The UK had their first encounter with Lauren Alaina at London’s C2C Festival in 2016 and fans have been awaiting her return to play shows for just over 3 years. A lot has happened in her career since she last graced London, such as touring with the likes of Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton along with the release of her second album “Road Less Traveled” where the title track went to Number 1 on the US Country Airplay Chart. Add in to this mix a second Number 1 dueting with her former school choir-mate Kane Brown on “What Ifs” along with a pair of CMT Awards and an ACM Award for New Female Vocalist of the Year. Fast forward to July 2019 and Lauren has returned for a 9 date UK tour which will take her a lot further than just London.
I’m excited I get to see the country way more! We wouldn’t go explore like this if we were in America but because we are way far away from home and like a six hour time difference, so we are like: Let’s go explore!
In terms of duration, this is a lot longer than a lot of artists coming over from Nashville have tended to spend in the UK as from the first show that just passed over the weekend at Dixie Fields in Chelmsford, Essex to the last show on the trip at Nashville Meets London is two weeks. With shows in Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Gateshead, Brighton, Nottingham and Bristol (dates and ticket links are at the bottom of the page) in between, it still allows plenty of opportunity to get out and see more of the country which I am sure you will get to see all about on her Instagram which you can check out HERE and when I asked what she was particularly looking forward to seeing:
I’m going to see the highland cows in Scotland! Like the cows with long hair apparently? I didn’t know anything about them but my tour manager did. They are beautiful and funny looking with their little short legs and their just huge cows, so I’m gonna see them but I’m excited about seeing everywhere! I have a bit of time where I can go and see things!
The trip has already involved as she put it “joking about becoming British” as like many American visitors she is fascinated by our country, our accents, our quirks and how we use slightly different words or phrases to how things are referred across the pond. We seem to very quickly manage to convert a lot of people from coffee to tea when they arrive on our shores and I did reiterate that it was essential that the milk NEVER GOES IN FIRST as this is one of the absolute no-no’s over here (the other being standing on the wrong side of the escalator as everyone knows you must stand on the right) that is essential to being a Brit. I also explained the difference between cities and counties with how a county over here is similar to a State over there to explain that Chelmsford was within Essex so she had already played both my hometown and home county in the same show. The other fascination was the concept of a “biscuit” as over here you won’t find a breakfast biscuit (although a scone is fairly similar) and what we are talking about is a “cookie” on the other side of the Atlantic so I naturally thought I would provide her and her tour team with some Jammie Dodgers, Chocolate Hobnobs, Chocolate Caramel Digestives and Party Rings along with what we call “cookies” and some proper teabags to keep them going on their tour bus and understand the difference.
Her most recent single “Ladies in the ’90s” talks about a lot of the strong female role models across all genres that paved the way and dominated the charts whilst she was growing up and giving reference to the likes of: Deana Carter, Britney Spears, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, TLC, Destiny’s Child, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Dixie Chicks, Reba, Alanis Morissette and of course the Spice Girls. However we talked about how there is a lot of varied musical influences that she grew up listening to and cited the likes of Aerosmith, Poison, Celine Dion, Guns N’ Roses, Elvis and Norah Jones as other artists she heard a lot of growing up.
My dad’s a big rock & roll fan so when people come and see our set, you’ll definitely get that vibe! There’s definitely a lot of rock influence in the show, we do a lot of rock covers and stuff. Then I was like a really big NSYNC and Backstreet Boys fan growing up but I was very fortunate that my parents raised me on all kinds of music!
This is very clear too see in her live shows as the opening date on the tour at Dixie Fields, there was a cover of Faithfully originally by Journey and one of the best cover medley’s I have seen in a long time. Not just in the transition between the melody but also how clever the use of the lyrics going from one to another: Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” into “Meet in the Middle” by Diamond Rio to Maren Morris, Zedd & Grey’s monster hit “The Middle” followed by “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” from Shawn Mendes then a bit of Backstreet Boys “Everybody (Backstreets Back)” to “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt, Brooks & Dunn’s “Brand New Man” and rounding off with the Shania Twain girl power anthem “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”
We really worked hard on that! We have a couple of medley’s that we do, we have an all female one that we do too! They’re my favourites, I’m obsessed with creating these!
In addition to currently headlining her first UK tour, there has also been the release of “Town Ain’t Big Enough” last Friday which is her new duet with Chris Young. The breakup anthem about trying not to run into an ex in a small town is not the first duet that she has been involved with as “What Ifs” with Kane Brown was a Number 1 hit and she also sang with Rascal Flatts on their “Back to Us” album. We talked about the track, writing songs with a duet in mind and how recorded collaborations actually come to life:
There all a little different! Initially it came through his management, then Chris called me and we were chatting about it. He just called one day and it wasn’t a very formal thing. It’s a great song and I was on board immediately, I heard it and was like yeah we’ll do it!
I’ve written songs that aren’t necessarily for me! In fact I wrote a song that Kane Brown recorded and released with Becky G which was a huge and amazing accomplishment for me. Then they went and put it into Spanish, so I was like OH WOW THIS IS CRAZY! That song could have fit for me but sometimes that’s not the home for it!
Latin music is one of the biggest musical markets in the world! Just think about how big a track Despacito was worldwide in countries where people don’t even speak Spanish so given the opening up of the genre to working with different musical influences and styles it is curious why this has not been one of the most obvious crossovers incorporating elements into Nashville, however:
I have been working with a producer a lot and like Latin music is beautiful! I don’t know what they are saying but it sounds beautiful! So they are definitely inspiring tracks and things happening now.
In regard to her own music, she will be embarking on her first headline tour of the United States (again dates and ticket links are at the bottom of the page) joined by Filmore (who UK fans may remember from appearing at Buckle & Boots last year) in September and October. In addition to this, she gave us some early news on the progress her next album:
We just went in and started recording a few songs so they are tacking it with the band whilst I’m over here then I’ll go home and do my vocals on that so we’re getting going. Once it starts rolling, it gets going pretty fast!
From what we did hear is that she has been writing with some really cool people like Emily Shackleton, David Garcia, Amy Wadge, Emily Weisband and Jesse Frasure. A lot of these being people that have been involved with her previous recordings where Frasure along with Meghan Trainor were the co-writers on the biggest hit to date “Road Less Travelled”
It was actually one of those that just came together. The title came from Jesse and he said I don’t really know what to do with this, then I said I know exactly what to do with this! So we made it about that and when we wrote the song, we wrote it for me to hear! Like I needed to hear that and now it’s for everyone while I still get a little reminder every night on stage, so that’s nice!
I rounded off the interview talking about how much I really understood “Road Less Traveled” along with the final track on her album “Pretty” and how important it is for people to talk very openly regarding what these songs are about with how it really makes a difference for people going through the same journey. Lauren suffered with Bulimia nervosa which is the same eating disorder that I had been battling with for a number of years since 2015, so these songs have a really deep meaning to me and I find them very relatable and really are a great help for people that have been through or are going through struggles of any kind. It is still such a taboo topic over here, we are in such a strong culture of promoting self-worth and positive mental health but I know first hand the treatment and awareness for eating disorders specifically is not in the same public light as other things and not where it needs to be, but things are definitely getting better and we were moving in the right direction. I was really grateful to be able to talk to Lauren about this and she was really open and honest when I asked her about the perceptive and provisions for treatment in the US along with her own experiences. Some of the advice and self motivation she shared is something I was really moved and inspired by that I thought was really important for everyone to consider because they are things that we all need to remind ourselves:
We are also really coming around, like therapy and seeking out help. For like eating disorders and mental health it’s a little different. In the States we are really big on recovery plans for drug addiction and alcohol, no one really flinches at that topic but when you start discussing mental health it gets a little grey for whatever reason. People are like what is this?
For me personally I’ve been in therapy and it has changed my life, literally like changed my life! I dunno how I lived my life without it. My therapist will talk to me about anything! She helps me process what I’m going through and it’s just so useful! I think we all owe it to ourselves to be good to ourselves! I say that all the time! You are the only you you’ll ever have, so you can’t say things to yourself that you’ll never say to someone else! I think it’s so important especially now where there is so much scrutiny and everyone has an opinion! You have already worked out in your head how you feel about yourself and people can confirm that for you and make it ten times worse! You have to get to a place where their opinion doesn’t matter because your opinion of yourself is great! That’s been the biggest struggle for me and daily still is!
This was one of the most fascinating interviews I have done as she really is that hilarious, sweet, enthusiastic, down to earth, fun loving person you see on her socials. She is very observant and really quick compared to a lot of American’s that I have spoken to previously and you get a great balance of fun combined with someone who has been through a lot in her 24 years that is really is passionate about their music and their fans. Then throw in the fact that I really wanted to talk to her about relatability and wellbeing because you don’t often get to have these conversations this openly with people that really understand what you mean.
For anyone in the UK reading this that may want to talk to someone or be apprehensive about how you go about getting help and what actually happens going to see someone or just want better understanding about what Bulimia, Anorexia or BED’s are there is a fabulous charity called Beat who are incredible in both support and information plus their work is so vital and they are so dedicated in what they are doing. You can check out their website for more information HERE. As society we need to talk about things more and people have to stop shying from the conversation because there is a lot that we can do to help each other, so I am really grateful we got to discuss it and that I am able to share it. This comes across as a much more meaningful interview for me personally which it was but for anyone that is going to see her on tour or you get to say hey to her anywhere as a fan, she is exactly like how you want her to be and you will love her even more afterwards!
Lauren Alaina’s first UK tour continues tonight (17th July) in Liverpool and you can catch her on the road all around the country before fans in North America can catch her on her “That Girl Was Me” Tour where all dates and ticket details are available below. You can stream or download the new duet with Chris Young “Town Ain’t Big Enough” HERE
17th July: Arts Club, Liverpool
19th July: Saint Luke’s, Glasgow
20th July: SummerTyne Sage, Gateshead
23rd July: The Haunt, Brighton
24th July: Bodega Social, Nottingham
25th July: Hy-Brasil, Bristol
27th July: Nashville Meets London Canada Square Park, London (FREE EVENT)