By Tricia Witkower
Since LANCO (short for Lancaster and Company, after lead singer Brandon Lancaster) burst onto the scene just a few short years ago, their much-deserved rise to fame has been meteoric.
The recipe for their success becomes obvious once you listen to their songs, which are as relatable as they are contagious. LANCO is frontman Brandon Lancaster, guitarist Eric Steedly, drummer Tripp Howell, bassist Chandler Baldwin and multi-instrumentalist Jared Hampton. These five are not only talented musicians, but write their own songs as well. Hailing from various Southern towns, these guys have country in their blood. Their sound, as well as their energy, is infectious. LANCO has a sound boldly its own that distinguishes them from other country acts currently on the scene.
When the band formed in 2015, it wasn’t long before they met record producer Jay Joyce, who, fully impressed with their music, signed them to his publishing company before they signed to Arista Nashville. By the end of 2017, their breakout hit “Greatest Love Story” topped the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts at #1, going double platinum in the U.S. In fact, the single went platinum before the album was even released, a first for any country band. In 2018, they released their highly-anticipated debut album, Hallelujah Nights, which also topped the country charts, winning over country music fans from your average listener to country/pop royalty Taylor Swift, alike. After a whirlwind of accomplishments – touring with Dierks Bentley, playing at Bonnaroo, and headlining their own tour, to name a few – LANCO heads back to the Coachella Valley to play at Stagecoach Country Music Festival for the second time since 2017 on Saturday, April 26.
I spoke with their drummer, Tripp Howell, ahead of their appearance and asked him how he felt to be asked to play Stagecoach again, this year with a more favorable set time – 6:10 pm rather than 3:30 pm – Howell answered, “Stagecoach is this legendary festival and we’re honored to play. We have a really good time slot and we’re playing the same day as our buddy, Luke Combs. It’s going to be a fun night. It’s always a fun festival. And honestly, we’ve been touring all winter and it’s been very cold. So to be outside in the sun…I’m pretty excited about that.”
As far as what fans can expect when they watch LANCO’s set, Howell promises to bring a “ton of energy” that you don’t always get to hear in their recordings, and which makes them such a dynamic act to watch perform. Plus, fans will get to hear their new single, “Rival,” co-written by Brandon Lancaster and Tripp Howell. This catchy track from their upcoming second album, is an underdog song written with the intent of spreading the message of “being proud of who you are and the way you’re creating your own path,” as Lancaster stated.
In writing their own songs, the band has become accustomed to their fans personalizing their words and relating the lyrics to their own life experiences. “Greatest Love Story,” for example, has become the soundtrack for many of their fans big life moments, such as proposals and wedding songs. In this way, LANCO has become intrinsically woven into the tapestry of many fans lives. Said Howell, “You know, I think it’s a blessing because all you ever want to do is create art people can relate to. We take everyday life and lay it all out in a song. So when people are able to take pieces of one of our songs, even if it isn’t the exact same story, and make it their own, we love that. It’s an honor.”
In their music, you can hear their traditional roots and pick out pieces inspired by their idols, like Alabama. Not surprisingly, when asked out of all the iconic acts that have played Stagecoach in the past, who his dream headliners to watch perform might be, Tripp thought for a moment and then said, “A lot of the guys that are out today, we’ve already seen or even performed with, but to watch a full set…probably Brooks and Dunn or Alabama. Alan Jackson would be awesome too. Or us.” I remind him that this would only be the dream headliner to watch perform. “Right,” he says, “that’d be terrible for LANCO to be headlining and I’m not up there playing with them,” and laughs.
When asked what he sees as the next big goal for LANCO after so much success in such a short time, Howell chuckled and answered, “To buy a pontoon boat. (Pause) Just kidding. It’s crazy… when we were starting out, we were just five guys in a warehouse. Now we’ve won an ACM Award (for Best New Vocal Group) and we’re selling out venues we only dreamed we’d ever play. There aren’t many more first-time things happening, so now it’s wanting to create the best song and best recording possible. We are challenging ourselves creatively to work on great art. I don’t know that we necessarily have any goals for what we want to do other than keep touring. We’re actually pretty terrible goal people, we’re kinda just hippies who love to play music.”