Coun­try band Lanco brings its Hal­lelu­jah Nights tour to the sig­nal tonight. TO­DAY

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - FRONT PAGE - BY SUSAN PIERCE STAFF WRITER Con­tact Susan Pierce at spierce@times­freep­ress. com or 423-757-6284.

In l ess t han t hree years, Lanco has rock­eted from five small- town guys jam­ming in a car­pet ware­house to the band whose sin­gle “Great­est Love Story” hit No. 1 be­fore their de­but al­bum was even re­leased.

That al­bum, “Hal­lelu­jah Nights,” climbed to No. 1 on Bill­board’s coun­try al­bums chart this year, and is still No. 39 af­ter 40 weeks on the chart. You might have caught Lanco on TV per­form­ing on “The Bach­e­lor” in Jan­uary or on “Danc­ing With the Stars” last Mon­day night.

Now the guys are up for Vo­cal Group of the Year at the Coun­try Mu­sic As­so­ci­a­tion Awards on Nov. 14. They are com­pet­ing with Lit­tle Big Town, Lady An­te­bel­lum, Mid­land and Old Do­min­ion — pretty heady com­pany for a band who has only re­leased one al­bum.

“We are friends with ev­ery act in the vo­cal group cat­e­gory and we like them a lot,” says Tripp How­ell, Lanco drum­mer. “When you put us in a cat­e­gory with such awe­some artists, we’re just proud to be part of that.”

And How­ell’s not just spout­ing the ex­pected hum­ble, “proud- to- be here” line. He’s se­ri­ous when he ex­plains why.

“We’re one of t he small­est bands in that cat­e­gory. Most of those bands are sell­ing out are­nas and play­ing at arena lev­els. For a band who has just had the first taste of suc­cess and still play­ing clubs, just to be in the cat­e­gory is awe­some for us, is enough for us. We’d love to win, but a lot of these acts are just big­ger than us.”

But be­fore the CMAs, Lanco will be in town tonight, Nov. 8, at The Sig­nal on the Hal­lelu­jah Nights tour.

Lanco’s surge of suc­cess can be at­trib­uted to the re­lata­bil­ity, the con­nec­tion their songs make with coun­try mu­sic fans. Front­man Brandon Lan­caster wrote or co-wrote all the songs on “Hal­lelu­jah Nights,” and How­ell says they are a re­flec­tion of Lan­caster’s life as well as the lives of his band­mates.

“Great­est Love Story” is the true story of Lan­caster and his wife — high school sweet­hearts who re­con­nect af­ter she re­turns from col­lege. That sin­gle has be­come al­most a wed­ding stan­dard within a year’s time.

“I think we hear at least once a show in the mee­tand- greet that some­one has used it or is go­ing to use at their wed­ding, and that’s re­ally cool for us. We’re just f ive nor­mal dudes mak­ing mu­sic the best we can, and to con­nect with peo­ple like that is all we could hope for, what we work for,” says How­ell.

How­ell and Lan­caster met at a fes­ti­val at Lee Uni­ver­sity, where Lan­caster was a stu­dent at the time. How­ell, a na­tive of Dal­ton, Ge­or­gia, was plan­ning to move to Nashville, as was Lan­caster. The two struck up a friend­ship, Lan­caster played How­ell some songs he’d writ­ten and the drum­mer sug­gested they start a band.

Eric Steedly, lead gui­tarist, knew Chan­dler Bald­win, bass, and Jared Hamp­ton, multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist. How­ell says they spent a year and a half jam­ming in the ware­house, work­ing on their sound, be­fore they started play­ing gigs. They put out an EP in 2016, re­leased sin­gle “Great­est Love Story” in 2017 and “Hal­lelu­jah Nights” in Jan­uary 2018.

How­ell be­lieves the fact they are all smallt own guys who have ex­pe­ri­enced the same life­styles as many of their fans makes their mu­sic au­then­tic to lis­ten­ers.

“We hear a lot about bon­fires, drink­ing cold beer and things that are nor­mal, but when you hear about small, two-lane towns and roads in the mid­dle of nowhere, we lived that. We’re do­ing our best to make the mu­sic we love and we only write songs about what we know, what we’ve lived. Lanco is a re­sult of that.”

How­ell says the band is work­ing on new mu­sic for a 2019 al­bum, but right now the fo­cus is on the Hal­lelu­jah Nights tour.

“We have put to­gether an awe­some show. We are play­ing the en­tire record, and then we are do­ing some cov­ers that are some of our fa­vorite songs,” he de­scribes.

How­ell says while play­ing are­nas is nice be­cause “it’s loud,” in­ti­mate venues like The Sig­nal are just as ex­cit­ing.

“When we get in clubs like this, and there are peo­ple push­ing against the gate and the en­ergy is high, that’s what we live for. We are all there ral­ly­ing around the same songs, so the en­ergy is that ‘we’re all in it to­gether.’”

PHOTO BY JIM WRIGHT

Lanco brings its Hal­lelu­jah Nights tour to The Sig­nal tonight.

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