Alex Lahey talks new album, triple j & the importance of touring Perth: “I’ll be honest with you, it costs a lot of money.”
With her second album The Best Of Luck Club out Friday (May 17), Melbourne singer-songwriter and guitarist Alex Lahey is preparing for her second touring and album cycle.
Since the release of debut record I Love You Like A Brother, Lahey’s following has developed from a loyal contingent of triple j diehards to a much wider fan-base.
Several of the tracks from that album were singled out for critical acclaim, even overseas, with ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me’ winning Pitchfork’s Best New Track award.
Impressively, the debut record was released through her own independent label Nicky Boy Records/Dead Oceans via Caroline Australia.
Lahey tells TMN that the first record was a learning curve, and the time spent taking stock between album cycles was key to improving herself as an artist.
“I suppose the thing that kind of goes unsaid with artists is that there’s actually quite a bit of downtime that you have between cycles, and you have a few months to get out of your own head and be able to be a bit of an outsider looking in.
“For me, taking stock is about looking at what you can improve and what you want to do differently and I think that’s always going to be a part of the process.
Lahey’s music has resonated just as much for her honest and relatable lyrics as for the catchy, driving rock sensibilities that form the core of her musical identity.
“I’m always changing, so hopefully the music’s changing,” she says.
“I’m not the kind of person who wants to be living in this two-year Groundhog Day, where I’m doing the same thing again and again and again.
“That would be so boring for me, and make me not excited about doing my job.
The Melbourne-hailing artist has just released the third track from the album ‘Unspoken History’.
In the same week, ‘Am I Doing It Right?, the second cut the forthcoming record, entered the TMN Hot 100 at #92.
The track was born out of the need for reflection and carries with it a theme of self-doubt.
“It was one of the first songs that I wrote when I came off touring this last record
“I suppose self-doubt is a phrase that we can apply to it, just that reflection and questioning of why, why am I doing this, what exactly do I want to get out of it?”
With the album written and ready for release, Lahey recently had a stint hosting triple j’s Australian music program ‘Home & Hosed’.
It was an unexpected invite from the triple j team, but the talented performer took to the radio like a duck to water.
“I remember getting the call and it was, ‘Do you want to host Home and Hosed for a week,’ and I was like ‘What do you mean? Host it and talk between songs or whatever?’
“I’m really glad I did it.”
Despite the relative ease with which she took to back-announcing and chatting with guests on the public broadcaster, the musician isn’t about to do a career about-face.
“It hasn’t made me want some massive career change into radio presenting or anything like that.
“When you’re on the road a lot, you sometimes lose a bit of touch with what’s happening at home and it was just an awesome opportunity more than anything to deep dive into new Australian music.”
After the album drops, it’ll be time to hit the road.
Lahey’s shows have become well-known for their high-energy and big singalong choruses. Over the last couple of years, she’s played bigger and bigger venues, including big festivals like Splendour In The Grass.
Significantly,Lahey will be heading to Canberra, Adelaide and Perth, cities that tend to be the first to get chopped from the schedule when national tours are being mapped out.
“I think you owe that to the people who are listening to your music, to go over and in a way give back.
“It’s a super-important thing for me and when we get the routing and stuff, I like to make sure that we’re being as inclusive as possible
“We’re going an all-ages show in Melbourne as well, which is something that I think we should be focusing on more as well.”
So why don’t more bands make the effort to include Perth and Adelaide when touring the country?
“I’ll be honest with you, it costs a lot of money,” she admits.
“It’s quite expensive to get to Perth from the East coast and it’s quite expensive to get from Perth to the East coast as well.
“You know a Perth band is doing really, really well when they’re coming over to Melbourne and Sydney and all that sort of thing.
“I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been able to make it work since I started touring and I hope that we’ll always be able to keep going, but it’s one of those things that Perth has always been really kind to me.
“It’s a wonderful relationship that I have with the city, so I’m going to keep going for as long as I can.”
One of her biggest challenges this year will be preparing a show with a much-expanded catalogue of music.
Far from shirking at the challenge, Alex is relishing the opportunity to test herself and create a setlist that makes sense for a live performance.
“I’ve sort of got ideas about how I want the set to start and end, but it’s filling in the middle and making it as exciting as I can for the whole hour and whatever that we end up playing,” she says.
“I personally find a set list really hard. They kind of stress me out, so I definitely ask those close to me for a bit of input and advice.
“The key for me to keep it as high-energy as possible the whole way through.”
The Best Of Luck Club is out May 17, just before Alex hits the road for her national tour in June. Tickets are on sale now.