By Avery Viers
Local Music Director
The last time I spoke with Lauren Burton of Austin-based band Lola Tried, I had freshly been appointed as KTSW 89.9’s Local Music Director only one month prior. Unsure of what to expect when meeting the band, I scavenged the internet to absorb all of the information I could in the midst of my nervous frenzy.
I was about five seconds into our introduction before my nerves were put at ease. Burton, along with her bandmate and longtime friend Ray Garza, exuded a genuine and enthusiastic energy throughout our discussion that could not be missed.
When I had the chance to catch up with Burton again recently, I couldn’t wait to hear what the band had been up to. I was anxious to discuss their recently released single, “Black & White,” and chat about the band’s invitation as an Official SXSW Artist for this year’s festival.
I called Burton the Monday evening following her birthday weekend. She shared that she had spent some time at her barn, where she enjoys riding her horse – which she fondly refers to as her “baby boy” – and that she saw PUP at Stubb’s Amphitheater.
“PUP is my favorite band in the whole world! My biggest influence ever,” said Burton. “I’ve seen them like four times; I have all of their records. They’re the reason Lola Tried exists.”
We chatted a bit more about PUP’s tour with Joyce Manor before jumping into the topic of this year’s SXSW music festival. I asked Burton whether the band was excited to perform, as well as whether it would be their first year as an Official Artist.
“It’s our third!” she said, “It’s funny. My SX experience started when I was sixteen; I had just moved to Austin and gotten my driver’s license. My mom was working for a nonprofit that helped find housing for the international musicians coming over. She would literally go, ‘you need to go pick up this band from England from the airport and just cart them around.’”
“My mom knew me,” Burton continued, “I was a good kid. I never drank. She literally had to be like, ‘Lauren, you don’t have a curfew. You can go out sometimes.’ So, these poor f*ckers had to sit in a car with me while I drove them around in downtown SXSW traffic. I also got the opportunity to develop these friendships and relationships that are beautiful. I still keep in touch with the folks I met [THROUGH SXSW] from fifteen years ago that changed my life. There were international bands from Spain, the U.K., and Germany. I got to see how real bands worked; bands that weren’t massive.”
“I would go to local shows all the time,” she said, “but it’s cool to see middle level bands – like Joyce Manor – where they’re known, and they’re touring, and can make it their full-time job. Seeing these bands interact and how they handle business was really cool. I also learned how to sneak into every single venue that they played. I remember I couldn’t get in to see Waxahachie because I wasn’t twenty-one and they were playing at Cheer Up [CHARLIE]’s. I literally jumped into the brush of the scaffolding at Mohawk and climbed up that cliff and watched them play like a weird-*ss bat.”
“SX has always been really special because of the touring bands that come through and the friends that I get to see that I haven’t seen,” said Burton, “I love giving all of the bands recommendations and getting to tell everyone all of my favorite spots. You get to see people experience the city. Plus, being on bills with your buddies and getting to see them play amazing shows is great.”
After wrapping up our discussion on SXSW, I was eager to ask Burton what was new with Lola Tried since our last talk.
“We actually have two new band members and I’m really excited!” She said, “It’s been really fun. After our original lineup switching up, we decided to say, ‘Okay, let’s get two new members. It’s gonna be great.’ Since bringing them on, the exchange of ideas has been so fun. When I started with this band initially, I had never played a show or committed to rehearsals or been a part of a true unit. Joining a team was definitely a moment of extreme vulnerability for me.”
“Jeff and Gianni – our bass player and our drummer – are so open to any new idea,” she continued, “I absolutely adored our original lineup, but this new journey has been super fun. Writing has changed; I don’t come in with things prepared anymore. I think a part of it is the Imposter Syndrome of thinking, ‘I have to have a perfectly crafted song to present to you guys, like a powerpoint ,because if I don’t you guys are gonna see through me.’ Learning to drop my guard and riff in a jam session is special, especially since it wasn’t always a thing. The new stuff that we’re releasing we have fully written together. Gianni and Jeff come from completely different musical backgrounds, so having them play with us has brought a whole new element to the band.”
I was curious to ask Burton about the songwriting process of the band’s newest single, “Black & White,” given the song’s themes of grief and loss.
“‘Black & White’ is honestly a pretty vulnerable song for me for a couple of reasons,” said Burton, “The less impactful reason is that it’s a ballad. For me, I like instant gratification and don’t like patience or having to wait. When we started playing the song, Jeff and Gianni had to stop me to slow me down and told me that it could really be something. ‘Black & White’ taught me patience. Being vulnerable in that way musically was interesting because I’d never written a ballad before.”
“A lot of my songs come from anger,” she continued, “that’s just how I write. When I’m feeling an intense emotion like anger, I’ve always felt motivated in my songwriting because it feels like the only way that I could get out my thoughts. I always thought, ‘I can handle feeling depressed. I know how to cope with anxiety because I experience these emotions a lot.’ But I don’t get angry very often; songwriting has been the main way for me to verbalize my fury.”
“But this song wasn’t that,” Burton said, “I think that’s my second point of vulnerability; my partner’s best friend died in May of last year. He was just a dream. He would have this laugh that would echo for days. There were two hard parts in terms of writing [BLACK & WHITE]; when I was writing the song, I realized, ‘I’m gonna have to deal with some real feelings here… and they’re not anger. They’re grief.’ I talked with the band to tell them I wanted to release something about grief and how I handle it.
“Ultimately, the song is about watching my partner grieve and feeling like I can’t do anything about it. There has been quite a lot of grief in our household over the past year. Another aspect of the song, though, is about wondering when the right time to grieve actually is. It’s harder for me to be vulnerable through sadness than it is for me to be vulnerable through anger.”
Burton mentioned the band’s upcoming projects as well, joking about its stark contrast to the preceding single.
“I’m switching up the tone a little bit,” said Burton, “For me, it feels so much more dynamic and it’s really fast paced. The drum parts are killer! After playing it on stage, Jeff had to leave for a second to go throw up and got right back on to play the next song. The song is called, “Don’t Care At All,” and it’s about work burnout that has been so impactful to me, especially working in tech. The layoffs, friends losing jobs, and even just the crumbling economy as a whole really makes you realize that you’re seeing some fundamentally wrong things going on in your field. [DON’T CARE AT ALL] is about experiencing a burnout so devastating and getting to the point of realizing you couldn’t care less about any of it. I really hope that people like my friends that lost their jobs will listen to it and go, ‘Ah. Thank you.’
Lola Tried will be performing two sets as an Official SXSW Artist on March 12 and 13 at Hotel Vegas and one set at The Velveeta Room on March 18. Follow Lola Tried on Instagram to stay up to date on official set times, future shows, and newly released music here: @lolatried
Written by: Hannah Walls