A group of friends make a couple of songs together, upload them onto the Internet, and within a week, have one of the hottest singles on the web, all while courting attention from multiple record labels. While this may sound like the premise of a millennial fantasy, LANY’s frontman Paul Jason Klein is loving every moment of it, and not taking anything for granted.
“Yeah, the Internet is amazing,” Klein admits, with an emphatic laugh.
The members of LANY are in Orlando, Florida, enjoying a late lunch before sound check for that night’s show at The Backbooth – their first ever in the Sunshine State. It’s early October, and the trio is finally back stateside after an incredibly successful European tour, including sold out shows in Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Copenhagen – no small feat for a band that has been around for slightly over two years.
With slick production values, catchy choruses, and clever, winking song titles that are remarkably earnest, LANY are building up a head of steam and popularity with younger audiences around the country, and internationally. Their rise fueled primarily by social media and music streaming services, Klein and his bandmates Les Priest (guitars, synths) and Jake Goss (drums, percussion) are aware of their dizzying journey to the top. While many bands spend a lifetime chasing this kind of attention, LANY have it and are more than happy to share.
“It allows a lot of people to come into the playing field, but I think there’s room for everyone,” Klein continues. “If you’re doing something right, it’ll find its audience.”
LANY play 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on October 24, Webster Hall in New York on October 25, and The Metro in Chicago on November 3. I Loved You. is out now on Polydor Records.
Brightest Young Things: Are you enjoying LA more now that you’re on the road so often? You seemed to be torn about the city on “WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FRIENDS”.
Paul Jason Klein: Yeah, I think I love LA – I always have, and always will. Les just moved back to Nashville, and he probably loves LA the least. [Laughs]
Les Priest and Jake Gross: [Laugh heartily]
Klein: There’s love/hate relationship with anywhere that you live, and you have those moments you want to get out of there and moments where you want to stay. That song talks about why am I here? But I’m still in love with this place. It’s home for me.
BYT: What was the genesis of LANY?
Klein: It started in Nashville. We were all just friends there, and I wound up moving to LA on my own; we never talked about doing music together, but a few months after I left Les and Jake started messing around with some ideas on Les’ computer. They lived in a house together with three other guys, and I wanted to fly back and just write a few songs to see what we could come up with. In those four days we recorded “Hot Life” and “Walk Away” and put them on the internet. It just kind of really took off from that moment.
BYT: I know you recorded Make Out on a Dell computer at home. How did the recording process for kinda differ? I hear real drums on this album.
Klein: It wasn’t different, though. We still make everything on a Dell computer. When we signed to Polydor – they give artists recording budgets. Les engineers and records and mixes everything that we do, and so we keep everything in-house. Instead of spending our money on a studio or a producer, we just spend it on rent. [Laughs] We got out of our one bedroom apartment in Hollywood and moved to a little house in Malibu where we can set up drums and not bother anybody. But yeah, we still do all of it ourselves, and we still work on a Dell computer. [Laughs]
BYT: That’s amazing. It’s surprising to hear that – the production values and the quality of the album are really great, and I didn’t expect it to be a kind of bedroom recording.
Priest: Yeah! Thank you.
BYT: Your lyrics deal with some really contemporary feelings and issues – the desire to connect with our peers personally using digital tools; the sense that everyone is always on the move and changing cities; a desire to belong in the city you live in. Where do you draw inspiration for your songwriting?
Klein: I just kind of speak from personal experience. I don’t know what else to say other than that. I guess I really evaluate my every emotion and current position and I try to really take advantage of what I’m feeling. In the day to day it kinda sucks because you can get wrapped up in your emotion, but I try to leverage that and put that into songs. I think it really works out – it’s working out for us, and I plan to continue doing that.
BYT: LANY has experienced a stratospheric rise, fueled mainly by music streaming services like Spotify. Did you guys ever expect it would happen this quickly?
Klein: No, not at all. I mean, I’ve always had big dreams, but I’m not sure I ever thought that they would happen. For me, personally, we’ve gotten further than I ever imagined, but I guess I still want to go further? [Laughs] I want to take this thing as far as we can.
Gross: When Les and I moved to LA, it’s because we believed it would go somewhere. We didn’t know how quickly it would happen, so it’s pretty wild we’re here right now, just over two years in.
What’s been most surprising to you of the last two years?
Paul: [Pauses] Is it kind of cliche to say all of it? [Laughs] We really just came together as friends and made a couple of songs. We knew we liked them, but we didn’t know anyone else was going to like them. Within six daysof putting those songs on the internet, we got an email from a record label. And the next day we got another one, and the day after another – it has been so unexpected.
Little things come to memory. You know, we had never played Europe, and we just got back from touring there. To go and sell out Amsterdam when you’ve never even been to that city, even to see it or travel or anything? That’s kind of crazy. And Stockholm, Copenhagen – these shows were sold out. We’re just really lucky and blessed to have the fans that we do and live in the age that we do where you can sell out a room halfway across the world without having ever stepped foot there.
BYT: How do you enjoy music, as consumers? How do you seek out new bands and sounds, if at all?
Priest: Jake is pretty good at hunting down new music. I’m probably the worst. [Laughs]
Gross: Ooh! When we started the band I used to go on Soundcloud and Indieshuffle and Hypemachine for like hours a day, and link on related artists or playlists similar to and browse and browse. Now you can do that with Spotify and all those playlists they curate. I love listening to music every day, just walking around, running – checking out new stuff all the time.
BYT: Is there anyone out there currently making music that you think is doing it right, whether from a production perspective or live performance?
Klein: I think the 1975 have done an incredible job. I love what they’re doing. I also love this kid named Matt DiMona – not a lot of people know about him yet. He remixed one of our songs, “bad bad bad” and he surprisingly came out with an EP a few months ago. He’s kind of a little brother to us, and I’d love to bring him with us on our next tour to open up a few shows for us. I’d say those are two people I really like and respect.
BYT: What are your hopes and goals for LANY going forward? What do you aspire to achieve?
Klein: We’re going to put out a debut record in 2017, but we’re not sure quite when – our hope is that it performs well, I guess? That it gets into the hands and ears and minds of a lot of people. We’ve practiced our Grammy speeches, and we hope to win some Grammys. [Laughs]
We’d love to get a movie, or a song in a big film – that’d be awesome. I’m trying to think of little goals we might have. We want to be a household name, and we’re not shy about that. We want to take this thing as big as we can without compromising who we are as creatives.