“Songs are like girls, you’ll never get a ten, but you might get a 9…”, Lawson
The Mighty Lawson – we know they’re called Lawson but we really like calling them The Mighty Lawson – came to play in the Spotify office the other day (you’ll be able to hear the session here soon) and they turned out to be a very decent bunch of chaps indeed. Perhaps the greatest ever pop group to be named after a brain surgeon (David Lawson saved Andy’s life after the singer, songwriter and guitarist developed a brain tumour aged just 19), their first three singles all went Top Ten in the UK and their debut album, Chapman Square, went straight in at 4 in October. They had ten minutes spare between their last song finishing and their taxi leaving for the studio, so we barked a load of questions at them and hoped for the best.
Quick! Let’s get specific – who are the greatest pop groups of all time?
Andy Brown: The Beatles.
Joel Pleat (guitar): Of all time? That’s so hard!
Ryan Fletcher (bass): Oasis have to be in there. The Stones, maybe?
Adam Pitts (drums): Take That have to be there.
Joel: Stereophonics? Aerosmith? But not of all time? Foo Fighters? Think of Dave Grohl’s career.
Andy: My mum’s never heard of him.
Ryan: I’d say Bon Jovi. But they’re not the Beatles.
Andy: Woah! What about U2! How could we have put in Bon Jovi and left U2, that would have been horrific!
What makes a pop song different to a rock song?
Andy: Again, look at Dave Grohl – he has a rock voice and the difference between rock and pop is all in the sound. Foo Fighter’s songs are great pop songs, but the instrumentation and the voice is rock.
Does the perfect song exist?
R: Songs are like girls, you’ll never get a ten. You might get a 9.
Adam: Coldplay came close with Fix You.
J: (Eric) Clapton’s Tears In Heaven is near perfect. Everyone can listen to that and feel what he’s saying.
Andy: Yesterday and Let It Be are songs I go back to a lot. But a non-Beatle song that’s a definite 9 is Extreme’s More Than Words. As a songwriter you need a great concept to start with and it has that. Then it lays on a great melody and fantastic instrumentation. But you also need songs that are just as good, but in different ways.
J: Maroon 5 have Moves Like Jagger, but they also have She Will Be Loved which is totally different. In fact it’s like a totally different band.
Andy: The Beatles were like that, but for an artist it’s very hard to beat a big song. How could Carly Rae Jepsen beat Call Me Maybe after it’s been played so much? I just hope she does.
Ryan: For me it would have to be something rocky. Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses is a heavyweight 9. That’s a proper worldwide tune.
What records would you elbow your way to the decks to play at a drunken party?
J: I kill parties! My favourite album of all time is John Mayer’s Room For Squares. When the party’s winding down I’ll wander in and stick him on.
Andy: When the party’s getting going I always stick on Will Smith. Anything from Summertime to Miami to Gettin’ Jiggy With It!
R: Then some Run-DMC and Aerosmith.
Andy: When I was 18 it was all about Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger. Now I’d play Ed Sheeran or Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers and bring everyone down a notch or two. We’re not the world’s best party-rockers, to be honest.
R: We’re more likely to get our guitars out and play awful drunken versions of our own songs.
Joel: Like the other night when Andy and I stayed up til 6am singing Adele’s Hometown Glory…
Does pop have it’s own language?
Andy: Well, when you tell a story in a song you tell it differently than if you were sat around a table. Something like Die For You is a very serious song, but I actually think a lot of our songs are extremely serious.
J: You have to speak in a language that people can relate to.
Andy: What about Call Me Maybe – you can’t relate to that?
Adam: I can relate to it! That’s all kids in school everywhere are saying.
Andy: But it’s not the same as we would relate to The Script. Little kids and little girls relate to Carly Rae Jepsen. And if it’s the Fast Food Rockers, then no one relates.
Surely millions of people related to that?
Andy: I suppose in a way they did. But it’s like Rebecca Black’s Friday – some kids can relate to that.
R: Some kids, “do” gotta get down on Friday. I know I do!
Finally – crucially – what’s your favourite noise?
Adam: The sound just before a band comes on stage in a huge venue when they try the kick-drum out and the whole arena shakes a bit. I love that.
J: I’m going to be boring and musical and say the pedal-steel guitar. We recorded a lot of the new album in America and we listened to a lot of country music. So that’s my favourite noise in the whole world.
R: I love the sound of the countryside hearing the birds singing. Or rain on a window at night. But I love a nice piano too. I can’t play it, but I’m only 22 so I guess there’s time to learn.
Andy: A great female voice like Norah Jones I can listen to over and over again. I also love the roar of a football stadium, but I wouldn’t listen to it on my headphones!