It’s a Midwest thing
Paul Jason Klein of LANY talks Tulsa roots
Jake Goss, Paul Jason Klein, and Charles Leslie Priest of LANY
If you’re writing pop songs in the smartphone age, you will inevitably be compared to Drake. The guy mastered writing about the regenerative cycle of new romance, betrayal, breakup, and rebound—the ebbs and flows along the 5G network that crest with each new Tinder match and fall with each Instagram story.
This is also the songwriting stuff of Paul Jason Klein, model, musician, and native Tulsan. Klein’s band LANY (Los Angeles New York) traffics in a sculpted and passionate—but sexless—white-boy R&B that’s yielded a deal with the major label imprint Polydor on its way to a worldwide tour and top-10 positions on two Billboard charts. LANY plays its second-ever Tulsa show Tuesday, October 30, at Brady Theater.
Matt Carney: Were you born here?
Paul Klein: Born and raised, yes sir.
Carney: What was your childhood like?
Klein: I spent the first three years of my life in way-deep east Tulsa, in a little house. Then we moved to Southern Pointe.
Carney: No way—I grew up in Southern Pointe, too.
Klein: Holy shit. I probably shouldn’t give my address out—not that anyone would care—but I lived in Southern Pointe. My parents still live there.
My mom put me in piano at the age of five. It was classical piano and I didn’t very much enjoy classical piano, but I made a deal with my parents when I was nine that if I got a full-ride [college] scholarship somewhere, they’d buy me a car. And we made that deal, and I got a full-ride scholarship.
Carney: Did you ever have a moment early on when you saw a pop musician perform and you thought, “Oh, I want to do that”?
Klein: Yeah. I must have been in fifth or fourth grade. Alicia Keys did an “MTV Unplugged,” and I remember being home one summer, and it was the first time I saw somebody play piano and [thought], “They’re cool.”
Up until that point, being 10 or 11, I’d already spent like five years wearing ties and suits and spending my Saturdays and Sundays going to compete in piano competitions, which is like the nerdiest thing in the world. It was already ingrained in my mind that piano was not cool. When I saw that, it was eye-opening.
Carney: Did you write songs when you lived here?
Klein: I did, yeah. I think I wrote my first real song to this girl I wanted to take to prom. I asked her via song [laughs], which is so classic. Once I hit about 16, I was writing.
Carney: How do you imagine your fans listening to LANY songs? What’s the context in which they discover you, listen to you, talk about your music?
Klein: It’s all word of mouth. We’re not on the radio yet. We haven’t had some breakout internet moment, anything like that. They listen, probably on Spotify or YouTube, I’m assuming. And it finds its way into their cars, into their headphones.
My whole life, growing up, some of my best and warmest memories are just being in the car and listening to music. Either by myself or with friends. You know, I think that might actually be a thing in Oklahoma. I heard somebody talk about just the way the road feels, maybe how open and how wide it is—it’s a different feeling. In LA, you’re never really going more than like 20 miles an hour because of traffic, and if you’re in New York you don’t drive. I think it’s a Midwest thing: You’ve got time and space to drive.
Carney: What’d you listen to in the car while growing up?
Klein: “Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard. You’d play that just as loud as you can, that entire album. But then I was obsessed with Brian McKnight and Charlie Wilson, which was really bizarre. I had a friend named Luke, pretty much one of my only friends, who’d listen to R&B with me. We’d go through the trenches and try to find the most underground R&B songs, try to out-do each other, one-up each other. John Mayer was my everything and kind of still is. He’s pretty much God to me.
Carney: Is there anything you’d like to tell fans in Tulsa before your show?
Klein: I’m so thrilled to come home and play. The last time [LANY] played Tulsa was our first time playing [there], and I was adamant about not playing Cain’s because I didn’t think anyone was going to come and I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I told my booking agent, “Let’s do the Vanguard and hope we sell it out,” and it sold out in a couple of hours, so we had to move the show to Cain’s. [The crowd] was rowdy to play for last time, so if they’re that rowdy again, I’ll be pleased.
LANY with special guest Anna of the North
Tuesday, October 30, 7 p.m.
Brady Theater, 105 W. M.B. Brady St.
$25 | bradytheater.com