Boyband. (n.) According to Oxford Dictionary, “a pop group composed of attractive young men whose music and image are designed to appeal primarily to a young teenage audience.”
More generally speaking, boybands usually tend to be manufactured by record companies who aim to cash in on their appeal, musical or otherwise.
On the surface, British outfit Lawson, made up of Andy Brown, Ryan Fletcher, Joel Peat and Adam Pitts, appears to be just that… four handsome young men performing super-catchy pop songs.
But we jumped on the phone to lead guitarist Ryan and soon discovered that despite outward appearances, the band Lawson is a very different beast.
“People just assume we’re a boyband,” Ryan says. “And I completely understand why they would think that, but it’s a complete misrepresentation of what we are. We were friends before we were together, we were working away playing everything, writing everything, doing all the pub gigs and playing to three people for years.
“And I think when the word ‘boyband’ comes into it, it takes away from all of that, because with your more traditional boyband, you’re put together and you don’t necessarily write your own songs. But once people come and see a live show or listen to the album, they quickly realise that we are four good musicians in a band.”
After cutting their teeth on the live circuit for a number of years, the band started to upload videos of their originals (and covers) onto YouTube. It was there that they caught the eye of those in the business set them on the road to mainstream success via a tour support gig for UK boyband The Wanted.
“We literally had nothing and we got offered the tour,” Ryan tells us. “We had nothing coming up, nothing going on, so we decided to do it – and ever since then, it’s really taken off. We’re really good mates with those boys and we’ve been really lucky with the support gigs that we’ve had. We’ve done Jessie J. We’ve done gigs with Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, The Script… It’s all helped establish us.”
“There was a lot of interest at the time and we’d already been talking to a lot of labels before we got that tour, but nothing felt right,” Ryan admits. “There were a lot of labels that wanted to change us and turn us into… I don’t know whether you guys got Busted over here?” he asks. We confirm yes. “Yeah, they wanted us to be the ‘new’ Busted. Jumping around on stage and stuff.”
Lawson wanted none of it, preferring instead to remain true to their roots.
“We’re in the same category as Maroon 5, Coldplay, The Script. It’s the exact same line-up as Coldplay. We’ve got the singer/guitarist, lead guitarist, bass player and a drummer. That’s all we are. We just wanted to be a playing band that’s all about the music. We stuck to our guns, then we met with Polydor and they completely got it and got our vision of it. It was a completely mutual thing and we thought that it was just right,” he says.
But Ryan also understands the reasons behind the common “boyband” misconception.
“I think because of how we look, we immediately get put into the same category as One Direction and The Wanted. We’re really good mates with all those boys and we’ve not got anything against boybands… It’s just the fact that we aren’t one that’s the only annoying thing.”
We suggest that the public perhaps makes the mistake because the boys of Lawson are all just a little too pretty.
“That’s what it is!” Ryan laughs. “We’ve always said that if we go away, put ten stone on and grow a beard, people would get it. It’s completely cool though. We’ve not got a problem with it, but it’s just a misrepresentation. As soon as you actually hear the songs, it’s fine.”
Lawson’s debut album is ‘Chapman Square’. Belatedly released in Australia earlier this month, it’s full to the brim with classy pop songs, all of which have been co-penned by lead singer Andy Brown. Though Ryan is at pains to point out that he too has a hand in the songwriting.
“Andy is actually a genius, so the songs that I write are just not as good as the songs that he writes,” he admits. “It tends to be Andy who’ll come up with the main elements of the song, bring it to us and we’ll make it ‘Lawson’, if that makes sense.
“I wrote ‘Standing In The Dark’ with Andy, which was our third single in the UK. It was also our biggest single – especially in Asia. It was No.1 all over there. I think that song connects with the fans live the most. We all chip in and write here and there.”
The role of the band’s debut single here falls to ‘Learn To Love Again’.
“It’s basically about a relationship that Andy was in,” Ryan reveals. “It came about as a result of a conversation where if you got back together, could you learn to love her again? ‘Cause a lot of things have gone down. You’ve got with other people, she might have got with other people, but can you get over that and learn to love again. So it’s about that situation.
“It’s just a personal situation that we were just chatting about and it became a song. We have this conversation a lot in the van. We’re a very deep band. Every time we get in the bus, we’ll discuss love and life and all that kind of stuff. So a lot of our songs come about like that”
When it came to getting the right sound for the album, the gents turned to legendary producer John Shanks.
“He’s worked with Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Take That,” Ryan says. “I think the exact sound that we got was what we set out to achieve. It’s all down to John. It was an amazing experience working with such a legendary producer in the studio.
“Fundamentally it’s a pop album. The songs are very pop, but it’s got that rock edge and John really helped get that across. His knowledge of guitars and tones is just insane. He was the perfect producer for our first album and he was great to work with,” he says.
And it would appear that despite the album just being released in Australia, albeit belatedly, fans around the world can expect brand new music from Lawson sooner rather than later.
“After this trip to Australia, we go back to England for a few days, then we’re going out to L.A. the week after to do the video for our next single, which is going to be a big surprise,” he hints. “It’s not been heard yet. It’s not from the album. So yeah, we have got new music coming out, which I personally think is definitely the best stuff yet. So I’m very excited for you guys to hear it and see what you think.
“We’re not going to go onto the second album just yet, so maybe we’ll put ‘Chapman Square’ back out there with some new songs on it… We’re not entirely sure what we’re going to do yet, but there’s definitely going to be new music.”
With so much British pop infiltrating the Australian charts of late (think Rita Ora, Little Mix, One Direction, Olly Murs, James Arthur etc), there’s every chance that the boys from Lawson could be the next UK act to break through.
A mix of smooth tracks, good looks, a great attitude and a growing local fanbase – many of whom turned out to see the band perform live in Sydney last week – could be just the combination Lawson needs to find local success. And they’re seemingly desperate to return.
“We’ve definitely got plans to come back. We’ve already been pestering our record label. The response we’ve had here has been really amazing,” Ryan says.
So best you get to know them…
Lawson (name) : A pop band containing four handsome young men with great songs and an awesome debut album. NOT a boyband.
Lawson’s single ‘Learn To Love Again’ is available digitally now.
Their debut album ‘Chapman Square’ is available now in both standard and deluxe formats.