When pals Paul Klein and Jake Goss first met in Nashville, the idea of forming an alternative rock band — let alone recording a debut album — was far from their minds.
“[Jake] was the best drummer in town and I was, like, the worst songwriter in town,” opines Klein of the initially sheepish approach he took to musically collaborating with his friend. “I didn’t have the balls to ask him.”
But Klein’s proverbial cojones grew after a move to Los Angeles when, in 2014, he had the courage to invite Goss and guitarist Les Priest to join him for a studio recording session. “L.A. changed me for the better — like, the way better,” he continues. “It really sparked something inside of me. If you want it, just ask for it and go for it. If you don’t believe in yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to believe in you.”
After that springtime session, the group unceremoniously uploaded a few tracks to SoundCloud and were soon inundated by the response from users of the music-sharing site, which according to Klein, “really hasn’t stopped since.”
With Klein as lead singer, the newly formed trio billed themselves as LANY — an acronym for Los Angeles, New York — and quickly realized they needed more material when fans began inquiring about upcoming tour dates.
“We knew that at some point we would have to make a debut album, but it’s just been difficult because we’ve had to multitask in such little time,” says Klein of the band’s 16-track debut, out Friday. “The way that I write songs is just a documentation of my experiences and an evaluation of my emotions on a day-to-day basis.”
The only previously released song on the album is an appropriately summery track called “I Love You So Bad,” which was included specifically for radio play given its pop-rock appeal that resonated with fans throughout their multicity tour last year.
“I stopped trying to write what everyone else was writing,” Klein remarks. “I realized that my strength as a songwriter came from writing songs the way that I would talk. Our songs are extremely conversational, which is why if ever you go to a LANY show, everyone knows every single word. It’s not that hard to understand what I’m saying.”
With many tracks driven by the invigorating beat of a synthesizer, Klein is unapologetic about his no-nonsense approach to lyrics like those on “The Breakup” (“Oh, ‘he’s a total d–k,’ is my reputation now around town”), which appears on the band’s first studio release.
“One of the cultural columns of LANY is writing songs and saying things that I would say in real life and meaning them instead of trying to dig through the metaphors or be allegorical,” says the singer, whose shoulder-length locks and collection of retro Harley-Davidson T-shirts echo the look of a true Brooklyn hipster. “It’s about dropping all the bulls–t and just saying what you mean and meaning what you say. That’s the approach I took with LANY and I think it worked.”
In addition to this month’s album release, the L.A.-based band anticipates playing 130 dates worldwide before the end of the year, but Klein asserts the trio’s dynamic hasn’t changed given their rapid commercial appeal.
“Girls changed it, not success,” Klein laughs. “Jake got married and Les got engaged so now I’m just a lone wolf on the road.”
Amorous endeavors aside, the LANY leader once reluctant about starting his musical career is now motivated to continue propelling the band’s upward trajectory. “You get a bit of a taste [of success] and you just want to be the biggest band in the world. I’ve always wanted that, but I don’t know if I ever thought it was actually feasible. Now I’m willing to work as hard as I possibly can and be the best that I can.”