How to get a number one album, according to The Lottery Winners
2023 was a big year for The Lottery Winners. for The Lottery Winners. The indie pop foursome from Leigh, a small town just outside Wigan, scored their first number one album with Anxiety Replacement Therapy – a hit which includes collaborations with Boy George, Shaun Ryder and Frank Turner.
They also had a sold-out tour, and played over 70 live shows – including six at Glastonbury, or seven if you ask guitarist and vocalist Thom Rylance, who says his extra performance might have been a figment of his imagination.
In a recent PPL-sponsored panel discussion at the Un-Convention music industry conference in Manchester, the band shared their story so far.
Here are a few soundbites from their candid conversation.
On starting small…
“We all had a common goal – we didn’t want to get ‘proper jobs’ so we were just willing to put all our time and effort into music. I never doubted it would happen.”
“We’re not really good at anything else. We’re not necessarily great at this.”
“Growing up, none of our mates had aspirations to become doctors or accountants. But we all poured ourselves into creative things. We’ve got mates who are window cleaners but they can make you cry with the way they can play guitar.”
“Before we signed to Warner Brothers we were still doing loads of gigs for no money. One night we played at Liverpool Sound City and there were only about 15 people watching us. But one happened to be Seymour Stein. He was the man who signed Madonna, The Ramones, Talking Heads – he’s a really big deal. When we finished the gig he gave us his business card and we had a meeting with him later.”
On taking off during lockdown…
“Our first big record went out on Friday 13 March 2020. I remember crying my eyes out in TK Maxx when Boris told everyone to stay at home. We had tours planned, promo, everything.”
“During lockdown we realised the only place we could really exist as a band was online. We decided we wanted to create something every single day and that’s what we did.”
“We spent more time with each other than with our families. That means we can be really authentic with each other and we deal with everything together.”
On what it takes to get a number one…
“We have a beautiful studio and we go there every single day. We’ll be making music, responding to people on Facebook, posting on Instagram, designing stuff. It’s like our office and we work really hard.”
“There were so many elements to our album campaign. We looked at who we wanted to like our band and went for the people who love coming to gigs, and who follow bands loyally like they follow a football club. We supported Shed Seven, Wonder Stuff, Sleeper, Kaiser Chiefs, Paul Weller – and set up a Facebook fan group. It was never advertised but it’s grown into thousands of really engaged people and we chat to them on there too.”
“We put out comic books, coloured vinyl, music in a load of different formats and then had to plan when to drop them. We made sure that every product was worth buying and we took a hit to make sure that the prices weren’t too high.”
“We sold 22,500 copies which was the fourth biggest-selling album of the year in terms of first-week sales. More than Miley Cyrus and U2 achieved in their first week. We’re really proud of that.”