I Should Probably Go To Bed is the new single from Dan + Shay. We caught up with them to talk about the new single and life in quarrantine.
I Should Probably Go To Bed is the brand-new single from Dan + Shay. The accompanying music video is filled with surrealist imagery and physics-defying action. Written earlier this year, the song was produced entirely by the group’s Dan Smyers; every instrument was performed and recorded by Smyers at his home studio in Nashville.
I Should Probably Go To Bed follows on the heels of the duo’s US multi-week No. 1 hit 10,000 Hours with Justin Bieber, which became the biggest first-week streaming total in country music history and was the fastest country song to reach one million U.S. track equivalents in 2019, earning over 3.1 million U.S. track equivalents to date, and more than one billion global streams (with over 39 million of those from Australia).
With more than 5 billion career streams, Dan + Shay have garnered multiple GRAMMY, CMA, ACM, American Music, and Billboard Music Award wins and nominations. The duo took home a second consecutive GRAMMY for Best Country Duo/Group Performance earlier this year (2020 –Speechless, 2019 –Tequila). Their US Platinum-certified self-titled album included global hit Tequila (US 5x Platinum, Aus 2x Platinum), multi-format hit Speechless (US 4x Platinum), and No.1 country song All To Myself (US 2x Platinum). In the seven years since they formed, Dan + Shay have accumulated 31 total RIAA certifications and achieved seven No. 1 singles at US country radio.
Dan: Yeah, it was a crazy situation how this song came to be. We were in Los Angeles, and we had three or four hours to spare. Instead of being normal and hanging out by the pool or having a drink, we went to Westlake Studios. We were trying to kick around ideas before we had to go to the next engagement, and we stumbled on this song. We had the concept and hook in our phones for a little while and we wrote a verse and chorus of the song, the structure, [but] we didn't get to finish it. When we got back to Nashville, we were gearing up for our tour. We launched an arena tour here in the states that was going to last all year. We had sold out Madison Square Garden, two nights at the arena in Nashville and a bunch of cool bucket list stuff, so our heads were focused on that and not so much on recording or being in the studio.
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When [COVID] happened, this arena tour that we had worked our entire lives to get to, all at once, the rug got swept out from under us. And we were devastated. I think everybody in the music industry was at first. It was like, “Are we out of a job? Is our momentum gone? How are we going to recover?” We were in shellshock for probably a month where we were just sitting there, like, “what are we going to do?” After a while, it was like we're all in this situation. When touring comes back, the fans are gonna be eager, the fans are still gonna be there, the best thing we can do to make use of our time is focus on the music.
Shay and I were both healthy after quarantining for a while. Man, we missed each other! It was like the first time we'd spent a month apart since we met in 2012. And we got back on the piano and it was like magic, singing harmonies together, just having fun making records not on a time-frame or an agenda – like how we started making records together when we first met. We were singing and we started singing this hook, like, “remember this thing we started in LA?” We didn't [know] where the song was gonna evolve to, so we came upstairs to [my] guest bedroom. I've got a laptop in here, my keyboard and a microphone, which is how we've always made our records just DIY [in the early days], playing everything ourselves, for lack of a better opportunity. We didn't have any money when we moved here and it was like, we can't hire bands, so we better learn how to play everything ourselves.
We started hacking away on [the song]. We take a lot of time and care on our records. That's what we love to do. This go around, it wasn't like we've got a tour coming up in two months, we need to get an album out. It was like, you guys are home for the next year and a half, just make music as you're inspired. And we found that inspiration, we really dug in and Shay got crazy on the vocals. We didn't really give anyone a heads up we were working on this. We finished it, dialed in a rough mix, sent it around and the reaction was amazing. We always try to find that balance. Having mainstream commercial success is the first and foremost thing that we think about when we're writing and producing records, but Shay is my favorite voice of all time. He’s a phenomenal singer, unlimited range, the guy could sing the phone book!
It's finding that balance between having a commercial hit that you can see an arena of 20,000 fans singing along to or you could see researching on the radio, whatever it may be. People want to listen to it on repeat, but also showcasing his voice. We really struck that balance perfectly, where the hook is super digestible, can get stuck in somebody's head or a kid could sit down at a keyboard and acoustic guitar and do a cover of it. But then it goes off, like, okay, that guy can really sing! I think that was what made it special. We were so fired up to get this out, especially after a couple months of quarantine and not knowing which way was up and not being able to go on the road. It was like, we want to get something going. We want to be busy.
Sorry for the long-winded answer about how the song came to be, but we're excited about it and it was a different evolution for a song. We've never had it happen like that and proud of the way it turned out.
Shay: That is true [laughs]. It's pretty makeshift, where we had it. Dan has a better setup now; he's building a studio. But at the time, whenever we were putting it together, I had in multiple times on this record where I had to put a pillow on the top of my head because there was some ringing in the room. We didn't have anything else. We had patio furniture cushions I'm holding above my head. People would have thought we were insane if they ever saw us record like that, but we thrived in that moment.
Dan is speaking very highly of me, and I appreciate it, but he is the most talented producer in Nashville. He is absolutely incredible and crushing it, and this was his moment to shine because no studios in Nashville were open. There are so many talented people in Nashville that we love to use, but during this time, we had to rethink how we go about it because we couldn't get those people in there. The way that this song turned out called for what Dan had in his arsenal and being able to do this all DIY, us singing 3 million vocals and being able to make this something special. It turned out really cool.
Dan: Yeah, definitely. It's the same soulful thing. There's a lot of it similar chords in music terms, it lands on the four and then pushes to the four minor, which is a similar thing to what happens in Speechless. It gives you that fruiting thing – the tension and release back into the one root of the song – which is, coincidentally, the same key. It's both C sharp major. When that happens, that's the resolve, that's the payoff, so when the chorus ends, when the hook ends, and it comes back, it's a satisfying breath of fresh air feeling.
It's also funny, Tequila was in the key of B, and it's a piano bass song. B is one of the hardest keys to play on the piano, so is C sharp. It’s one half step off being the easiest key, which is C, which is very easy to play on piano. So, we always punish ourselves for some reason and pick the most difficult keys but it's about finding that sweet spot in Shay’s voice when we're trying to figure out how to record the song. Where it's still impressive, where it can get high and be dynamic but also still retains the body. I think that's why we landed on this key in this spot for Speechless and this song, it felt right. The low stuff felt intimate and warm, but the high stuff still felt powerful and anthemic. So, [I Should Probably Go To Bed has] definitely some inspo from that and Tequila – it’s a good blend of the two.
Shay: Oh man, it was difficult! It looked very different than normal, and a lot of people have been doing the DIY home video style. We thought that this song really needed something very theatrical and something that matched the song. Dan was putting together the treatment, and it was probably two days before we arrived at the video shoot, I remember looking on the schedule and seeing harness fitting the day before. And I was like, “What is that? Excuse me?” And Dan was like, “Oh, yeah, we have to get fitted because we’re flying through the air. We have to have harnesses.” I was like, “We're doing that? I wasn't aware that was gonna be us doing that stuff!” It was definitely a crash course in being a being a stuntman.
Dan: It was fun. The song itself feels very theatrical and cinematic and we wanted the video to match that. Video is very powerful. It's a great way to connect directly with the fans, but [every video released around the same time] was the phone selfie, DIY at home video sort of thing. We were like, “Let's try to do something very big and theatrical – give somebody an escape – something that they can watch and take their minds off of the situation at hand for three minutes or whatever.” We went in with that in mind. It would have been way easier given any other circumstances in the world. We had COVID compliance officers taking temperatures with COVID tests. The whole deal was very safe. Everybody was in masks, which made things difficult – somebody operating a heavy camera all day having to wear a mask is an uphill battle – but people respectful of the situation, we had an amazing crew on hand, and it turned out great.
It was certainly ambitious. But I think having a video like that in times like these cuts through. To have something like this that's theatrical and cinematic has been a cool thing for us in this moment and given us a backbone or a platform to brand the song we like. To go in, especially now, like we’ve got nothing but time on our hands, let's go shoot some photos wearing the same colour scheme as we did in the video and we can really lean into that. Because, in this day and age, we all know it's one thing to have a great song – and at the core of it, that's the most important thing – but you got to have a cool video, good photos, good fonts – you have to have you know the whole package to make something really work well. Luckily now, more than ever, we've had the time to really dig in and focus on that, so it's fun [and] a nice challenge to figure these things out with limited resources.
Dan: We all did. It was fun. Thank you, guys, so much for your support. When we were in Australia with Shawn Mendes, which was, first of all, like the best trip of our entire lives. I was so sad when we had to leave. We were like tourists. We had our phones out taking selfies and doing the whole thing. People were probably making fun of us during that trip to Australia.
Shay: Man, that was crazy! The song at that point had only been out for like two weeks so we didn't know what to expect going into that. It was my first time in Australia, and it was our first-time touring there as a band. We knew that the crowd was gonna be great. We'd played with Shawn before and his fans were fantastic, but it was definitely a different experience. With the song being out for such a short time and being received with what was a full arena of people singing that song at the top of their lungs was a little bit mind blowing and a pinch me moment for sure.
[Australia is] a very long ways from home and that is a testament to the power of music. As musicians, that's one thing that we get to experience that a lot of people don't get to, someone on the other side of the world singing back words that you wrote from literally the opposite end of the earth. We're very excited to go back there and to be able to experience them singing that back live again.
Dan: Oh, my goodness, I'm dying to get back to Australia! The Australian fans are diehard. They're passionate and when we were there when we felt the love in such a big way. I don't know what our touring plans are looking like but it's on the agenda. Getting to support Shawn was awesome, and it was beautiful getting in front of his fans, but I would love to – whether it's in clubs, theatres, arenas, whatever it is – do our tour there. Sometimes that's the tough thing about being an opener, you only get 30 minutes, so it'd be cool to come back and do a proper tour and play more of the music.
Dan: There's a lot of stuff in the works right now. We've got a lot of other stuff in the can and we're super pumped about. We owe it to our team or to our fans to the keep pushing the envelope and keep raising the bar. It makes it more difficult to write and record because we've had a few hits now, so like, let's make sure everything we deliver from here on out is competitive, it's equal or better than what we've been. That’s the only way that we can challenge ourselves to evolve and become a better group.
The stuff we're working on is super exciting. We think it's our best material yet, and good mix of power ballads, mid tempos, and a bunch of up-tempo stuff that we've never really gotten to do before. We've had this time to experiment with trying new things, but the core of our music is the vocals and the harmonies and that's what we really lean on, but trying different sounds and having fun with it.
Shay: There's so many people we would love to collaborate with! Dan and I are such music fans in general. There are so many talented artists out there. Ed Sheeran is a good buddy of ours and doing something with him would be cool. But I've always said Adele because there are certain singers where you just cannot deny their talent, and Adele is one of those people where you hear her and you're just like, I don't even think that you're human! She just has one of those voices where you're just in awe of anything she's saying. So, that would be a cool collaboration one of these days.
What we're doing is expanding so much and the genre lines are being blurred every single day. And I think that's a good thing for music. Instead of looking at art as what is this, what genre, what box do you have to put this into. I think it's really forcing people, with everything that's going on with radio, with streaming and how people are consuming music, people just want to know if it's good or if it sucks [laughs]. I think that raises the bar for the quality of music that people are being able to make and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make great music and whatever collaboration comes out of that – whether it be a rapper or a great singer, whatever that looks like – we definitely want to explore that and any opportunity that comes our way if it makes sense and if the song is good, then we're always down. We've got to collaborate with a lot of great people and hopefully we'll have some of those show have shown up on the next project.
Dan: I'm a little bit nervous. We're going up there with two of us and a piano. Again, the song is in C sharp, which is not an easy key to play on piano, so I'm gonna try to make my way through, knock on wood. But we're excited. We haven't been able to play in front of an audience in a while even though the audience will be a camera and a few crew members, like, it's something. We get to be in the room singing together. We know that our fans are at home watching on TV and on the internet after it airs.
It's exciting to be nominated for a few awards. Hopefully we can take home a trophy or two, and expose the song like that to perform it. I feel like that's what we always like to do. We did Tequila on the Grammys like that stripped down, just piano and acoustic guitar, and I feel like at the core of it, that's how we write the songs. We like to have fun and dress it up with production, but I think the sign of a great song is if you can strip it back like that and it still translates. So, we're trying to try to deliver that performance and show the people how he wrote the song. And, I think Shay is gonna kill it!
Shay: It's a lot of pressure. I'll try not to ruin it [laughs].
I Should Probably Go To Bed is out now. It was our Song Of The Day, check it out here.