Alex Lahey Wants You to Join ‘The Best of Luck Club’
Alex Lahey’s songs find their sweet spot right in the doorway between anthemic sing-along and stream-of-conscious confessionalism. Her 2017 debut, I Love You Like A Brother, was full of aptly titled pop-rock mammoths like “Every Day’s the Weekend” (a song about an impulsive romance) and “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself” (a song about drinking too much and disregarding her health to cope with an inevitable breakup).
Her new record, The Best of Luck Club, is also about relationships — both platonic and romantic. However, many of its narratives stem her experience as a newly full-time touring musician.
“In the two years that I’ve been touring, I’ve learned so much about myself and about others,” she tells TIDAL. “I feel like it’s informed so much of the way that I handle myself and my self-awareness. And I think that it’s also impacted the way that I understand relationships — and understand other people.”
Although she emphasizes her career has been an overwhelmingly positive experience that she wouldn’t trade for anything, many of the songs on this record are inspired by the challenges of the road — keeping in contact with loved ones, specifically.
The electrifying opener, “I Don’t Get Invited to Parties Anymore,” is about just that. Lahey has been away from home so much, and missed so many social engagements, that she doesn’t even know what her best friend’s partner looks like. “I’m sorry that I haven’t been around much lately / I promise I’ll try twice as hard / to make sure that I’m home on your birthday,” goes its first verse.
Although those lyrics are directly related to the 26-year-old’s own experiences, Lahey thinks her take on mid-twenties friendships is pretty universal. In fact, with this record she set out to create a collection of songs that everyone can relate to — as inspired by her recent frequenting of dive bars.
As she toured the country, she’d find herself in different conversations every night that all ended with a mutual “best of luck,” and she thought it was representative of the range of characters she found herself playing throughout the album’s 10 songs.
TIDAL chatted with the multi-instrumentalist about the record’s conceptual construction, writing in Nashville and how being a touring musician has affected her personal relationships — and, by proxy, her songwriting.
I see you wrote this album in Nashville but recorded in Australia. Why’d you come to the U.S. to write it?
I finished a tour on the East Coast; my brother lives in New York, so I went and hung out with him for a bit. And then after that I had a bit of time off, and because I was already overseas I was like, ‘I should just stay here.’ And so I hitched a flight to Nashville and stayed there for the best part of a fortnight and just locked myself in a room. I mean, I got to hang out in Nashville, don’t get me wrong. But during the day I just put myself away and put myself to work.
I wanted to go to Nashville because even though I’ve toured the states a bunch of times and traveled over there, I’d never actually been and I heard that it was awesome. And I also love the TV show, so I thought why not live out a cliche and go write a bunch of songs in Nashville? And I’m really glad that I did because it was so much fun and it had a huge influence on the record as a body of work.
How would you describe the sense of time within the record itself?
All the songs for me exist within this 12-18 month time of my life. And the reason why that is is basically because of necessity. You come out of writing a first record where you have 20-plus years worth of life to take stock of and pull the best out of.
But then you’re kind of left with this clean slate, so it defaults to capturing this really small slice of your life. I think, in a way, it’s very challenging. But at the same time it actually gives you this cohesion. Instead of an album being a collection of songs, it’s actually a symbol of a period of time.
I read that each song was written for a different person in a dive bar. Can you explain that concept?
I think coming out of writing a record, I just felt that I really wanted to give these songs and the characters within those songs a home. A place where they belong. And the dive bar thing was something that I was very inspired by when I was in Nashville.
I don’t know if you’ve been to Australia or are aware of this, but dive bars in Australia don’t really exist. We don’t really have them. It’s just not part of the culture here. And so going over to your country and going to these — basically they feel like secret clubs or something like that. I found that super cool.
And the thing that I love about that is that it’s a total unpretentious energy. Like anyone can go and get the same service. There’s no favoritism. It doesn’t matter what you wear or what background you’re from or who you are, you can go there and have a seat at the bar and you will fit in. And I really love that energy.
So those characters you’re speaking of are different versions of yourself?
Yeah it’s all about me. I think it’s about: we walk into a room full of people and at the end of the day, because we’re all human, we all connect. And I think The Best Of Luck Club as an album shows that one person can feel all these things. And not in some sort of extreme way. Life just throws at you these hats and these stories that you have to put on and be a part of.
And just because of that alone, we do relate to everyone. There is a thread that runs through all of us, through all the people that you see when you first walk into a dive bar. Through all the people that you’re squished next to at a gig. We’re all connected in some way and that’s why we need to all look after each other.
The song ‘Misery Guts’ is clearly the angriest and most intense song on the album, and you’re singing about someone who’s judging others. What’s that one about?
I think there were a few people in my life at the time who were very close to me and still are very close to me who I wrote that song about. Around this time last year, I was doing this festival run around Australia. From October until then I had been touring the entire time and I think I had spent a week at home.
We were playing these amazing shows. Like two festivals per week and they were always so wonderful. But I was so tired and I don’t want to say that I didn’t want to be there, but I was excited to get home. And I felt awful about that. I was like, ‘These people are coming out to see the show and I’m so tired and I’m just turning it on ’cause that’s what I need to do and what I want to do. But as soon as I’m off stage I just turn it off because I have nothing more to give.’ I just felt so depleted.
Your friends have this very romantic idea about what you do and what your job is and how you do it. Sometimes you do get a bit of the whole, ‘Oh my God, you have the most amazing job. You just work for yourself and you get to travel and you only work on the weekends, you just write songs all week.’ That sort of naivety, it’s just like, ‘Fuck off. Don’t tell me how easy my life is, ’cause it’s not.’
The song was about me reaching my limit and, at the same time, being tested by people who wanted to weigh in on something they know nothing about.
So is the song ‘I Don’t Get Invited to Parties Anymore’ about being on the road so much that you start to lose connection with people from home?
I suppose in my context it is, but I think it’s more about hitting our mid-twenties. In a way, school and college and uni relationships are quite institutionalized relationships. Like, you wake up, you go to this building, and all your best mates are there. That’s kind of what it is. And when you start finding yourself out of that environment, the relationships need to be able to fend for themselves.
And so I think the song’s about that. It’s like, do you remember the times that we used to go out all the time and have a blast? Do you remember when we didn’t have jobs? Do you remember all these things? And I think [the song] also touches on the fact that you’re away so much that people forget that you do come home. And so when you’re home you have to make the effort, in a way.
(Photo credit: Callum Preston)
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