Songs For Girls, John Mayer, & Fan Stories: A Q&A With LANY Before They Hit The Road

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Pictured: Jake, Paul, Les in our studio office

Los Angeles-based trio LANY is following up their rookie years with some major moves this 2017. Friends Paul Jason Klein (lead vocals), Les Priest (keyboard and guitar) and Jake Goss (drums) will hit the road with John Mayer for seven arena shows in April, followed by a headlining U.S.  tour through the end of May. The tour begins on April 24 in Sacramento, CA, and finds the band hitting markets outside of your typical big cities. 

The trio has also announced their eagerly-awaited debut album, LANY, set for a June 30 release. If the band’s EPs are any indication, the album should be stellar. Fans who pre-order the album will be treated to the brand new song “Good Girls,” a catchy synth-driven track that offers some serious dreamy disco vibes. Pre-order the LANY record here.

When we sat down to interview LANY, we were happily surprised to discover just how humble the guys are, considering their massively growing and highly devoted fan base. Read below to get the scoop on the trio’s background, their life on tour, and what we can expect when they hit the stage on the second leg of the kinda tour. Tickets are available here.

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OTW: Do you remember a specific moment when you had a lightbulb moment that music was your calling?

LANY (Paul): My mom put me in piano lessons at the age of 5, so I was classically trained all the way through high school for like 13 years. I didn’t want to do music because classical piano was not that fun–it was like a rule in the house. But then I got into high school, and I started writing songs about this girl I really liked, and I think that that was kind of when I realized, “Oh this is fun to write my own stuff.”

(Jake): For me it was that movie, That Thing You Do. When I was younger, I took piano lessons for a few years with my brother, but I stopped, but then I saw That Thing You Do, and I wanted to play drums and just be in bands. That kind of jumpstarted everything for me, that movie.

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(Les): For me, I grew up in a very musical family but I never knew what my place was going to be in music. I knew I wanted to do something musical, but when I went to college, I was trying to do commercial voice and the school that we went to, Belmont, was like “You know, I don’t know if commercial voice is your thing, maybe you should try music production,” [Laughs] And I was like, alright.

OTW: You guys have toured with a bunch of people in the past–Troye Sivan, Halsey, about to go with John Mayer. How is the transition between being the opener and being the main act?

LANY (Paul): We spent like a year being a support act, and you kind of want to go out there and, you know, give it to them. Yeah! But then there’s no expectations when you’re a supporting act, so it’s kind of easy in that sense. You’re just like, “Let’s just go”–you’ve got nothing to lose almost. 

And then you’re like “Oh, people spent money to see us, that’s a thing.” It changes the game; it changes the way of what you’re doing. You get way more thoughtful about your performance and even your production and how things feel when someone comes to a LANY show.

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OTW: Do you think it’s given you more confidence on stage?

LANY (Paul): I don’t know if confidence is the word. It’s just a challenge, you know? And when you’re challenged, you grow and you become better. We brought three 6’x6’ LED screens to the last tour. That was awesome. Now it’s like, not necessarily like how can we top that but like, let’s do something different. How do we change it and evolve and bring something fun to this tour? It’s a very thought-provoking and challenging thing.

(Les): That’s the thing about headlining, there’s so many parts to it, and it is more work and all that and it’s a fun challenge. Opening is just like, “Okay we’ve got 30 minutes, let’s just go crush it.” But the headline stuff’s fun because there’s just so much that goes into it.

OTW: Can you give us a little visual description of what someone standing in the crowd will see on this next tour?

LANY (Paul): I can’t because we are in rehearsals right now, and we just loaded the lights into the rehearsal space yesterday to kind of figure out what we’re going to do. I do want there to be a little bit more mystery to the show, so when you’re playing in front of an 18-foot LED wall divided in three, it kind of illuminates everything and everyone, and it’s very much like, “Oh wow.” But now, I want there to be more shadows and more of a mysterious vibe.

OTW: Have you guys met John Mayer yet?

LANY (Paul): I mean I have, but not. It was a while ago and has absolutely nothing to do with this situation [laughs].

OTW: How do you imagine he’ll be like?

LANY (Paul): Jake has this funny joke that I am obsessed and in love with John Mayer but I also love Pino [Palladino] and his band. We are huge fans of everybody that’s going to be on that stage, so we joke about like if Steve walks by Jake and is like …[to Jake] you do it, it’s funnier!

(Jake): Steve’s the drummer. He’s one of the best drummers in the world. I’m going into it expecting that they’re never going to speak to me; they don’t have to. But I imagine if he comes up to me, and he’s like, “I just want you to know, find a new line of work. Because you suck.” And then I’ll just be like, “Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to speak to me.”

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OTW: [Laughs] You’re preparing for that?

LANY (Jake): That’s pretty much it. Yeah, that’s how stoked we are to be there. Just being able to watch that level of talent.

(Paul): Being surrounded by that, I hope that we just pick up on stuff that we don’t even realize, even the way they walk and talk. I’m dead serious–these guys are the greatest to ever do it. I mean John Mayer is the best guitar player in pop music.

(Jake): I think we’ll be a different band after these 7 shows. It’s going to be crazy.

(Paul): So just to see how they talk and interact with each other and walk on stage, off stage, backstage, that kind of swagger–I hope that just rubs off on us, and we can learn and rise. You always rise or fall to what you’re surrounded by, so we’re going to be the worst in the room, and it’s going to be awesome! 

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OTW: Any funny or particular tour antics that each of you have? You can talk about each other.  

LANY (Paul): Jake’s the comedian of the band.

(Paul): We don’t have anything that we do that regular dudes don’t. We’re funny. Oh yeah, we have a guy named Steve who kind of oversees our merch on tour, and he’s got this Google document that gives us every coffee shop pretty much in the world. So he’ll open it up, and we’ll be in like Oslo, Norway, and he’s like, “Alright, here are the top 5 coffee shops.”

(Les): Well, we’re all still asleep, but he’s texting us and he’s like, “When you guys wake up…”

(Paul): Like, I’m bringing my tennis racket on tour, and he likes to play tennis, so I’m like, “Do you have a tennis doc? So you can find the courts?”

OTW: [Laughs] Wow, amazing. In general, what would you say each band member’s role is–not musically, but in the group dynamic?

LANY (Paul): Jake’s the comedian.

(Jake): I just try to keep the smiles going. Keep the vibe high.

(Les): I probably worry the most, and stress the most; he will level me out.

(Paul): Les will level us out too. Les is really quiet.

(Jake): We also get sucked into passion and vision, and Les is just like, our wisdom grandfather.

OTW:  Good balance!

LANY (Paul): He can also fix everything.

(Jake): if there’s anything wrong, we’re just like, go to Les, and he can handle it. We tried to unpack the van once without Les, and it was like we had to get four bands together, because we didn’t know how to do Tetris.

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OTW: What has been the craziest fan experience you’ve had (on tour or in general)?

LANY (Jake): Last tour we’ve had people starting to jump on stage.

(Les): When we played Salt Lake this last time, we had some people take time lapse videos of people like rushing into the venue. I thought that was pretty wild; they were just like running over each other.

(Paul): It was fun man–we have some fun people that come to our shows. There is no trying to be pretentious or too cool for school. People just lose their minds at our shows. And it’s fun. Because we’re losing our minds with them, you know? Like we feed off each other.

(Jake): I remember one show, it was in Minneapolis, when Halsey came out, but…was there a barricade at that one?

(Paul): No, there wasn’t a barricade, and we’re playing on like a 2-foot stage. I would be playing “Made in Hollywood,” and people would just be ripping out their hair, like it was just…

(Jake): I remember we were playing “Made in Hollywood,” and this girl was just getting squashed, and she was crying. I was trying to get one of the security guards, and I was like “Can you help this girl?” Because she was hurting, and I stopped playing. It’s just crazy people are rushing the stage and people are getting hurt. It’s been wild.

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OTW: Crazy teenage girls right?

LANY (Jake): No, these were like moms…

OTW: Really? [Laughs] Your debut album is coming out SOON–is it going to follow a certain theme or sound?

LANY (Paul): There’s no real theme–we didn’t set out and say, “Alright, here’s the concept and here’s chapter 1,” but it still all feels super cohesive. It’s pretty much like if you were just to open up a journal. If I were to have recorded a bunch of life experiences and emotions and ups and downs, that’s what it would be.

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OTW: Nice! Last question, which artists are on your Ones To Watch list?

LANY (Jake): There’s a band from L.A. called the Vulfpeck. A lot of is like soul, but they’re younger guys, just amazing musicians. We actually saw a few of them open for John Mayer at the Hotel Café. We’re just always excited when they release stuff.

(Paul): It’s funny because I feel like we’re Ones To Watch and I don’t know who I listen to that’s smaller than us. I love this kid named Matt DiMona. He remixed “Bad Bad Bad,” and he put out an EP last year that I just listened to death. Other that I just listen to these giants, like Frank Ocean, I love Bon Iver… oh yeah Jorja Smith. Who else? I love MUNA!  We saw them play at The Teragram Ballroom.

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