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Record company push helped Augustana make a better album

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, June 3, 2011

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Augustana frontman Dan Layus calls the California group’s self-titled fourth record “a life album.” And they certainly learned lessons about life in the music industry while making it.

The quintet began working on “Augustana” — which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Indie charts after its late April release — during fall 2009. But after turning in the first batch of songs recorded with producer Jacquire King, Layus says Augustana’s record company executives “weren’t crazy about it.”

“They liked about half of it, and they wanted us to maybe take it a little further and try some different producers and (to) write some more songs. They certainly wanted something commercially competitive — at least a song that would be commercially competitive, which they felt they didn’t have.”

And though he was “reluctant” to do that at first, Layus acknowledges that going back to the drawing board “ended up sort of pulling out some of the best material that I think is on the record.”

Among that is the album’s first single, “Steal Your Heart,” which Augustana worked on with producer Sam Farrar. “It’s a very honest, earnest ... there’s a lot of conviction in that song,” Layus notes. “It came really naturally and it just felt really good to write that song. It felt really good to play it — it still feels really good to play it. It just feels like one of those milestone songs that come along.

“I didn’t realize how incomplete everything was without that song existing. But those are the best ones, where they just kind of happen and you don’t try to hard or overthink it. It just happens — and you wonder why it can’t happen more!”

Augustana, The Main and Austin Gibbs perform Friday, June 3, at Clutch Cargo’s, 65 E. Huron St., Pontiac. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 248-333-2362 or visit www.clutchcargos.com.

Web Site: www.clutchcargos.com

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