Dan + Shay have become a firm favourite on the Country music live circuit here in the UK.
The duo embarked on their first headline tour last year and followed it up with a well-received performance at C2C: Country to Country back in March. Dan + Shay kicked off their UK and Ireland tour on Tuesday night at KOKO in Camden, London and this time they brought their band with them.
I caught up with the guys at KOKO before their show to talk about being back in the UK, discuss the crazy couple of years they’ve had and to find out the status of their third album.
We’ve been supporting you for a few years now and it was actually Colton Haynes that put you on my radar. Things have really taken off for you the past couple of years, what’s that been like?
Dan: Man, it’s been incredible! We’re so lucky and blessed to do we do. We get to write country music and have fans come out to the shows and sing the words back to us, especially coming over here. We’re really far from home right now. We get to fly across an ocean to get here. our bus pulled up this morning and there were already fans waiting, and it’s pretty cold outside, which is testament to them for being awesome. They’re outside waiting for us and taking photos, and requesting like song 9 on our album. That’s so cool that they know that song. We’re really far from home and to have that happen is a dream come true for us. To be able to have people come out to show in your hometown is one thing but to be able to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and have fans is… we’ve got to pinch ourselves. It just feels like a dream. It’s incredible. We’re enjoying the ride and appreciating every minute of it. This venue is amazing, Koko’s incredible.
You seem to really hit the mark with the UK and your UK fans. This is your second headline tour.
Shay: Yeah, this is the second time we’ve been here. The first time we came was acoustic and we were just blown away with the response. It’s pretty incredible to be able to come here and to have fans know your words and know your album. We’ve just been blown away by the experience and the whole of UK was just amazing. To be here the second time, we brought our entire band and it’s going to be a really cool experience. This venue is unbelievable. We’ve been walking around and exploring a little bit (laughs). It’s beautiful man. We’re so excited for this and we’ve been looking forward to it all year since we came here for C2C and the response was just awesome. To be here headlining with a full band is going to be a cool experience.
What’s the status for your third album? Can we expect new music in 2018?
Dan: We’re actually in the process of mixing it right now and we’re so proud of the stuff we’re working on and writing and recording. When you’re an artist you have this music on your laptop or your hard drive or wherever and we’re like, ‘we should just post this and get it out of the fans’ or ‘we’re going to play it live!’ but there’s a process and a timing to it all. We’re eagerly holding it back and we’re like waiting but we’re going to drop some new music at the top of the year. We’re looking forward to getting that out there and the fans, they’re craving it and they want the new music so we’re going to give it to them. We wish we could play all new songs tonight. You’re always working on the next project but you’ve got to appreciate the moment and enjoy what you got out there. It won’t be long so we’re working on it and it’s coming soon.
There was a noticeable progression from Where It All Began to Obsessed. Are you going to be progressing your sound again with the new music?.
Shay: Yeah I think you evolve not only as artists but as people as time goes by. Dan and I both got got married since those two albums so it’s been pretty cool to be able to not only experience new things in the studio and to be able to work on that. The Dan and Shay sound is very much there on this album and we tried to do that you know with the first and second albums. I think we progressed as artists. Dan is such an incredible producer and I think we’ve both grown not only as artists but Dan as a producer and us working in the studio and the way that we go about things. The music is definitely us but we’re trying to push the limits and trying to be a little bit better every album. We try to give the fans what they loved on the first two albums and also bring in something new that they haven’t heard from us. We’re excited to be able to do that on this album and I think we’ve done it. Like Dan said we’ll get it out at the top of the year probably. It’s hard to hold back music, to hear these songs and to write them and we can’t wait for the fans to hear them. It’s close it’s coming!
The popularity of Country music is still a relatively new thing here in the UK. Have you been surprised by just how passionate the audiences are over here?
Dan: It’s really, really cool. We never would have expected it when we came over for the first time. Like Shay was saying earlier, we did our first tour here acoustic, just the two of us and it was honestly like being in Nashville. There’s so much respect for the song here. We’ll play in certain cities in the States and we’ll finish playing a song and people are talking or have their backs turned, or are just drinking beer at the bar and kind of half paying attention. But here there was so much attention. Everyone was focused, listening, singing the words and then when we finished it was dead silent like they were listening for what we had to say. We went storyteller style and we would tell the story and the inspiration behind the song. Everyone was really interested or at least they did a good job of convincing us that they were interested. That’s really cool and that’s a big thing in Nashville, there’s so much emphasis on the song and the songwriter. We kind of see that here when we’ve been playing. We’ll break it down and do a couple of acoustic songs and it’s one of our favourite parts in the set. The UK is a lot like Nashville in that fact and it’s a good place for us to come hang out and sing country music so it’s fun.
You’ve got two Platinum singles under your belt now. What’s that like?
Shay: It’s really cool. The fact that people are still buying music… it’s a little bit different now than it used to be with people streaming songs and they’re listening to track eight and track nine, especially here. It’s not just the songs that people hear on the radio. They’re discovering all the music that we have out there and that’s a really cool thing when you come to our shows. It’s like that in the States as well now where people are discovering the whole body of music that we put out instead of just the singles. It’s cool to be able to come, especially somewhere like here, where they’re singing track nine and singing all these different songs that they’ve falled in love with. It happens a lot of times in the States that they know the songs they’ve heard on the radio but here it’s like they know every word to every song. We’re excited to be here.
Is it more rewarding as songwriters to have audiences that do listen and know every word to every song?
Dan: It really is. We’re proud of the stuff that gets out there on the radio and our singles and the ones we make music videos for, but a lot of times our favourite songs are deep in the album. It’s awesome to hear anybody sing anything you wrote but to come all the way here and have fans sing like track nine or whatever on the record is incredible. It just shows that people care. They respect the art of the song and you know they respect country music and the storytelling behind it. It is actually rewarding when we come over here and that’s why I like that acoustic tour that we did first, which was so cool. We’re glad we got to experience. We love playing with the band and doing our big show and rocking and being loud but it is really fun when you’re playing acoustic because you can really hear everyone singing back to you and you’re like, ‘wow they’re singing louder than we are. This is incredible’. We don’t take a minute of it for granted. This is the first show of the tour so we’re looking forward to it big time.
Are you going to get any down time to enjoy Christmas this year?
Shay: Yeah man! (laughs). We get back right before Christmas so we’ll be able to go home and experience that with our families. This will be my little boy’s first Christmas with us so that’ll be a cool experience. While we’re over here we have some days off in between the tour so we’ll be able to experience a lot of different places during the holiday season and be able to experience Christmas over here and to see what that’s like. You know we never spent Christmas over here in the U.K. It’s going to be a new and pretty exciting experience for us.
Dan + Shay’s album Obsessed is out now and you can see them at the following shows over the next week:
Friday 1st Dec – O2 Academy Birmingham
Sunday 3rd December – Manchester Academy 2
Monday 4th December – St Luke’s Glasgow
Thursday 7th December – Mandela Hall, Belfast