LANCO were one of 2017’s biggest breakout acts in Country music following the huge success of their single Greatest Love Story.
The track, which was solely written by the band’s frontman Brandon Lancaster, topped the Country charts and has been certified Gold. Earlier this year LANCO released their debut album Hallelujah Nights, which hit number one on the Billboard Country Albums chart making them the first band to do so since Lady Antebellum released their debut.
I caught up with Brandon to talk about the band’s success, find out about their upcoming C2C: Country to Country 2018 appearance, discuss touring with Dierks Bentley and much more.
Congratulations on Hallelujah Nights going to number one. What a huge achievement! How do you feel about the success that it’s having so far?
Thank you very much. It’s been crazy. I think it’s an album that we’ve worked really hard on and its our debut album. We’ve been working hard for a few years. You have a dream early on when you’re starting an album that people just hear it and so for us to debut at number one on the Country charts, it just shows how many people have taken a listen to it, attached themselves to it and downloaded it. It’s literally a dream come true, we can’t be more thankful.
You’re are the first band since Lady Antebellum to top the Country charts with your debut album. What an act to follow…
Yeah seriously, we’re in pretty good company with them. They went on to do some pretty cool things (laughs) so hopefully we can follow in their footsteps a little bit.
You’ll be making your first trip the UK in March to perform as part of C2C: Country to Country. How are you feeling about it?
We’re so excited. At the beginning of our career we were just touring the southeastern United States. Over the past few years we’ve really expanded over all of the US and the one thing we we just started noticing was, once we started releasing music, just how many fans we had overseas and just around the world. We’ve heard from other artists what a great fanbase there is over there and we’ve seen it just on different social outlets, people reaching out to us and wanting us to play over there. The fact that we’re getting to do so… we are so excited.
If your visit for C2C goes well, would you consider coming back later in the year for some headline shows?
Absolutely. That’s kind of the whole the whole thing that we want to do. We don’t just want one fan base in any one place specifically. Anywhere where there’s fans, we want to capitalise on that fanbase and continue to grow our fan base. We’ve always thought from early on that our music is versatile enough to reach a pretty wide demographic of fans. We look at Europe specifically and just that whole region, and we really, really want to grow a fanbase out there. That’s the long term plan that’s for sure!
You’re going to be heading out on tour with Dierks Bentley this year. That’s a huge tour to get on…
Absolutely. Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne and us! When we got the call to be invited on that tour… I don’t know if we could have been more excited because we’ve played a couple of shows with Dierks and he’s someone we all look up to. We’ve all been fans of him and also we’ve developed a a bit of a friendship there. He has a reputation for having incredible tours. He has an incredible live show along with his great song catalogue to back it up. Brothers Osborne we’ve been on tour with before so they’re good buddies of ours. They actually live down the street from me in Nashville (laughs). It’s going to be a great live show and for us a real great hang.
Dierks has got a real reputation for embracing emerging talent and helping showcase them. How important is it for you to have somebody of his stature behind you?
Oh I think it’s really meaningful and it’s so important to us. Anyone that Dierks picks out, it usually makes a statement. Last year he had Jon Pardi out and Cole Swindell… Cole is a household name and Jon Pardi has been going off to do incredible things. There’s a kind of stamp of approval when Dierks Bentley takes you out. It makes a statement that not only are you are you making really great music but you also have a really great show. It’s important to him that the people that are on tour with him aren’t just fillers, they’re not just taking up space and they’re really contributing to the night. We were talking a few weeks ago and he was saying when he picks people to go on tour with him, he wants people that are going to go out with the objective of everyone kicking everyone else’s butt. He likes, ‘you go out there and play as loud and as hard as you can and try and kick my butt’. The fact that he respects you that much to take you out and expect of you is a compliment.
For Hallelujah Nights you wrote or co-wrote every single track on the album. Do you prefer to write on your own or with other people?
Both! I’ve been writing for years. I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee so I grew up around a lot of songwriting. When I was 13 or 14 I started going to The Bluebird Cafe, which is famous for hosting songwriters. Early on, when you start songwriting you don’t start writing a song so that you can have a co-write. You don’t even know what a co-write is… you don’t realise that people write with each other. You just have some feelings and you have some ideas, and you learn some chords on an instrument, and you start putting those feelings to music. I’ve never wanted to lose that.
Jay Joyce, who produced all the tracks on our record, he’s produced people from Eric Church to Little Big Town, Keith Urban and just incredible acts. He’d even talk to me about that and how important it is to not really get caught up in who you write with or where you write or how you write but just making sure that if you have an idea and you have something you want to say, not being afraid to say it. Sometimes writing with a person is incredible because they have a different vocabulary and you can really learn from that. At the same time I think it’s important that if you have something you want to say, to not be afraid to say it and not think you have to have someone else in the room to achieve that. I think that they both can be really beneficial and I really do enjoy both. However, the song has to come to light. That’s what I want to do.
You wrote Greatest Love Story on your own so to see how big and successful that song has become must be fulfilling. What has that experience been like for you?
I think it is a testament to what I was talking about in terms of songwriting. That’s just a song that was close to me and it was close to my own life. It was the story that I thought that I could tell. I sat down one night with pen and paper and a guitar, and kind of started drafting that song and putting it together. You have hopes and dreams for every song you write but you really can never predict which one is going to be the one. I knew the song was special early on and we’ve been playing that song for a while and it always resonates with people.
To have a song that’s close to me and my heart do so well and achieve so much, and when you a song impact people the way that it has that you’ve written, it’s cool because what you find is that in doing that you realise you have a lot in common with your fans, even if you never met them before personally. If you both relate to these lyrics it means you both have something in common so that’s been cool to be out and on the road and sing the song with our fans, realising that the song is bringing us together.
Is there a song on the album that you found really difficult to get right?
I think that all the songs take different path. All songs start out being difficult to write, for me anyway. My brain starts going so fast and I have so many different things I want to say so I have to figure out how to say them in the right way that is still hooky and catchy, but it’s still saying something meaningful. I think Born to Love You, which is our next single off the record probably took two different writes. It took a couple of weeks and I started it out with Ashley Gorley and Ross Copperman who are songwriters in Nashville.
Just the idea of finding a lot of your purpose in life through somebody and finding that you were born to love someone, it’s a huge deal, and what that means. We kind of knocked out the chorus and then the next week Josh Osborne came in and I started talking to him about where I was from and where I came from. We started painting that picture of the actual place that you’re born and the circumstances you’re born into and how that doesn’t really matter if you find that special person in your life. That song took the longest and it took two weeks to write. That was probably the the most intensive write.
I imagine by the time you got to recording Hallelujah Nights you had a wealth of material to select from. How do you sift through that and select the handful of tracks that make the final cut?
Yeah definitely. I’ve heard a lot of people say your first album is your easiest because you have 10 years to work on it (laughs). I had kind of the opposite because when you’re going to debut a record, you have a whole lifetime of music that you want people to hear. Finding the songs that are most important, and it’s not that they are better than other songs, it’s just if you’re going to debut then this is the first time people are being introduced to who you are. I think it was more about what songs fit into the theme of the album. What’s the message that we’re trying to say? What songs will allow people to get to know us best at this time in our life and at this stage. I think that the process of looking at what songs were going to go on this album. It was definitely a very tough process but I think the songs we ended up choosing really reflect where we’ve been, where we are now and where we’re going.
I think it’s an incredibly cohesive record and it’s one that you need to sit down and listen to from start to finish to truly appreciate.
That was the goal. I understand that in today’s day and age it’s a very singles-oriented time we’re living in. People love singles and I love singles. You get put in a playlist and you just listen to one song, add it on your phone and that’s it. I think that it’s very important, especially for an artist early in their career, it’s so important that you have a body of work that’s cohesive. It’s a journey. Ultimately we’re wanting fans that are willing to go on journey with us so that’s something that we want to accomplish, to have an album that individually the songs stand on their own but all together you can listen to the record front to back and get the full picture.
Ahead of your C2C performances, tell me what can fans expect from a typical LANCO live show?
That’s one thing that I think has always been one of the most important things to us. We love the studio and we love songwriting and all that stuff but really the most fun part is taking those songs wide and singing them with the people that have attached themselves to these songs. One thing that’s funny that catches people off guard – we have Greatest Love Story that did very well but it’s more laidback song – but our live shows are actually really, really energetic. It’s just a lot of energy. I literally jump in the crowd every night and I’ve gotten in trouble sometimes for climbing things (laughs). We’re all over the place because we just we want to leave it on stage.
Bruce Springsteen apparently always says a quote when they play shows which is, ‘this could be someone’s first show or this could be someone’s last show so let’s go out and play like it’. I think that we always kind of take that mentality no matter how long our set is, we try to leave everything out on the stage. It’s definitely a very in your face performance. We try and combine energy with a sense of intimacy and realness. You got to see it to believe it so you’ve got to experience the live show for sure.
LANCO will perform as part of C2C: Country to Country 2018 at The O2 Arena in London from 9th to 11th March. Watch their video for Greatest Love Story below: