American pop trio LANY were in an arms race against themselves to create gg bb xx. Hot off the heels of 2020’s Mama’s Boy, the mission to finish their second album in the last 12 months was both a byproduct of the pandemic and a desire to prove themselves.
After trying something completely new on Mama’s Boy, LANY returned to their roots in a way that’s bigger and bolder on gg bb xx. As parts of the world begin to open up and tour plans are in the works, they’ve created a record that can fill an arena and stand its ground on radio.
While the sound is bigger, the subject matter holds a magnifying glass up to the micro. Lead vocalist and frontman Paul Klein sharpened his writing chops to turn seemingly insignificant everyday moments into grandeur events through song. From dancing in the kitchen to having a tiff with your partner, Klein was determined to write a record about those relatable moments that usually pass us by. It’s a concept that he’s attempted before but finally brought it to life with the help of his bandmates and songwriter slash producer Andrew Goldstein.
LANY doesn’t cite any particular modern-day influences, but gg bb xx sounds like 2021 in 12 tracks. All titled in lowercase (as is in vogue), every song sparkles with shiny synth and infectious hooks that are born to fill dancefloors and soundtrack TikTok trends. That’s not a slight, either. LANY have come a long way since their bedroom pop sound of 2017 and gg bb xx is a joyful testament to that.
Music Feeds caught up with Klein to chat gg bb xx, playing live for the first time in forever and finding the silver linings in 2021.
Music Feeds: Congrats on the new record. Have you been happy with the reception so far?
Paul Klein: Yeah, it has been really, really cool. Everyone has been very positive and very nice.
MF: You’ve admitted that you’re a bit of a people pleaser, so do you get especially nervous ahead of a record release?
PK: Yeah, you work really hard and you want people to like it. It’s not that we would ever not do something that we want to do, because we don’t think people would like it. But yeah, you work really hard on it and it means a lot when people like it.
MF: On Instagram, you asked fans what is their favourite song from ‘gg bb xx’. Were there any resounding standouts?
PK: ‘somewhere’! It’s really interesting because an Instagram account that rates albums went through our album and they gave us a four and a half out of five stars, which is really nice. But they said the only bad song on the album was ‘somewhere’. And I think all of our fans would disagree (laughs). So that’s just so funny. Everyone’s got an opinion.
MF: You played what looked like such a fun release show at The Troubadour last week. What was it like playing the album live and seeing fan reactions in real-time?
PK: It was our first time playing a show since March of 2020 and it was honestly very, very surreal. I had many thoughts going through my head and most of the time, I felt nervous. I had to get the jitters out of my legs after song two. But it was a beautiful moment and a great way to celebrate the album. And I’m just so thrilled that we’re finally kind of getting back to some sort of real life. And I just can’t wait for the rest of the world to do the same.
MF: Did it feel different being on stage after such a long break?
PK: It felt normal but there was also a different feeling to it all. We haven’t played a room that size in a really long time, especially in LA. We’re going to play The Forum, which is quite literally 24 times the size of that or so. It was awesome. It was new but it was reminiscent because we’ve played that room before back in 2015. And it was a beautiful night. I am just so excited to get back on tour, which starts up in a couple of weeks.
MF: Were there any new songs that were especially fun to play live that night?
PK: Yeah, there were several that were like ‘ex i never had’ had been out for less than 24 hours and everyone knew the chorus, which was awesome. Everyone knew every word to ‘dna’, which I was actually really surprised by and they sang it very enthusiastically. So that song will be staying on the setlist for sure. And there was a moment in ‘dancing in the kitchen’. Obviously, that was the first single, so people have had the most time with that. But I did not need to show up or sing for that song. I was like “I’ll let you guys take this. I’ll just take a break” (laughs).
MF: You’ve described the album as ‘micro moments’ that you’ve brought to life through music. What’s an example of one of those moments and how did you go about that challenge of turning it into a song?
PK: I’ve always tried to be hyper-aware of micro-moments in life and the list of song ideas and titles in my notes is pretty extensive. And oftentimes, you can’t write a whole song about these little micro-moments. But in the past, I’ve brought them to sessions and writers will say “That’s a cool idea. Maybe we could work it into the second verse, but I don’t think we can write a song about that”. And then we wrote ‘dancing in the kitchen’ which is the micro-moment of all micro-moments (laughs). It’s something that happens quite a bit, and you never notice it or think about it or recognise it or appreciate it or celebrate it. Once we did that, I was like, “Wow, this is so amazing”. We just wrote a three and a half minute song about dancing in the kitchen, so I was like, “What else can we do?”.
Literally the next day, we wrote ‘roll over, baby’, which is another one of those moments in life that is so fleeting and so quick. It’s not a do or die moment. That song is not about, “Are we gonna make it? Are we not?”. It’s not, “We’re definitely going to be fine”. It’s just, “Do we want to go to bed upset and then waste more time tomorrow? Or should we just fix it right now?”. And I don’t know, it just became really exciting.
It was a theme that kind of popped up, right in the middle of writing for the album. So it wasn’t something at the very beginning like, “Okay, all 12 songs have to be micro-moments”. It just wound up being the small little subplot throughout the album.
MF: It’s an interesting approach that makes the album relatable yet no less personal. Are you finding that fans are seeing themselves in the lyrics?
PK: That’s literally all I’ve ever wanted to do. I genuinely do not care to ever tell people my story. I just want to tell my story in a way that people can find themselves in it. I just have no interest whatsoever in having people be like, “Oh, I didn’t know Paul was going through that”. All I want to do is write a song so well that the listener forgets that I’m singing it and they just see themselves and so I appreciate you saying that. And I think that is probably why our band is what it is. I don’t think there are too many songs that people can’t relate to.
MF: You worked really closely with Andrew Goldstein to bring that concept to life. What was it like working with him?
PK: I feel like Andrew Goldstein was the definition of understanding the assignment (laughs). He came so prepared even before I even really decided that he was going to be the guy that we’re gonna make the album with. It was just so obvious to me that he had done his homework. That he actually cared about our band, that he actually liked our band. That he wanted to be associated with and thought it would be fruitful for him to spend four months working on our album solely, which is something that’s just so rare these days. There are so many producers that were like, “I’ll do two or three songs”, but they want to spread their bets. They want to diversify their portfolio, but he was like “no, I want to make this top to bottom with you guys”.
I just can’t say enough good things about him. And honestly, I can’t see myself not making another album with him. It was just the perfect fit. And I’m excited to spend more time and keep getting better with them. And eventually in the future. We’ll look back and be like, “Wow, look how much we’ve made together”.
MF: LANY has always experimented with genres. What styles or artists inspired you while creating this record?
PK: From the get-go, we’ve never really referenced other bands or artists. I think that’s why our sound is so unique. I think we respect and love and are completely inspired by everyone basically. For LANY, anyone living and breathing is inspiring to us. But we’ve never tried to copy anyone or beat anyone and just followed our instincts.
But I will say that Mama’s Boy was us trying to do something completely different. We wanted to be a full departure through and through. Visually, sonically, everything. I wanted gg bb xx to be the antithesis of Mama’s Boy and almost the return of LANY. The LANY that people fell in love with in the first place. But I wanted to do it on a bigger scale, on a more competitive scale.
This is the first time LANY songs are as loud as the other songs on the radio. I think the LANY songs, the drums hit just as hard as somebody else on the radio. That was what I really wanted. I don’t want to be a bedroom pop band. We kind of invented that genre. That wasn’t a thing before. And I don’t want to do that anymore. We’re playing arenas now. And I want to really be competitive and make albums that people really listen to.
MF: The album is full of joyful and danceable moments, which is what the world needs after the last 18 months. Was that also a reason why you were keen to drop ‘gg bb xx’ so soon after ‘Mama’s Boy’?
PK: Yeah, you’re right. What’s very interesting is we’re in rehearsals right now for tour and the Mama’s Boy songs live fucking slap. And it’s not a surprise, because that is a band album. It was played for the album, so they translate so well. That was our highest-charting album still, to this day, it’s going to beat gg bb xx.
But I think we were faced with a very unique and once in a lifetime kind of decision. Because this whole pandemic, hopefully, is the once in a lifetime thing. We can either sit on the couch and wait for the world to open back up. Or we can go make another album, and also sit on the couch while we wait for the world to back up. So we chose to do that.
I think that was just always my plan. I knew this was the album I was going to make while making ‘Mama’s Boy’. In fact, like I’ll never forget in December 2019 being in the middle of making ‘Mama’s Boy’ and knowing that this was our next step.
MF: You’ve said that through this album, you’ve reached a point where you feel like you can always find the silver lining. Is that essentially what you were doing with this record? Finding a silver lining in the middle of the pandemic?
PK: I think that all of life, and the success and salt of life is taking control of what you can and then letting go of what you can’t and making the most of most of the situations. All of us have been completely and totally out of control of our lives in the last 18 months. And there’s nothing that you can do except to make the most of this. I am at the end of my rope as far as energy. But I’m really glad that we pushed ourselves and put out this new album before we start up on tour again. I think it has been very, very important. And I’m very pleased.
MF: That’s awesome. As soon as the world allows it, are there any plans for an Australian tour?
PK: I literally cannot wait. I don’t care to ever be home ever again. For 365 days, for the rest of my life (laughs). I’m completely fine with that.