I had the opportunity to interview Ryan Fletcher and Joel Peat from pop-rock band Lawson on Apr 6 (Saturday)! It was held at Gallery Hotel, which is the official hotel sponsor for Lawson's showcase in Singapore. When I entered the hotel, I saw quite a number of fans sitting in the lobby and hanging around outside, waiting for their chance to see their idols in person. Their fan-base here is crazy and I think it's really cool because they're a really hardworking and talented band who deserves all the recognition and attention they're receiving.
Together with 7 other media outlets, I attended the round-table interview with Ryan and Joel. There were 25 main questions asked in total and I managed to get 3 questions in. The questions that I asked are labelled [M]. In the interview, Joel and Ryan talked about Taylor Swift & John Mayer, who are two of their big musical influences! Taylor Swift actually attended their concert last year and told them that she was a big fan of theirs!
Also, they revealed some pretty cool stuff about Adam & Andy (who were doing interviews with other media outlets concurrently) and of course, they talked about Singapore, the crowd at their showcase the previous night and what they loved about the little red dot!
Read the transcript of the interview below!
If you were a girl, which member of the band would you date?
Ryan: I wouldn't date me.
Joel: I wouldn't date me, I’d avoid me.
Ryan: I'd say Andy. Andy's the romantic type
Joel: Yeah, Ads [Adam] is quite loyal as well, Ads is a really loyal dog so yeah, I'd say Ads.
There's a trend of artists who are becoming radio presenters, the most recent being Marvin from JLS.
Joel: On Capital, yeah.
Do you guys see yourselves doing something like that?
Ryan: Yeah, we've always done a lot of guest radio shows or something for stations back in England and I've always really enjoyed it so yeah, that'd be great. But definitely a lot more time in the band though.
Joel: I'm just worried because we usually say things we shouldn't say and if we had a radio show, then obviously we'd be heightening the risk factor!
Ryan: Yeah, and getting into trouble. Maybe that would be too much exposure!
Who are your strongest musical influences for your latest album Chapman Square?
Joel: I think there's quite a lot of influences because obviously there are four different personalities where we all enjoy the same music and we've all got different influences. We did the album in America and at that time, we were listening to a lot of country music like Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and people like that. So I think all that sort of music tuned in with our idol John Mayer – John Mayer is a huge influence for me.
Ryan: I grew up listening to a lot of Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, stuff like that so there’s a lot of rock influence in there too. And then there’s The Beatles and The Eagles and all sorts of old-school bands as well.
I heard you guys have a pre-show ritual where you chant “Quack Quack Goose”? How did that come about? [M]
Ryan: We used to do that ages ago – our fans called themselves the “geese”. So back in the day, we used to do this whole thing before going on. But now, it tends to just be the name of the city that we’re in. We’ll just do a… [demonstrates a hand-in motion] and chant over the name of the city. We don’t really have many pre-show rituals, do we? [Ryan: No] Andy will just steam his voice and warm up and stuff but that’s pretty much it.
Ryan: We just get excited, really.
I was at your concert yesterday – which was great by the way – but I saw a couple of weird signboards…
Ryan: So did we!
What’s the strangest one that you have seen so far?
Joel: There’s been some filth.
Ryan: There are some pretty dirty ones, which is quite gross.
Joel: “Ryan slap me like you slap your bass” and stuff like that.
Ryan: That was pretty brutal. Those are the ones I don’t wanna repeat.
Joel: There’s stuff like “Adam bang me like your drums” – that’s my personal favourite.
Ryan: We’ve also got some creative and funny ones. Actually, all the fans we’ve come across here have quite high technology. They’ve got their iPads with things on and I’ve never seen that before we came. They’ve got lights all over them and stuff and that’s great.
I managed to get a picture with them! It's really blur, I know - it's a long story ☺
Can you describe the experience of dressing up as Jessie J? Whose idea was it and which member do you think looks the best in the Jessie J costume?
Ryan: I think I definitely looked the best!
Joel: We always take the mick out of Ryan for looking like a girl anyway so the idea was just fitting.
Ryan: I actually looked like a woman so that was quite intimidating. But yeah, I think it was Andy that mentioned this. Originally, Jessie dared us to play her song and we were like “Yeah, awesome”. But then we took it to an extra level and dressed up as her when we did it. That was so funny!
Was that the first time you’ve dressed up as a woman?
Ryan: I wish it was! I’ve dressed up as Jessie J before and I’m so ashamed of that. [Joel: I’m proud of that] It was a good experience, wasn’t it, Joel?
You’ve been in Singapore for a few days. How do you find Singapore?
Ryan: Love it! Everyone’s so nice and smiley and the weather’s amazing except today [turns around and points to the window – it was raining heavily]. Today’s a bad one. I love it here though, the food’s amazing as well.
Joel: What did we have earlier? Someone brought us some stingray, barbecued stingray and it’s amazing, I loved it.
Have you tried durian?
Ryan: No, what is that?
Joel: We love the band [I think he means Duran Duran] though!
It’s a fruit that people either love or hate.
Joel: We have Marmite back home, you either love it or you hate it, I guess it’s the same sort of thing. We haven’t tried it yet, I’d love to try some today.
Ryan: Yeah it’s good stuff, I need to get on it.
Do you guys have any hidden talents?
Ryan: There are many hidden talents, yeah.
Joel: Yeah, we’re talented guys.
Ryan: Adam, our drummer, he’s really clued-up on venues – he’s very knowledgeable about stuff like that. Also, he’s flown a plane before, which is pretty intense.
Joel: He designed the actual stage show for the last tour we did in the UK, the Chapman Square Tour. He designed all the lighting and stuff like that and the logo as well.
Ryan: Andy Brown can catch any fruit in his mouth from any distance at any quantity as well. Joel: You can launch blueberries, I think his record was like fifty or something.
Ryan: Without swallowing, all at the same time. It’s incredible! He’s a pretty talented guy.
Joel: And there’s us… What hidden talents do we have?
Ryan: I’ve always been really arty, I’m a great drawer, I pride myself for my drawing. And what about you?
Joel: I like to cook! I quite enjoy cooking.
Ryan: I like his food – its solid food and it’s great!
Who do you think is the “big brother” of the band?
Joel: That’s a bit of a tough question because although I kinda see Andy being the oldest, as a father figure, I feel like I have to look after him more if he leaves his phone or his wallet…
Ryan: Yeah, he’s the big brother but also the one that needs looking after the most.
Andy takes both of that, because he’s very wise but he’s an idiot. So yeah, he kinda falls into both categories there.
How do you manage to stay in shape while on tour?
Joel: I think because we’re still a bit young, I think there’ll be a day everyone in our team keeps telling us like, I can’t wait for the day when it all stops and you get really fat.
Ryan: I think we all are very conscious of it. We eat really well when we’re away, we only ever really eat sushi or chicken or stuff like that because we’re so conscious of never exercising. When you’re on the road, you never really have the chance to do anything fitness-wise so you just have to eat really healthily and make sure you don’t get fat. Every now and then, we get a nice gym like in this hotel so we’ll just have a good workout.
How did you come up with the name ‘Lawson’?
Ryan: It was actually Andy. About six years ago, just before we started the band, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and it was a really life-threatening thing. The doctor who performed the operation that saved his life was called Dr Lawson. Everything in the band has always been really meaningful to us – every song and everything we’ve done and every title, especially the band name – everything’s really personal to us and that was the best one.
At your show in Singapore last night, you mentioned that the crowd in Singapore was one of the best crowds you’ve ever performed in front of. What makes a crowd stand out to you? [M]
Joel: I think it’s how excited people get when you come onstage. You’ll know within the first ten seconds whether it’s going to be a great gig or not. Last night, the crowd was so loud, like SO loud and I think it was that. And how they knew all the words to the songs have always surprised me! I mean, we’ve come so far from home and people actually know the words to the songs! The Singapore fans were singing as loud as they could and that was awesome!
You guys are pretty big tattoo people. Do you have any tattoos in mind?
Ryan: Funny you’re saying that! There’s actually a tattoo guy in the hotel right now that’s actually coming to settle into our tour manager’s dressing room and at some time in-between interviews, a few of us are going to go in and get some more.
What are you planning to get?
Ryan: I still don’t really know. I think I’m going to get a paper aeroplane with a trail going off, because we’ve done a lot of international touring and stuff, especially over here, the album’s been number 1 and the single’s been number 1. It seems like a really nice way to commemorate this whole experience with a little stamp. I don’t know what the other boys are gonna get though.
Joel: I don’t know yet, I haven’t decided. It’s going to be a spur of the moment thing, you’ll soon find out…
Joel and Ryan, you have both known each other for quite some time. How was it like working with the other lads when the band was just formed and how did you guys go about building teamwork and chemistry as a band?
Ryan: I think it just comes naturally. We clicked as friends straight away well before we clicked as musicians. It took a lot of practice to kinda get tight and sound half-decent. It was pretty natural though, we all like the same music and that’s quite rare, because I don’t know many of my mates that are into Taylor Swift and people like that and not a lot of my friends have heard of John Mayer so I suppose it was quite rare to find three lads that were into the same stuff that I was.
How do you work out the differences among the four of you?
Joel: The thing is, we’ve never really had a big fall-out. We have a really strict honesty policy. So if someone’s annoying you or isn’t doing something great, you just tell them straight away. Everything’s out in the open.
Ryan: There’s never any grudges held. If someone’s being a dick, you just tell them. [Laughs]
Joel: I know it sounds cliché, but we’re all like brothers, like best friends, you wouldn’t want to have a fall-out.
What do you want your fans to see Lawson as?
Ryan: I don’t know, the band that we are, I guess. We write music that’s very personal to us and put ourselves out there and I think if people can connect with that music and just see us as a band that’d be great. Especially when we tour live, we see ourselves as a rock band and although we’re in the pop world, a lot of people throw the word “boy-band” around and stuff and we just think it’s quite a lazy term sometimes. Honestly, if you look at a poster of us and you’ve never heard our music before, you would probably naturally just think, “four young guys in a band, it looks like a boy-band” but I just think when people see the live show and hear the music, it just speaks for itself and I think people will then see us as a band.
What are some of the craziest things you’ve received from fans?
Joel: We’ve received quite a few crazy things, haven’t we?
Ryan: Yeah, I got some chocolate boobs yesterday [in Singapore].
Joel: I got Grow Your Own Boobs as well, you know, when you put them in water…
Ryan: Mainly boobs, I’m sensing a trend. Which is great, they’re some of my favourite things! [Laughs]
Joel: But that’s definitely not what we’re all about. What else have we received? Basically, quite filthy things, like underwear that’s made out of sweets.
Ryan: I got a mankini as well. Made from sweets.
Joel: Oh, it was interesting. Sad to say, none of us ate that.
Ryan: I think Andy did!
Joel: We once got a book, it was titled ‘Fifty Shades of Lawson’. You can see where I’m going with this. It was basically a picture book of various images they found, adult images if you will, with our faces Photoshopped on. It was pretty weird, I still wake up in sweats have nightmares about that.
Joel, tell us more about your phobia of belly buttons. When did you realise you had it?
Joel: Oh, I don’t even know! I think I’ve always had it. The thing is, my dad’s got the same thing. When my sister got her belly button pierced without medical help, it was the most awful thing in the world! I think I just picked it up. I can look at one but when you put a finger in it, I feel really odd, like a bit queasy and nauseous. It’s weird. I can’t explain it, I wish I could.
What’s inside your iPod? Ryan, I heard you listened to “Don’t Judge Me” yesterday.
Ryan: Yeah, I was vibe-ing out late last night, it was nice. I love stuff like that.
Joel: All the lads always laugh at me and take the mick out of me because I’m into a lot of hip-hop and R&B sort of stuff. I think my favourite album of the moment is the new Frank Ocean album Channel Orange. I love that album! What about you?
Ryan: Obviously bands like Kingsley and Maroon 5. But yeah, I’m very R&B as well.
Joel: I’ve gone back a while with music, I’ve been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles and also I’ve been listening to a lot of country music. I love Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, all that stuff. That’s what I’m listening to at the moment as well.
What do you think of fans who throw things onto the stage?
Joel: As long as it’s not a brick or a bottle, I’m pretty happy.
Ryan: It’s good, every now and then though, you get really annoying ones and I want to clear this up now for everyone that reads this. It’s all in good spirit, we know you don’t mean to be annoying but if we’re playing a song and they want to get your attention so bad that… it’s happened several times now, they’ll bring a bag of glowsticks and they just keep throwing them. We're trying to play a song but we keep getting hit with glowsticks! Maybe it’ll hit the guitar and it’ll make horrible sounds and yeah, that’s quite annoying.
Joel: Just wear the glowsticks! Wear them with pride!
Ryan: Yeah, it can get pretty annoying when you keep getting hit with things but yeah, it’s all in good heart and in good intention so I can understand it. But everything else is great, it’s always fun when you get hit with a bra! That’s always fun. There was one gig that made me laugh, actually. They kept throwing condoms onto the stage and initially, I looked down and after three songs, I was just covered – it was hilarious, it made me laugh. So yeah, it can be good fun.
Where do you see Lawson in 5-10 years’ time?
Joel: We’ve got really big aspirations as a band. We were watching The Script’s documentary not too long ago and they did arenas all over the world. We’re going to Manila after this and we’re going to play in an arena in Manila and that’s incredible for us. We’ve come so far away from home and stuff and I think our aspiration for the band is to be doing venues like that all over the world. That’s our aspiration for the band because we pride ourselves on our live shows and performing our songs live and playing our instruments and stuff… I don’t think many people do that anymore. Touring’s the big thing for us. If we could do that, that’s where I’d like to see ourselves.
Do you guys get recognised on the streets? [M]
Ryan: Yes, it’s weird! When we’re all together, it’s crazy but when we’re on our own, it’s not that bad – it’s just the odd person. Especially in the UK, anyway. Out here, it’s probably even more so. We get recognised a lot more here than we do back home. Back home, you get the odd person that might come over and be like, “Oh you’re in Lawson!” but when we’re all together, then there’ll be a lot of people that will recognise you and stuff. But yeah, it’s good. We’re at the point where it’s really nice – it’s not too much, it’s not like a Justin Bieber scenario but it’s just enough to know that you’re doing good enough.
Joel: [Laughs] Justin Bieber is “just enough”!
Ryan: Yeah, Just Enough, he’s up and comin’!
You’ve mentioned Taylor Swift quite a number of times. What are your favourite Taylor Swift songs? And which songs would you consider singing onstage?
Joel: I love Fearless, I love the album. That was the first time I got into it, I wasn’t really getting into it before that. I love the album Speak Now. Anything, really. “Enchanted” is one of my favourite songs she’s done. Very nicely done and the production is awesome as well! We’ve always wanted our album to sound like that song, how that first chorus drops like, it’s just huge.
Ryan: I’m a big fan of hers – “22” as well, it’s a great song, it’s really gold. She actually came to one of our gigs just before Christmas and it was mental. She was watching from the side of the stage and she was singing along to the lyrics and she came over afterwards and she was like, “Hi I’m Taylor, I’m a huge fan, “Standing in the Dark” is my favourite song!” And we were just like, “What? How are you introducing yourself to us? We’re just four idiots!”
Joel: From an amazing songwriter like herself, it was a huge compliment when she said she enjoyed our songs!
How did you choose the instruments that you play? How did you decide whether you wanted to play bass or the guitar? Do you have a guitar player you look up to and do you have a dream instrument that you wish to own?
Ryan: Yeah, definitely! I chose to play bass. I initially started on guitar when I was 10 and I played guitar – I still play guitar now – but when I was about 13 or 14, I picked up the bass and I started playing bass and it just clicked with me more than the guitar did so I just stood with bass and I really got along with it so ever since then, I’ve been a bass player. For influences, I love guitarists like John Mayer, he’s a massive inspiration for me, especially Joel as well. He influenced Joel’s playing a lot. As for bass players, I love Duff [McKagan] from Guns N’ Roses and people like that. I just love all the rock players, like Pino Palladino who plays for John Mayer.
Joel: Like Ryan says, John Mayer’s been a big one for me and also big guitar players like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh. I went to see Joe Bonamassa the other day – he’s an incredible blues guitarist. In terms of instruments, I really wanna play the pedal steel [guitar], you know, the old country thing where you slide it? I really want to get one of those. I think when we get back to London, I’m gonna buy one and play it but it’s like, an impossible instrument, it’s really hard!
How many guitars do you own right now?
Ryan: Far too many!
Joel: Yeah, I have a lot of guitars. It’s literally all I want to spend all my money on. I don’t want cars, I don’t want nice houses, I just want a decent guitar collection! The guy who did our album, John Shanks, he had the most incredible array of guitars. I loved guitars before, but when you pick up an old vintage guitar, you’ll realise how beautiful it really is. I’m still trying to decide how much I’m allowed to spend on guitars but it’s all going there!
Joel, your birthday is coming up soon. How are you planning to celebrate this day?
Joel: I don’t know but it won’t be as good as last year. Last year, we were filming the video for “Taking Over Me” in a desert in the middle of LA on my birthday and that was pretty cool! This year… I don’t know. I imagine we’ll be working again because we usually are when it comes to birthdays. It’s always fun to do a gig on your birthday or do a video so I don’t know this year. I didn’t go big last year because we were so tired after doing the video-shoot. We started at four in the morning…
Ryan: We wanted to. We tried but we couldn’t do it.
Joel: I really enjoy just being in the backyard with friends. When it’s my birthday, it’ll be summer back home, it’s like the only time you get decent weather that you can actually be outside in. It’s not like over here.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
Joel: We’ve been talking about having a female vocalist – we’ve been talking about having Taylor Swift. I’d love to do a song with Taylor Swift. That would be cool! Or Jessie J, that’d be great.
Ryan: We’ve been thinking a lot about getting a rapper involved as well. We’ve got some of our new stuff that’s in the Maroon 5 direction while our first album was kind of in the [The] Script direction. We’re kind of maturing, we need to have a bit of an older sound and it sounds a bit more like a Maroon 5 sort of thing. One of the ideas we’ve been touring around is getting a rapper – someone like Wiz Khalifa or B.o.B, someone like that, that’d be really cool.
Do you get homesick with all the touring you do? Do you chat with your family members often?
Joel: Yeah, all the time! We’re really lucky, because nowadays you have Skype, Viber, Whatsapp and all that, so we can keep in contact with our families while we’re away. I do get a bit homesick, because even when we’re back in London, we’re from all over the country, we don’t actually live anywhere near London, so even when we’re home, we’re homesick if that makes any sense. It’s cool that our parents are so supportive and they always have been, even when the band wasn’t that big so we’re really lucky in that sense. They always come to see us on our gigs – we see them more when we’re on tour than when we’re not on tour because they come to our shows and travel all over the country! But we do get pretty homesick.
Photo credits: Seline Teo, Rachel Ho
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