EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Andy Brown

Singer/songwriter Andy Brown is known to music fans around the world as the front man of British pop-rock band Lawson.

Formed in 2009, Lawson (made up of Brown, Ryan Fletcher, Joel Peat and Adam Pitts) went on to release 10 singles, 2 studio albums and 1 EP before taking a break to focus on solo projects in 2016.

Following on from the success of his first single ‘Landslide’ (a duet with Crissie Rhodes from The Shires), Brown is back with his second solo release ‘Talk Of The Town’.

Taken from his debut solo album, ‘Cedarmont’ (out in June), ‘Talk Of The Town’ is an upbeat, uplifting song about timeless love, which perfectly showcases Brown’s talent for writing heartfelt lyrics and emotive melodies.

We caught up with Andy to talk about life as a solo artist, working in Nashville, his UK solo tour and becoming a father…

It’s a new year and you’re back with new solo music – tell us about your latest single ‘Talk Of The Town’

“It’s a song I’ve been sitting on for a while actually, I always knew I wanted to release it as one of my first solo singles because it’s such an uplifting track and it has a real feel good vibe to it. It’s me coming back onto the scene again, with a bang, and I’m really excited about it.”

“It feels like the perfect summer, driving song. When we wrote it, we wanted to write something that was instant, from the first minute you heard it, and it felt like ‘Talk of The Town’ ticked all those boxes. I just wish it actually was summer, because I feel like it’s a such great song for that time of year… but hopefully I can bring a bit of sunshine to everyone in January.”

You recently shot the music video in Lisbon, what was that experience like and why did you chose to film out there?

“Well I’ve done loads of videos in LA in the past, so I wanted to go somewhere different this time, somewhere sunny but in a location that had a bit more of a rustic, Mediterranean feel, so we went out to Lisbon and filmed it in a couple of days.”

“And it was amazing actually, I’d never been there (Lisbon) before, it’s such a nice city. We got some great drone shots over the 25 de Abril suspension bridge, some cool beach shots… it all just worked out really well, I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

Check out the music video for ‘Talk Of The Town’ below:

What has the fans reaction been to the video?

“It’s been brilliant and I’m grateful to those fans who have stuck with me since day one; it’s so encouraging to see positive feedback.”

“I love reading their comments on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube – I’m very proud and I’m really lucky to have people who have stood by me and supported me since I started in this industry with Lawson, like 6/7 years ago.”

Music videos can really bring a song to life, how important is it to you to still keep making them?

“The way the industry is going now, less people are making music videos, they seem to put out a lyric video or something similar, but I think it’s always important to film something that matches the song you’re releasing, and I feel like that we’ve done that perfectly with the ‘Talk Of The Town’ video.”

“So yeah I think it’s really important to make videos and to put a lot of thought and effort into making them.”

“I’m really lucky to have people who have stood by me and supported me since I started out in this industry.”

‘Talk Of The Town’ is quite a departure musically from your last release, 2017’s Landslide (a duet with The Shires singer Crissie Rhodes), was that a conscious decision?

“To be honest, and it’s like I said before, I always wanted ‘Talk of The Town’ to be my first proper solo release, so I think ‘Landslide’ was more a song that I just put out there to sort of test the water and get the fans reengaged. But I always knew the one song that I really wanted to push to radio and to the press would be ‘Talk of The Town’ because I feel like it’s more of a suiting of a first single for me and it’s sound is where I want to go as a solo artist.”

“But ‘Landslide’ went down really well, people seemed to really like it and I was excited about releasing it, because I saw it as being like a bit of a setup song, to kind of get me into the Country Music world.”

“It’s cool because the song was really liked out in Nashville by a lot of managers, writers and the record labels that I was working with out there. It’s a very American sounding track, so I knew it would be a good one to go with and release first to get my foot back in the door.”

‘Landslide’ Andy Brown featuring Crissie Rhodes:

How was it working with Crissie?

“Crissie’s unbelievable, she’s got an amazing voice and because she’s already used to singing with a guy in The Shires I knew that our voices would blend really well together, she actually has the perfect voice to compliment mine.”

“I’m a big fan of The Shires and they’re HUGE in the Country music world at the minute.”

“It’s about reengaging with the fans; I don’t expect anything to happen overnight.”

So your debut solo album ‘Cedarmont’ is released June 8th, when did you start working on it?

“Well I signed to Universal as a solo act, separate from Lawson a year ago, last December (2016) so I took the whole year really to write the album. I spent a lot of time in Nashville and LA just writing and then I did more writing in London as well. I probably had the album finished in about 6 months, and so the rest of the time I’ve just been planning and deciding which songs to release as singles.” 

Did you have a plan going into the studio for how you wanted your solo music to sound?

“We always have a basic plan going into the studio, but I think with the way that music’s going nowadays, you just have to release the kind of music you want and see where the wave takes it. You may catch certain winds or pick up new ideas on YouTube, Spotify or Apple Music but ultimately you just have to put your music out there and not over think it too much.”

You spent a lot of time working on the album out in Nashville, the home of Country Music, how was that?

“Nashville is unbelievable, it’s such a great place for music! There are some amazing musicians, amazing songwriters and amazing producers working there, so I was really lucky to be able to go out and work with some of those incredible people.”

“There’s just this amazing vibe going on there, the place is full of live bands playing in bars, it’s like my second home at the moment.”

How different is it working in the Country Music world as opposed to the pop world?

“The country genre isn’t that different from pop music to be honest with you, the only difference really is that the lyrics tell more of a story and it’s more heartfelt; people really write from the heart, so when you go into a writing session they want to know all about your life and what’s going on in your world, good things and bad things, and that’s what you end up writing about.”

That must be quite daunting, opening up about your private life to people you don’t really know…

“Yeah, sometimes it’s a hard because you’ve literally just met these people and as soon as you walk into the studio they say to you ‘so, what’s happening in your life?’ and you think ‘oh God!’”

“But I think when you do what I do, you just have to accept that that’s what you have to do, because people want to hear honesty in songs and they want to be able to relate to what you’re singing about.”

“That’s why artists like Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith and Adele have done so well, because you can just tell they’ve poured their heart out in the studio, they’re lyrics are so relatable, you listen to their albums and you think ‘oh, I’ve been through a situation like that’.”

How would you best describe ‘Cedarmont’?

“It’s made up of a lot of upbeat feel good tracks, there’s a couple of ballads on there because I think it’s good to have a nice mix of upbeat, party songs alongside some more emotional tracks, but I think most of the album is that uplifting, driving, feel good sort of vibe.”

“I’m into writing albums that cater for everyone, so there are elements of country, rock, pop, blues on there but really I wrote a lot of the album thinking about how it would sound played live, like what are these songs going to sound like in front of a live audience, because I want to put on a show that’s going to be awesome and feel good.”

Are there any tracks that you’re particularly proud of?

“I’m proud of all the songs on the album to be honest with you, but there’s a song on there called ‘Lay With Me’ which I think is probably my favourite song on the album, there’s an acoustic version of that on Youtube at the moment actually, I’m really excited to release it.”

Andy Brown ‘Lay With Me’ (acoustic version):


So you’re  actually out on tour this week, how’s it been getting out there in front of an audience and playing these new songs live?

“I’ve really looking forward to this tour. Again, it’s sort of like testing the waters, I’m doing some smaller venues and I’m playing some of the new songs, so it’s a good way to get out there and spread the word that I’m back.”

“And I really enjoying doing the smaller venues because it’s a bit more rock ’n’ roll, it’s more up close and personal and intimate.”

“I love writing and I love recording, but I think the best thing for me is definitely playing live and doing shows. That’s what everybody gets in this industry for, to perform live in front of an audience, that will always be my favourite thing to do I think.”

How has it been touring on your own as opposed to playing live with Lawson?

“I think for me, it’s more of a mental thing. It’s looking around and not seeing the same faces on stage with me, but to be honest I don’t think the music is that different, it’s just more of the fact that I’ve just got to get used to it in my own head, and I can’t necessarily ring up the guys and be like ‘are we doing this?’”

“But actually, to be honest, I still do that anyway because we have a WhatsApp group where we all speak and they comment on the songs I’m releasing, so it doesn’t actually feel any different to be honest.”

“We’re best mates, so it’s really nice to have the guys still involved in what I’m doing.”

So, speaking of the Lawson guys, how are they all doing and what are they up to at the moment?

“Everyone’s doing really good.”

“Joel, our guitarist, is actually playing with The Shires at the moment. Ryan is producing some dance music which is amazing actually because he’s an amazing producer. And Adam is actually directing music videos, he’s been working with some massive artists in New York. The last 2 weeks he’s been working with a huge country artist Kelsea Ballerini, who’s massive… so yeah everyone’s really good.”

Are there any plans for the group to get back together soon?

“You know, inevitably we will make another Lawson record in a couple of years. We’ve been friends for 6/7 years so we’re all just made up for each other that we’re all doing different things that we enjoy. We still see each other all the time, it’s really refreshing.”

Lawson ‘Standing In The Dark’:

“You’ve got to have a pretty thick skin to survive in this business.”

As you’ve already said, the music industry is forever changing and evolving, and we consume music in such different ways nowadays, do those changes in the industry change how you will promote your music from here on?

“People don’t really want to wait too long to be able to get their hands on music nowadays do they? And as a fan of music myself, I want to consume music everyday. I love finding out about new artists and I can’t wait for my favourite artists to release music, so it’s great the way it’s going in terms of music being more accessible, it’s right there at our fingertips.”

“But yeah, it’s changed a lot, even from the Lawson days. When we first started out we did that 6 week build of radio/promo, then the song came out, and then we charted Top 10 on iTunes, but now it’s so different, you’ve just got to put a song out there and let it build naturally, and that does make it so much harder and it’s a challenge for artists… but it’s a challenge that I’m quite enjoying.”

Because the music business can be so disposable, you minute you’re on top and the next you’re not, do you ever think about or have any aspirations to try having a go at anything outside of the music?

“Never say never but at the moment I’m concentrating and focusing on the music. But you never know what the future holds.”

“In this industry you’re always taking different twists and turns, in terms of what you’re doing, so I’ve definitely got a never say never attitude absolutely, I’m a trier at most things so we’ll see what happens and what comes from this album, see the reaction and take it from there.”

You’ve got to have a pretty thick skin to survive in show-business, what advice would you give to any of our readers who are wanting to pursue a career in the arts?

“It’s tough and you’re right, in this industry you do have to have quite a thick skin, because you have to be able to take knock backs and I’ll admit, there’s been times in my life where I’ve been super not confident about stuff, but my advice to people is that you’ve just got to go into it head first and  try not to overthink stuff; go with it and just dive straight in and try to capture any opportunity with both hands and if it doesn’t work out you’ve just to think ‘I haven’t lost anything, that’s just life.'”

“And people in every walk of life, even the biggest actors have probably been knocked back from movies and TV shows and thought to themselves ‘I’m not gonna make it’ and then the next thing you know, they get one lucky break and they’re away with it so, you’ve just got to keep going and stick at it and something will come along if you’re good enough at what you do. That’s what I believe.”

“And, I’d say that to anybody doing anything in life, it’s the same in any line of work, it’s not just in music or entertainment – if you want to be a journalist, you’re not just going to walk into your dream job immediately, you’ve got to work your way up.”

“It’s about being happy and surrounding yourself with good people who believe in you.”

FAN QUESTIONS

Which artists are you listening to at the moment? (Rachel from Birmingham)

“Well, my favourite artist at the moment is probably someone you wouldn’t know, it’s a guy called Devin Dawson. He’s quite big in America and he’s just released a new album and I’ve been listening to that and I really recommend it. It’s a mix of pop, country, heartfelt stuff. He’s a really, cool guy, amazing lyrics, amazing stories, really good songs… and I know a couple of people who worked on the album, so that’s cool.”

Which is your favourite social media platform out of the following – Twitter, Instagram or SnapChat? (Sally from Blackshaw Head)

“Do you know, I’m not much of a Snapchat guy to be honest. I need to get into it, but since Instagram Stories came out I’d say that’s my number one go to thing, with Twitter a close second… I love Twitter for the football stories.”

Is being a popstar everything you thought it would be? (Michael from London)

“When I was younger I used to play in bands, all round Liverpool, in pubs and clubs, and let me tell you it’s not as glamorous as people imagine it to be. Even when we were playing and selling out arenas in Lawson, it’s not really as glamorous as you think it is, most of the time it’s just travelling and watching boxsets on your iPad.”

“But it’s always what I’ve wanted to do, I never really had a plan B to be honest, so I’m just lucky enough that I was given the opportunity to do this and I wanna keep doing it for as long as possible.”

How do you feel about the UK Country Music scene? (Laura from the U.K.)

“There’s an audience for it and lately I find myself going to these sold out gigs for country artists at The Round House and it’s amazing. People who want Country Music, want it. I just think it needs to be able to grow a bit more.”

“I think the TV show Nashville helped a lot because that gave people an insight into what Nashville is really like and how music-centric it really is, so that’s been really good in terms of building awareness of the Country Music scene over here.”

Has becoming a Dad changed your approach to your career or influenced any of your songwriting? (James from Leeds)

“To be honest it hasn’t influenced my songwriting yet, because he was only born in October (2017) and I’d pretty much finished the album. I had a pregnant wife and that sort of influenced my writing but in terms of my career, it’s made me want to succeed even more because I look at him and I want to give him the best life I possibly can, and that’s why it’s made me want to succeed in making this album a success.”

“He’s only 3 months old and he’s like a little rock star already, he loves like late nights and lie ins.”

“We took him home to my Mum and Dad’s for Christmas and he was like the star of the show, the whole of Christmas just revolved around him but it was amazing and such a good experience – I can’t wait to watch him get older and develop his own little personality.”

“It’s all about a long term plan for me…”

So, finally, tell us about what you’ve got planned for the rest of the year?

“So I’ve got the tour at the moment and then I’ll be releasing new music after that.”

“Then coming into the summer I’m doing a couple more tours with other artists, but I haven’t announced that yet, then the album in June and then another, bigger solo tour.”

“Hopefully that’s the way the years going to pan out, so I’m excited about it and to see what happens with the album, hopefully people are gonna love the material. I mean so far so good, everybody seems to be reacting really well to my solo stuff.”

“It’s all about a long term plan for me. It’s about reengaging with the fans; I don’t expect anything to happen overnight, I’m looking forward to building as the year goes on and releasing more music and doing more tours.”

Andy Brown’s debut solo album ‘Cedarmont’ will be released on June 8th and is available for pre-order here now.

 

Written by Philip Logan

I love music, I love dance, I love movies, I love fashion, I love... love. I'm obsessed with London, I want to live in New York, I take Instagram way too seriously and I believe that one day, things will be better for all of us. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @philip_logan