After a five-year break from releasing music with Augustana, Dan Layus and his current lineup of the band are back at with a double single. Recently, they dropped a Side A/Side B called ”For Now, Forever”/”The Heart of It”. We’ve featured “For Now, Forever” on the Top 20 Singles chart. This week it holds the #10 spot on the chart, last week it was #1. Alternative Addiction recently talked with Layus about the new mode that he’s in with releasing music under the Augustana moniker, why it felt right to release Augustana music again, and his excitement now compared to when the band was climbing the charts with “Boston” more than a decade ago.
“Those songs came together from some songwriting sessions. We caught some magic,” said Layus when talking about the new songs and where they came from. “We were working on some songs in the studio and then I just felt it and said, I think this is kind of like my song… like this was a song for Augustana. I asked if they minded, and they didn’t. We just produced it from there and went further with the actual recordings and mixing. We made it like an A/B side. I felt like it was an exciting way to release music again. People have seemed to be happy with the songs.”
So, what’s the difference between this music and Layus’ last release, a solo record out in 2016 called Dangerous Things? He said that this didn’t end up being a solo record for the opposite reason that the solo record didn’t turn into an Augustana record.
“The way the songs came out… it’s like the solo record,” began Layus. “I couldn’t justify calling Dangerous Things an Augustana record, those songs didn’t feel like Augustana songs. Then, when I put these songs together and some other songs I’m working on, the new songs felt like Augustana. That felt like that part of my heart, that side of me, my voice. I started writing new Augustana stuff in February of this year. After the first note in the first song that hasn’t been released yet – I thought immediately – this is Augustana. After trying to bring it back for a bit and struggling to find it, one day it just hit, and it worked, and I’ve been off to the races with it ever since.”
For Augustana fans, you can hear the new energy Layus has with the project on the very first note on “For Now, Forever.” It’s a guitar-heavy song that’s unlike anything the band has done in the past and definitely unlike Layus’ solo music.
“It’s making a mad dash for 80’s popular rock,” noted Layus when speaking enthusiastically on the new material. “I don’t know what it was, whether it was doing the acoustic/Americana stretch in my career or what. I loved that stretch in my creative life but now I’m feeling like throwing on some sneakers and some jeans and picking up my electric guitar and playing some Pat Benatar/Brian Adams/Queen inspired pop rock. No frills, big choruses, all the stuff that we all love. It feels nice to be in that headspace again.”
So, the first Augustana release in about five years is a double single. Is this leading to an LP? An EP? Is it leading anywhere in general? Layus isn’t sure on the LP or the EP, but he’s sure that it will lead to Augustana releasing more singles in the very near future. As an avid music fan, he’s relating to other music fans in the distribution of his own music.
“I hope it’s all leading to something absolutely. The way that things have unfolded in the last few years it’s been more and more prohibitive working the old way with the way that music is consumed and distributed now. Then, you combine that with all the old music being available all the time. It’s interesting how that translates to me even as a listener. I’ll listen to something and then that will lead me down a rabbit hole and exploring an artist’s career path.”
“Releasing music that way make sense now. And it plays alongside of how we work on the road, how often we go out and how long we stay out. At least for the time being, the LP mode – the big album and the rollout and then the touring cycle on that is prohibitive to progress creatively to me. It felt like it wasn’t yielding the kind of results in every direction that I wanted to see. I felt like I wanted to adjust my approach. This feels like a new mold that a lot of people fit into now; release a couple of songs at a time every few months, then hit the road in shorter stretches. I like what it’s doing to the creative process. It lets me release a couple of new things at a time. That keeps it fresh and exciting for everyone. I catch the magic and then I put it out six weeks later then I go and play it at a show,” added the Augustana frontman.
Releasing new music with Augustana, the band’s also back to hitting the road. Layus and co. have shows coming up in October and they’ll be on the road through mid-November, they’ve played a few shows recently and the energy has Layus excited to play again.
“We’re hitting the tour for the first Augustana-billed tour in quite a few years. We’ve done a lot of one-off festival type shows over the past few years, but for the most part it’s been under my own name. Now, we’re going to be hitting some clubs as Augustana and it’s exciting. When we did our first show for this in Boston, it was electrifying. I had the greatest time ever. We’re going to be hitting a lot of major cities throughout the U.S. That’s going from mid-October to about mid-November,” said Layus.
People who’ve followed the band since their start will know that Augustana was young with their initial surge into the mainstream, not only were they young, but their rise seemed like it was almost instant. One day they were a buzzing band online and then the next day they had a song that was arguably the popular song in the U.S. with “Boston.” Talking with Lays, we discussed the difference in excitement between now and then and how his perspective has changed.
“It’s funny I find it difficult to tap into that same person. You couldn’t pay me enough to be that age again. I have a hard time connecting with that self. The songs are a good way to at times, I don’t find it hard to challenge those emotions and those narratives and feel connected to that. Anything beyond that – if it doesn’t have a melody, a hook, or a chord structure – I have a hard time connecting with that. I don’t remember what that felt like, but I know what today feels like. If I had to guess I feel like I’m more excited and more energetic now than I was in my early twenties probably because there was a real lack of perspective on the amount of good luck I had at that time with our music. There was a sense of entitlement and expectation that’s natural with being that age. That’s forgivable if you grow out of it and I feel like I have. I think that I probably have a fresher perspective and a greater appreciation of the small wins in work and life. I can see now how much work it takes to achieve a certain level of success in this business, so when I get a win now I appreciate it a lot more.“ - aa
Tour dates and more info on all things Layus and Augustana can be found at https://danlayus.com/