LEAN is back with a brand new single after a long hiatus. In case you don’t know, Kyle McCammon and Stephen Johnson met in late 2016 and the chemistry was so good that they formed LEAN shortly afterward. About the band’s conception, McCammon said “With Stephen’s ear for hooks it came together effortlessly”.
Musically, LEAN texturizes a valiant take on an indie pop that is full of layered melodies and lush guitar riffs. “Alive on the outside” marks the return of the duo, who have not released music in more than two years.
In this song, Lean uses the metaphor of snow melting to demonstrate the uncertainty and impermanence that is life. Sonically, “Alive On The Outside” is a guitar-driven indie-rock tune loaded with soulful, introspective lyrics and vocals. It has a heavy dose of synths that add a dreamscape style. For the listener, it will be a rewarding tune.
We had a little chat with them, and here you have it.
It has been two years of musical hiatus for you guys. What have each of you been doing during this time?
Stevie: I ran away from LA, hid out in a cabin for a while, tracked a solo record, and learned how to bake – fresh banana quinoa muffins, pumpkin bars, and crème brûlée for anyone who pre-saves our new single!
Kyle: This last couple of years have really been quite a ride! I’ve been working on building things on the label side of things with Lean-To Records, launching a producer project called Plus and exploring my newfound love for TikTok.
In the middle of this musical break, how did “Alive on the outside” come about? How was that process?
Stevie: We had a batch of unfinished songs that we had started together pre-pandemic, and some needed more time to marinate than others. This one came together reeeaaal quick after we finally got back in the studio together.
What is the story behind the song?
Stevie: I got to see a lot of snow when I was hibernating in a cabin for the pandemic, and I liked the idea of impermanence that comes with snow melting away.
This is a highly awaited return. Is there anything you can tell us about the show?
Kyle: We just got back from a NYC show with our friend and label mate Hello Lightfoot which was super fun and now we’re at Resident this week and are looking forward to playing ‘Alive on the Outside’ for everyone in LA who has been supporting us from the start.
Stevie: It’s also Kyle’s birthday show! Spank him!!
Hahahaha we will. So guys, can you describe the dynamic between the both of you while working on a track?
Stevie: Coffee. Piano. Coffee. Guitar. Coffee. Lyrics. Coffee. Repeat.
Kyle: Yes! Lots and lots of coffee have fueled all of our releases so far, haha.
How has your evolution been as a duo after the last release?
Kyle: Our musical tastes both keep growing and our influences are starting to become really diverse. Along with that, we’ve spent a lot of time living life and creating music away from each other and now that we’re back to it, things have naturally evolved to a new iteration of the familiar ‘Lean’ sound.
Let’s talk about musical style, because you guys have managed to stay true to fresh sounds and smooth textures. “Alive on the outside” maintains that essence, but at the same time separates from what you have done before.
Stevie: I’m a little country, and Kyle’s a little rock n roll. It’s a good balance. Also, we went in and tracked live drums for this one, which was a fun departure from our normal tracking habits.
Kyle: We were able to get into Big Bad Sound for a day to track drums with our friend Dana Lamarca for a number of songs that we have coming for you all soon. For me, the production purposefully has a few different musical worlds that it lives in and I wanted there to be a lot of contrast from the first half of the song and the back half.
Stephen and Kyle, can you refer to us the list of songs you are currently stuck with?
Kyle: Here are a few that I have on repeat at the moment:
Nilufer Yanya – Same Damn Luck
Jeshi, Obongjayar – Protein
Binki – Clay Pigeon
Baynk – Esther
ill peach – DANDELION
What are the immediate plans you have in musical terms?
Stevie: You can expect the rest of the record to come out in bits and pieces before the year’s over. Thanks in advance for checking it out!
Story: Mariana González Photos: John Carluccio