TRCH Nov 19

Lawson

3 November 12 words: Nick Parkhouse
As the buzz over Nottingham’s music scene intensifies, it’s easy to forget that there’s a local lad who has already secured two top 5 hits in 2012.
Joel Peat Lawson Interview

Joel Peat from Lawson speaks to LeftLion

Tell me about growing up in Nottingham...
I was born in Kings Mill hospital but was brought up in Ravenshead. I then moved to Mansfield – that’s where my family is from – and went to the Joseph Whittaker School in Rainworth and that’s where I met some friends and started to get into bands. Every Saturday I used to go to the Brunts School in Mansfield with loads of other people. Every Saturday morning we’d go down and play our instruments and we’d get into bands. I got into a band there and that’s really where I started learning to play the guitar properly. We used to play gigs at the Town Mill, the Intake – places like that. Ryan who plays bass [with Lawson] used to play these gigs as well which is where we met.

How did Lawson come about?
Through my friendship with Ryan. Andy – the lead singer – would post videos of himself doing acoustic covers on the internet. Adam had just finished at music college and was looking for a band to join and saw Andy’s page and got in touch. Ryan and Andy had met around the London music scene and then Ryan drafted me in. We had a rehearsal and it was awful. We sounded really bad at first although we got on really well – we were friends before we clicked musically. It then started to fall into place a little bit and so we rehearsed for ages and ages as we didn’t want to do a gig until we knew we wouldn’t mess it up.

You’re playing a headline show at the Rescue Rooms on 5th November. Have you played in Nottingham before?
Yes, I’ve played Nottingham quite a few times. I’ve played at the Ice Arena before and the Concert Hall – and at the Basement in Rock City and Stealth and places like that as well. I’ve never actually played the Rescue Rooms, so I’m really excited about that. I used to see loads of bands there when I was younger.

Whose idea was it to do these gigs in your home towns?
It was all of us really. The thing is – we’re so busy that we don’t get to go home a lot. I went back home a couple of weeks ago and it was the first time I’d been home in three months. I love going home – I’m proud of where I live – but with the work schedule I just couldn’t get back. We all wanted to go back home and have all our families and our friends round. We have some amazing fans back in Nottingham – and Liverpool, Brighton and Sheffield – and we just wanted to come home and have a bit of a party to celebrate the album coming out.

The last year or so must have been bonkers.
Yes, it’s absolute madness. We’ve been together for a relatively long time – four years - and when it seems like we’ve come out of nowhere we haven’t. We’ve been gigging around the country and doing gigs for three or four people for ages, and it’s only since we got signed in July last year that it’s gone to the next level. It was weird when the first single went in at number four.  We knew that we had incredible fans that get behind everything that we do but we never expected to get to the top five in the charts. And then Taking Over Me went to number three as well. It means the world to us as we’ve worked so hard for such a long time and we’re starting to see the benefits.  It has been crazy though. If we’re playing a multi-bill gig we’re still of the mentality that people might not know the words to the songs. The V Festival was a bit of a moment – we did When She Was Mine and when I put my head in front of the monitor I could hear everyone singing it. It’s amazing.

You must have a large number of fans of a certain age. Does that take a bit of getting used to?
The weirdest thing is when someone tells you that you can’t go out somewhere because it’s dangerous. We did a signing in Newcastle where the security guards told us that if we went out it would cause havoc. People who didn’t get in were waiting outside which meant we couldn’t meet some of the fans. We’re not used to that – we usually go out and say hello. Having your own security takes some getting used to. You’re not used to having someone grab your arm and say ‘come on, mate!’ We’ve had some odd ones. We did a gig in Leeds and when we came back to the van it had been covered in writing – really graphic things that the fans wanted to do to us. It took our tour manager ages to get all this lipstick and nail varnish off the van. Chasing the van down the street is always a good laugh. Sometimes we’re going from Newcastle to Bournemouth and you think ‘you’re not going to make it. We’re going to be driving onto the motorway and it’s really not safe...’

You’ve been on tour with Westlife and the Wanted – bands like that. Are you worried that people might not take you seriously as musicians?
People have made the connection between us and the Wanted, but the music we play when you see us live – we’re a rock band. The videos for our singles have tried to show that and the songs are all quite meaningful. We’ve tried hard to get away from that image and concentrated on the fact that we do all play our instruments. Our biggest influence is John Mayer and then people like the Beatles and the Eagles. We’re not really from that ‘boyband’ background.

Guitar pop seems to be making a bit of a comeback with people like Gotye, Fun, Coldplay etc, particularly in America.  Have you arrived at the right time?
Yes, hopefully. America is a big thing for us as we’re all really into the country and western scene over there. People like Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban – that’s who we’re influenced by. I think our music lends itself a bit to America so we’re excited to get out there. I’m hoping that the guitar makes a comeback as I think it’s been quite a quiet period for the guitar recently. For me being a guitarist it’s a little bit sad. I’m hoping that at some of our gigs I can bring back the guitar solo. It’s about time.

I suppose that while you can clearly play the guitar [Peat won awards at college], the likelihood of you being recognised for that in your current incarnation is quite small?
It is, but I mean that we’re trying to make people realise that we can play. It’s about trying to get people down to gigs, and in each video we put online we do it in a way that you can see us all playing it. We’re not trying to shove it down people’s throats but we are trying to make it apparent that’s what we’re doing.

The band have just released its debut album...
Yes. The album Chapman Square was released on 22 October We were really lucky as the whole guitar band thing worked in our favour. We managed to bag an amazing producer by the name of John Shanks who did Kelly Clarkson, the Take That comeback record, Bon Jovi – people like that. He did the album with us over in LA. It was the most incredible experience and took the songs to a completely different level. We did the track listing in Chapman Square – which is what the album is named after.

I read that you’d completed the recording and finished the album – and then Gary Barlow turned up with a song...
We got in touch with Gary a while back to do a bit of songwriting with him – obviously he’s a massive inspiration. But, we only managed to get a session with Gary after the album was done! We went in and two pretty amazing songs were written, so we’re now scratching our heads wondering what we’re going to do with them!

It’s a big few months for Nottingham music – albums from Natalie Duncan, Dog Is Dead, Jake Bugg, you guys. A lot of hard work around the city seems to be coming to fruition...
I hope so. There’s such a good scene in Nottingham. I never got it how the Dot to Dot and festivals like that would come to Nottingham, there would be all these bands on the line-up, and all these local bands, but there were never really any local bands breaking through. Now, though you have Jay from the Wanted who are doing great across the world, Bianca from Parade [their single Louder reached #10 in the UK charts in 2011] – you’re just starting to see more people from Nottingham within the industry.

What are your plans between now and Christmas?
We’re doing gigs all around between now and Christmas, promoting the album as much as we can. We’ll maybe then have a little bit of time off and I think we’re going to America in January – it’s a dream come true for all of us. People ask us if we want a day off, but every day’s a day off when you’re doing what you love.

Lawson play their homecoming gig at the Rescue Rooms on Monday 5th November.

Lawson website

Joel Peat on Twitter

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