It's been five years, hundreds of shows
and countless accolades since Dan +Shay arrived on the
country music scene back in 2014. But don't go telling the two
musicians in this chart-topping duo that life as a struggling
musician should feel like a distant memory at this point.
This week, they're sitting at #1 (Speechless) and #2 (Tequila) on Billboard's Country Music charts.
"No way. I can remember thousands of days traveling around in a car sitting on drums or rolling up to a venue and the promoter forgot there was a show that night because no one had bought tickets to it," Dan Smyers recalls of coming up in the music industry.
"Just times really grinding it out and struggling in the clubs and bars." He pauses and reflects on where he and his bandmate, Shay Mooney, have been and the heights they've now reached. Smyers says, "It definitely makes us appreciate the good times that we're having now."
Good times, indeed: the past year has been nothing short of a momentous and life-changing one for Dan + Shay. Building off a pair of successful albums and a trio of No.1 singles from their 2016 Obsessed album, 2018 found the harmony-heavy duo releasing their acclaimed self-titled third album, it promptly hitting No.1 on the Billboard country chart in its debut week and, perhaps most notably, with the tender, heart-wrenching smash single Tequila, the duo landed their multi-week No.1 single.
"The trajectory of our
career has completely changed," Mooney offers of the impact
of Tequila. To date, the song has been streamed more
than 125 million times on Spotify alone. "It's kind of a
crazy thing," the singer continues. "People are hearing that
song and it's bringing them into the country format. We've
had so many people come up to us at our meet-and-greets and
say, 'I've never listened to country music but I heard
Tequila and I just love it so I started to listening to
country radio and other country artists.'
"I think that's just an amazing thing," he adds. "We're definitely thankful to be in that position to have a song where it's not just a hit but it's an absolute game-changer for us."
Suffice to say, "it's been an
incredible year for us," Mooney admits when the pair calls
from their tour bus one December afternoon, hours before
taking the stage for one of the year's final gigs. Amid the
mania that was 2018, "We've tried to take as much time as
possible to slow down and say 'This moment right here, we
need to take this in and realize how incredible this is and
how lucky and blessed,'" Mooney declares.
"But it's really tough sometimes," he admits. "It's happened so fast. You play show after show and you lose perspective of what's really going on. You can get into that routine and you forget how incredible it is being able to go out every night and play for thousands of people and have people at their houses all across the country listening to your music and making you a part of their lives in such an intense way. It's all kind of crazy."
Though, "being in a duo helps keep each other in check," Smyers adds. "Anytime either of us is starting to let it all float by the other is like, 'Dude, this is insane! Are you realizing what's going on right now?!'"
Both men agree making this
moment even sweeter is the slow and steady path they've
taken to get here. Following years of individual struggle
before the pair met in 2012 - first as songwriting partners
and then bandmates - and soon formed Dan + Shay, they've
steadily amassed a fervent fanbase via consistent touring
and ever-improving albums. Smyers calls their slow-burning
growth "a blessing in disguise" and says the duo's steady
build has allowed them to cultivate lifelong fans.
"It builds your fanbase for real," he says. "It gives you a core audience of people who are loyal and dedicated to the brand. They want to grow with you. Some of the most timeless artists in history have done that. You look at their career and their albums and they just consistently push themselves to get better."