The Road from College

Dallas, and SMU, favorite Jackopierce gets a call to the big leagues, and answers

But as pleased as Pierce and O'Neill were with their level of success, it was quite different from what they've faced in the last year. Not only have the crowds gotten bigger -- at one venue in Chicago, says Pierce, they headlined before 4,000 people -- but the road time has increased. Since wrapping up the recording of Bringing On the Weather last January, Jackopierce has done "42 states, ten countries, 300 dates," recalls Pierce. "At one point we played like 32 dates in a row, every single night. It was insane ... it was foolish, I didn't even know my name at the end of the tour. Then we probably had like one day off and then we went out and did like 15 dates again."

Bringing On the Weather stands apart from Jackopierce's indie albums in the sense of unification between O'Neill and Pierce. Rather than the songs being either an O'Neill "epic poem" or Pierce's take on relationships and emotions, the 12 songs on Weather represent perhaps the first real collaborations between the duo. "We've been just working on this a lot more, rehearsing a lot more ... we never rehearsed before," says Pierce. "We'd just go over new tunes at sound check, y'know, maybe rehearse when we were going to do a demo tape or, y'know, new record, but not even really then. And now, we're just taking it a lot more seriously. I'm taking my songwriting a lot more seriously .... I read a lot, and I see a lot of films all the time, I take it all in."

Indeed, the scope of the songwriting on Weather is much wider than their previous efforts. Gone are the Texas college-feely songs such as "How It Is," one of O'Neill's songs, which must have been written from an SMU experience ("Little girl in your debutante dress / You don't impress me / Who the hell do you think you impress / In your little white dress ... Hope I don't piss you off / I hope I just piss in your face"). Weather's songs are -- not surprisingly for a major label debut -- much more "user-friendly," and, in a sense, more mature.

Once finished with their current tour -- part of which will be spent opening for Capricorn Record's artists Widespread Panic up north -- Jackopierce will be returning to the studio to record their next album, most likely due to be released in the fall. (The third single from Weather, "Get to Know Me Better," will be released next week.)

And after years of playing strictly as a guitar duo, O'Neill and Pierce have furthered Jackopierce's "evolution" by the recent addition of a regular bassist and drummer. "It's just hard to reach the back seats, y'know, with just the two of us," says Pierce. "Plus, from a musical standpoint we wanted to take things to different places." The bassist is Clay Pendergrass, whom Pierce refers to as "a dream" and who used to play for Austin's Dah-veed. The drummer is Scott Churilla. Or make that the drummer was Scott Churilla. "He got a great offer, and he's going to be playing drums for the Reverend Horton Heat now," sighs Pierce. "We have someone else lined up. This band thing is new to us; I haven't been in a band since high school, and now I've got to manage all these new personalities -- it's tough."

Still, nobody ever said reaching for success was easy, and Pierce admits he has no nostalgia for the days when he and O'Neill would be cranking out tunes for small crowds of happy SMU colleagues. Much better is arriving in San Francisco for the first show ever to discover a local radio station has fallen in love with your CDs and been playing them constantly, so that you have a sold-out audience waiting for you. "That may sound totally lame and boring to a band that's already gone platinum," says Pierce. "But hey, to us that was like the most exciting thing ever."

Jackopierce plays an all-ages show at Rockefeller's on Saturday, March 11. Billy White opens. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $13. Call 869-8427 for info.

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