I grew up in Ravenshead, although I moved to Mansfield just recently. I did my A levels at Joseph Whittaker School in Rainworth and worked really hard in my first year but at the beginning of the second year I went for an audition at a music school in Guildford. They basically told me I’d got in, so after that I let it slide a bit.
I started at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford when I was 18. It’s basically the coolest place on the planet. You play the guitar every day and learn about the music business. It was such a good environment for learning how to play in a band. If you’ve seen School of Rock with Jack Black... well, it was like that.
One of the tutors was in Wayne’s World, which is my favourite film, so I was massively star struck.
There wasn’t much emphasis on making your own music, it was more about you getting a job as a session musician. But I’d been in bands since I was 13 and that’s what I wanted to do.
Ryan (Fletcher, Lawson bassist) went there as well, although we knew each other before. We left after the first year to concentrate on the band. We’d met the other guys through friends of friends.
My dad was livid that I’d dropped out. He was a professional footballer and played for Sheffield United. Because it didn’t really work out for him he didn’t want it to happen to me. He’s in Nottinghamshire Police now. My mum is a music teacher and she was more supportive at the time, although my dad is really proud of what we’re doing now.
When I left ACM I started working to pay the rent at places like Gap, folding T-shirts, and in restaurants, while writing and rehearsing with the band at night. We all had real faith in what we were doing.
We were doing that for three years before we were offered The Wanted tour. We didn’t even have a record label at the time.
Up until then we’d been touring around the country in a van that needed jump-starting after every gig. We played the basement at Rock City as part of the Dot to Dot festival, which was amazing for me because I’d seen so many gigs there.
We’d done a video, a cover of Bruno Mars’ Grenade, and we got around 60,000 views. Someone from The Wanted’s label saw it and thought we should be given a chance on their theatre tour. Andy (Brown, frontman) had been in a band with Max from The Wanted and said they should check out the video but by that time their management had already seen it. It was pretty weird.
So we ended up opening for The Wanted. We’d gone from playing to ten people in a pub to 7,000.
At the end of that tour we got signed to Polydor.
And we The Wanted again when they did the Arena tour earlier this year. It opened in Nottingham and I remember during the afternoon, standing on stage looking out at this empty arena that I’d seen so many gigs at. It was one of those moments when you realised you’re on the right track.
All the family came down to that gig and I’d never felt pressure like it. My younger sister went backstage and saw The Wanted and she was just crying. I never get that reception from her! She saw Jay (McGuiness) and started shivering and crying.
Jay is another Notts lad and he’s a good laugh. We went out in Nottingham after the gig. You have to watch your back with him though because he likes a good prank. I ended up on stage one time with egg and flour in my hair after one of them.
We did two shows with Avril Lavigne in London and Manchester. We’d grown up listening to her music and there we were supporting her. She’s quality, she’s got a great voice and she’s absolutely stunning.
We’ve just come back from Los Angeles. We’ve been so lucky because it’s become a second home almost. We finished the album out there with producer John Shanks, whose worked with Take That and Bon Jovi. It should be released at the back end of the summer.
And we’ve just filmed a video there. We were on this rooftop over-looking downtown LA and we could see the Hollywood sign, the sun was setting... and we looked at each other as if to say ‘how did four complete idiots manage to get here?’
Lawson play Stealth in Goldsmith Street on Wednesday May 16. Tickets are £10. Go to www.livenation.co.uk for details.
Lawson’s debut single, When She Was Mine, is released May 27. Watch the video at www.lawsonofficial.com.