It all started when Dan Layus was 17. He was standing in a piano room at Greenville College in Illinois, and it was there, in what Layus calls one of his “stabs at writing a song,” that he penned “Boston,” the song that would eventually put his band, Augustana, on the map.
“We only stayed at the school for about three semesters then we decided to drop out, which was a very, very bad idea,” Layus says, laughing. “It’s really just one of those things, you know? We wanted to chase a dream. We wanted to get out there and try and we did.”
While Layus does not recommend dropping out of college, he can’t say it wasn’t the right move for Augustana. The California-based piano rock band’s 2005 debut, All the Stars and Boulevards, was later followed by 2008’s Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt, which featured the hit single, “Sweet and Low.”
Fast forward to April 26, 2011, the day the band released their self-titled third album on Epic Records. After several months on tour, the band hit a major bump in the road: They were let go from Epic’s roster due to the album’s lackluster sales.
If that weren’t enough of a blow, several members left the band, leaving Layus to rebuild Augustana from the ground up.
“There’s a lot of really fantastic memories with those guys, and they’ll always be close friends of mine, but it just came to a point when they were kind of ready to move on to the next stage of their life,” Layus says.
Augustana is not currently signed to a record label, and for the time being, Layus says that’s the right move for the band.
“We’re in the process of figuring out exactly what we want to do next and that just tends to take time,” he says. “We signed our record deal when I was 19 … eight years ago, so it’s been a long time since we’ve had those conversations or meetings so it’s kind of all fresh again to me.”
Layus hasn’t let a lack of major label backing stop him from thinking about the band’s next release, though. He says the band is throwing around the idea of a live album, plus another album of new material within the next year. During his time at home, and while caring for his three children, Layus says he is writing some of his best material yet.
Through all of the ups and downs as lead singer of Augustana, Layus says if he could do it all over again, he wouldn’t do one thing differently.
“I think there’s certainly ways that the ball could have rolled a little more in our court or fate had some plans leading up to where we are now, [but] I still consider myself such a fortunate man,” he says.
“I’ve found that if you can try to find those little moments throughout the day, then that’ll get you to the next phase or at least be in a place where you can truly embrace the good parts of life.”
Augustana with Greylag • Tues, May 8, at 7:30 pm • A Club • $15 • All-ages • aclubspokane.com • 624-3629