Cant Love, Cant Hurt
Beginning before they were even old enough to drink, as frontman/songwriter Dan Layus puts it, the band Augustana has grown up tremendously over the past three years, touring relentlessly while supporting Epic debut All the Stars and Boulevards (which reached #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart) and hit single Boston. Inking a producer before theyd been seriously tested before an audience, and finding themselves in the recording studio tracking a major-label debut before the masses knew who they were, the band had to grow into the ambitious blueprint theyd set out for themselves, and grow they did.
The results of the time in the trenches are found on Cant Love, Cant Hurt, the bands assured follow-up.
While the record is about the experience of becoming more seasoned as a band; Layus songwriting grew up as well, informed by becoming a husband and father, dealing with lifes attendant challenges. It really affected us in a positive way, observes the pianist and native Californian, who formed the band in Illinois with pal Jared Palomar (bass) before finding the missing pieces in L.A. Justin South (drums) and John Vincent Fredricks (keyboards/vocals), the latter of whom Layus had known for years. Chris Sachtleben (guitar), a childhood friend of Palomars, moved from Nashville to join up.
The increased responsibility also had Layus getting more serious about his chosen profession. I took voice lessons, we changed management and I did anything I could to get better and learnand Im still doing that, he says. I also worked a lot harder on my songwriting, and spent enough time to get it absolutely right.
While most bands spend all their lives writing a debut recordthen six months on a follow-up, Augustana actually did it backwards; arriving at the label with what everyone agreed was a solid single and a few other songs, but not much else. We had six months to write our first record, Layus recalls. But then all of a sudden we were on the road for three years, with really nothing to do but write and demo. I was constantly writing songs and weeding stuff out.
As a result, Cant Love, Cant Hurt is 10 studiously-chosen cuts of modern, melodic, piano-driven rock, informed by Layuss love of classic pop/rock songwritersfrom The Beatles to Tom Pettyand covering deeper subject matter than the bands debut. Still Aint Over You is a love song in the context of a committed relationship, while Dust, with its a capella introduction, is the sound of Layus attempting to make peace with his religious upbringing. Meet You There Someday was inspired by Layuss young daughter and his frequent need to leave her behind in order to tour.
Augustana hit the road even before All the Stars and Boulevards was released, crisscrossing clubs with the Stereophonics before graduating to much larger venues. By the time the band was logging well-received stints opening for Snow Patrol, Dashboard Confessional and Counting Crows, Boston was in rotation on radio, the video was getting plays under VH1s You Oughta Know banner, and the band knew it was onto something.
I didnt realize that this wasnt always the way it happens, to come out with your first record and get a single on pop radio, Layus recalls, laughing. It was hard to get any real perspective on how incredibly lucky we were to be in that position.
With Boston well on its way to being certified digital platinum by the RIAA, the band made appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen Degeneres Show and The Today Show among countless others.
The band chose producer Mike Flynn to usher Cant Love, Cant Hurt into the world. I think he did an incredible job in terms of getting me outside my box and really exploring the potential of the songs, Layus recalls. Some of these songs I had been singing the same way at shows for over a year. Then comes this producer who says, I think you should try it like this. I could feel it, physically, when Id go home every night, like an uncomfortable stretching sensation. But I cant look back and see that the songs would be even close to what they are right now if I hadnt done the stuff that Mike and I had worked on.
The result is an intensely emotional album, borne of the bands growth, cohesion as a unit, and Layus newfound fatherhood. And thanks to Flynns spot-on production, the results are delivered winningly.
Im so happy I actually got to say things the way I wanted to say them and how I wanted to say them, Layus says. We all feel really confident about it.
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