“We had this dream that we would take these songs and they would be just as meaningful to other people as they are to us and in the past year, we’ve gotten to experience that,” Lancaster said in a recent phone interview. “I think the biggest change is we’re not singing to people anymore as much as we’re singing with people, which is the ultimate dream come true.”
The success is welcome, of course, but what genuinely seems to drive Lancaster and his bandmates in LANCO isn’t success or having hits, but the opportunity to be creative and make music that matters and sounds original. It’s an ethic the band has had from the very beginning.
“Even early on, we were always challenging ourselves to play a song, and then be like ‘Wait, does that sound like something else?’ ” Lancaster said. “That’s not what we want. We want to one day to be old and gray-haired and we want some kid in a basement to be playing and be like, ‘Oh, that’s like a LANCO song.’ You want to create your own thumbprint.”
The “early on” for LANCO came after Lancaster, who grew up in Smyrna, Tennessee, met drummer Tripp Howell in 2012 and not long after that met and became friends with guitarist Eric Steedly. Steedly then brought in a pair of his friends, keyboardist Jared Hampton and bassist Chandler Baldwin to complete the LANCO lineup.
A key moment for the future of LANCO came in 2014 when Lancaster was working a hot dog stand at a Keith Urban and Little Big Town concert. He happened to see Jay Joyce, the A-list record producer known for his work with Eric Church, Brandy Clark and Cage The Elephant. Recognizing Joyce, Lancaster hastily closed his stand and chased down the producer, merely wanting to say he was a fan of his work. A conversation ensued, and Joyce clearly saw something in Lancaster. He subsequently invited LANCO to his studio, where the band cut 11 songs that helped the group get a record deal with Sony.
The label introduced the group with the single, “Long Live Tonight,” but the song stalled in the Top 30 on Billboard magazine’s Country Airplay chart. The second single was a whole different story.
It was “Greatest Love Story,” a rootsy semi-autobiographical mid-tempo ballad, and it hit No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart, paving the way for the release of LANCO’s Joyce-produced debut album, Hallelujah Nights, in January 2018. Lancaster said he wrote from experience with “Greatest Love Story.”
“I’ve always definitely been a trouble maker. I’m in a band, for crying out loud,” Lancaster said. “I have been rough around the edges, but I kind of found myself in a relationship with this kind of perfect all-American girl that I needed in my life. And it was a relationship that started and then took time apart and then got back together. I am now married to that girl. So I think the foundation to that song was from my own experience and growing up where I grew up.”
LANCO plays Bogart's on Saturday, March 7. Tickets/more info: bogarts.com.