Interview: LANY (USA) on Malibu Nights, their world tour and heartbreak

American indie-pop sensations LANY are heading to Australian and New Zealand shores next month as part of their mammoth Malibu Nights tour. Spanning 80+ dates from Russia to Indonesia, this three-piece band are enjoying a non-stop year touring their highly successful sophomore album and we can’t wait to see them in July.

We stole a couple of minutes of frontman Paul Klein‘s time to chat about the album and tour, but also writing beauty from chaos, and treating your body as a temple.

Hey Paul, how are you? Where are you right now?

Good. I’m in Virginia, actually.

I want to start by chatting about… you recently dropped the music video for your track, ‘Okay’ with Julia Michaels, and I think that’s a good place to start. This was your first ever collaborative track, is that right?

Yeah, true.

And you’d never met Julia before the writing session.

No, I didn’t. I think it was at the end of 2017, I spoke to our manager and I was like, “Hey, with the new year coming up, I would love to, just, try a bunch of things and get in the room with anyone willing to get in the room with me.” Julia, I guess, really liked our band and was super down to try it out.

So, I think, somewhere, I think January, in the middle of January of 2018 we met for the first time at the studio and it was just literally me and her in a room. That was it, and we just talked and we hit it off and decided where we were going to take the song. It was pretty … I don’t know, it was really easy.

That’s exactly what you want, because you’d have to establish some sort of level of trust if you’ve just met this person. You’ve talked about spilling your heart out to Julia in a car park about your pretty rough breakup, which was also in the public eye. Talk to me about the sort of trust you need to have with someone like that, particularly with tabloids swirling and things?

Yeah. That was something that I had to adapt to, and I learned that really quick. I walked into the room January 4th with a girl named Sasha and a guy named Nolan and wrote “Thick and Thin”.

Right off the bat I understood that, “Look, if I want to make the most of this situation, and really write the best songs possible, then I have to just … I have to trust.

If I’m going to withhold information or withhold emotion, then I’m just actually going to rob myself and rob the song. It was difficult, but once I got over the fear of it, it obviously paid dividends. That’s something I learned really quick.

I think holding back would also rob your audience as well. I believe that audiences are smart enough to know when singers aren’t really giving all of their heart in their song, and that sort of thing.

What about showing those songs to your band, who I’d imagine you’d be incredibly close with. Is that even daunting?

You know what? We go through everything together, which is the beauty of being in a band. When things fell apart for me, they fell apart for Jake and Les, you know? They were very empathetic. They felt what I felt. And there’s a lot of times Jake would basically pick me up off the ground, countless times. It was just one of those seasons where I was so thankful that I had some boys to lean on and find some strength in.

I’ve never ever been scared to be myself, really with anyone, but especially the boys in the band, it’s really how … when you talk about audience and like … this whole audience and this whole fan base is just built off the back of raw emotion and lyrics. You’re right, I would have robbed the audience. It’s just not even in our DNA to even think to give anything less than 100 per cent.

Even though it’s a super rough time and a super sad topic, you’ve managed to make ‘Okay’ into an absolute summer bop, and the whole of Malibu Nights is just inspired.

Thanks.

The epitome of beauty from chaos, right?

Yeah. Thank you so much. That means a lot to me.

Anytime. So you wrote your sophomore album, Malibu Nights, which you released last year. Did you find the sophomore album stress to be real, like, the whole of, “You’ve had an epic debut album, and now you have to follow this up?” Or was it quite straightforward for you? Didn’t you write it in forty-eight days or something crazy?

Yeah, yeah. It actually was just so effortless, and I think there was a lot more going on in my head and my heart than just trying to one-up the previous album, because obviously, that’s just standard. We’d never want to make the same album twice, and we always want to get better, and push ourselves harder, and dig deeper.

We 100 per cent did that on Malibu Nights, and I can stand back and objectively say that all nine songs are better than anything on our first album. It’s amazing to say that about a sophomore album, but I think there was so much more shit going on in my head and my heart than being too fussed about a sophomore record.

Yeah, I suppose it was more of a cathartic experience, rather than worrying about record sales and the likes, hey.
And now you’re just touring it across the globe. Do you find that you’ve got a bit more of a dissociation to this subject matter, seeing that you’ve toured it so extensively thus far and you’ve got so many more dates to go?

Right? Well, I am definitely healed. And I am definitely in a much better emotional state. But, that doesn’t make the songs any less true. I think that is why we can go play so many shows and sing the same songs over and over. But, it never really gets old, because at the end of the day, I wrote them, you know? Those are my words, and those are my thoughts and my feelings, and the best thing about it is, everyone in the room kind of feels the same way, like, they’re like, “Those are my words. And those are my feelings. That’s my story.”

I think touring, really, is just the most rewarding things in the world, because no matter where in the world we go, we step into a room, and everyone there is there for the same reason. It’s because the songs are like life and death to them. So, I mean, my heart is healed and definitely, I have moved on, but the songs still hit super hard every night.

Yeah, it’s obvious that they resonate with your audiences, and it’s nice to see that they have kind of gone on and had their own journey in themselves. They’ve got a whole new life now.

Sure, yeah.

So let’s talk about this World Tour. You started in Russia back in February. When you’re booking countries like Russia, do you ever worry that fan bases don’t exist there? Like, that’s a gamble in my mind.

Yeah, of course. I mean, it’s funny, but that was our third time playing Russia.

Whoa.

Yeah, we really get after it. But, there has been a few stops on this tour that were first times. Prague, Czech Republic was the first time for us. We played Barcelona and Madrid for the first time, and I then realised, why those shows were so crazy in Spain… I think in Latin American countries, they’re very romantic, and we write a lot of love songs, and I knew once we played Spain, because after we played Spain, we went to South America for the first time, and I was like “Yo, I think this is just gonna be on another level. It just connects on a different level,” and I was absolutely right.

So, of course, you’re taking chances. There were four hundred people at the Czech Republic date, but you know what, there’s four hundred people. It doesn’t matter, if there was, like, four, we still would have gone and played and the next time those four people will probably bring a friend and then we’ll have eight, you know what I mean? Then sixteen, and that’s kind of how we’ve grown this tour, you know? We’re playing 100 shows this year, we played 135 in 2017. 2018, we were making an album, but we still went out and played a bunch of festivals.

Coachella, yeah.

Yeah, a bunch of shows. So, it’s just how we’ve really built it. Go and play shows, get in front of people. Give them an experience that they can never replace or ever forget, and keep doing it all over again.

Yeah, that’s such an interesting point that I’ve never thought about, when you’re talking about romantic countries identifying more with romantic songs. I mean, what do you find the audience is like when you come to Australia. We have to mention this country.

I mean, recently, I just had been telling… I don’t know what’s happening in Australia but it’s fly. We feel so good and excited about what’s going on in your country and Down Under.

But, it’s so far from home, and it’s so sick that we’re doing two nights in Sydney, and Adelaide. First time there, and it’s sold out. I don’t know, I think we’re playing Perth for the first time, and Brisbane for the first time, and coming back to Melbourne. I know Auckland is sold out, and we’ve had to upgrade the room. Something is going on, like, in your part of the world, and we’re really, really excited to come and see it, taste it, you know what I mean?

Can’t lie, you’ve got a lot of traction here, absolutely. I can attest for that. You’re coming in our winter, which is terrible planning. You’re not going to see the best of.

I know, I know. But, touring the world is not as much about scheduling. Yeah, a lot of things to plan.

I guess you’ll just have to come back again, that’s the reason.

Absolutely, we will always come back.

So you just mentioned it before. You did 135 shows in 2017, and you have this insane tour again this year. Is there a trick to keeping up your stamina on the road?

I think so, probably. It’s easy to let yourself go on the road. It’s easy to stay up way too late, and drink too much. I’m still trying to figure those things out, but I do sleep a lot. I try to prioritise my sleep. I am trying to drink a gallon of water a day, which, I think I have been successful at for a while.

I know this sounds so stupid and petty, but there are just little things that, if you don’t watch after your health, you can start missing shows. I don’t think we have ever had to cancel a show because of health reasons, so I am going to knock on wood somewhere, but, so far so good. You know, it’s kind of crazy to play that many shows and never have to cancel because of something like that. I don’t know. Being up on stage is such a workout anyways, it’s crazy.

Yeah, your body is a temple! What’s your plan after the tour, you going to take a long holiday?

No, I am going to go write album three. We end in Honolulu in the end of August, close to. I might stay there for a week, you know, and just relax, celebrate, rest. But then, I am going to go to Nashville, I believe, all of September. I just want to go write some big songs, and some really unbelievable, story-driven, heavy concept, kind of country songs, but not country songs, you know what I mean? Then we will go and make the album sound like a LANY album.

I am excited for these big plans. Well, Paul, I’ll let you go but thank you very much for talking to me, I really appreciate it.

You’re so nice, see you soon.

See you soon, we will catch you in July. Bye!

Catch LANY on their AUS/NZ leg of their Malibu Nights tour in July. For more details and tickets, head to Secret Sounds

July 13 | 256 Wickham | Brisbane, QLD (SOLD OUT)
July 14 | Enmore Theatre | Sydney, NSW (SOLD OUT)
July 15 | Enmore Theatre | Sydney, NSW
July 17 | The Powerstation | Auckland, NZ (SOLD OUT)
July 19 | Margaret Court Arena | Melbourne, VIC
July 20 | The Gov | Adelaide, SA (SOLD OUT)
July 21 | Astor Theatre | Perth, WA

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