The band LANY gets its name from a merger of “Los Angeles” and “New York.”
LA + NY = LANY.
But the pop trio gets its voice from Tulsa.
Born and raised in Tulsa, vocalist Paul Klein attended high school and college — Oral Roberts University — here.
In 2006, Klein was an honorable mention all-metro tennis player at Victory Christian.
In 2016, he was honored by Rolling Stone. LANY was named one of “10 new artists you need to know” by the magazine.
People who have known Klein for years will, of course, be in the crowd when he returns home later this month. LANY, fresh off a Main Stage appearance at Coachella, will perform May 30 at the Brady Theater.
During a recent phone interview, Klein said he was excited to be coming back to Tulsa, and he feels confident people will show up. He has reason to be confident. LANY was scheduled to play The Vanguard last year, and there was such a demand for tickets that the show was moved to Cain’s Ballroom.
“It was so nice,” Klein said. “I was nervous about coming to Tulsa to play for the first time. I just didn’t know how many people knew I was from there or even cared. We had never played Oklahoma, ever. Then to kind of sell out The Vanguard in just a few hours and being forced to not only move the venue, but move the show date and then to still sell out Cain’s months before coming home made me feel so good.”
Klein, asked if there was anything about being raised in Tulsa that got him where he is today, said Tulsa was a “beautiful place” to grow up.
“The most important thing is not really where you are but who you are there with,” he said. “And my family did an amazing job of surrounding me with really good people. I had a piano teacher named Barbi Cottingham who passed away a few years ago, and I have to attribute a lot of my success to her and obviously my mother for making sure I was at piano (lessons) every week.”
Klein said he was classically trained for 13 years in a little house near 61st Street and Lewis Avenue. He said he started going there twice a week when he began taking lessons from Cottingham’s daughter Amy.
“That’s when I started studying jazz and improv in the same house,” he said. “And, obviously, just growing up in school and being around good people, I was really, really lucky to have some amazing friends and amazing family around me. I think that’s the beautiful part of Tulsa is just the people and I was really lucky.”
Amy Cottingham, in response to an email from the Tulsa World, said she is proud of Klein and, yes, she could tell long ago he would be successful in music. LANY’s self-titled debut album, released last year, reached No. 4 on Billboard’s top rock albums chart. A follow-up, “Malibu Nights,” is on the way.
When Klein was taking lessons in Tulsa, did he allow himself to dream or imagine what’s happening now?
“I think I’m way past what I dreamt. It’s so crazy to hear you say that because I haven’t really even taken a second to think about it,” he said, adding that he needs to celebrate the “little things” every step of the way.
“Growing up, this is what I always wanted to do. I just never knew how I was going to get here. I didn’t know. And everyone’s story is different. You could interview a hundred of me, and everyone would have a different story of how they got there, I think. It’s just kind of one of those things that you put your head down and do your best, and somewhere along the way, someone pays attention and it goes from there.”
The rise of LANY (formed in 2014) has been a whirlwind — and serendipitous. Klein met Jake Goss and Les Priest, the men who would become his band mates, in Nashville. They started working on songs and shared their music on SoundCloud, a music and podcast streaming platform.
“We put the songs up and literally had zero followers on SoundCloud,” Klein said, repeating “zero” for emphasis.
The music had been available for less than a week when the band started getting emails from record labels, according to a 2015 Klein interview with Teen Vogue. Is this a scam?
Klein said he knew one person who would know if the emails were legit. He called his friend Rupert Lincoln.
“Hey, man,” Klein recalled telling Lincoln. “I’m getting all these emails. This has to be a joke. Are they automatic replies or something? Have you ever heard of these labels?”
Lincoln was in London at the time and, because of the time difference, the phone call came in the wee hours of the morning. He urged Klein to forward the emails so he could meet with the senders ASAP.
“And that’s the way he became our manager,” Klein said.
LANY signed with British record label Polydor, which had sent one of those post-SoundCloud emails. What are the odds anybody, much less a record label, hears the early SoundCloud fare?
“It’s part of the story that we can tell but we can’t really explain,” Klein said. “It’s really amazing.”
LANY has since accumulated nearly a million followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Asked what the band tapped into, Klein said, “I think we figured out what we were good at right from the beginning, and we haven’t tried to be anything other than that. I think, whether it’s the greatest restaurants in the world, the greatest companies, the greatest brands, the greatest bands, they know what they are good at, and they stick to that. They don’t try to be clever or cute and do a billion things. It’s ‘we do these four things better than anybody else in the world, and that’s what we’re going to do.’ That’s what we have decided to do. We know our lane, and we are going to stay in it.”
Despite Tulsa roots (Whitney Fenimore of “The Voice” was one grade behind him at Victory Christian), Klein said he doesn’t think he has ever seen a show at the Brady Theater. But he’s looking forward to performing there.
“I know the 80 minutes that we are on stage, they mean a lot to people,” he said. “And there is a lot of passion and a lot of honesty when you come to a LANY show, and everything else kind of disappears. We have worked really hard to put on a show like that, so anyone who is going to be there is going to love it and it is going to mean a lot to them, and they are probably going to remember it for the rest of their lives.”