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The Importance Of Being Honest: Alex Lahey Talks 'The Best Of Luck Club'

Thursday, 16 May 2019 Written by Laura Johnson

Photo: Callum Preston

“My problems are so miniscule in terms of the big picture,” sings Alex Lahey on Interior Demeanour, the third track from her second album, ‘The Best Of Luck Club’. It’s this modest outlook that makes the Melbourne native so relatable, but she’s possibly more shrewd and sharp-witted than even she realises.

Perhaps Lahey she should take a leaf out of 1990s television character Ally McBeal’s book. When responding to the question ‘What makes your problems bigger than everybody else’s?’, McBeal replied “They’re mine!”. We should all allow ourselves moments of emotional self indulgence, and Lahey is realising that.

Her lyrics here question the importance of her problems and address self-doubt—“You may think I've got nothing lose, but am I doing it right when I make every wrong move?” she muses on Am I Doing It Right—but the singer-songwriter has grown in confidence since her last record. And she no longer feels the need to be self-effacing when admitting it.

On ‘The Best Of Luck Club’ Lahey analyses the same broad subject matter— relationships, both romantic and platonic, with time also dedicated to insecurities—while musically she’s been experimenting more with sounds and dipping into different genres.

Interior Demeanour is rooted in its heavier influences, recalling Pixies, while there’s old school punk pumping through Misery Guts and country on Black RMs. Unspoken History utilises saxophone, strings, and piano, and there are different guitar tones at play on I Need To Move On. It’s a massive progression from the addictive, if linear, pop-punk of her debut album, ‘I Love You Like A Brother’.

We last spoke with Lahey prior to that record’s release in October 2017 and she surprised us by admitting she’d already started writing its follow up. We recently caught up with her again to discuss her new album, how her confidence has continued to grow, and playing the biggest headline Australian dates of her career.

In 2017 you said you didn’t want any writing or recording process to feel like a chore. Did you manage to avoid that as you’d hoped, and did any of the material you wrote back then make it onto ‘The Best Of Luck Club’?

It’s funny hearing myself being quoted from times like that, given how much I enjoyed writing and recording this record. I think I can safely say that it did not feel like a chore at any stage. I honestly had the best time being and exploring myself through those processes. And yes, Interior Demeanour and I Need To Move On are two songs that came out of that period that made it on the record.

How did you write and record this time? Was it less stressful than for your debut, which was completed between bouts of touring?

‘The Best Of Luck Club’ was written in a period of less than a year between August 2017 and July 2018. The last batch of songs for the record were written over a week I spent in Nashville in July 2018, the majority of which made it onto the album.

After I got home from Nashville and finished up touring my first record, Catherine Marks flew down to Melbourne from London and we holed ourselves up at Sing Sing [Sing Sing South studio in Melbourne] through October.

After making my first record intermittently between tour dates, I was adamant that I wanted to make this one in a dedicated block of time. I wouldn’t say that it was any more or less stressful, just different. But I really enjoyed being fully immersed in the process and finding routine within that.

Do you still write the same way or has your style evolved? You used to worry about being so open. Has your confidence grown in that regard?

I think that I’m increasingly more open as I get older. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s a confidence thing, maybe I’m less concerned about what other people think. I think that it is important to be respectful of yourself and others who may be a part of the stories that make up songs, but I also think it’s important to be honest and upfront about how you feel

You co-produced the new album alongside Catherine. Why a different producer this time? What did she bring to the table?

I love to learn and I don’t think that there’s any better way to learn than to work with different people. I’ve been a fan of Catherine’s for a really long time and she was my dream collaborator for this record.

Catherine has an incredible work ethic, vision and attention to detail, and to be surrounded by that energy and discourse so intensely while we were making the record made me think about the process differently and helped me explore different ways of thinking about making records and recording music.

You played almost every instrument on the album, including saxophone again but previously you used your live band. Why the change? It that a way to keep creative control?

The sax thing was kind of a bit of a joke that ended up finding its way onto the record! Catherine and I were just having fun and when we recorded the sax for a laugh, it made sense to leave it there as it contributed to the vibe of the tune and made it special.

I don’t think the decisions I make in the studio are made to retain control. I just want to explore different processes and see how that affects the outcomes. I don’t want to do the same thing again and again because it’s comfortable. Where’s the fun in that?

Why did you pick Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself as the record’s first single? You endured 45 degree heat near Melbourne for its video—is the way you visually represent your music important or just a bit of fun?

I think that that song was the first single because it was probably deviated the least from my first album and served as a nice bridge into ‘The Best Of Luck Club’.

I actually really don’t like being in front of the camera, it’s probably one of my least favourite parts about my job! Because of this, I like to keep my film clips pretty light and fun because it makes me feel more relaxed about staring down the barrel of a camera lens.

Musically it seems you’ve experimented more. Was this an intentional creative choice or something that happened organically in the studio?

This is something that came up when I was writing the songs. I found that there was a lot of different styles and genres seeping their way into the record as it was shaping up. This was completely unintentional and concerned me for a little while.

But then I grew to embrace it and it’s part of the reason why I decided to bring the album together into the place that is ‘The Best Of Luck Club’. When Catherine and I were in the studio, we chose not to try to push the production down a homogenous path and just let the songs be themselves.

Billboard called your August 7 show at the Bowery Ballroom in New York one of the best shows of 2018, and your upcoming Australian shows this summer are the biggest you’ve headlined. How does that feel?

Equal parts humbled, excited and nervous! I think for any artist, hometown shows hold a special place in any tour and the fact that we’re playing The Forum in Melbourne, which is a huge bucket list venue for me, is pretty amazing. That being said, I’m so excited for every single show we have coming up all over the world.

How are you going to achieve the full sound you’ve created on the record on the road at live shows?

I think it’s important to let that happen organically and let every person in the band find their feet within the songs and interpret the tones intuitively. I don’t want the live show to sound like a carbon copy of the record. I want it to have vibe and energy and be a beast of moving parts.

'​The Best Of Luck Club' is out on May 17 through Dead Oceans.

Alex Lahey Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu May 16 2019 - DUBLIN Grand Social
Fri May 17 2019 - LIVERPOOL Arts Club, Loft
Sun May 19 2019 - LEICESTER Cookie
Mon May 20 2019 - CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
Thu May 23 2019 - LONDON Oslo

Click here to compare & buy Alex Lahey Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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