Off the back of the success of her debut long-player, ‘I Love You Like A Brother’ (2017), which peaked at #15 on the ARIA Albums Chart, Lahey toured extensively both locally and internationally. “We had a tour bus for the first time this year and I bought this shitty acoustic guitar when we were in Portland, which is still in New York with my brother who lives there,” Lahey shares. As well as “noodling around with ideas” on guitar while on tour, Lahey then set up Nashville for some intensive songwriting sessions. “I just locked myself in a room 12 hours a day, and wrote a song every single day I was there, and I think about half the record is made up of those songs,” Lahey proudly admits of this productive period that triggered the concept for ‘The Best Of Luck Club’.
“When I was writing all the stuff in Nashville I was really inspired by the dive bar scene there and, you know, the idea that at these dive bars there’s no pretentious energy,” she continues. “Whether you’ve had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life, you can just sit up at the bar and turn to the person next to you – who has no idea who you are – and have a chat. And the response that you generally get at the end of the conversation is, ‘Best of luck’. So ‘The Best Of Luck Club’ is that place.”
During the album’s barnstorming opener ‘I Don’t Get Invited To Parties Anymore’, which employs maximum dynamic contrast and a riff guaranteed to blow your face off from its opening bars, Lahey ponders through a repeated refrain: “I’ve lost track/It’s caught me by surprise/Can I go back/And not be left behind?”
Of this track Lahey, now 26, chuckles, “It’s not about people not liking me so they don’t invite me to parties. With this generation, the early adulthood pressures are very real and it makes people’s personal lives kind of shift in a way. It’s funny to think that there are people out there who are sort of putting their social life on ice in order to get their professional selves together and as a result they’re not getting invited to parties anymore, and it sucks”
After impressing viewers all around the world during her American TV debut on ‘Late Night With Seth Meyers’ in late-2017, 2018 saw Lahey booked for a string of Australian festivals including Falls, Groovin The Moo and Splendour In The Grass Lahey also played iconic North American festivals such as Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, Osheaga, Hangout and Bottlerock.
But the main recording sessions for ‘The Best Of Luck Club’ took place back on home soil at Sing Sing South in Melbourne, Lahey coproducing the album with Melbourne-bred, London-based producer Catherine Marks (The Wombats, Wolf Alice, Manchester Orchestra).
Lahey remembers that she initially offered to head over to London to work on this record with Marks, but the producer immediately expressed interest in returning home for the project. Lahey credits Marks for improving her attention to detail and boosting her self-confidence while always maintaining “a good sense of humour about the process”.
“When we were making the record, Catherine and I would refer to different songs as playing dress-ups,” Lahey recalls, “and I really think that if you saw a montage of a person writing and making this record – and the places where it all happened – it kind of does look like playing dress-ups, in a way.
“It’s quite interesting, the album sounds cohesive and like it was all done in the one place by some band playing in a room, laying it all down in a week, but the process was a month in the studio 6 days a week, and we also incorporated some of the demos created months prior” she clarifies. “I’ve played everything on the record except for the drums, really, and pretty much all the vocals that I did on my demos are the vocals that you hear on ‘The Best Of Luck Club’.”
That is except for the vocals on another standout track, ‘Misery Guts’, which Lahey points out were tracked live at Sing Sing alongside a drummer and a bassist – “because I can’t play two things at once,” she teases.
An angry outburst of a track (“You’ve got champagne taste on a beer can budget/You say you like things when you really just judge it”) offset by an angular punk riff, Lahey deduces ‘Misery Guts’ is the first song she’s ever written while in a pissed-off state. “In about April/May last year I was just feeling really tired and I was also feeling like people in my life were being quite demanding, just peripheral people,” she reveals. “And I feel like this is a thing that happens: people who are aware of what you’re doing feel like they have an authority to kind of tell you what you’re doing wrong and how you can do better, when you just need to follow your own path and do your own thing, and it’s really hard when you have all that coming at you at once.”
If you’ve caught one of Lahey’s recent live shows, you might have already heard an early version of ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’ – the lead single from ‘The Best Of Luck Club’ – but the album version of this song now contains added “raging saxophone solo”. Lahey acknowledges her mum Vicki is thrilled that she can now see a return on her investment after pouring so much money into her daughter’s saxophone lessons over the years. “It was almost cathartic, because I hadn’t played sax for so long and there was an element of it being a bit tongue in cheek,” Lahey tells, “but I think more than anything it pays homage to my past.”
“These songs are almost written for each patron of a dive bar,” Lahey allows, “because they’re so varied in the experiences that are being presented and it’s almost as if each one of the songs is someone’s day… I feel writing these songs is me going into ‘The Best Of Luck Club’ and reflecting and coming out with each individual song.” Both sonically and thematically, the collection of songs on ‘The Best Of Luck Club’ are as diverse as the characters Lahey found perched on dive bar stools ready to lend their ears.