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Lawson: Joel Peat

March 2013

HIS grandmother will be there, in Rock City, along with the rest of his family, to see him in action. As long as they can find her somewhere to sit.
“She has this broad Glaswegian accent, I’ll finish a song and I’ll hear her shouting “JOEEEEL! It’s so off-putting,” he laughs.
“But she’ll be there. We’ll get her some ear plugs but she’ll love it.”
The show, on Wednesday, is part of guitar-pop band Lawson’s sold out UK tour.
And for their guitarist Joel Peat, it’ll be a yet another milestone.
“I grew up seeing bands at Rock City,” says the 22-year-old from Ravenshead.
“Funeral For A Friend, Fall Out Boy, Reel Big Fish, All American Rejects... it was all rock stuff because I was well into my pop punk when I was a teenager.
“I also saw Ted Nugent there. That was a bit random because he had a bow and arrow on stage. It was petrifying.”
He adds: “And we’ve played Nottingham quite a few times. We’ve played Rock City’s Basement, Stealth and the Rescue Rooms but I have never stood on that stage.
“And the first time that I do will be for a sold out show. I can’t wait.”
Joel joined Lawson, whose debut album Chapman Square reached No. 4 last year, in 2010.
Before that he was in bands in Ravenshead and Mansfield, where he moved aged 16.
After taking A-levels at Joseph Whittaker School, he moved to Guildford to study at The Academy of Contemporary Music, which he compares to the Jack Black film School of Rock.
“You played the guitar every day and learned about the music business. It was such a good environment for learning how to play in a band.”
It’s where he met Ryan Fletcher, Lawson’s bassist and the pair formed their first band together.
For three years he worked in various odd jobs, from shops to restaurants, while writing and rehearsing with the band at night.
They toured the UK in a van, including their first show in Nottingham at Rock City, as part of the Dot to Dot festival.
The break came through boy band The Wanted, whose manager saw their video, a cover of Bruno Mars’ Grenade, on YouTube.
Lawson’s frontman Andy Brown had been in a band with Max from The Wanted which helped.
They were offered the support slot on The Wanted’s UK tour, after which they were immediately signed to Polydor.
“We joined The Wanted again when they did the Arena tour last year, which opened in Nottingham. 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...”
He’s had plenty more since, including a promotional jaunt in North America.
“It was eye-opening and over whelming,” says Joel of the ten-day visit earlier this year.
“We were initially going to put just one show on in New York, to see what it was like over there.
“We had no preconceptions about how we’d be received because we weren’t being played on the radio, hadn’t released anything there and there was no promotion.
“But we were getting a lot of messages on Twitter asking us go over.”
He adds: “But then the New York gig sold out.”
It was at the Bowery Ballroom, which he’d dreamed of playing since he was 15.
“I’d seen a video of John Mayer, who is my idol, playing there and I remember thinking ‘that venue is wicked, I’d love to play there one day’. And we ended up selling it out.”
A date was added in Los Angeles, which also sold out.
“It was funny because the crowd knew all the words to our songs and yet we had no music on sale there.
“We said to them ‘how did you get the album?’ and they all looked embarrassed,” he laughs, knowing the fans must have illegally downloaded their album.
“But if they’re liking the music and they want to come and see us because of that then I don’t care,” he adds.
“The fans all talk to each other all over the world and then you see them come to gigs and make friends. That’s quite amazing. We were totally overwhelmed by it all.”
After Los Angeles, they flew for a third gig in Toronto.
“That was phenomenal, as well. And we had dinner on the CN Tower, which was quite funny because Andy is petrified of heights. Watching him standing on the glass floor was hilarious.”
Along with the gigs Lawson appeared on network TV, including MTV, E! and Access Hollywood.
“We met Taylor Swift while we were there and she said she was a huge fan of the band. We’re huge fans of country music so it was a real Twilight Zone experience.”
Drifting back in to Notts dialect he adds: “I thought ’owd up, I’m gonna have to pinch meself here.
“She was saying that she’d seen all our videos on YouTube, that she loved Standing In The Dark and that should be our first single in the States.”
They recently signed to Mercury Records in the US and their first single will be released in the summer.
As soon as they returned to the UK, Lawson hit the road for their sell-out tour and so there’s been little time to return to Notts.
In April the band will be on a promotional tour of South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
“The album was reaching No. 3 on iTunes in places like Singapore and Malaysia.
“After that we’ll either fly to LA and do some more promo or come back home but I just want to keep at it.”
His last visit home was at Christmas.
“It was wicked. I love coming back,” he says.
“Every Christmas Eve we go to a pub in Ravenshead and all of my friends were there. It was a good laugh.”
For New Year he was in California, where his girlfriend lives.
Is she a model, an actress, a pop star?
“No, she’s not anything like that,” he laughs.
They met over a year ago in Los Angeles when Lawson were recording Chapman Square. He reckons the Notts accent helped.
“It’s the only reason I pulled her,” he laughs.
“No, I’m kidding. It’s funny because in the States a lot of people thought I was Australian, because it’s not a traditional London accent.”
Mum is a music teacher. Dad was a professional footballer, who played for Sheffield United but now works for Notts Police. And he has a younger sister who recently moved away from home to go to university.
“I try to take her to as many things as I can,” says Joel.
“She got to meet The Wanted and Jessie J, which she was buzzing about.
“They’re all really proud and want to be involved.”
Home is now just outside London.
He says: “We’re pretty flat out and I don’t get to go home much, which is a shame, but it’s a small price to pay for doing a job you love.”

Lawson’s show at Rock City on Wednesday is sold out.

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