LANY are the quintessential 2017 band. They’ve used all the tools available to artists in this era to build their fanbase and spread their music, beginning on Soundcloud and then moving to Spotify and radio. Their current single ILYSB has racked up over 38 million streams on Spotify and is the most streamed song ever through their Discover Weekly playlist.
Of course, you have to have a pretty damn good song on your hands to use the tools properly and that they have. The US trio are making shimmering pop music with an alternative edge, the type that could make them cult heroes and mainstream idols.
This year, their music is taking them around the world and Australia is in their sights. They’re set to tour here with Pumarosa at the end of this month and we caught up with Paul Jason Klein beforehand to chat streaming, albums and pinch-yourself moments.
You guys have finished writing the album. Do you have to sometimes remind yourself in the thick of the album process that you want to write music not have to?
Of course, I’ve always viewed the creative process as you do still have to treat it like it’s your job in the sense that I just can’t sit around and float through my day and wait for some sort of inspiration to knock me over and then I run to the keyboard and write a song. You have to sit down in your chair in the middle of the day which I’ll argue is the most uninspiring time of day, you sit down and say, “I’m going to write a song because I want to do this and I want to be the biggest band in the world, I want to make the best music in the world, I want this.” Yeah man, it is a lot of that. It’s not like, let’s light candles and do some drugs and try and get creative. That’s not how it goes for us, maybe it’s that way for other people.
The LANY story is a cool one because you got your fanbase by putting good songs online. Does it feel good to have the album locked away and know that it’s the end of a really long starting process?
Yeah, that’s a great way of putting it. Growing up when you had musical aspirations you dreamed of making an album. I know…I don’t want to say I know. People say we live in an era of singles and songs and EPs and frequent releases. And yes, some of that is really true. Songs are very important. They’re the only reason I’m on the phone to you right now but there’s something so weighty and so important about an album. We’re still mixing it, the recording side of it is done. Right now, I’m spending days and nights fine-tuning and listening. To be able to sit back and be like, “Damn, I forgot we wrote this song,” and to have this huge body of work that you cannot wait to give to people and you know that songs are strengthened by the strength of other songs sitting on that collection. Track three could be so strong because track seven is so strong and they go off eachother. It’s so exciting for me as a songwriter to be like, wow this feels so good to have done.
One thing I really like about this moment is that there was a huge push to declare the album dead but now, there’s a big focus on the big songs but also the cohesive work. People like The 1975 did a really good job doing both last year. Was it hard finding that balance between having a cohesive album and also finding those big songs?
I think it’s so interesting. You can have a song fly on Spotify and fly on the radio and just not sell a single ticket. That is not the band that we have ever wanted to be. It has always been about shows and touring. I say that but it’s interesting, we on purpose did not play a single show for a year. In the first year of LANY we did not play a show and that’s because we wanted people to be in a place where they were begging for a show. Strategically speaking, I was like, yo let’s just write really great songs and let people live with them and slowly fall in love with them and eventually I hope if our songs are good enough people are going to want to see us live. Eventually, a year later that’s what we did. I’ve always viewed our songs as a means to tour. I’ve never written a song and tailored it to radio. We will never do that. I’ve always viewed our material as being a means to tour and a means to play shows. This is a body of work for people to fall in love with LANY not let’s get 500 million streams on Spotify. I’d love that but I’m not going to leave songs out just because it doesn’t have an epic, anthemic vibe.
That’s an interesting climate you’re explaining because back in the day the only way to do it was to tour hard and then eventually an industry guy would pick you up. Now, the public has an A&R role in that they decide what songs they listen to on Spotify and then radio takes cues from that. Is it cool watching your fanbase decide which songs they love?
Yeah. Spotify is amazing. This whole streaming world, we’re a product of that. We are THE product of it I would say. We put two songs on the internet on Soundcloud in 2014 to 0 followers. 7 days later Polydor records, “who are you, what are you, we’re in love, can you send more?” I literally tweeted last night at 1am to Spotify, “thank you for being so good to my band, thank you for being with us since the beginning.” Spotify is like, try it before you buy it. You get in front of everybody, you get in front of the world. People decide if they like you and they decide if they don’t. I’m down with that. I was even saying earlier today, our biggest cheques before we signed to a label were our Spotify checques. Not to say they were huge by any means but that was when we were a little band just starting out. We decided as the three of us we were going to put that all into LANY so we could go on tour. That’s the power of the internet and streaming services.
That’s a huge thing to collect cheques that early in your career without a label pushing you along.
So 34 million streams on ILYSB in the last few weeks. What was the decision behind giving that song another push?
It had close to 30 million plays without any radio play. In fact zero radio play. It was obvious that song was reacting and the potential for that song was staring at us in the face. We’re so lucky to have written that song. It’s amazing. That was the third song I wrote for LANY. I think there’s going to be more songs like that on the album, I hope that connect with people on a global scale. We’re putting out a debut album, the only song that we released prior to the album is ILYSB. It will have all new material apart from that song but that was just an obvious single. Our label wanted to take it to radio and give it a proper chance. I’m so thankful. I can sit here and talk about the importance of Spotify all day but there are ALOT of people who listen to the radio. If these label people want to take one of our songs to radio because they think it has potential, by all means please.
I love that your rise has started with the fans, it seems really organic.
Yeah thank you. It’s so good.
I’m so excited to have you guys down here in Australia. Is this your first time in the country?
i’ve been before for a short visit but I am so, so excited. I cannot wait.
Does it blow your mind that these songs you were putting on Soundcloud have pulled you to the other side of the world?
It hasn’t hit me man. I don’t know how to process that. I’m so thankful and so honoured and kind of humbled by it all. I also know there’s so much work to still be done. I just want to make the most of it while I can. Do the most and do that best. Maybe one day in the middle of the night I’m going to jump out of bed and be like holy shit what is going on.
LANY & Pumarosa Tour Dates
Tues 28 Feb | Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
Wed 1 March | Howler, Melbourne
Tickets: Secret Sounds