For many bands, six top ten singles would signal a distinguished career. For Lawson, their regularity in the UK charts was just the start of an incredible rise to prominence.
Debut album Chapman Square is certified Platinum and charted in the top 5 of the UK charts, they’ve had sell-out gigs all over the world and have already shared the stage with rock and roll royalty.
Yet after a year-long break from releasing music, the four-piece of Andy Brown, Joel Peat, Ryan Fletcher and Adam Pitts are back with an exciting, mature sound, consisting of soulful hooks, epic guitar sounds and a rhythmic rock undercurrent that shows Lawson coming of age as songwriters and artists.
“We finished promoting Chapman Square at the end of 2013 and we took a year out so we could really get to grips with the second album,” says lead singer Andy Brown.
“We are all so proud of Chapman Square, it gave us our break and because of it I’ve been able to live out so many of my dreams. We went from performing in clubs to 10 people to performing at Wembley Stadium. We shared a stage with Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling festival, I had to pinch myself that I was sharing a stage with a rock and roll legend.”
Whilst Brown was wowing audiences with his reflective songs during the Chapman Square tour, he knew his own musical style was changing.
“I wrote a lot of the songs for the record when we were unsigned and I was just a normal twenty-one year-old lad going through a bad break-up,” he explains.
“I was already changing as a person and a musician through out the release of the debut album. When we had finished it, we all knew the band was moving in a different direction.
As people we have grown and as a consequence our sound has naturally changed. I’ve definitely developed as a song-writer and the lyrics have become deeper and the music is much more refined.”
The natural evolution of Lawson has resulted in an exciting new sound, with pop-rock influences sounds seeping through the tracks. Lawson’s new album is packed with a host of triumphant and infectious anthems. This seamless transition is rubber-stamped by the lead track ‘Roads’.
Perhaps a nod to the bands growth, Andy explores the theme of addiction. “The song derived from a line I’d heard on a TV program and the main character said to his love interest; ‘all roads lead back to you’ and it got me thinking about various forms of addiction.” Brown explains. “For me there was one girl especially and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake her.
Every time I thought I could be without her I felt sick, I wasn’t the same person. She was a drug I couldn’t get enough off and I wasn’t right without her. She was my addiction and all roads led back to her.”
It is clear that Brown has paid huge tributes to the mentors in his life, naming the band in honour of David Lawson, the surgeon who in 2006 saved Andy’s life during a 17 hour operation to remove a brain tumour. Roads is just one of several emotional subjects covered on their new album. Brown pays huge tribute to many of the influential people in his life.
The song ‘Champion’ was written after the loss of their manager’s father. “It’s a song about dealing with grief” reflected Brown.
“In this case it was someone very close to me. I used that emotion and put it into words. I believe if we keep our heads held high, we will find light at the end of the tunnel”.
The challenging tracks signal a real progression in Lawson’s lyrical output.
Throughout the writing process, Brown’s focus on music was unwavering. The band flew to Nashville, USA to record tracks for their forthcoming album.
The famous Blackbird studios, where rock royalty Kings of Leon had recorded their previous album, became Lawson’s temporary sanctuary: “It was such an inspiring place to be,” says Brown. “We’d be in the studio and Maroon 5 would be recording next to us. Nashville is one of the most musical places in the world and it gave us the inspiration to really challenge ourselves creatively.”
Along with regular collaborator Ki Fitzgerald, the band enlisted esteemed writer Eg White (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Sam Smith). “Eg was someone I really wanted to work with, it was an awesome experience because he works in a completely different way to me. It was all about getting the song down as rough as possible with Eg and keeping the character. I was all about making sure the vocals were perfect but he stopped me.
He showed me that getting the track down, even if it’s a bit raw adds character and that’s added another dimension to our music. Working with writers like him have played a part in the development of our sound.”
The result of this collaboration was the song ‘Only Water’ – a track exploring how raw emotion cannot be curtailed.
Brown is delighted with the end product and believes the track could be one of Lawson’s biggest in 2015: “Only Water is the song on the album I’m probably most proud of. It’s a track about finding yourself in an emotional place and being unable to stop the tears. I think everyone’s been there when you feel your eyes welling up and think to yourself; ‘why am I crying? It’s only water’ You try and hold back your emotions but it doesn’t matter how strong you are, you are always going to have that moment of weakness.”
A year in music is a long time, but Lawson’s return is a welcome one.
A journey of self-discovery has produced a mature, refined sound, reflecting how this band have turned to men. Now all we need to do is listen gleefully to the result. Lawson are not to be missed in 2015.