Changing Lanes

23 May 2012 | 9:24 am | Kristy Wandmaker

It wasn’t this sweet thing, it got more sexy. I feel like my voice has gotten a lot stronger since we recorded the album. I feel like I’m singing twenty times better than I did on the album. I’ve got heaps more power and I’m happier with the tone.”

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There are some musicians that make muso's music, like your Rufus Waingwright's of the world, and there are some who seem to receive industry recognition for no apparent reason – see 2008's ARIA awards. Every so often an artist comes along who is held in high regard by their peers, plays instantly likeable tunes and the industry takes notice. Meet Lanie Lane. With three APRA nominations, and collaborations with Jez Mead, Ashley Naylor, Tim Rogers – oh, and some guy called Jack White – she has had an amazing and well-deserved year. Thankfully though, she still has time to do the groceries, wash dishes and chat to us.

“I feel like I've been lucky. Some of the other guys – Kimbra and Matt [Corby] – I think about what their schedules must be like, and I've actually been able to have days off. I feel like I've had a pretty good balance,” she says.

Her schedule has been a fair bit hectic more recently, with the launch of her first headline national tour, the Bangity Bang tour. Named after the opening track from her debut album To The Horses, it's one of her favourite songs to play live. “It's crowd pleaser,” she continues. “My manager showed me the song, however long ago, and I fell in love with it. I re-recorded the vocals for it, because after six months of singing it live I'd really changed the style of the way I sang it. I started singing it with heaps more gusto and it took on a different quality. It wasn't this sweet thing, it got more sexy. I feel like my voice has gotten a lot stronger since we recorded the album. I feel like I'm singing twenty times better than I did on the album. I've got heaps more power and I'm happier with the tone.”

Going from strength to strength comes naturally to Lane, with living in the moment at the core of her beliefs. “It's not about in ten years I want to have five albums and however many number-one hits and have this much money and this is where I want to live. I literally don't ever think about that stuff. I feel like that's why stuff happens, because I'm not focused on the end result. I'm just doing what feels like the right thing and working intuitively, putting a lot of hard work in, but it's not really work because I'm doing what I love. I wish that for more people, I want that for people.”

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The sincerity and enthusiasm in Lane's voice is not born of naivety, but rather a passion and belief in the now. “I'm a bit of a hippie but I really believe that everyone is only inviting things into their life that they want to happen to them,” she says. “I feel like all the stuff I've been through, all the personal stuff, it's all there to teach me. I'm really into being a positive person, and being able to learn from everything that I go through. Living in the moment is the biggest thing, because that's what people forget. It's not always about what's happening at the end.”

Perhaps this love of now, and appreciation for the intimacy of life's lessons, is why she gives her guitars their own personalities. “Betty can hardly hold tune these days,” she says. “Bo and The Boss will be [on tour with me]. I found out the other day that Patti Smith has her old Gibson that she's been playing for years, that Bob Dylan actually tuned once, and Patti Smith's guitar is called Bo. That made me so happy because she's my hero, I love her. But my guitar's technically called Bo Didd.”

When you accidentally find that you're doing things in the mould of musical giants and personal idols, you must have it pretty well figured out. That's the resonating feeling that Lane leaves; she's just got it figured out. She loves that she can do music every day, she loves to share it with people, and she loves her band. “We just love playing music together,” she continues. “We're like the A-Team. We just love it, the four of us. I don't feel like it's me and my band, it's us. We make it happen. I write the songs, but if it wasn't for those guys I just wouldn't feel complete. I just love my band! I can't wait to spend time with them again!

“We've set aside a week in July to start demoing the next album, which will be cool. We're going to Aidan [Roberts. a.k.a The Maple Trail]'s house in the Blue Mountains to do that. I'm so excited about it. It's really cool! That, to me, is like the most exciting thing. We're going to record it up there too, later on in the year. I just want to do it the family way.” This is a feeling that is sure to carry over to the Bangity Bang tour given the support acts, Steve Smyth and The Rubens. “Steve's kind of like an old friend that I never really got to know. I've known of him for years, and he knows everyone I know. It's just weird, we know all the same people, all the people in Melbourne, all the people in Newcastle, all the people in Sydney; all the people I know, he knows. We were at a wedding of friends and we ended up singing this song at the wedding randomly, late in the night. We've always just run into each other randomly everywhere we go. 

“The Rubens have just signed to Ivy League, and I love their songs. Really catchy, with a great voice and instrumentation. I've got a few new songs and I want to play them on the tour and I want Elliott [Margin, Rubens vocalist] to learn them because I'm just not ready to play. I'm trying to enlist him to help us out on a couple of tunes. I'm sure he'll say yes, but they've been shooting a video clip so I haven't been able to get him to ask.”

What's that you say? New songs? Keyboards? “I feel like I've hit a bit of a plateau with the guitar. So now I'm playing keyboards. No-one's ever heard me play keyboard because I'm not that great. I'm learning from scratch, how to write a song on a different instrument. I'm having to play the parts over and over again to naturally introduce the melody that I'm writing.

“It's cool to watch it all happening. It's kind of frustrating because you're thinking of what you want and your fingers aren't doing it. I'm recording as I go, usually I don't even go back and listen, I just keep it going and it's a safety net for if I go and make a cuppa tea and I've forgotten. I feel like after a few days of playing that I exponentially get better, then I might take three weeks off on tour and I come home and have to start again almost. I like it though, it's fun.”

And we like you Lanie Lane, you're fun.