Around the release of her debut album Garageband Superstar last summer, Lauran Hibberd’s life was turned upside down. A month before the record was released, she lost her father, and after “soldiering on” with the album’s release plan, other changes in her life followed.
“I eventually finished the tour and just stopped, and I was like, ‘Oh god’,” she tells Rolling Stone UK, with these seismic changes inspiring new second album, Girlfriend Material, out on March 22 via Virgin. “After I’d come to terms with where I was in my life, it just sort of fell out,” she says of the new material. “I’ve never had a group of songs come to me more easily than this second record. It was really refreshing and freeing.”
The album carries with it the heaviness of all these life changes – after her father’s death, Hibberd split from a long-distance relationship and moved in by herself for the first time – but is also unashamedly fun, and funny too. The album’s emotional centrepiece is recent single ‘I Suck At Grieving’, where Hibberd admits that these feelings are terrifying, uncertain and different from person to person, but new single ‘Mary’, out today, is equally important. On it, she gleefully discusses going on a double date and realising that, actually, it’s the other man’s girlfriend that she fancies.
“It’s toughened me up in a lot of ways,” she says of her grief and the upheaval that followed it. “I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore, which has actually made me a lighter human being in a lot of ways. On my first album, I had so many concerns, but I don’t worry about that stuff anymore.”
Of the life changes that her grief inspired, Hibberd adds: “I think I was putting off making a big change, because there’s never a good time to blow up your life. We’re all guilty of that. Losing my dad really spurred me on and changed me as a person. I realised: I’m not going to waste any time. I need to find out who I am, whatever that is.
“So I blew up my life for a bit, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. Obviously going on that journey has its ups and downs, and the record definitely shows both the peaks and troughs of that. I’m just sort of waiting for the big crash now,” she concludes, letting out a huge laugh.
Your recent circumstances are referenced most explicitly in the song ‘I Suck At Grieving’ – how did it feel to write that one?
When it all happened, I found that people around me made it worse. They want to try and help but there’s nothing you can do. I still get moments where I fully remember what happened and it’s awful. I’m sure I will for the rest of my life. It definitely changes you as a person, and I knew that this song had to [be released] first. It couldn’t go in between anything else. It’s me saying: ‘This is what happened since we last spoke, and now let’s get back to my usual shit’.
The album is also very fun – was offsetting the serious stuff with some levity important?
That’s what I love about ‘I Suck At Grieving’. I didn’t want to write a song like, ‘Oh, my dad died. Let me sit here with an acoustic.’ That’s not who I am, and that’s not how I portrayed the whole experience. I was way more than sad. I was angry, I was irrational, I was furious at the people around me, and I found people to blame for it. I hadn’t heard a grief song like that before, and I wanted to hear someone say: ‘I don’t know what the fuck is going on, and that’s okay.’ Then I just scream at the end. I wanted that release.
You made the album in Los Angeles with Aaron Gillespie (Underoath, Paramore) – what did he bring to the record?
When I was writing ‘I Suck At Grieving’, I really didn’t want to put it out, and I wasn’t sure I was going to put it on the record. I sat with Aaron, and he was like, ‘Lauran, it’s going on the record. Don’t even don’t even fuck with me. It’s on the record’. So I let him have it, and I’m so glad he pushed me to do that, because it was so freeing. For an artist like me, who leans on the rock side and plays with humour a lot, it’s nice to write a song like that and to reach different people. It’s nice to have people crying at me on the merch desk instead of slagging off their boyfriends!
With all these life changes, touring for most of 2023 and living alone, what has it all taught you that you’re going to take forwards?
I realised that I’m one of those people that has always relied on someone else to make decisions in my life. Even the small ones like what I want to watch on TV, or do I actually want to go to that show? Am I just saying yes because they want to go? It’s interesting to find out the small stuff about yourself, and I’m far more comfortable with my own company now. I currently don’t even like garlic bread! I thought I did, but now I don’t know. It’s different on my own.