Augustana

Augustana: Over

Sometimes a young band comes along-perhaps they haven't even been a band that long-and they just have it. Augustana, a brand-new four piece, are one of those bands. Fronted by a charismatic, deeply thoughtful songwriter with a powerfully expressive voice and effortlessly backed by natural musicians. It's more than a band. It's organic when it happens. The members get together and they just know. Each realizes he will never be better than he is when he's playing with these other guys. And so it is with Augustana.The band bounced around the country, never staying in one place too long, often finding a song or two in the loneliness and sense of rootlessness that comes along with never really having a place you truly call home. Eventually the guys landed in Chicago where they continued to rehearse. Premiere rock producer Brendan O'Brien, who has worked with Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Stone Temple Pilots, and Neil Young, among many others, heard their demos, and on the strength of the songwriting, flew out to Chicago to hear the band in person. That sealed the deal. A few months later, the guys met up with O'Brien at Southern Tracks studio in Atlanta to record the 11 songs that make up Augustana's strikingly confident debut, All the Stars and Boulevards, which was released in the Summer of 2005.All the Stars and Boulevards is a reflective, wistful, cerebral, and somewhat melancholy record. The band delivers tales of frustration and heartbreak, while infusing the album with small windows of hope. Many songs are named after places, "Boston," "Mayfield," "Hotel Roosevelt," "California's Burning," which isn't surprising considering they were given life by a group of guys who, while finding their musical voice, never stayed anywhere for too long. "For me, writing about finding a home in these places, works as a metaphor for finding home in a person." says Dan.The album's centerpiece is "Boston"-"It was inspired by a friend of mine who wanted to get out of California," he says. "A lot of people are curious about what else is out there. You can only take so many sunny days before you wonder what the rain is like. At the time I was very curious about the rest of America, and I put a lot of myself into the girl I was writing about."Dan wrote the lyrics to "Wasteland" on a plane flying back to Los Angeles. "Over the summer I had been visiting this girl and it was tough to leave and I didn't want to go back to L.A. It's partly about the shallowness of the city, but more about the shallowness in myself, and how hard it is to be a real person in that town.""I think places will always be a theme for us," says Dan. "The more I listen to the words on this album, the more I realize how lonely and sad they are. I'm fine with that because this is where I was at. I just write how I'm living. Maybe in a few years I'll be a more uplifting person." He grins. "But I don't think that's me yet."