Chatting about Augustana

Augustana is swinging through town in a couple weeks as part of the “Tag This” tour -- with The Hush Sound, The Spill Canvas and One Republic -- which is hitting clubs, theaters and college venues through early December.

A rock quintet from San Diego, Augustana found some success with their single “Boston,” a 2007 hit that sold more than 1 million copies in the United States. The band’s second album, “All the Stars and Boulevards,” sold 300,000 copies in the United States and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart.

In April, Augustana released their follow-up album, “Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt,” which Billboard Magazine called “one long, soft-focus sunset anthem: warm, well-crafted, hazy and very safe.”

Last week, I got to talk with bassist and vocalist Jared Palomar. Here's some parts from our conversation ...

“We probably should have been named something else,” he said when I asked about the band's name origin. Palomar admitted the story behind the band’s name isn’t the stuff of legend. The name doesn’t have any strong meaning to the band members; they accepted the name based on a friend’s suggestion. “We should be named The Rolling Stones or something,” he joked.

No matter the name, the band gig is working pretty well for Augustana. They’ve just completed a tour with established rockers Counting Crows and Maroon 5, even sharing stage time with the Crows.

“They really took us under their wing on the tour,” Palomar said, recalling the latest stretch was Augustana’s second with Counting Crows. “They’re really cool mentors to us. They invited us to play with them during their set, we played with them on a few of our songs. So I think we learned a lot from them, they really stretched us to grow musically.”

Throughout the tour Palomar said fans can expect to get about 45 minutes worth of music from the band, an upgrade from the 30-minutes sets Augustana did throughout their summer tour. “A little longer never hurts,” Palomar said.

“We’re definitely looking forward to it,” Palomar said. “College towns are always really fun, I think. It will be a cool experience. We try to have a pretty fun energetic show with a little bit of bluegrass, a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll and we just try to have fun.”

The quintet consists of Palomar, Dan Layus (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Justin South (drums), Chris Sachtleben (lead guitar, mandolin, lap steel) and John Vincent Fredericks (piano, vocals).

Layus and former member Josiah Rosen founded the band around 2002 while attending Greenville College in southern Illinois. After recruiting classmate Palomar, the guys started getting some positive feedback and dropped out of school to join the music scenes in Los Angeles and San Diego. There they found South and began to solidify their lineup, though Rosen left the group in 2006.

“Dan had written a few songs and we played them in college,” Palomar said. “We hadn’t really thought about doing it seriously, but then we started playing a few shows and it kind of came into our heads a little bit more and we thought of doing it as career.”

“Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt” captures the excitement of new love and the band’s growth into a more cohesive unit.

“We actually got to spend a little more time writing songs and actually got to tour with them (before recording),” Palomar said. “With that experience behind us, when we were in the studio, I think we were a lot more confident playing together. It was a lot more fun to record it.”

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