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How Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney Overcame ‘Lowest Personal Place’ in Friendship, Almost Disbanding

How Dan and Shay Overcame the 'Lowest Personal Place' in Their Friendship, Almost Disbanding
Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards. Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

After making music together for a decade, Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney were nearly ready to give it all up — until they turned a corner in their friendship.

“When we stopped trying to force things, Dan and I got together and really [decided to rekindle] this friendship,” Mooney, 31, told Zane Lowe during a Friday, August 4, interview with Smyers, 35, on Apple Music 1. “And we decided, ‘Let’s get together two, three times a week and just hang out.’ And that really started the beginning of this album process, without us really meaning to. We started getting together at Dan’s house or one of our buddies’ houses, and sitting down with an acoustic guitar and started writing songs.”

Dan + Shay are set to release their latest (and self-proclaimed “best”) album, Bigger Houses, next month. The record features plenty of songs that accurately depict their friendship journey.

“You can feel the closeness of our relationship, I think, through every little fiber of what that song became, and I think this is the first time an entire record has truly felt like this is who we are as people and this is where we’re at in our lives, but this is also where we want to go,” Mooney added on Friday. “I feel like we believed every word that we were singing. We’ve either been through it or going through it right now, and I just think that that came out through the recording process and the writing process. It just felt kind of meant to be.”

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The Grammy-winning group previously revealed in a YouTube video in July that they nearly disbanded after not speaking for four months. “I was in the lowest low of my entire life,” Smyers recalled at the time. “Came off the road and I was like, ‘Man, I f—king hate music. I’m ready to quit.’”

Smyers and Mooney further reflected on their mindset, explaining on Friday that writing their new song “Always Gonna Be” changed everything.

“After 10 years of being a band, things kind of happened,” Smyers said. “After our arena tour, the highest high of our entire lives, I feel like we were in the lowest personal place and our relationship wasn’t as strong as it had been, and it was just because being in a duo is tough. It’s like a marriage. If you don’t go out of your way to foster that relationship, foster the growth, life can get in the way and you can grow apart.”

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While he noted that the pair were not “enemies,” they were not spending “enough” quality time as friends after touring commitments ended. “We sat down one night, we weren’t sure, honestly, full transparency, if we were going to be a band anymore,” Smyers recalled. “We aired everything out.”

How Dan and Shay Overcame the 'Lowest Personal Place' in Their Friendship, Almost Disbanding
Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay perform outside Rockefeller Center in New York on December 2, 2020. ASON SZENES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

He added: “We were just like, ‘Look man, our music has meant a lot to a lot of people. No matter what happens… if we decide this is going to be our last tour, or if this is going to be the beginning of a new chapter and we’re going to just keep raising the bar, keep doing the thing, we got to get ourselves right. We owe that to ourselves. We owe that to our fans.’”

Mooney chimed in, noting that the duo had to prioritize open lines of communication and learn to “really appreciate” the band’s successes.

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“Communication is the biggest thing. That is something that… right now, we’re in lockstep [about],” Smyers replied. “And that’s something that we learned, it can go away. If you’re not focusing on it, if you’re not going out of your way to communicate, be open with each other, everything’s out, put it on the table, things can [end and] we can go our separate ways.”

He continued: “Communication is key [for us] to keep this thing going and make it infinitely sustainable to allow us to make the best records we possibly can and do our fans right. Just communicating, being open with each other, talking, hanging out, being the best friends that we are, and remembering that. Not taking it for granted, not taking each other for granted. Because man, this truly is a dream to get to sit with my best friend in the world, make music, travel around and see places we’ve never been before. It’s truly incredible.”