XMPL Cover Story: A Conversation With Paul Klein of LANY

Cover photography by: Stefan Kohli

Lead singer of LANY, Paul Klein – talks their latest release ‘Mama’s Boy’ and visuals for the album

Following their critically-acclaimed 2018 sophomore album ‘Malibu Nights,’ Los-Angeles based alt-rock and pop band LANY have made their prodigious return in the new decade with their third studio album ‘Mama’s Boy.’ Named after “Los Angeles, New York” – LANY is formed by band members Les Priest, Jake Goss and lead singer, songwriter and Oklahoma native, Paul Klein. Since banding together in Nashville nearly six years ago, the group has earned a huge international fan base, more than a million YouTube subscribers, has toured worldwide, supported renowned acts on tour from Halsey to Ellie Goulding, John Mayer and more and are currently standing at 10+ million of monthly listeners throughout platforms.

Overcoming quarantine as they completed their third album, LANY delivered a string of singles and music videos throughout the summer which kept fans patiently awaiting Mama’s Boy release in the Fall. With powerful visuals from singles like ‘you!’ and ‘if this is the last time’ – LANY dives into their roots and gets in-depth with themselves – giving listeners a glimpse into their world through Mama’s Boy. 

Just over a month since the release of Mama’s Boy on October 2, LANY have found themselves to be the topic of conversation – with several spots on Billboard charts as well as many highly prominent online features – LANY has gone beyond heartbreak and has managed to break into the hearts of listeners with their latest release as they tackle far too familiar themes on this project – from family, faith and love – Mama’s Boy is an album that people can truly connect with.

Through a conversation of our own via Zoom, lead singer Paul Klein opens up on their latest project and also gets in detail on some of the music videos from the Mama’s Boy album. Read the summarized interview transcript from October 20 and stream Mama’s Boy by LANY below:

XMPL: I wanted to congratulate you on the release of Mama’s Boy, we’re about to hit 3 weeks since the release – there’s been a lot of great reception. You received several spots on the Billboard charts, you guys got #1 on Alternative Albums chart, #3 on Top Albums pure sales, #7 on Top 200 – so how are you feeling after seeing all of your work and effort finally being received by the world?

Paul: It’s awesome. I’m exhausted but incredibly satisfied. It’s interesting, cause that’s all cool, you know, stats are really cool but at the end of the day you just wanna keep going and do better and get bigger. It’s also a bizarre time to put out music because you don’t know what to do. You make songs, you put them out and typically you tour, you go create really meaningful moments with your fans and you just can’t do that. So it does feel bizarre.

The album definitely felt more personal, you know – it kind of had somewhat of a “open letter concept” I feel. What made you want to go into that direction?

I feel like I really tapped into a deeper sense of vulnerability on Malibu Nights that really paid off well for us, people liked how honest and open I was and I felt like I needed to do that on Mama’s Boy but try to do it outside the category of heartbreak, you know? And I think we did just that.

Photo by: Stefan Kohli

Absolutely. I definitely feel like it’s an album that a lot of people can relate to. You know, not a lot of people can relate with heartbreak necessarily. But with Mama’s Boy, there’s a lot of themes that I feel that people can relate to.

Thank you so much for saying that.

Of course. I did want to know a bit about the execution for the album. Were there any particular experiences you could share with us? Or maybe any experiences with the producers?

Yes, we worked with 3 different producers. It was Tyler Johnson, Chad Copelin and then King Henry. King Henry was the kind of constant between the two. So if it was Tyler, King Henry was in there and if it was Chad, King Henry was in there – so he was kind of like the glue that kept it all together. Tyler Johnson produced both of the Harry Styles albums and expressed an interest in working with us. He did 6 of the songs and Chad did the remaining 8. Working with two different people, it felt really cohesive and I think if I didn’t tell you that, you wouldn’t have known that we worked with different people across the album – I think it sounds really even. We were about 80% of the way done with making Mama’s Boy when we had to go into quarantine, so that was challenging. Recorded things to the album via email for a couple months. Eventually when things kind of cleared up a little bit we had to go back to the studio and finish it.

‘you!’ – the first song was very well received. I noticed that some people even mentioned how it sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of an inspiring film. Some fans have even said that it even feels like a gospel or a worship song. I personally think fans feel this way because of the energy it gives off – uplifting and powerful. What would you say in response to that reception?

Writing ‘you!’ was like my attempt at writing a sort of ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay. I just wanted to write a very big anthemic love song that can be about anyone or anything – which is why I purposely left out any sort of physical attributes in the lyrics. That is something I do quite often – I paint a picture very clearly for the listener – I get very detailed in the songs and on this particular song, I wanted it to be very grandiose and a little more universal and kind of leave it open to interpretation. I think we did a really good job on that.

Mama’s Boy cover via Polydor Records/Universal Music Canada

I did want to talk about some of the visuals from the project, I know you recently dropped the video for ‘heart won’t let me’ – I thought it was super interesting with the huge light, balloon heart with the rope hanging. It was like a minimal concept but the message was still very clear. What direction would you say you went in for that specific visual?

That video took us 6 months to figure out how to do, so I guess it might look minimal but we had to get a heart shaped balloon handmade in France that could be pulled up by a crane and then somehow I had a harness underneath my sweater, so I was harnessed in to the rope of the balloon and then hung about 20 feet in the air – and we did it all in one take. It’s one of the best videos I think we’ve ever done and we did it with the director that did the ‘Super Far’ video and ‘Malibu Nights’ and ‘Thick And Thin’ – some of our favorite videos we’ve done with Isaac. The idea, it’s very on the nose – I’m being manhandled by my heart basically and drug around and everytime I try to fight it, it takes me away. I just think we nailed it – it was really fun to execute.

Over the summer, you guys did drop two music videos. The most recent was ‘you!’ which I thought was a very classic, pop-alt rock music video, where you’re in the middle of nowhere and you’re just rocking it out. Tell me about that experience being at that location.

Yes, we shot that at the great Wolf Flats in Utah and it’s just surreal surroundings, it almost feels like you’re on the moon. The entire ground is made up of salt. These videos are such long days because you have to wake up at 3, get driven out to sight to catch the sunrise and play the song over and over again for like 4 hours, working with the morning light. And then you get driven back to the hotel and go to sleep in the middle of the day and then you wake up at 4 PM, quickly have some sort of dinner and go shoot the sunset until there’s no sunlight left. Those are long long days, but it’s worth it because it looks stunning. The original idea for that video was to perform it in three very different settings – like one would be on a cliff in Malibu over the water, one was gonna be up in the snow at Big Bear and then one would be the Grand Canyon until I cut really quickly inbetween each setting on different parts of the song but obviously we’re working with travel and then there’s limited travel with COVID and stuff like that.

Back in July, you dropped the visual for ‘if this is the last time.’ For me it felt personal, very heartfelt. I’m the type who tries to turn up but this I think definitely leaves listeners in their feels. That impact is there, even in the visuals – and the fact that it can relate to a lot of people is so great. We’re in times where family is close right now. What made you get so open and vulnerable? What made you want to get in that direction for this track?

I think these are the kind of songs that I’ve always dreamt of writing and making. You know, I guess certain artists want different things, they just want to be known for the club bangers, I’m not sure. But to me, the greatest films and the greatest songs are things that just hit super close to home. When an artist is able to articulate such a meaningful sentiment, I think that’s such a victory. Songs like, ‘if this is the last time,’ ‘i still talk to jesus’ and even songs like ‘you!’ and ‘nobody else’ – these are songs you dream to write cause they exist outside the trends, these are about human connections and things that are always going to be around.

You’re used to a different lifestyle, on the road, touring, performing – we’re in a completely different shift and I believe when you take breaks like these, that you sort of get in a creative space. Have been working on anything since you haven’t been touring?

Well, the album just came out three weeks ago and it took me a year to just write. It’s really hard to just switch gears but I think I’m gonna keep talking about Mama’s Boy and I think we’re gonna work on a little bit of a deluxe edition and then coming into December I’ll shift gears mentally and start trying to dig deeper and figure out where we’re going with album four.

Stream ‘Mama’s Boy’ by LANY:

Follow LANY/Paul on Social Media:

Instagram – Paul Klein
Instagram – LANY

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