Since being sought out by acclaimed producer Brendan O'Brien and recording their first major label record, Augustana has not stopped building momentum. A hard-working group of guys that are constantly on the road touring, Soul Shine's Sarah Shandl sat down with Dan Layus (lead vocals, piano, guitar) and Chris Sachtleben (lead guitar, mandolin) from the band to talk about life and times on the road, a few new additions, and crazy fans.
SS: Dan, you just had your first child over the Christmas season, how is that like for you now being back on the road?
Dan: It's great, they're actually on the road with us right now. It's fun, you know, we're just kinda doing the same thing we would at home, just with shows and working.
SS: You've been on the road a lot over the last couple of years. Is it hard having to pack up and do it all again so quickly after having a bit of a break with your families and friends?
Chris: We're just kinda slamming into it, we just enjoyed the time off and then it's just time to go now. You get thrown into it pretty quick, and they did a good job of scheduling the first shows a few days off to let us get into the swing of things, but it's pretty much justÖgo.
SS: This tour sees the exit of your former keyboardist, David, and a new one you've brought on boardÖ how's that working out so far?
Dan: Yeah, he just left a couple of days agoÖ that was unfortunate. We have a really good friend of ours that grew up with me and played in different bands, and he ended up joining us at the start of this tour and then they worked out a really good transition, and it's all good and we've got a new piano player now. It's definitely a bummer because David was a really good friend, and it was a good departure, as far as they goÖ he just wanted to explore his other options and go back into the classical music world. He was definitely over our heads as far as talent. He definitely didn't need to be doing our kind of music.
SS: You've had a bunch of different transitions with band members over the years. Is that beneficial in a creative sense, or is it hard losing bits and pieces when they each leave?
Dan: Umm.. I think it's definitely, hopefully, this is going to be the final line up. From day one it's kinda been a sort of open door type of band where people have been walking in and out. Sometimes it's hard, I've kinda personally gotten numb to it, where I find the best in each person and each situation and try and draw it out for the best of what it is, but it's never easy when people walk away, or when you have toÖ helpÖ them walk away.
SS: The video for your single "Boston" is really cool, how'd you come up with the idea?
Dan: Actually, it wasn't really our idea. We got a bunch of treatments from directors and that one just seems like a really cool idea, so we really didn't come up with it. I don't personally love it, but it was quite fun to make, and people like it.
SS: On one of your recent MySpace blogs you talked about hanging out with the guys from SwitchfootÖwhat's it like building friendships with these other bands you meet?
Chris: You come to know a lot of different bands just from touring with a lot of them. Most of the bands we've toured with have turned out to be really sweet, just normal people that are cool. Being with the same people for a month, or two months straight you get to know them.
SS: I heard you helped someone propose at one of your concerts last summerÖ how'd that happen?
Dan: (haha) Yeah, that was really fun. At the end of "Boston" a guy wanted one of us to say 'whatever you name wasÖ your boyfriend wants to ask you a question', and we did it and he yelled out 'she said yes!' and everyone cheered, and it was great.
SS: Any other weird random stuff like that happen lately?
Dan: That was probably the most random (haha). But you know, there's so many shows, and so many weird things happen, it's hard to remember. When you're exposed to that type of a playing field of people, some of them being normal and some of them being out of it, it's hard to remember how many crazy things happen.
SS: Any stalkers?
Dan: Nothing too stalkerish, but sometimes it does get a little weirdÖ if it's like high school girls, younger fans, it's totally understandable. When I was younger I totally looked up to bands and thought they were amazing, you know what I mean, got googilly eyed over them. But when it's a guy, our age or older, and they like the band more than, umm, the average personÖ then it starts to get a bit creepy. You know that you mean, or your music means, a lot to them so you don't want to shoot them down because you're kinda weirded out, because you could hurt their feelings, and I care about that. I don't want to hurt somebody. But at the same time you have to keep a little bubble because you don't want it to getÖ funkyÖ and stuff (haha).
SS: What's the worst airport you've been to?
Chris: There's a lot of pain in the butt airports.. ummÖ
Dan: Dallas, Texas.
Chris: Yeah, they're one of these airports where there's a terminal here and here (stretching out his arms), and you have to get on a monorailÖ
Dan: Yeah, those big monorail's or whateverÖ I don't like the monorailÖ
Chris: The last time we were there we landed in A, had to take a monorail to terminal B, got to our gate, they sent us back, had to get back on the monorail to terminal A, got there, they sent us back to terminal B, so we were just riding the monorail all around saying, 'awww come onnnn!'
For more information on Augustana please visit www.augustanamusic.com.
Writer: Sarah Shandl