LANY Exclusive FAULT Magazine interview

Interview: Kee Chang

Photography: Catie Laffoon

LANY just played their first arena concert in the Philippines earlier this month—a show that sold out within a matter of 24 hours. Sitting down with the Los Angeles outfit backstage mere moments before they’re to take the spotlight in South Korea—FAULT the only approved interview and backstage access on their third trip to the peninsula—Paul Jason Klein, Charles “Les” Priest, and Jake Clifford Goss are as calm, cool, and collected as they’ve always been. It’s hard to believe that these guy are still infant, having only formed in 2014. That year, the trio uploaded their first track “ILYSB” to SoundCloud. Six days later, Polydor was calling. There’s been no slowing down LANY’s good fortune. If there ever was a dream scenario for any band, you’re looking at it. So after four EPs (including the re-release Make Out), a self-titled debut album, two headlining tours, and having gone truly global with fans in virtually every market, what do they have their sights set on? A sophomore album, of course, but so much more. FAULT goes in for a closer inspection.

 

Tell us about your sold-out arena show in the Philippines. What was that experience like?

PAUL: Surreal.

JAKE: It was unbelievable.

PAUL: It sounds kind of silly to say, but it was actually the easiest show I think I’ve ever played.

LES: Same.

PAUL: It just felt so natural. We play a lot of shows. We’ve played to like zero people before. We’ve played to four people. We’ve done some arenas with Ellie Goulding and John Mayer. We felt so prepared for that night. It was just really comfortable and it felt like that was what we were made for: that kind of venue and size.

Going from playing to a few people like you’re saying, then to huge arena crowds, how has your perception of LANY’s demographic changed?

PAUL: Especially with the debut album, I think our demographic broadened quite a bit. In the beginning, it was just mainly young people and a lot of young girls. It still is, which is amazing. The second there aren’t ten rows of young people in the front, I’d get a little bit worried. So I love that and I love seeing so many young people come. But when you’re in an arena, there’s a lot of people represented in there from all different walks of life. So yeah, it is broadening. That’s good because we want to be the biggest band in the world and you can’t be if you hit a niche market.

JAKE: We reach all ages.

You guys have really passionate fans. With that comes a desire to hold onto LANY as their own special thing before the entire world finds out about you.

PAUL: Sure.

I came across this cool comment under one of your YouTube videos, obviously from a LANY fan: “Bands aren’t little secrets. Be proud of them. This is what they dream about.”

JAKE: That’s super cool. That’s awesome.

PAUL: Also, sometimes I think when they say, “They’re not my little secret anymore,” it’s coming from a place of positivity and adoration—not actually being kind of bummed. I think they’re really, really proud and that’s really nice to hear. We obviously don’t see those because YouTube comments are a little crazy. [Laughs]

You played 117 shows in 2016 and 135 shows in 2017. What’s your sage advice for always keeping your head on straight and having a successful life on the road when it’s this relentless?

PAUL: Pacing yourself, and taking care of your body and your mind and your soul. You do that in a bunch of different ways. Surround yourself with good people. I think we’re really in it for one reason and that’s just to make cool stuff and make cool songs. There’s no real ulterior motive or anything like that. It’s pretty pure so we don’t find ourselves in too much trouble. We’re not causing too much of a raucous.

JAKE: You gotta believe in it with your heart and soul. That’s been true for every show.

From an outsider’s perspective, you guys had a meteoric rise. Has it felt like that to you?

PAUL: Not to us because that’s like looking in the mirror every day and not really seeing the gradual change, but everyone else sees it, you know? If you gain ten pounds, you don’t really see it, but everyone else’s like, “Wow, really? You alright?” [Laughs] When you walked in and told us that we’re experiencing a lot of milestones, I did think in my head it’s kind of like when a kid gets to be one and a half or two years old and they start walking. Then they say their first words, you know? It’s the really fun years when these big milestones happen. I think that’s kind of where we’re at right now. We’re still a baby band, but we’re kind of starting to walk a little bit and say our first words, you know? There are these big moments that we’re experiencing right now.

After South Korea, you’re off to Japan, and then Coachella. You have summer festivals and a bunch of US dates that will keep you occupied throughout the year. When will you record the second album?

PAUL: It’s already written. We took some time off in January and February. We just kind of put our heads down and wrote a lot and then looked up around the middle of February and realized we had an album two written. We haven’t been able to “make it,” if that makes sense. We’re gonna need more time in the studio to really perfect it, but we’ve set aside time for that this year. It’ll come out in September or October of this year.

How different do you think album two will be from what you’ve been putting out?

PAUL: It’s different and the same, if that makes sense. I mean, we always wanna be true to who LANY is and who we are, but we also never want to make the same album twice. We want there to be a progression and an evolution. We look at bands like U2 and Coldplay who’ve just done it for so long and found a way to reinvent themselves with every album. That’s really what we’re striving for.

Speaking of where you all respectively started and where you’re heading into the future, how has the sound evolved? Paul, you were obviously going at it solo before LANY. Jake and Les, you guys had a band called WRLDS before becoming this trio.

PAUL: When I was a solo artist, I was writing pretty crap songs. They weren’t very good. It takes a while to learn how to write good songs. It really didn’t sound like what we do now. I learned so much from these guys. There’s so much musical education, especially in the early years of LANY. Whatever they’re listening to, I start flooding my brain with. I think WRLDS wasn’t too dissimilar from where we’re at now.

JAKE: Part of how we went about it was similar, but it really is about the three of us and what that combination makes. It’s different.

PAUL: Yeah, totally.

What’s the most irritating question that you’re asked over and over again that should be put to rest? I mean, apart from “What does LANY mean?” or “What do you like better: L.A. or New York?”

JAKE: I hate it when people ask, “If you could describe LANY in three words…”

LES: [Laughs] “Each of you, give one word.”

PAUL: Yeah, I mean, how good are you if you can just describe it in three words?

JAKE: I hate those questions.

Watch me ask you a really annoying question next…

PAUL: [Laughs] Your next question! The most basic question.

What’s been your toughest moment as a band? Maybe early on before all of this felt real.

PAUL: I don’t want to say there’s one season more challenging than another. I think looking back on it, I would never wanna do the first year again.

JAKE: We look back on it fondly, though.

PAUL: Oh yeah. The back-end of that first year—

JAKE: We crushed that.

PAUL: But it was tough. At the time, it didn’t feel tough, you know? I’m sure even the season that we’re in right now just trying to grow and evolve as a band, whether it’s with the creative direction or just being on the road a lot, there are things that can wear you down. But I think we just talk about it.

JAKE: We just wanna put in harder work to make really smart moves, and our manager has helped a ton with that. We’ve just grinded for four years.

PAUL: Also, nobody wrote a book on how to be a band and everyone’s story is different so we’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants a little bit. We’re just trying to make the best decisions every day, you know? I think we’re doing alright so far.

You’re very upfront about your goals. I mean, you literally said earlier, “We want to be the biggest band in the world.” What do you want to conquer next?

PAUL: Well, we did just play our first two arenas and that is the goal, for sure. I mean, we were talking about 2019 last night and 2020. We were about to get our tour schedule for 2019, which is just a rough outline, but you know. The world is a big place and there are markets like South America we haven’t been to yet. We want to go back and play Spain and hit more parts of Europe.

JAKE: Play Glastonbury!

PAUL: I think the goal right now is really to make album two as perfect as possible and put it out because releasing music dictates our touring schedule and basically the rest of our lives, you know? So we gotta take care of that first.

What is your FAULT?

PAUL: I’m super competitive. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so that gets the best of me sometimes.

JAKE: I probably love people a little too much.

PAUL: [Laughs] That’s such a great answer! Wow.

LES: I want to do everything myself. I’m kind of a lone wolf sometimes, but I know it’s better if we have an awesome team around us.

 

For more information on LANY, including tour dates, head over to www.thisislany.com

A special thanks to the Universal Music Group team!

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