Award-winning band Lanco to play Bottle & Cork tonight

Lanco is the latest overnight success after winning this year’s Academy of Country Music Award for Best New Group. It only took them 16 years.

As part of their long journey to their first ACM Award, band members got fired from their day jobs; and a warehouse became their temporary home away from home.

The Nashville-based band released their two-time platinum single, “Greatest Love Story,” in 2018. That song was from their No. 1-selling debut album, “Hallelujah Nights,” which has over 550 million streams.

Lanco will pop the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Drummer Tripp Howell dished on becoming friends with Milton country star Jimmie Allen, how fellow singer and friend Kane Brown clowned him at the ACM, and getting fired from his day job. 

How did you become friends with Jimmie Allen?

I worked with his publisher for a while, years ago, and she had just signed him to a publishing deal. She called me one day and I said, “Hey, I got this kid. His name is Jimmie Allen. I think you two would really hit it off. You’ve got a similar style.”

I said, “Yeah, let’s write.” We sat in the room together and from the first time I sat down with him I was like, “This dude has got it. He just has that thing, you know what I mean?” It’s hard to describe. But when you know, you just know. We kept writing songs together and we’d grill [food], and we became really good buddies.

I was fortunate enough to get a cut on his record. My brother played bass with him and helped put his band together before he got his record deal. They’ve all been on the road together, so they’re like a family now too. It’s really cool.

Talk to me about your basketball rivalry with him.

We used to play more, but anytime I wanted to play basketball, Jimmie didn’t want to get his feelings hurt. He’s trying to keep his confidence up. So he doesn’t answer the phone no more when it comes to playing basketball [laughs]. But we both have been so busy, we probably haven’t played in like eight months or something like that.

What’s a funny story you can share about being at the ACM?

Me and Kane Brown have been buddies for a longtime and we also play basketball together, and we’ve played cornhole. But we stopped betting money and instead started betting bunny hops. Basically, what that means is let’s say I lose 50 bunny hops to Kane. Anywhere, anytime, in any situation, if he says give me [10] hops, I’ve gotta (as a grown man) put my legs together like a bunny and hop 10 times, no matter where.

We were at the ACM and had just got done rehearsing. I think Kane and Khalid’s slot was after us. So they were walking through the hall and I saw them coming, and I was like, “Oh no, no, no, no!” I tried to dodge them. I went, “I’m not trying to do this sh** right now.” In front of Khalid he said, ‘Give me 10 bunny hops.” I said, “Oh my God.” Then they started clowning on me for like 20 minutes.

What does an ACM award mean to you?

We started out in a garage. We were practicing in a warehouse. Just to be nominated in this category… I know it sounds cliché, but we we’re really fortunate to be in a category with some of these artists. The fact that the industry would appreciate your hard work and accept you like this is mind blowing, because five or six years ago we were a bunch of kids playing in a warehouse. [To go on] to performing and winning an ACM, it was like your whole career flashed in front of you and it’s awesome.

The band’s origin story involves you guys getting fired from your day jobs?

We were practicing in a warehouse and we all had really bad jobs. We made a conscious decision to don’t get a job that you can’t quit. We were really going for it, trying to make it happen. We just started grinding in this warehouse. Brandon was working at this hotdog stand in Bridgestone, and we were supposed to practice that night. But he said, “I picked up this shift. Let’s do it tomorrow.” And he said, “cool.”

He’s working the concession stand and a dude walks by. He shut down his register, ran up to him and started talking. He was Jay Joyce, the producer who’s worked with Eric Church, Little Big Town, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood. Brandon was talking to him and Jay was like, “What are you trying to do, kid?” Brandon said, “I want my band to do something.” Jay told him to come by the studio and we could do some stuff.

About a month or so passed, and we went over to his studio and played him some tunes. He said, “Dude, I get it. I’ll sign you to a publishing deal.” It’s funny, it was like a Tuesday. Jay called and said I only got two weeks [availability] for the rest of this year. Y’all need to come in here and do the record.”

We were like, “On Thursday, two days from now?” We asked our bosses if we could take two weeks off, to which they said, “No, you’ll be fired [laughs].” So we didn’t show up. Our mindset was “Sorry, but we’re going to make this record. This is our shot and we’re taking it.”

The result of that is we all got fired. After that we wondered what do we do, do we go back to work? We had this awesome record, but I didn’t know what to do.

What move did you make at that point?

We started booking our own shows and touring. Not long after that, we got a booking agent. We were playing this show. We’d started playing the southeast/northeast and were trying to build up a following.

We were releasing one of our songs on our own and we decided to play a show in Nashville for our fans and friends. We played the show and it was awesome. The energy in the room was incredible. It was cool to have all your people together. We got off stage and there were all these dudes in the green room wearing collared shirts.

We were like, “what in the crap!” This guy introduced himself and said, “I’m Randy Goodman from Sony records. I want to sign you guys. Would you like a record deal?” I said, “Absolutely.” He signed us in the green room that night. From there on out, it’s been us putting our head down and grinding.