All of a sudden Dan Layus is 19 years old again. Heís got his back against the wall, not knowing whatís next. With the recent news break that Augustana is breaking up, the lead singer and chief song writer of the band has dealt with some interesting challenges. Red Bull broke the story a couple of months ago that Augustana was over and everybody was going their separate ways. Is this true? Is Augustana finished? The answer is anything but clear. It depends on what fan you ask and maybe what band member you ask. For now, the answer lies in band-purgatory with phrases like Ďmaybeí and Ďkind-of.í
ďThatís the unfortunate thing about the internet [laughs.] This guy, this really nice guyÖ I candidly talked to him about the situation with the band,Ē recalled Layus of the interview. ďIt was all true as far as most of the band was moving onÖ but I was going to continue with the name Augustana. I think he just kind of took the liberty to break that story and catch that headline and scoop it up as just ĎAugustana Breaks Up.íĒ
Continued Lays, ďThere is certainly an amount of truth to that but I can still go out and tour as Augustana, and thereís going to be a couple of different musicians, but weíre playing Augustana material with the same voice and those types of things. People will take it for what it is. Iím assuming that weíre going to lose some followers and some fans because some people are going to think that everybody who made up Augustana is what makes up Augustana. And theyíre certainly right in that, Justin, Jared, Chris, and whoever else who rotated through the band over the years were major benefactors to the sound of the records and the live band. Thatís not going to go unnoticed and Iím not discarding that sound of the records and the live band. Iíll be forever grateful to all of those things that they contributed. I just have to fill those spots with a couple of other buddies of mine now and go and play some shows.Ē
Justin South, Jared Palomar and Chris Sachtleben were all members of the band. Together with Layus they grew up on the road and became comfortable with lifeís questions just like everybody else in those years. Looking back, thatís what Layus will remember the most.
ďItís hard to really describe what thatís like. Itís not complaining because thatís what we chose,Ē said Layus. ďBut at the same time itís hard for other people to relate to that lifestyle. So it can be a challenge. Luckily and to this day one of the things that really made our band as successful, for our level, was a really important support system. Weíre all really good friends and when anybody would hit a rough patch in their personal lives you had all of those guys with you before you were even of legal drinking age, before you signed those contracts, before you were on TV or touring. Itís good to have those guys with that kind of perspective and everybody was really supportive of each other. It was kind of like our college years. Those are very formative years where you make a lot of good decisions and a lot of bad decisions. Itís good to have those people there that support you and that you make those memories with.Ē
There are lots of memories and among those memories are some regrets. Like most people, decisions and events that are the freshest leave room for the biggest amount of regret. One of the biggest things that Layus regrets is the bandís latest album not doing well in the marketplace.
ďI still firmly believe that this was our best material,Ē confirmed Layus with a strong amount of confidence in his voice.† ďI think thatís the strongest set of material from front to back. Iím certainly disappointed that it didnít succeed commercially as well as we had hoped- that sounds bad but we had a high bar. We wanted to be successful on a high level. It wasnít from a lack of effort or a lack of work ethic. We worked very hard. I think that the cards just fell as they did and a lot of this stuff is out of your hands sometimes.Ē
Augustana hasnít played their last show together and they havenít released their last album together either. Outsiders who followed the band closely for over the past six years can say that with confidence. Based on Layusí talking about the other members leaving and his closeness with them, the conclusion that Augustana will keep going remains in question but gradually inches towards inevitability.
ďItís certainly the end of the era. I spent the better part of a decade with these fellas and did a lot of growing up with them. Luckily, it was very amicable, weíre all still buddies,Ē replied Layus happily. ďIím sure weíll end up playing gigs together in one way or another. Whether thatís in the studio and Iíll call Justin in to play some drums on something or who knows. Stuff happens. Especially when relationships are good, itís good to not to burn all the bridges. Everybody was ready to make a change. It was necessary, not because there were any bad relationships in the group; it was just very difficult to keep the ship afloat as it was. Itís the story of a lot of bands. itís nothing new, everybodyís happy and seeing how things have progressed over the past four or six months or so, itís nice to not have any bad blood.Ē
Going forward with his music career isnít going to be an easy decision, but fortunately for Layus there are a lot of options on the table. One of those options, regardless of what band or what name heíll put out music under, is that he could possibly do it without a record label.
ďItís weird Iím not on a record label anymore,Ē said Layuys. ďIíd been on a major record label since I was eighteen or nineteen. Iím twenty-seven now. Itís sort of an uneasy feeling to know that this Epic Records thing is done and where we go from here. How do we put out this music and what kind of music? All those kinds of questions. Weíre certainly in another purgatory here, but weíll figure it out.Ē
When asked about the future of what and who or how heíll be releasing, there was a touch of a hint in Layusí voice but still a strong amount of uncertainty.
ďThatís part of what Iím trying to figure it out right now as far as what the next best step is,Ē Layus explained. ďIím assuming Iím going to continue to make music and I assume over the next couple of years thatíll be the main thing that I do. I still have a passion for it- both in the studio and playing live. As far as the name is concerned or what label or lack there/of, itíll be onÖ I donít know... I guess thatíll all come together along the next six months or so. I would hope that by the summer weíll have a better grasp of what the next step is. I have a whole bulk of new songs Iím working on, Iím just trying to figure out what to do with them. ď
Life is kind of funny; almost a decade ago Layus was a teenage kid trying to figure it out like the rest of us. Years later heís surrounded by similar circumstances but with added responsibilities. Heís got a family to take care of and bills to pay, just like the people that listen to his music. Thatís what makes the common modern professional musician so appealing, itís that a lot of them are relatable. Layusí reaction to Augustana winning album of the year on Alternative Addictionís yearly chart kind of said it all.
ďI was really blown away that people voted it; that we were the album of the year. Thatís fantastic man... I think the last award that I won was a youth soccer trophy so this is awesome. It was a really nice little pick-me-up. It was very niceÖ much needed [laughs.]Ē†