Billboard Hot 100 Fest
Dan + Shay Celebrate Their Latest No. 1 With 'How Not To,' Talk Taking Their Dogs on Tour: 'They're More Popular Than Us!'
Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney, better known as country duo Dan + Shay, have a lot to be excited about in recent months. Mooney welcomed a son, Asher James, in January; Smyers married longtime girlfriend Abby Law last month; the two just played their biggest headlining show to date at Nashville's Ascend Amphitheater during CMA Fest; and they just earned their third consecutive No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart (dated July 1) with their most recent single "How Not To." And along for the ride to celebrate while they continue their Obsessed Tour? Their dogs.
The chart-topping pair has paired with Petco for their summer trek to ensure that their dogs -- Smyers' pups Chief, Joy and Ghost as well as Mooney's dog Pippa -- will be safe as they travel around the country with their dog dads. As Mooney and Smyers celebrate their latest No. 1 and prepare to take their furry friends on the road, Billboard caught up with the duo to hear about their achievements with "How Not To" and their tips for bringing dogs on tour.
You just played your biggest headlining show to date -- were you guys nervous at all?
Smyers: I think the biggest sense of nervousness for that show was the fact that it was in Nashville. One thing about Nashville is that the whole industry is there – you’ve got your team, your management, your record label, your booking agent, country music fans. And with CMA Fest, country music fans from all over the world are there, so it’s kind of a lot of pressure. The first couple songs, you’re sort of nervous, shaking a little bit, because you don’t want to mess that up -- in Nashville you really want to nail it. We’re super proud of the way we played that night. It was such an incredible night, a surreal experience for us and a great way to celebrate “How Not To” sitting at No. 1 on the chart right now.
Mooney: I don’t think there was a single time in that whole show that I stopped smiling, it was one of the highlights of our career, it really was one of the best shows we’ve ever played.
Have you seen a different reaction to "How Not To" than you’ve seen to your past singles?
Smyers: What’s interesting is that this is our first heartbreak song, the rest have been positive, sweet love songs. We like both, that’s what makes country music great -- it tells a story and taps into people’s emotions and I think that’s what this song really does. People have really related to the lyrics on this one, maybe more so than other songs. But it’s still uptempo and rockin, so it’s an anthem for people at the shows. It was a nice change of pace for us with singles. Hey, anytime we can get a song at the top of the charts no matter what it’s about, it still feels great.
Mooney: A lot of times, the best way to get over a breakup is to listen to a breakup song, I feel like it just puts you in that place and sometimes you need to go to that place and tap into that emotion. I love breakup songs and I’m not in a bad relationship, we’re both very happily with our ladies but I think just tapping into that emotion every once in a while as songwriters and as people is a good thing. That’s why country music was built on heartbreak a lot of times -- there’s something cool about country music being able to tell a story of heartbreak and I feel like everybody can relate to that.
What was the inspiration for the “How Not To” video concept?
Smyers: The song itself is about addiction and not being able to let someone go, but we decided to put a little spin on it rather than the traditional country music video out in the middle of the field, “With Arms Wide Open” style. We decided to change it up a little bit and tackle an issue and that issue is alcoholism. A lot of families struggle with that, and we brought light to it -- it’s a positive ending at the end of the video, in typical Dan + Shay fashion. Two folks fall in love at AA meetings and through love they get through their struggles together. They come out on top at the end, which is an awesome thing – and I’m sure it happens in real life, but it’s kind of the creative spin we put on the video. We’re proud of it, it’s a powerful piece.
Now to the dogs -- what made you guys want to bring them with you on the road?
Mooney: First of all, having dogs out on the road is one of the most incredible things of all time. I think I speak for everyone -- not just us, but the whole band and crew, we love having the dogs out.
Smyers: Our single band guys, they sure love having the dogs out on the road [Laughs]. We always say no matter how stressful things get or how homesick you get being away from the house or if you miss a note during the show -- whatever stresses you out -- getting a kiss from a dog at the end of the night makes all the spirits go right back up. We love bringing them on the road, but most importantly with Petco, we can keep them safe out on the road and make sure they’re protected because they are part of the family.
What are your must haves for your dogs while on tour?
Mooney: Petco has amazing products, Good2Go is the brand. It’s good to have a cage and a kennel to have some kind of safe haven for them so they’re feeling safe out there on the road. You gotta make sure you have clean water, a water bottle and a bowl, toys because they want to play with them – these guys definitely love to play with their toys. And stopping every couple hours so everyone can kind of stretch – dogs, you don’t want them cooped up for too long. You’re going to want to get bags – just in case nature calls, you’re gonna want to make sure you have something to pick that up with, you don’t want to leave that laying around [Laughs].
Smyers: We like to bring a sense of comfort, a sense of home. For them, it’s a blanket -- the blanket from our beds at home we put it in the back of the bus when we’re parked. They’re familiar with the scent and it gives them a sense of welcoming and keeps the stress level down for them.
If you want to see the dogs -- they’re more popular than us and their meet and greets are more fun than ours -- we’d love to see you out on the road, and the dogs would love to meet you too.