Dan + Shay’s ‘Come to Jesus’ Meeting Changed Their Sound, Too [Interview]
Dan + Shay's Dan Smyers remembers the night he and Shay Mooney chose between doubling down on their decade of hitmaking and splitting up. Fans will hear it all across the new Bigger Houses album.
- Dan + Shay's Bigger Houses album drops on Friday (Sept. 15).
- Next spring, the duo will be coaches on The Voice on NBC.
- They met at a house party in December 2012 and released their debut single "19, You + Me" one year later.
The pair opened up publicly about their internal strife and resolution with a social media video released just ahead of the announcement of this next album. The worst of it came in December 2021 at the very end of the Arenas Tour, a highly anticipated run of shows that was initially pushed due to the pandemic.
"I could feel the separation," Mooney says in the video, "and I think there was little things between you and I that we never talked about. It was affecting everything. Not just our band. Like, my marriage, everything. I was in a really dark place."
Spoiler alert: They figured it out and set to working on what is arguably their best, certainly their loosest album to date. The Grammy winners have become stars on the strength of tightly produced love ballads including "Tequila" and "I Should Probably Go to Bed." Compare those with the organic sounds of the George Strait-esque "Heartbreak on the Map" to find the growth. These new songs breathe without straying far from themes established across four previous albums.
"You can just tell when you listen back that we were just having fun making this album," Smyers says. "Not that we didn’t on our previous albums, but this one just felt different."
If there was ever a knockout, drag down argument between the two men, their fans will never know it. Instead, Smyers and Mooney describe a slow simmer that was much more passive, perhaps even passive aggressive. In the aftermath, they talk about accountability and 50/50 and keep a focus on the future instead of a turbulent past. There was a turning point, however.
"We had a big night. We had a big 'Come to Jesus' at my house and aired everything out," Smyers shares. "We figured out what we needed to do to get this thing to the next level."
Simply put, Dan + Shay decided they needed to spend more time together. So, they started writing twice a week and began to hang out socially as well. It all sparked memories of what made being a duo so exciting 10 years ago.
"Being in a duo is tough. I feel it’s the toughest configuration of being an artist," Smyers shares. "In a trio there's a tie-breaker. In a group it's chaos, and a solo artist makes their own decisions. Historically, you see a duo fall apart because if you're not going out of your way to work on it like a marriage, it'll fall apart."