On January 19th, LANCO will release their debut album, Hallelujah Nights. The album is a clear representation of years of hard work, determination, and talent. When they set out to start a band in 2012, they had no idea what was in store for them. Being driven by passion and love for music alone - the next five years, would be some of the most rewarding, heart breaking, and memorable years of their lives.
You might know them from their number-one single "Greatest Love Story," but we're here to show you that this band is so much more than one song. To get the whole story, we sat down with them to find out the way it started, how they scored a record deal, what it's like to travel all over the country playing shows, and to get the scoop on their debut album. This is The Journey To Hallelujah Nights.
Part 1: How They Came Together
When lead singer Brandon Lancaster had the idea to start a band, the first soon-to-be bandmate he met was drummer Tripp Howell. They were each playing in different bands at the time, but as fate would have it, they ended up playing the same festival. The two figured out they would both be moving to Nashville around the same time.
Brandon later got connected with lead guitarist Eric Steedly through a songwriter friend. The two had spoke on the phone, but never met in person. Eric recalled that, "One day I was playing at church, and he just walks up to me and is like, hey dude! .. And I was like, who are you?" Turns out, it was the same Brandon he had talked to on the phone earlier.
They needed a couple more guys, so Eric invited two of his friends along bass guitar player Chandler Baldwin, and keyboard player Jared Hampton. Although if you ask Jared, he says that he was invited under false pretenses.
"I told one of them that I had a lap steel [guitar], and uhh I don't .. I told them that and hoped they would forget about it. Which they did for awhile, but then they caught on."
From the onset the guys were serious. They didn't look at this as a hobby, and were ready to put in the work to make this dream come true. Brandon immediately started booking the band shows. He was unsure how things would go based on previous band experiences. Yet they completely hit it off so naturally as friends, it turned into them just hanging out and bringing their instruments along.
Jared says that, "Being friends was one of the most important things we've had as a group." With everything that a band will go through, from the highest highs and lowest lows - having people around you to lean on and support you through everything is unbelievably important. It's very apparently that LANCO has this bond, and is stronger because of it.
Part 2: Getting A Record Deal
Now that the band had formed, what's next? Brandon said, "When you're starting out in Nashville it's tough because everyone is so good, and their is so much talent. You've gotta be as good, if not better than everyone else." So the obvious thing to do, to help yourself get better - is to practice. The guys had one major issue, it cost a lot to find a place to practice in Nashville. In comes Tripp's brilliant idea. He told the guys, "There is this big loft up at our warehouse [where he worked], I could just work late and once everyone leaves, y'all could kinda move in." Problem solved. Brandon says they were so excited about the idea, they didn't really ask if he had permission - they just knew they now had a place to practice.
During the next few months they would put in a lot of practice and play as many shows as they could. The next big moment came during one of Brandon's shifts working the concession stands at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. There was a Keith Urban and Little Big Town concert going on one night, and he saw someone walk by, that made him leave his register.
The person was, producer Jay Joyce. Jay has produced everyone from Eric Church, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Cage The Elephant, Carrie Underwood, and more. Tripp shared that the group had always talked about Jay and his records, and it was a running joke in the band that if they could get anyone to produce their music - it would be Jay. Brandon introduced himself to Jay, told him how much he appreciated his work, ended up telling him he was a songwriter and Jay then invited the guys over to this studio. They had found their producer, and it wasn't just any producer, it was their dream producer.
Now they had music, and while they had been playing shows all over, they hadn't played a show in Nashville recently. The guys decided to book a show at The High Watt, and invite their friends, family, and fans out. They play the show, walk off stage, and everything changed. The executive management team from Sony Music Nashville was waiting for them in their greenroom. On a handshake in that moment, they had their record deal.
The following months involved traveling all over the United States meeting radio stations, and playing shows. The guys are quick to point out that while getting a record deal is a milestone moment for them, the real work really began at that point.
Once their music started to get played on the radio, Chandler says they could really see the impact during their live shows. "We played a lot of shows where it was just us and the bartenders. Once we started getting traction with radio, there's a lot more people in the room every time."
Part 3: Their First Number-One Single
By the time that LANCO released their second single "Greatest Love Story," the band had learned a lot about the process of getting your song played on the radio. They also had a better grasp on what types of songs their fans were responding to.. They were at a place where they really wanted to put out a song that impacted people. Brandon says, "This song stared to do that live with a lot of people, so we knew when it went to radio that it would have a chance."
Not only did "Greatest Love Story" have a chance, it went all the way to the top. It became the bands first number-one single. It was a moment that as an artist you dream about. Tripp said, " I remember thinking, how is it possible that our band, that we created out of nothing, has the number-one song in the country right now?" He went on to say, "People that you grow up listening to, have songs behind you on that chart. How is that even possible?"
During the entire process of the song climbing up the charts, the band was touring and playing shows around the country. They had a first hand experience at watching it start from nothing to becoming massive. Each show more and more fans would be singing a long with them, and they realized in that moment, that was what they had dreamed of. It was truly a song that opened the door for them to create so many new fans, and prepare them for what was next - the release of their debut album.
Part 4: Releasing Their Debut Album Hallelujah Nights
All of the hard work, determination, successes, and failures has lead LANCO to this moment, the day their debut album Hallelujah Nights is released to the world. Brandon shared, "This album is a representation of our journey, there are songs on it that are as old as the first night we ever met, and there are songs that are only a few months old."
That journey has included so many special moments, but if LANCO has made ingrained one specific theme on this album it's, live in the moment. Don't take anything in life for granted. It doesn't matter what emotion in life you are feeling, they have a song for you on this album.
Jared says that Jay Joyce their producer, pushed them harder than anyone has ever pushed them during the recording of the album. The growth they've made as a band over the years is very apparent. As we've seen throughout their story, it's a process to get to get to a point of releasing your first album. LANCO is a band rooted in friendship and passion, and they are going to be a face in country music for years to come.
Make every night a Hallelujah Night.