Some folks dawdle over New Year’s resolutions, but not Dan Layus.
The Augustana bandleader, who plays in The City next week, has set his 2013 vows to himself, his wife and three children in stone: to make every career moment count, forgive himself for past mistakes and eventually triumph over current adversity.
Because when he lost his contract with Epic Records recently, after three solid albums, he lost the rest of his group, too.
“So I am essentially Augustana at this point, for better or worse,” he says.
But Layus, 28, works well under pressure.
On his own, the “Boston” and “Sweet and Low” hitmaker has been churning out new, honest songs such as “Alive,” “Comeback Story” and “Need a Little Sunshine,” which he’ll preview in a special acoustic performance backed by guitarist Jay Barclay and brothers David and Jordan Lamoreaux on drums and bass.
“It’s a very small, very simple outfit,” he says. “But it gets the job done, and I love it. So I’m still here, chugging along, writing and touring.”
He also is reconnoitering. Without the label, the Los Angeles native is up every morning before dawn, doggedly penning — then home-recording — material.
He has an entire album finished, complete with the sounds of his kids in the background. He’s considering releasing digitally, then perhaps on his own imprint.
He also acquired the rights to “Augustana,” his ill-fated final Epic recording, and reissued it overseas, where it never got an official release. He even became his own tour manager.
“If you’re smart about it, you can figure out how to survive,” says the lone wolf, whose low-key side job writing music for TV shows like “The Voice” has helped pay the bills. “So I’ve really taken everything by the reins, and it’s kind of exciting. Things have never been worse, on paper, our stock has never been so low within the industry. And yet things feel the brightest that they’ve felt in years.”
That optimism also stems from Layus’ personal life. “I spent my 20s at the bottom of a bottle,” he says. “But I’ve been sober for a few years now, which really cleared up a lot of problems.”
He admits that his drinking ruined quite a few Augustana gigs. “But I’m playing very clearheaded shows now, and I’ve never felt so focused or intent on doing great things, on- and offstage” he adds.
It’s all part of his newfound New Year’s resolve. “You know, I want a simple life. I don’t need to be playing arenas,” Layus says. “I’m happy to just play the music that fulfills me the most. I feel most proud of that kind of work.”