LANY: “We know we can’t please everyone but we will die trying”
The good guys
LANY was formed like your typical all-American backdoor garage band–well, if you take out the garage and replace that with the then twenty-five-year-old Paul Klein hitting up Jake and Les for a songwriting session in the pair’s house. From then on, it was clear their musical chemistry was something special and they took off to sunny California and never looked back–until now. Quarantining in his Nashville house-turned-studio for over two weeks, frontman vocalist Paul has never felt more at home.
Los Angeles may be the land of dreams, glitz and glamour but nothing will replace the humble Southern homes where the trio grew up. Their upcoming album Mama’s Boy will be a homecoming of sorts, returning to explore their homegrown roots and the beauty of Americana. Between the soft dream-like undulations of love lost and broken (the band’s most recently released single 'Good Guys' for the album is a crooning appetiser), fans of LANY can also expect a similarly personal and diaristic approach to their heritage, tinged with Southern flair. Much like other great bands in the world that are synonymous to their hometown, LANY wishes to put a geographical stamp on the “middle of nowhere” the trio come from in a stunning and intimate musical origin story.
Ahead, we talk to one-third of the band, Paul Klein, on what the perfect album looks like and new sounds the band is exploring (cello, you say?) and more.
You are still currently in the midst of finishing your latest album, Mama’s Boy while in quarantine. How has it been going? It must be very different to try and finish an album this way.
"It has been incredibly challenging, to be honest with you. What takes us days to go back and forth on email and send over ideas would take us just a couple of hours if we could get in a room together but that has not been a possibility. I know most parts of the country are starting to open up and new information is coming out every day regarding COVID-19 so I’m optimistic that we will be able to finish this really soon."
We noticed the acoustic guitar in 'Good Guys'—will there be more experimental elements in Mama’s Boy?
"We’ve never had acoustic guitar in a LANY song before and there’s a lot of it on this album. Something that Jake has always looked forward to is us moving and growing into the idea of putting some acoustic guitar. The next song we’re putting out has a cello in it so we’re introducing a lot of new elements–this whole album is a testament to us being able to evolve and progress. We are all under the conviction and belief that this is our best album yet so we’re just waiting for the world to calm down and get back to a place where we can put things out and eventually go back on tour."
What does Mama’s Boy mean to LANY?
"Mama’s Boy is a revisited love to and for our roots. Geographical identity is so important when it comes to being a band–when you think of Oasis, you think Manchester; when you think The Beatles, Liverpool comes to mind. That‘s one thing that we have been lacking to a certain degree–none of us are from California, we’re all from the middle of nowhere. I think becoming confident in that and comfortable with that is part of maturing but there’s a lot to talk about and explore, which we are doing in this album. Of course, there’s going to be a typical love song, something I believe we do really well, but there are also songs that are broader. For example, there’s a song in the album about what it’s going to look like when our parents pass on. So, I’m just really excited because we’ve had this collection of songs for months now that we want to put out."
You mentioned on your Instagram that you wanted this album to be as “perfect as possible”. What would constitute as the perfect album for LANY?
"There’s no such thing as perfection, it’s unattainable. But I guess what I meant by that was that we’re treating this album as if it were our last–and maybe it is our last, I have no idea– I had no idea 2020 was going to look and feel like this either. So I think it’s more about approaching every element of this album campaign like it’s our last time–so make it as perfect as possible; go the extra mile, if you've already gone twenty rounds trying to make the song right, go twenty-one times. Being really honest with ourselves and our songs is what I mean. We know that we will never arrive as a band; we will never be good enough and please everyone–that’s impossible but we will die trying."
LANY has collaborated with many artists such as Julia Michaels and Lauv–how do you decide which song is meant for a collaboration?
"I think every song has its own backstory and roadmap. For the Lauv track, we had just landed in Malaysia and we were headed to the hotel when he texted me the preliminary version of the song; it didn’t have the bridge and a different second verse. He said he would love for us to help him finish writing it and we thought it was a beautiful song with potential. So over the next week and a half, I re-wrote the verses.
"For Julia Michaels, I had two days with her when we were writing for Malibu Nights. I always loved 'okay' but I knew it needed her voice in it. But it was important to us as a band to put out an album with no features or collaborations, it was our moment to solidify our place in the music industry. So we put out Malibu Nights without 'okay' but then quickly decided, no, there are no rules to music anymore, so it was really fun to drop the song out of nowhere and make a little video for it."
How different will it be compared to your previous album Malibu Nights? What sound direction are you heading with?
"I think Malibu Nights was so obviously a break-up album—just top to bottom what it was like to be broken up with. While a lot of people can relate to that, there are also people who hadn't gone through that or recently broke up and they're just going to say, “well, can’t relate”. In Mama’s Boy, there’s a diverse subject matter and it talks about different topics that we normally haven’t spoken about in the past. Sonically, there is also a lot of guitar in this album. At first, all we had were a couple of synthesisers to make early LANY songs. Now that we have progressed and grown, it’s cool to add bigger elements into our songs. So this is new territory for us but we have made it a point from the very beginning to never do the same thing twice. We always want to be evolving just like any great band."
We just have to ask—if the good guys never win, should we really bother at all? What advice do you have for the good guys out there?
"[laughs] You write that song from a place of frustration and disappointment but ultimately, you do have to believe that the good guys do win at the end. It just oftentimes doesn't seem like it. It’s a much more fulfilling way to live to do the right thing than to be rude and treat people unkindly. So what I will say is don’t grow weary in well-doing and stay the course."
What is the evolution of LANY from the 'Good Girls' era to the current 'Good Guys'?
"Sonically, we’ve gotten a lot bigger–there’s more “oomph” to our songs. We made 'Good Girls' in the kitchen of a rented house with a Dell computer—and it sounds like that. We made 'Good Guys' in a proper studio and it certainly sounds like we did, which is pretty cool. Even when we went to media training, they would ask us to talk about how we made songs in our bedroom on a Dell computer. That’s cute and all but it’s time to get outside the bedroom. We’re slated to play in some big rooms in Asia and America–and it’s time we sound like the rooms we are going to be in."
Staying at home during this pandemic can be challenging. How do you guys maintain your energy to remain productive, especially during this album period?
"We’re doing the best that we can, it’s been a tough year for everyone. For me, it has allowed me to really build out the aesthetic side of the album that I was previously rushed to do. We also do things called mix notes where we talk about things that could be changed in songs; work never stops, really. It has taken longer to get things done since we’re doing it remotely but ultimately we have been able to complete the task at hand."
Lastly, what are your upcoming plans for fans after the quarantine?
"That’s something we are definitely working on right now. We love playing shows; I don’t think there are many artists that play more shows than us—we play about a hundred a year. It’s a big part of the band so it’s been frustrating and disappointing to move release dates and world tours around. We are working around the clock to figure this whole thing out but we will be playing shows and touring for the album soon."
Stay tuned on LANY's third studio album Mama's Boy dropping very soon. In the mean time, stream their latest single 'Good Guys' on Spotify here!