US lads LANY will be heading Down Under in March for a few shows around the country, and this week we scored some chat-time with frontman Paul Klein.
We spoke about life, LANY’s coming together, their upcoming Aussie tour, and just how awesome they really are.
So despite having been releasing music for the last 3-4 years or so, it really seems for most of us, that you guys have come out of nowhere to become one of the biggest bands around in the world today. Can you talk us through the early stages of those famous initial uploads, and how things started to progress so quick.
You just put the biggest smile on face when you said that we are one of the biggest bands in the world. That just makes me feel so good. I feel like we still have so much room to grow, but that is the kindest thing. We put two songs on the internet, April 2014, to literally zero followers on soundcloud. It was just Jake, Les & I just messing around, and we knew we liked the songs but we weren’t really taking it too seriously. We had our profile image on soundcloud was a photo of Michael Jordan & Magic Johnson laughing on a couch. So all the fans in Europe who weren’t familiar with the NBA thought that we were two black guys, which was the biggest compliment ever.
Yeah, we just put them up on the internet, obviously up on everything, but we had our email attached to soundcloud, and I remember getting an email from Polydor over in London six days after putting the song up. They were like “who are you, where are you, what are you”, and I remember freaking out with the boys thinking that this had to be a joke. To show how naive I was to record labels, I had never heard of Polydor, ever. The next day it was Parlophone, Island UK, and I didn’t know who any of them were, I thought it was a joke, we just thought we were getting spammed.
Turned out it was legit, and so their main question was whether we had any more material, which we didn’t. I had flown from LA to Nashville to see Jake and Les, and in those four days we wrote and recorded our first two songs, put them up and so we were like “sh** boys, we need to write some more songs”. So I would just kind of fly back to Nashville to work on stuff, and then they eventually moved to LA. We played our first show in the first week of February 2015, and pretty soon after that we got thrown on tour, and have almost really been on tour almost non-stop, whilst simultaneously releasing music that would supplement more tours, know what I mean?.
That sounds like a real miracle story, could almost be the start of an amazing movie. I mean, for the amount of people that I know that have been in a similar situation, putting stuff up to zero soundcloud followers, you are the first one I’ve known that has been so successful right off the bat.
Yeah, it does feel a little bit like fate. I have to kind of believe that it is. There is nothing wrong with that ya know. Now that we know that, let’s do the best that we can.
How did you guys all end up meeting, because as you said, you weren’t living near each other at the time of recording the initial songs?
I had enrolled in some summer courses in Belmont University in Nashville, and at the time, I was just trying to write songs. I’m originally from Oklahoma, and I felt like at that time, going back to Oklahoma or going anywhere else, would’ve been a step backwards. Nashville has a really strong songwriting community, and it’s a good place to be if you want to be a songwriter. So I stayed there for a year, and I met Jake at the YMCA, and Jake lived in a house with Les. Jake and I became friends almost immediately, he’s an amazing drummer, but we would never make music together or anything like that, we would just hang out.
One day I woke up and realised that I really wanted to live in Los Angeles, so I packed up my things and moved there. When I was there, I called Jake after staring out the kitchen window for a while. They had started making some music, and popping them up on soundcloud, getting some small write ups on blogs like Indie Shuffle etc. So I asked him if I could come down to write a few songs, and if It went well, maybe we could start a band, and if it didn’t, no worries, it’s no skin off my back. He was keen so I flew back in March, and we wrote the first two songs, put them up, and that was the start of it, that was the start of LANY.
I read in an earlier interview that you guys called yourselves ‘LANY’ because it stands for Los Angeles / New York – what is the significance of these two places on the band?
We had tried a lot of things, and everything was taken. We started thinking of the country, the two major cities, both on opposite sounds of the country, and I was just driving around one day, putting them both together, and thought it sounded kind of cool. I asked the boys and that was it, that was the name.
You guys have been playing a crazy amount of shows recently, what is tour life like for you, and is it everything that you imagined it would be?
It’s exhausting, it’s tough man, I think initially there is a novelty to it, you get to see a lot of the world, but you get to see the world through a very tiny window. You whole experience of every city, is really dictated by things like where the venue is at. In places such as Asia, you have to fly to each country, you aren’t on a bus, and so the experience is dictated by which hotel we are in. It’s amazing though because we get to play to a pretty nice sized audience, all around the world, and every show is so important, and beneficial and really helps us take the band to the next level. At the same time though it costs you, your friends back home, their lives move on, when I wake up in the morning on a bus, I have to ask questions like ‘where is the nearest bathroom’, ‘where are we’, ‘how many fans are outside the bus’, ‘where is the nearest coffee shop’, we are really in survival mode the second we wake up. It’ll take a toll on you, but it’s worth it. We aren’t a band that will live or die by whether our song is doing well on radio, because we built this thing.
That’s the most beautiful thing about it, I sleep amazingly because I don’t have to worry about whether people are going to spin it on the radio. We built a fanbase that doesn’t give a s*** whether our song is on the radio or not. When it is on radio, they are going to go crazy, they are going to scream, and lose it! We are going to always be a band that are always on tour, because it’s not about whether our song is a hit song or not. Does that make sense?
I respect that bro, I’m a musician myself, and to see you not having the reliance on the radio stations, or the “gatekeepers”, and to know that you have the real connection there with the fans, and to know that you can survive no matter who is on the business side, because you always have those people there for you, just wanted to put it out there.
Thank you so much bro, that really means a lot. That’s the way you should go about it too!
So you are going on an upcoming East Coast tour of Australia next month. What can a new Australian fan expect to see from your live show?
It’s really exciting! We’ve played Sydney and Melbourne twice now, so this will be our third time there, and then it’s our first time in Brisbane. We are so pumped that they are going to be all ages, which was tough to do with the way that your venues work. So we are really excited that the doors are wide open for anyone to come.
It’s going to be the first time we are bringing the full live show. Massive 8 foot by 8 foot LED screens, with glossy flooring, which really elevates the live experience. I created all the visual content that goes on the screens. I am very hands on. I make all of our graphics, do all our social media, design all our merch. If you wanted to hate me you could call me a control freak, but it’s just I have a vision, I know what I want, and this is all I do, this is my entire life.
So this is the first time we can afford to bring the entire live experience to Australia, so we are super excited. I think it will really elevate the experience.
So the album came out around half a year ago now, are there any plans for upcoming music?
One million percent. We are hoping to have two new songs out before we get to Australia. We spent the whole of January writing. I think we will put another two songs out in the summer, and then we have set aside time at the end of the year to write album 2. We are very aware of the times we live in, and how people just want stuff to consume. We are very new wave, so whilst we are working towards album two, it’s of the utmost importance to keep our fans happy, and keep this thing moving forwards. You can one billion percent count on new music from us this year.
Within the band, are you the producer as well? How do you guys write together?
Historically, majority of what you hear on a LANY album is played by Jake and I, and then Les engineers it and mixes it. He is the guy setting the levels, playing virtual stuff, and editing etc. Jake and I come up with the sounds, the parts, and then Les mixes it, and we turn in our notes to him so we can get the final product. Coming into 2018 we are trying a lot of new stuff, as we always want to be moving forward. For example, I just spent three days with a guy called Malay, who produced the big Frank Ocean hits. It’s amazing because we have worked really hard to be able to get into a room with a guy like Malay, and then to hear he is a fan is incredible. To me Frank Ocean is like God, and I was just blown away by all the stuff he has done.
What would you say to the young band/young musician that is sitting in a similar place to where you guys were a few years ago, what would your advice be?
There are a lot of things I could say, but for sure you have to operate off of conviction. For example “New Music Friday”, it’s almost a genre now, which is so depressing. To have young bands making that sound, just to get on that playlist, is bullshit, that isn’t conviction. You have to operate off conviction. Also, sometimes you just have to come to realise that your stuff is s***. For me, when I was writing as Paul the songwriter, I had to come to terms that my stuff was s*** before I was able to write good stuff. So overall, just being honest with yourself. I’m glad I never quit.
LANY are touring the East Coast of Australia this March, in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne – click the artwork below for ticketing info
author: Tom Walker