The overnight success story: An interview with LANY

Paul Klein of LANY by Darin Kamnetz
Paul Klein of LANY by Darin Kamnetz (c) Darin Kamnetz
Meet LANY, a group of three handsome young men, who got together in Nashville three years ago to make a couple of song just for fun, put them on Soundcloud and within just six days started to peak the interest of major record labels. Consequently, LANY moved all of its members into a one-bedroom apartment in LA, started writing more music and put one single after another online over the course of 2015, organically yet explosively growing their fan base.

Not only is their rise to fame insanely intriguing, they’re also three extremely charming guys who have somehow managed to remain humble throughout this whirlwind of a success story. Blank Newspaper recently got to talk to these guys. Here’s what they had to say:

BLANK: You met in Nashville a few years ago. You were just neighbors then. But did you ever make music together back in those days?

LANY/PAUL KLEIN: No we didn’t. I was pretty intimidated. Jake is one of the best drummers in the world and in Nashville he had a really incredible reputation – just playing on a lot of records and touring quite extensively. I was the exact opposite. I couldn’t even get to co-write with somebody in Nashville. I met Jake at a YMCA through a friend. And the second we walked away, my friend said: “That’s Jake Goss, he’s so dirty at the drums.” That’s the premise under which I met Jake: Jake is better at music than everybody.
LANY/JAKE GOSS: (laughs) Well from my end, I knew Paul because of his reputation. He was just this freaking cool dude. I was like: Who is Paul Klein? Everybody talks about this guy. He’s got style. He’s just freaking cool. He’s making cool music. He makes cool videos. He makes cool art. And then when we met he was working biceps. I think he was on set six. It was amazing.

BLANK: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

LANY/PAUL KLEIN: Very early on I was for sure that I was going to be in the NBA. And then when I got to my freshman year of high school and I was 5’1”, no lie, and I don’t even think I was 100 pounds, I kind of realized that maybe I wasn’t going to be in the NBA. And I made really good grades in school and had this really amazing science teacher, who I took biology and anatomy and these kind of AP courses with. Her name was Miss Richie, but we called her Momma Richie. So there was a time I thought I was going to be an orthodontist. I had just gotten braces and my orthodontist was really cool and he didn’t work Fridays and he had about three houses. I was like: Man, that sounds like the life! And so I was definitely going to go to college to go to dental school. And then my junior year I wrote a song to ask this girl to prom and I don’t know, something kind of clicked. But I was also classically trained in piano starting at the age of five. So I was always doing piano, but it was a little bit boring to me. I kind of just did it because I wanted to get a scholarship. So anyways: that’s Jake!
LANY/JAKE GOSS: For me, I started playing drums when I was eleven. I got my first drum lesson because I saw that movie “That thing you do.” It was everything to me and I just wanted to be a drummer in a band. So pretty much since I was eleven, I’ve put all my time and energy into playing drums and I knew that’s where I wanted to head. But at the same time I loved playing sports and also loved the movie “Twister.” So I was like: Could I be a storm chaser? But here I am playing drums. So tornado, see you later.

BLANK: Last year, you put your music online and instantly blew up and soon after got signed by a major label. What did that feel like? Did it mess with your head a bit?

LANY/PAUL KLEIN: It wasn’t immediate, but it was very quick. Recently, I’ve kind of expressed the inability to really process anything anymore. My kind of scale of time is so off, it’s ridiculous. When there are things in my life that are happening, sometimes I can’t remember them because there is so much happening. This might sound interesting or maybe ridiculous, but you’re in a relationship and then you’re not in a relationship and it almost feels like: Was I even in a relationship? How long ago was that? Because we’re always on the road. We’re going to tour nine months out of this year. Last year we played over 100 shows. That’s 100 shows and all the days off and traveling in between. I think that’s the hardest part of it. None of us have egos and none of us walk around acting like rock stars. That’s never what this was about or is about or will be about. But the thing it’s doing to our head, I think, is that it’s really hard to process everything and take everything in. It’s just coming at us really fast.

LANY/JAKE GOSS: And also, when we’ve been in town, we’ve been writing a record. So there literally has been no set time off. So we’ve just been going at it since we played our first show last February. It’s been non-stop and crazy. But it’s been unbelievable.

BLANK: What exactly is success to you? At what point do you sit back and say: Okay, we made it. This is it.

LANY/PAUL KLEIN: I’ve thought about this. Obviously, we have specific goals and they are little milestones in our career – like, okay when we put out our debut album. How great would it be to have a number one? And we’ve always been kind of a Grammy-band. We care about the Grammys. We grew up watching the Grammys and we want to win a Grammy or multiple Grammys. But I think all of those are just accolades and those are really cool little medals or ribbons you that you would win along your journey, but I think true success is being able to do what you do for a living and make art without having to compromise yourself as an artist. And this is something we’ve already experienced a lot of success in. We were really picky with the label that we chose because we wanted to dress ourselves, and I wanted to run our social media account, and I wasn’t going to let our label buy followers, and I wasn’t going to be coerced or manipulated into walking into a studio and be told that I have to write a radio song. We just wanted to do it the LANY way. And I think that that’s success. If we can play for as many people as possible and make the art that we want to make and that results in us making a living, then I think that would be a success.

BLANK: You started recording your songs in Nashville. What prompted your move to LA instead of just staying in Music City?

LANY/PAUL KLEIN: I was already living in LA when we started LANY and I had just flown back to Nashville to write and record with Jake. And the response was pretty immediate. Everyone was asking: “What else do you have? Can we hear more?” So then I flew back to Nashville again and that’s when we wrote “ILYSB,” “BRB” and “Made in Hollywood.” When that became what it is, even today, those guys decided to move to LA and take this thing pretty seriously. Jake and Les were living in a house with three other guys. Jake owned the house. He sold the house and left everything. Les left his family. And then we all lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood together for an entire year.

BLANK: How was that? What was a typical day like at that residence?

LANY/PAUL KLEIN: It looked kind of hilarious. We were just jumping over each other in the morning. And Les was sleeping underneath his computer.
LANY/JAKE GOSS: (laughs) Yeah, he knew we would trip over each other that morning.
LANY/PAUL KLEIN: But I mean it’s not that big of a deal, right? Because if it wasn’t in that apartment, then we’d just be living in the tour van. You know, it’s all the same.

BLANK: Do you find that it was easier to collaborate on music when you were living together in the same apartment compared to now?

LANY/PAUL KLEIN: The only thing that’s different is that Jake got married and lives with his wife. But when we’re at home writing music, Jake comes to the house from 11-7. I don’t want it to sound like a job. I mean, it is a job. I’m not a big believer in “Oh let’s just light some candles and listen to our souls and if something speaks then let’s write a song.” I’m a big believer in just sitting down and choosing to be creative and choosing to be productive. That’s how we kind of treat this. We don’t just sit around and wait for a flash of inspiration. I kind of believe that it’s already inside of us. We just need to sit down and follow our instincts.

BLANK: I saw the line of swoon girls waiting for you around back as you snuck out the front door after your LA gig. Are all the girls in LA in love with you?

LANY/PAUL KLEIN: I’d like to think so. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? (laughs) Not in a weird way, but we hope that everyone is in love with us. Because we’re really in love with the people who listen to us and I think we have a pretty close connection with our people.

Yes they do, and it showed at their LA show at The Troubadour, which kicked off the beginning of their Make Out Tour. Paul Klein was shaking hands, cracking jokes and complimenting his enthusiastic fans, who were singing along to every single song at full vocal capacity. Guys were hugging their girlfriends. Girls were closing their eyes, holding their hands to their hearts and swaying side to side in harmony. It’s not everyday that you find a band, which is able to connect with their fans on such a deep, personal level. I can’t wait to watch these guys shoot for the stars and hope they truly don’t lose sight of their art and humanity along the way. It’s what makes them so special in this sea of millions.

You can catch LANY nearby at Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta this weekend or at Bonnaroo in early June. And if there was ever a reason to show up early on Thursday for Bonnaroo, do it for these guys. Their enthusiasm, openness and energy will set just the right tone for the remainder of your weekend.

About The Author

As a contributing editor for Blank Newspaper, Michaela shares Blank's love for all genres of music. After ten years on the Nashville music scene, you can now find her hopping around LA's various music venues and bars in search for the next big story. Michaela has been with Blank Newspaper since 2013 and she currently covers shows in Los Angeles as well as several annual music festivals around the country.

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