Dan + Shay recently announced they were working on their long-awaited third studio album, with the debut single from the record, "Tequila," just released. The duo, made up of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, admit they feel the pressure, both in songwriting and recording, with their new set of tunes.
"We spend so much time writing these songs, especially on this project," Smyers shared with PopCulture.com at a recent media event. "We probably wrote 100 songs. When you've put out two records, that's the bar. We owe it to our fans. We owe it to everybody that loves country radio to step up the game [with] everything that we've put out."
Dan + Shay together wrote all of the songs on their freshman Where It All Began album, and all but two on their sophomore Obsessed record. With their upcoming, still-untitled forthcoming album, the guys hope their growth, both as songwriters and artists, is evident.
"That's the bar," says Smyers. "Every song we put out going forward has to beat those songs. When we're in the writing room, we're like, 'We should dig for something new.' And sometimes you don't get a song. Sometimes you get a song that you're not super excited about, but it happens and we just keep on keeping on. Write as many songs as possible, and feel like everything we put out has to be a step up."
It was their love of songwriting, not performing, that first united Mooney and Smyers. Although their early days were far from easy, the men now realize that their beginnings helped shape their current career.
"We got together, sort of accidentally, as two songwriters [when] we moved to this town. We obviously had been chasing the artist dream for a long time separately," recalls Smyers. "We both were on tough times. I remember Shay didn't have enough money to put gas in his tank to get to our write, so we had a friend come pick us up. And I couldn't pay for a heater."
While Dan + Shay clearly are enjoying much better times now, it's their early hunger and deep desire that they want to continue to tap into as they make music.
"We don't want to alienate what got us here in the first place," Smyers insists. "We want to maintain the Dan + Shay sound, but we want to elevate our songwriting, elevate our delivery, elevate our vocals and production and everything. And it makes it a lot tougher."
With platinum-selling and chart-topping singles on both of their previous albums, Dan + Shay definitely are more determined than ever as they prepare their third project.
"It's an important record," maintains Smyers. "It's a pivotal moment in our career. We want to make sure every song we release is next-level stuff. This is a big moment for us, the third record. I feel like we always say, that's the turning point. And we've set ourselves up. We've had great success with previous singles in the last two albums, but we're really pushing ourselves on this one ... It's important and we're taking it super seriously. And we're super proud of the stuff we've got, so we can't wait to get it out."
"Tequila" is available for download on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Instagram/DanandShay