With two successful albums under their belts, Augustana wanted to move in a different direction for their third full-length record. “The original idea, when we got the green light to record, was to try and do something that we never had a chance to do before,” frontman Dan Layus explained, “…we had this fresh batch of songs that we were really excited about and we wanted to get as close to a live recording as possible.”
The result is an organic, raw rock album with a sound that is undeniably Americana and pulls from some of the band’s influences like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. “We’ve certainly always been influenced by that – but I think it just took a couple of records and a couple of years for that to finally, I feel like, appropriately manifest itself onto a record.”
You can hear the difference in “Steal Your Heart,” the first single on the album as it explodes with energy at every repetition of the chorus. But for those of you who loved the first two records, don’t worry – the album isn’t a complete departure from the first two albums. Songs like “On The Other Side” and “Counting Stars” bring us back to the sound that the band is typically known for.
You’ll be able to purchase a copy of the record on April 26th, almost three years to the day that Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt was released. In the meantime, you can check out my interview with the amazing Dan Layus right here! I love this band! Just had to throw that out there Enjoy!
You have a new album coming out in April, what made you decide to self-title this one?
Good question. I’m not sure, but it just felt like the right end-cap. There are so many thoughts on the record, so many producers and so many different songs. It was a two and a half year process and for the third record it just felt right. A title never came to mind, I just thought, ‘you know what, it should just be Augustana.’
What made you decide to approach the new record from a more Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty inspired way?
Well, I’ve kind of always wanted to – and we’ve certainly always been influenced by that – but I think it just took a couple of records and a couple of years for that to finally, I feel like, appropriately manifest itself onto a record. I think we’ve always had that tendency at our live shows… a very raw and sort of spur of the moment, very American tendency. That’s what we’ve always been influenced by but just for whatever reason we have never been able to transfer that onto the tape. This time around, just the way we did it, it worked and I think the songs lent themselves to be able do that finally.
You decided to not play it so safe anymore…did you change your writing process?
A little bit. For the first two records I wouldn’t really include anybody else or take anyone else’s opinion. I always felt sort of like, ‘this is my burden to bare, I need to be the guy, I need to be able to figure this out and write a great record… and I need to be able to do it all by myself.’
I don’t know why I always felt like that. But I started thinking that this time around we don’t have any time to make any mistakes at this point. It’s do or die and I wanted all of the opinions I could get. I wanted to see what bringing all of the other guys into the room would produce or having other people put in their opinions on some lyrics or a chorus.
I went into it with one foot in the door and one foot out. By the end of it, I’m two feet in for sure. I think it really brought out the strengths that I was looking for in trying to find the peak potential of the songs.
Where did you record this album?
We took our first stab at the record with Jacquire King in Los Angeles back in the fall of 2009. We did about ten songs and only kept about 5 or 6. Then we went ahead, took some time and re-addressed everything. We did some more writing and got together with a bunch of different producers. We did sort of a mish-mosh compilation of the best of the best that we came up with and threw it on the record and said those are the best ten. It’s a big mish-mosh, it’s a little scatter-brained, but we just thought that as long as the songs are the best then that won’t matter.
Are there any songs that you’re particularly excited to release?
Absolutely! The first song that’s getting put out, “Steal Your Heart,” is the opening track and definitely one of my favorite tracks that we’ve ever recorded or written over the last six years or so. I’m definitely excited to see what the reaction is, or if there is one (laughs).
One of my favorite tracks on the record is “Counting Stars,” what’s the story on that one?
Thank you! I got together with Kevin Griffin from the band Better Than Ezra – really good guy. We just got together one night and wrote the song. Where it is on the record, where it sits lyrically and sonically – I think it serves the purpose of not fully leaving behind our past. I knew that we could put together a ten-song record where everything sounded like “Steal Your Heart,” – that newer, fresher take on where we’re going musically. But I thought it would be absent-minded to sort of alienate people who really dug the piano-based songs and our first two records. That stuff comes just as naturally to me too as some of the newer stuff.
Were any of the songs more difficult to record than others?
Some of the more challenging ones were the ones we did with Jacquire. The original idea, when we got the green light to record, was to try and do something that we never had a chance to do before. We had a five-piece band that had been playing together on the road for two or three years straight and we were really tight and feeling good. We had this fresh batch of songs that we were really excited about and we wanted to just get as close to a live recording as possible with just a couple of over dubs. That was definitely more difficult than it seemed on paper. But, with that being said, I think we came very close to achieving that goal. It was really satisfying in a very different way to make this record.
Has being a dad changed the way that you write?
Absolutely! Right now I’m trying to write in my house while my wife is at work and you just can’t do it with two kids (laughs). Plus, I know that I’m about to be gone for a long time and I want to give them as much attention and focus as I can while I’m here. I’ve definitely found that I have to go to a different place, maybe a different room and not have many distractions or else I won’t get anywhere.
What are the best and worst parts of touring?
The worst part of touring is all the down time… all of the time that you have to think and think yourself into a ditch. We drive our asses off, we’ll drive 500 miles in a day in a van and then get there, set up, wait another 4 hours, play the gig and then go try to fall asleep at the hotel.
But I’d say it’s like that Jackson Browne song, “Load Out,” – the only time that seems too short is the time that you get to play because that’s the best part. But it’s good because it always reminds me of why I came.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
You know what, actually, I got a tattoo of it on my arm. It was this guy from a band called Ringside. His name is Scott Thomas and I remember one day I was kind of just having a melt down on tour and we were texting back and forth and I was like, ‘man I’m missing all this stuff at home, I don’t know if I even want to do this anymore, I miss my kids and blahlala’ and he said, ‘well, make it count.’ And that was it. I just thought you know, fuckin’ A, I guess. If I wanted to go home, I’d go home but I’m here. So just make every single second of while you’re out and doing it and working…make it count because life is passing by quickly and getting that perspective was a life-changer for sure.
If you had to choose some albums that you think that every music lover should own, what would you choose?
You know, I’m biased. I can tell you some of my favorite records and certainly the ones that influenced this one. Damn the Torpedoes is tough to beat. Obviously, Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town. I also love some Jackson Browne. There’s so many, it’s tough to choose!
Check out augustanamusic.com for more information about Augustana!
You can purchase the band’s albums and hear some clips below:
|1. Steal Your Heart
2. Wrong Side of Love
3. On The Other Side
4. Counting Stars
5. Borrowed Time
6. Shot In The Dark
7. Someone’s Baby Now
9. Just Stay Here Tonight
10. It Only Means I Love You (You Were Made For Me)
|1. Hey Now
2. I Still Ain’t Over You
3. Sweet And Low
4. Twenty Years
5. Meet You There
7. Either Way, I’ll Break Your Heart Someday
9. Rest, Shame, Love
10. Where Love Went Wrong
3. Hotel Roosevelt
5. Stars and Boulevards
6. Feel Fine
8. Lonely People
9. Sunday Best
10. California’s Burning
11. Coffee And Cigarettes