Augustana singer likes new DIY touring model
Augustana singer Dan Layus takes a hands-on approach when it comes to setting up for concerts. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
Formed in 2002, Augustana continue to release solid material despite having recently undergone a complete rebirth. Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with singer Dan Layus.
24: You had your first hit with Boston in 2005. The video had you at the piano in the Pacific Ocean. Was that a challenging shoot?
DL: I was freezing. It was Jan. 2 or something and I had to have a wet suit on underneath my clothes. It was really cold.
24: A lot has gone on with Augustana lately with the band basically dissolving. When that occurred, did you give serious thought to retiring the name and what was that process like for you?
DL: Regardless of the name or the band, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t all in vain and I wasn’t just doing it because it was basically all I knew. I wanted to make sure I was writing and recording and touring with someone, and I was still passionate about it. I took a couple of months as a breather. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home because my wife was still working. I was just chillin’ out making sure I still loved it and I started writing and it kind of went from there over the last three years. I decided to stick with it and keep the name and keep it going.
24: You kind of seem to be a DIY project these days. Is that a purposeful thing where you decided to be very hands on and not rely so much on others?
DL: For a very long time I had a great tour manager, and had techs and sound guys. After a while, it wasn’t a lack of the ability to keep those people around, it was more a deliberate move to be more hands on and purposeful with the way the tour went and the way I felt. I feel more gravity on each show because I drove every mile, did all the immigration things and so on, so when I get to the show, I’ve put a lot into getting onto that stage. I think I’m seeing the human connection more so than I ever have.
24: For your latest album, Life Imitating Life, you had stated that you needed a landmark song. You clearly have one with Ash and Ember.
DL: Thanks. I felt like I had the body of work built, but I was missing the face. I don’t know that it’s the anchor that ties the record together, but at the time I didn’t have the song that I thought should re-enter the atmosphere of Augustana. Lyrically, conceptually, sonically, writing-wise I felt really good and it’s a lot of fun to play. It gets a great response.
24: When you step away and take a look at where you are today, are you happy with the evolution of the band?
DL: I’ve never been happier. I’m really fortunate and very humbled by the amount of support I’ve received at the shows and the stuff I’ve seen online. To be this deep into it and to have people still passionate about the back catalogue, as well as current material, and very supportive is great. I’ve never been happier in my career and in my life as a husband and a father.
24: Did you pass on the musical gene to any of your kids?
DL: Fortunately and unfortunately I did. My seven-year-old can already play Boston really well and I didn’t even teach her. She picked up piano by ear. My other ones sing really well. I can already see me tour managing the band in 10 years.
24: Fortunately you occurred in a pretty good era for music videos as opposed to stuff from the ‘80s where people had ridiculous fashion sense and bad haircuts. You won’t have to worry about your kids checking out old videos and laughing at their dad.
DL: I think no matter what, your dad is just never quite as cool as he thinks he is. Even if your dad is Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen.