From a hospital ward to three sold out tours, from Youtube videos recorded in a kitchen to recording an album in LA with a Grammy Award winning producer. Lawson’s is a tale of triumph over adversity. The London-based four-piece only released their first single in May but already they’ve had two Top Five hits, ramping up the anticipation ahead of the arrival of their debut album ‘Chapman Square’ in October. Before that, though, they’ll follow-up ‘When She Was Mine’ and ‘Taking Over Me’, which reached Number 4 and 3 in the charts respectively, with third single ‘Standing In The Dark’
Written by lead singer Andy Brown with bassist Ryan Fletcher about a relationship breakdown, it’s become a live favourite for both the crowd and the band themselves, showcasing the band’s way with a catchy hook. “Andy and I wrote it whilst staying in a mate's flat which was overlooking the O2 Arena a couple of years ago,” says Ryan, “and getting the chance to perform it there earlier this year was a definite highlight for us as a band.”
The release of ‘Chapman Square’ followed soon after and gave the band a top 5 debut album. The address of the flat where the foursome came together, it’s where the majority of their songs were written and also the spot where Andy lived with his ex-girlfriend. Indeed, the relationship is the inspiration behind a lot of the songs. “The name means so much to us, it’s where we really came together as a band,” explains drummer Adam Pitts. “We all used to crash at Andy’s place on Chapman Square when we first came to London. It’s where Andy was living with his girlfriend at the time, who a number of the songs were actually written about.”
The quartet recently embarked on the Hometowns tour, which took in the places where they grew up, concluding with their biggest headline show to date at London’s Koko. It’s there that they unveiled a live show that’s been honed on a variety of summer festival slots including performances at T4 On The Beach, Hard Rock Calling, T In The Park and V Festival, not forgetting an in-at-the-deep-end tour last year supporting The Wanted. Unsigned at the time, it marked a turn in fortunes for the band. “The biggest moment in that tour was when we got to the O2 Arena in London,” says guitarist Joel Peat, “We were all really nervous before we went on stage, but that was the best gig we’ve ever played. Everything felt perfect.”
Immediately after completing The Wanted tour, Lawson played their first headline show in Brighton. A crowd queued round the block to see them, a rep from Polydor in the throng. In July last year, the band signed their record deal. Two years after forming, Lawson had lift-off. It was the reward that their life-or-death beginnings deserved. “We named ourselves after a surgeon who did an operation on me a few years back,” says Andy nonchalantly. “You play that down so much!” smiles Ryan. “He saved your life.”
Andy’s “operation”? An 18-hour marathon to remove a life-threatening brain tumour. After three months in hospital, Andy emerged fully recuperated and re-invigorated. The band were already in existence having formed via Myspace and old school friends – the chemistry between them, says Andy, was instant, “but it sounded shit! We realised it might take a bit of time.” Now they had a new sense of purpose and a new name, thanks to Dr Lawson.
Extensive gigging and songwriting sessions began to pay off. After hearing his ex-girlfriend had a new boyfriend, Andy wrote Standing In The Dark and first single When She Was Mine – buoyant, uplifting songs whose feelgood melodies disguise their emotional content. “Every song is taken from real life,” says the frontman. “Emotional honesty is the only thing I can write about. To be honest I’d say 80 per cent of the album is about that girl.”
That said, You Didn't Tell Me which begins with a delicate strings intro before blooming into a radio-friendly piano-and-guitars ballad, isn’t about said girl. Instead, it’s about Ryan’s own rough romantic patch. “He went through a two-month phase of getting stood up by girls who were, to be frank, out of his league!” laughs Joel.
Then there's Gone, a big tune made even bigger with anthemic chants and crunching guitars To help them make their debut, Lawson recruited producer John Shanks, the guitar buff and strings expert who helped Take That craft their albums Beautiful World and The Circus. Lawson have big plans and wanted a producer who could give their melodic guitar-pop anthems the panoramic scope they needed. “His studio was unbelievable,” laughs Ryan. “Right in the middle of Hollywood. You’d go in and Van Halen would be coming out. Drake was there one day, Justin Bieber another.”
“I got a bit emotional when we were recording a song called The Girl I Knew,” says Andy. “I’d written that on acoustic guitar in my bedroom a year ago - then hearing how John had layered in all these strings, it just sounded amazing. Recording with a Grammy-winning producer in an amazing studio in LA was a huge moment for all of us.”
For this ambitious quartet, recording ‘Chapman Square’ is just the beginning and the hard work starts now. Given they’ve already overcome all the hurdles that life can throw at them, you wouldn’t bet against them. Big success looms; the future is looking decidedly Lawson-flavoured.
The Chapman Square Tour is already on Sale for February/March next year with only a few tickets left available to buy. Add in shows throughout Europe, the US, Canada and South East Asia, 2013 looks set to be another incredible year for one of 2012’s biggest acts.