's golden year

The family band plays Rodeo Austin then heads back to town with Tim McGraw in tow next month

John T. Davis

The Band Perry, which will be performing at Rodeo Austin on March 19, has enjoyed a success in recent months that is little short of meteoric. Barely a year ago, after a dozen or so years in the business, siblings Kimberly, 27, Reid, 22, and Neil Perry, 20, were playing small clubs and radio promo gigs. But beginning with the release of the first single last April, the irresistibly catchy "Hip To My Heart," the band began racking up nominations at the Academy of Country Music, the Grammys and the Country Music Association awards. The album "The Band Perry" went gold in mid-February and the second single, the elegiac, introspective ballad, "If I Die Young," hit No. 1. Their new single, "You Lie," seems poised to follow the same trajectory. Next month, the group will set out on its biggest tour yet, playing an opening slot for Tim McGraw. That tour will see the band returning to Austin on April 9, a few weeks after the rodeo performance.

In the midst of a whirlwind ascent, the trio took a few minutes out to reflect on the ride.

American-Statesman: How do you assess all that's happened in the last year?

Kimberly Perry: It's something we have to do deliberately. We have to say, "Let's be still and enjoy this moment." In 2010, we spent 19 days at home off the road. Every other day we were working hard, working this record, making music and playing shows. We were the blue-collar, roll-up-your-sleeves road band. It would be really easy to let these milestone moments pass by. ... Just being conscious of it is half the battle.

Is there a signature moment out of the past year that stands out?

Kimberly: Our first No. 1 single, that's a lifetime moment. We got to meet Loretta Lynn at the CMAs last year and that was like giving history a hug.

Reid Perry: Our album just went gold as well, last week (in mid-February).

Neil Perry: One of my favorite experiences has been playing the Opry for the first time, on Nov. 13, 2009. It was a pinnacle experience for us.

Kimberly: All those experiences are wonderful for various reasons. It's really cool when we get to list them off like that. It's been a charmed year.

What does the Tim McGraw tour mean to you as a band?

Kimberly: His fan base is so amazing and diverse, and we'll be working hard and rolling up our sleeves to try to win the hearts of some of his fans. Our set is half an hour each night, so I think there will be a little something for everybody. We're looking forward to being out with him. And apparently, he's quite the basketball fan.

Reid: We are kind of short, but we like to play basketball, so if we ever get the chance to play with him, we'll have to go by street rules. He has the height advantage on us.

Before that, however, you're playing Rodeo Austin. What event would you compete in if you were able?

Kimberly: Rodeos are our very favorite things to play because we all have secret cowboy and cowgirl hearts. I would want to be a barrel racer because those girls are always the coolest. But I'm too chicken.

Reid: I'd probably have to go for the steer wrestling. I don't know why, it just seems like it would be fun.

Kimberly: Very manly!

Neil: I think I'd just like to be a clown.

‘If I Die Young' broaches some dark subject matter. Why does it resonate so strongly with listeners?

Kimberly: I think because even though the word "die" is in the song, it's a song about life. And that truly is what our listeners took away from it. We wrote it out of the spirit of contentment. Even at our young ages, if it all ended, we've gotten to live and love so completely. That's the heart we wrote it out of.

You all are siblings, obviously. How do you reconcile professional disagreements over a song or arrangement, say, with family ties?

Kimberly: We arm wrestle over it!

Reid: When it comes to musical and business ideas, being a family, we all grew up with the same ideas and ideals, so we agree on a lot of stuff, as far as music and business. But when we do disagree, it's a democracy, so a majority does rule. And when we walk out of the room, we'll always be on the same page.

Kimberly: Even though we do collaborate on the same stuff, we do have distinct personalities, and I think it's that blend of being familiar with the same styles of music, but also being completely individual, that really makes that relationship work. We draw from each of our personalities in our music at various moments.

There's a lot of mutual respect, but there's also the idea that iron sharpens iron. That's going to cause sparks, but that makes you sharper. Understanding that we're all after the same thing is what makes it work.

Elvis Costello said you have your whole life to write your first album and nine months to write your second. Are you already feeling pressure on for a follow-up?

Kimberly: Over the last 12-18 months, our lives came alive, so there's a lot more to write about. We're already stocking that storehouse for that second project. We wrote for three days in Nashville this week. We have a divide-and-conquer mentality when we come to Nashville to write; We'll all three go into separate rooms with some of our favorite co-writers. We'll try to write three songs in one day instead of just one, and we'll also try to write songs with just the three of us.

No one's made a big deal out of it, but the name of the band is a little unconventional. How did it come about?

Kimberly: We spent this one day brainstorming over band names that had nothing to do with Perry, but then we decided we wanted our namesakes in the name.

Neil: We looked on My Space, and there were literally like a dozen "Perry Bands." So we thought it would be really cool if we changed it up.

Kimberly: We wanted the band in there because we are a family, but we also play instruments; Reid plays bass, Neil plays the mandolin and the accordion and the drums, and I play guitar and piano. And we all sing. So we are family, but we're also a band, we're not just singers. Some of our fans call us "TBP" for short. We'll answer to just about anything!

Rodeo Austin

The annual Cowboy Breakfast is at 6 a.m. Friday, and all the action begins March 11. Details at rodeoaustin.com . The mainstage musical lineup:

March 12: Eli Young Band

March 13:Big Time Rush

March 14:Dierks Bentley

March 15:Jason Derulo

March 16,:Blake Shelton

March 17:Easton Corbin

March 18:Josh Turner

March 19:The Band Perry

March 20:Ronnie Milsap

March 21:Joe Nichols

March 22:Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

March 23:Clay Walker

March 24:Rick Springfield

March 25:Loretta Lynn

March 26:Kevin Fowler