A chat with LANY’s Paul Jason Klein: on Spotify, all ages shows in Australia & new music

We’ve been raving and raving for what feels like years now about how damn good LANY are; but if you STILL are not aware of them, LANY is a three-piece band that met in Nashville. Their latest EP is full of honest love songs that are perfect to chuck on during hot summer’s evenings. They’ve spent the last few years writing, touring around America and Europe and working on their debut album. The band has finally announced some Aussie shows so we chatted with lead singer Paul Jason Klein about touring, Spotify, ILYSB and coming to Australia.

Paul: It’s you! I know you guys.

Gabrielle: Yeah, yeah. We’ve followed you for so long.
You guys are amazing!

Oh, thank you! Yeah, so we’ve been following you since 2014. When you were making music from your laptop and iPhones.
And we still are, haha.

I just wanted to know going from that into recording with Troye Sivan, and travelling, touring with Troye and doing festivals, how has all that helped your sound develop?
Well, I guess playing shows has directly developed us as artists and our sound – I don’t know how much – I don’t know how aware we are of the influence that playing live has had on our recorded sound, but I’m sure it’s definitely there. Troye is, like, the best. We love him to death and going on tour with him at the beginning of 2016, it was so important and I’m really, really thankful for the opportunity.

Last night you tweeted about Spotify. I’m always seeing a bit of negativity from artists around Spotify, and getting paid and stuff. So I wanted to have you explain the positive impact it’s had on your band.
Sure, I don’t know what the complaint is about Spotify and streaming services. I mean, it’s just how it is, and it’s just the landscape of music. I mean, no way in the world will I ever be like, the richest guy from music. That’s not going to happen. I expect to make a living from just doing music. I mean I didn’t expect it, I do now because I understand how far we’ve come, and I understand that this is a real thing. I don’t need to go work at Bank of America to supplement my creative endeavours with LANY, I understand that I’m going to make a living from music.

The great thing about music is there are so many revenue strains. I mean, you have touring, you have merch, you have publishing, you have these things right, these artists, kind of like endorsements with branding agreements. I mean, there’s ways to make money, but Spotify… We’re in love with Spotify. They’ve been amazing. They’ve been on board from the very beginning, and just getting on their playlist gets us in front of so many people. Even before we signed a record deal, our biggest cheques were from Spotify. All the cheques funded our very first tour … That’s what helped us go on tour. Every cent we got from Spotify as a band we just put into the tour fund. This was before we signed a record deal. Jake, Les, and I never took any money from LANY. Whatever money we made from streaming, we just put into the LANY bank, and that’s what got us in a little Chevy van, and drove us around the country.

I don’t know what the negative connotation is about it. I guess we could all protest and ask for, “Give us more cents on streams”. I just, I don’t know. Streaming is how it is, people stream music. If people buy records, great. I think that’s amazing, and that’s incredible, but a lot of people, to discover music aren’t going to go buy a record just because they like a band. They’re going to go to Spotify or YouTube or whatever. They’ll go to a streaming service, and they’ll listen to a band. “Yeah, yeah, I’m into this.” That opportunity to get in front of people that are unsure if they like you or not is priceless.

Yeah, it’s like you get to try before you buy type of thing.
Yeah, for sure.

ILYSB is the most streamed song of all time through Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature.

How surreal is it seeing so many fans from different parts of the world connect with your music on such a personal level?

Yeah, it’s been amazing. You know going over to Europe for the first time last year in the Fall, and being just like, how does anybody know we exist, how is there anybody here and then much less like, 500 cap rooms and Amsterdam being sold out. I’ve never even personally been to Amsterdam. Stockholm’s sold out, as is London. Again, it’s kind of like touching back to Spotify. Spotify is a global thing, it’s a universal, across every continent kind of thing. This is the power of the Internet, the power of Spotify, streaming services. I just don’t even know how people are complaining, and have negative feelings towards it. It almost enables us to play shows and to have a touring career, and be able to meet so many people and connect with these fans, it’s really a dream isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s a platform that’s on a global level, I just always think it’s been really positive for artists. I find some of your lyrics in your songs are just really specific/personal, and then others are just really universally relatable. What goes down in a LANY writing session to create these types of lyrics?
The boys have just kind of just entrusted me with writing the lyrical side of the songs, I do a lot of the melodies, stuff like that. I don’t know, it’s not super thought out, it’s not super methodical, I don’t have just like things that I do, this regimen that I go through to create a LANY song. I just … I say this completely humbly, I just think that it was something that I was gifted to do. It was just the gift that I have as a communicator to say things in a relatable and universal way.

I respect, and look up to, and love people who can speak allegorically and metaphorically, and use symbols and things to mean something completely different. That’s not really my way. I’ve stretched myself in that area, and I think that’s there’s parts from that style of writing that I can learn from and implement and be inspired by. Yeah, I guess I kind of just shoot from the hip and say how it is. I think part of that is just my style, that’s just the kind of writer that I am.

Yeah, I love it. I did read that you were saying you wanted to maybe have kind of a political vibe on this album as well as love songs? How have you found writing that as well?
Oh, maybe I was misquoted, but there’s nothing too political about this debut album whatsoever. I can’t think of anything even like right now that’s more divisive and polarised than politics. That’s just like the last thing I want to be, really. So, no, I think maybe I talk about how a lot of artists I praise for their political jargon intertwined in their music. How maybe there’s some kind of hip blogs or cool blogs that are reluctant to write about bands like ours, that speak a little bit more plainly, that have more like pop sensibility or commercial sensibility and aren’t screaming about racial inequality or these political issues, which are super important issues, it’s just not really what we are doing at the moment.

I’m just going to stick to what I know, and what we’re good at, and what feels right at this time. I think right now we have probably way too many people talking about politics. It’d be so nice if I could just look at my Twitter feed and not see something about politics at the moment. I mean, it’s probably the last thing anyone wants to listen to, and jam out musically to.

Definitely understand that! What led you guys to decide to re-release, ILYSB because it’s been around for quite a long time.
Right, ILYSB is the only song that was previously released that will be going on our debut album. Just really plainly, that song has a kind of commercial potential, global kind of, “success potential”. That song had like close to 30 million plays with literally zero push from the label, zero radio plays, absolutely nothing. We just signed to a label at the end of 2015, and we’d been on tour pretty much none stop and put out an EP, and a single, WHERE THE HELL ARE MY FRIENDS. We shot that music video for ILYSB a year ago, and that was my precious little secret that had been sitting in the vault for up to a year. When I just think that it was like, hey this song has immense radio potential and we want to take it to radio. I know that it’s 2017 and radio’s like ‘what – people still listen to the radio?’ but the truth is a shit tonne of people still listen to the radio.

It’s an incredible way to get to current people that aren’t on Spotify, right? Or maybe are, but don’t really care to search the webs of Spotify and find an up and coming act. So, you have to respect that. We’ll never alter our sound to cater to the taste of pop radio, but if people think, “Man, that LANY song that you made, I think has commercial potential and tenancy”. Please, go take it, see if they want to play it on the radio, awesome. I’m cool with that.

So I’ve literally been tweeting you guys for years to come to Australia. Like, over and over, I’m really stoked to have you guys here in February. What are you most excited about with these live shows?`
Thanks! I think just to meet you and people like you. I think that our fan base in Australia is bigger than we are aware of. I say that like just so plainly and humbly. We’ve never been, the reaction and response to the announcement of coming over was overwhelming.

I don’t know why, but your country has made it damn near impossible to play an all ages show. It’s impossible for a small up and coming band to come up – We would have to pay thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands, of dollars to the promoter/venue to play a show for all ages. I don’t know why. I don’t know what rules and regulations you have set in place, but we have done everything in our power to try to swing an all ages show. We just can’t do it. I think there’s even a petition signed.

People were pretty upset. You know, I was upset. I was on the phone for what felt like days, trying to be like, “What do you mean, like, why can I play an all ages show anywhere in this country, but I can’t in Australia”? “Why do we have to be able to sell 2500 tickets to play an all ages show?” I was just like, that’s not something you just waltz into Australia and do for the first time, sell 2500 tickets. You know what, I wonder if we would, if it was all ages. I don’t know, I’m not sure.

Do you have plans to do any touristy stuff whilst you’re over here?
Well, we kind of have a lot of press and promo scheduled, but I’m hoping that during the evenings we can go out. I would love to be with the people and experience the culture and go to Bondi, and do all that. I don’t know too much about Melbourne, other than I heard at one point it was the number one city in the world to move to if you don’t know anybody. It’s the friendliest place in the world. I’m really, really looking forward to our time over there, and I’m looking forward to when we can come back after being there once, really kind of growing and developing something over there in Australia. I’m really excited about it.

Yeah, we’re really excited to have you over here, finally!
Yeah, I can’t wait.

Thank you so much for talking with me.
Yeah, thanks for loving us and supporting us from the beginning, it means a lot to me.

That’s okay; hopefully, we’ll get to catch up once you’re down here.
That’d be great!

TUE 28 FEBRUARY – Oxford Art Factory Sydney – TICKETS
WED 1 MARCH – Howler – Melbourne – TICKETS

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