Lawson - Interview

02 June 2015

An Interview with Lawson

An Interview with Lawson

With the recent release of the first single from their highly anticipated second album, Lawson's vocalist, Andy, took some time to talk to Contact Music about how a little band from Liverpool ended up recording at one of the most prestigious studios in the US, along with touring with Take That, and explaining how their song writing is getting better and better.

Hi Andy, how are you doing today?
Good, thank you! I've got a day off so I'm chilling at home, which is a nice change to being out on the road. We've been promoting the brand new single so we've been a little bit busy over the last month or so. 

Ah great, so you've been playing gigs too?
We've done some gigs; we did a couple of dates with Take That. Basically, we've just been roaming up and down the country, doing a few bits and bobs. 

You're getting ready to release your second album - how is it coming along?
It's all finished up. I'd say it'll be out towards the end of the summer; we haven't got a definite release date yet, but we're thinking end of August/early September sort of time. We're very excited about that. It's got a vibe on there for everyone and a lot of big, anthemic pop-rock tunes. Because we've been writing for the last year, it's something that we've spent a lot of time crafting and making sure that it was absolutely perfect.

'Roads', the first single from your album, came out at the end of May - how long has it been ready?
We've had the single ready for probably over six months. We took a year out to write the album and probably wrote about thirty songs, and 'Roads' is one of the first ones we wrote, so it has been ready for quite a while, which is good because it's always been one that's stuck out.

The song has a really cool sound to it - what were you trying to go for when you were writing it?
I think it's just about writing a song with an uplifting melody that you think people are gonna be able to sing along to at the end of the day - that sort of seems to be the key for me. We like to write melodies that you can stomp your feet and nod your head to, and I think 'Roads' ticks those boxes, it's got a lot of energy from the get-go. That's the feeling behind it, and the rest of the album follows that vibe as well.

For those people who've been living in a bubble for the last few years and haven't heard Lawson's music, how would you best explain it? 
I'd say it was acoustic guitar-led pop-rock with meaningful lyrics and big sounding choruses. Similar to bands like 'One Republic', 'The Script', 'Maroon 5' - that sort of thing. We aim to write songs that are memorable and that people will like.

The album was recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. What was it like to work there?
Nashville is such a fantastic place for music, so to be able to experience the culture there - which is very music-led - is inspiring. Everyone in some way, shape or form is a musician. Going into a bar, the bartender is probably an awesome guitarist and that's just how it worked; everyone is into the music. Everyone is so friendly and the night life is amazing, there's live music in every single bar you go into. It's something you don't really get in this country, and we feel it's something there should be more of.

Blackbird studios has had some incredible bands record there in the past like Kings of Leon. Maroon 5 were there recording their latest album whilst we were there too. It's a wonderful place, and it's somewhere we'd love to go to for the next album. It's such an iconic place and I think we really created an awesome sound in there.

What was it about recording at Blackbird that made such an impact on the sound?
It definitely made us make music in a certain way. I don't think you'd go there to make a dance album because it's very orientated to live guitars and drums. The drums in there were amazing; they had reverb chambers where you could create huge soundings. We definitely had that sort of vibe in there - the Imagine Dragons-esque drums and Genesis era Phil Collins and we tried to emulate that too. The record is also a little country-influenced, country music is so big in Nashville. But mainly the way it's produced, it's so well polished. We all love the sound of a really well-polished album and that definitely seeped into the tracks. 

Who produced the record for you?
It was John Fields who was fantastic. He's worked with some of our favourite bands like Goo Goo Dolls and Jimmy Eat World.

Having such a successful first record, do you feel a pressure to live up to or surpass the first album?
I think it's pressure in a good way, really. The second album is always a tough album to make as a band. The first album has gone platinum so it's very important to make an album which betters that, and for us that is a pressured atmosphere that we thrive in. If we didn't feel the pressure, it wouldn't mean enough to us. It has definitely helped us to make an even better album. 

Despite you guys being from the UK, you've got a very American vibe in your music - is that something you're doing intentionally or did you just want to step away from the generic English band?
I think it's a bit of both, really. We love American music; some of our favourite bands are American and we worked in the US with American producers on both records so I would say that we definitely did have an ear on the American market. 

We're about to release 'Roads' over there and it's the first time we've ever released in the States, we really wanted to make sure that we waited until the time was right. Things can take longer over there because it's a slower build, when your song goes to radio, it can take a year before anyone reacts. At the end of the day, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

So you think Lawson is an ideal band for the US market?
I think so. Obviously I have some bias but I definitely think that it is something that American people will relate to. We're just really excited to get people to hear it.

You seem to love spending time stateside, would you consider relocating?
I'm not sure, to be honest. I think I'll always live in the UK because this is my home and this is where I was born and raised. Who knows what'll happen in the future, but I think for the moment I definitely won't be moving over there; that's for sure. 

Your first album contains a single featuring B.o.B - have you got any more collaborations lined up for this one?
We actually haven't got any collaborations on this album, no. There were a couple of songs where we thought about reaching out to some people and maybe getting a collaboration, but in the end we wanted to do an album that was all us. We got some help from a couple of musicians out in Nashville, like this outstanding banjo player who came in to play for us. Joel, our guitarist, can do it but we thought it was good to get this guy in as a lesson because he's played for some of the biggest bands in America. He came in for a day which was cool.

So is there anyone you would like to work with in the future?
We haven't really thought about it, to be honest; I think our dream collaboration would be something like what Kanye West has just done with Paul McCartney - I love it. I think that was awesome. Paul McCartney is one of my idols, imagine doing a collaboration with a Beatle! That would be unbelievable. My ultimate dream would be someone like him or Stevie Wonder.  

You mentioned supporting Take That, did you feel that was a good fit for you guys?
I do think it was a good fit actually, yeah - we really went down well on those shows and the audience really responded to our music. Take That are obviously a band who have been around for years and have continually delivered. At the end of the day, if you don't make consistently great music, you're not gonna sell-out 10 nights at the O2, are you? 

Obviously with the first album going Platinum lots of people know your songs, but do you think they relate those songs to Lawson as a band yet? 
I don't think that people know that we sing the songs we sing. For example, with 'Juliet' and 'Standing in the Dark' lots of people know every single lyric, but I get told all the time 'I had no idea you even sang that song!', so I think it's all still building for Lawson. You've just gotta keep releasing music and hope that you have that one huge song that just sends us over the edge that can just translate worldwide. I don't think we're too far away from that now.

What's been your biggest gig to date?
I think our biggest gig would have been at Wembley stadium, which we did last year or the year before, we did a multi-bill show with Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran in front of 85,000 people. That was unbelievable! B.o.B. joined us onstage to do 'Broken Heart' and we did his song, 'Planes', it was a lot of fun.  

When it comes to touring, how do you keep yourselves entertained whilst traveling around? 
We just write songs on the road; we have a little backpack that we take with us which contains all the equipment we need to make an album. So we do a lot of writing and jamming, but to be honest, we're really busy. We never really have to keep ourselves entertained because we're in a new city so we'll walk around a bit and then have a sound check and then eat and go onstage. We always have something to do.

If there's one place that you haven't played at yet but really want to, where would it be?
I think New York's Madison Square Garden would be the ultimate dream venue. It's an incredible venue, isn't it? It's one of the most iconic venues in the world, really. There's another venue called Red Rocks Amphitheatre which is an incredible venue sculpted in the rocks, so that would also be a big dream of ours.

Tell us a little about your personal music tastes, who was your favourite artist/band when you were growing up?
The Beatles. They were the band that inspired me to start learning the guitar and start writing my own songs. As I got older I started listening to Oasis, Stereophonics and Travis - I love Travis - and I think they were my favourite bands when I was growing up. 

So what was your favourite album?
I was talking about this with a mate the other day; I think '(What's the Story) Morning Glory?' would have been my favourite album. 'Definitely Maybe' was also great, and then there was also a Stereophonics album called 'Performance and Cocktails' that was one of my favourites as well as Travis' 'The Man Who'. Obviously, I had the whole Beatles discography, but in terms of bands still making music, I'd definitely say Travis and Stereophonics.

If there was one song written by someone else that you could have made, what would it be?
It's such a tough question, something like Adel's 'Someone Like You' which is an incredible song. It's so heart-felt and so emotional, and I love a track like that which has a lot of meaning behind it, so I think that would be up there.

What's the plan for Lawson over the next few months? Where can people hear you next?
We've got a lot of gigs coming up over the next few months; we've got V Festival, Splendour Festival, we're doing Gibraltar Music Festival with Kings of Leon in September, and then if you just keep checking out website you'll keep getting updates of where we're gonna be on the rod and stuff.

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