Dance Gavin Dance is a post-hardcore band based in Sacramento, California, and formed in 2005. The band currently consists of Tilian Pearson (clean vocals), Jon Mess (unclean vocals), Will Swan (lead guitar), Tim Feerick (bass guitar), and Matthew Mingus (drums, percussion). The band is known for their consistent line-up changes, including former lead vocalists Jonny Craig and Kurt Travis. Swan and Mingus are the only band members who have appeared on every studio album.
Upon their development, Dance Gavin Dance released their debut EP, Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean in 2006 and signed to Rise Records thereafter. The band released their full-length debut studio album, Downtown Battle Mountain, in May 2007, which spawned the singles "And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman" and "Lemon Meringue Tie".
Throughout 2008, the band's vocalist Jonny Craig and guitarist Sean O'Sullivan left the band and were replaced by vocalist Kurt Travis (also from A Lot Like Birds) and guitarist Zac Garren. The band released their second full-length album, Dance Gavin Dance, in August. The album peaked at No. 172 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and No. 26 on the Top Independent Albums chart. Vocalist Jon Mess and bass guitarist Eric Lodge left the band before the album's release. Bassist Jason Ellis replaced Lodge.
Happiness was released as the band's third studio album in June 2009, peaking at No. 145 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and No. 30 on the Top Independent Albums chart and is the group's first release in which guitarist Will Swan pursued screaming vocals along with guitar parts for an album.
In 2010, original vocalists Jonny Craig and Jon Mess, and bass guitarist Eric Lodge returned to the band and recorded their fourth studio album, Downtown Battle Mountain II, released in March 2011, charting at No. 82 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, No. 13 on the Independent Albums chart, and No. 2 on the Hot Rock Albums chart, becoming their highest-selling album thus far.
Craig and Lodge left the band throughout 2012, leading to vocalist Tilian Pearson, bass guitarist Tim Feerick, and guitarist Josh Benton joining the band. The band released their fifth studio album, Acceptance Speech in October 2013, achieving commercial success, charting at No. 42 on the Billboard 200, No. 13 on the Alternative Albums chart, No. 7 on the Independent Albums chart, and No. 6 on the Top Hard Rock Albums chart. Benton left the band shortly after the album was released.
Dance Gavin Dance released their sixth studio album, Instant Gratification, in April 2015, charting at No. 32 on the Billboard 200, becoming their best-selling album to date. In late 2015, the band embarked on their 10 Year Anniversary Tour with supporting acts A Lot Like Birds, Slaves, Strawberry Girls, and Dayshell. All of these groups, with the exception of Dayshell, feature former members of Dance Gavin Dance. They are set to release their seventh studio album, Mothership, on October 7, 2016.
Formation and Downtown Battle Mountain (2005–07)
Dance Gavin Dance was formed shortly after the dissolution of guitarist Will Swan, drummer Matt Mingus and bassist Eric Lodge's previous band, Farewell Unknown. After recruiting screamer Jonathan Mess, singer Jonny Craig joined the band after being released from Ghost Runner On Third due to conflicts within the band. They released a self-produced EP, Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean, which was subsequently re-released on November 14, 2006, through Rise Records.
Their debut full-length album Downtown Battle Mountain, produced by Kris Crummett, was released on May 15, 2007, on Rise Records. The band toured with Alesana, A Day To Remember, and Pierce the Veil in support of the album.
In August 2007, guitarist Sean O'Sullivan quit the band and was replaced by Zachary Garren. In November 2007, singer Craig quit the band, and was not allowed to rejoin when he asked to, due to extreme tensions and personal conflicts with the other band members, as stated by the band in an interview conducted by Submergemag.com.
Self-titled album (2008–2009)
Shortly after Craig's departure, the band held auditions for a new singer; Nic Newsham of Gatsby's American Dream chose not to join but guested on the song "Uneasy Hearts Weigh The Most" on their self-titled 2008 album. Kurt Travis, formerly of Five Minute Ride, O! The Joy, and No Not Constant became the band's new singer.
On April 20, 2008, Dance Gavin Dance entered the studio to record Dance Gavin Dance with Kris Crummett helming the role of producer once more. It was released on August 19, 2008.
Before the album was released, but after it had been recorded, two original members Jon Mess and Eric Lodge left Dance Gavin Dance. No official statements were made by the band or the departees regarding the departure.
Following their departure, Will Swan took up screaming duties alongside playing guitar, and Jason Ellis (formerly of Five Minute Ride) replaced Eric on bass. The band filmed a music video for the song "Me and Zoloft Get Along Just Fine" with director Robby Starbuck which was released November 18, 2008. Jon Mess' voice was lip synced by Will Swan in the music video.
In February 2009, the band went into the studio as a five-piece to record the follow-up to their self-titled album yet again with producer Kris Crummett. The resulting album, Happiness, was released on June 9, 2009. Bassist Jason Ellis appears on Happiness, but left the band before its release. He was replaced by Tim Feerick. AllMusic gave a mixed review to the album, writing, "Happiness bristles with the kind of overachiever eclecticism that's as impressive as it is divisive," but that two songs were marred by the "nasally realm of high school emo," leaving the listener unsatisfied with the experience. A music video for the track "Tree Village" was released shortly after the album. The band embarked on tours with Emarosa, Closure in Moscow, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, and others in support of the album.
On February 10, 2010, guitarist Zachary Garren was kicked out of the band due to personal conflicts with Will Swan. Shortly after, Zac Garren met drummer Ben Rosett and formed Strawberry Girls, now signed to Tragic Hero Records. Dance Gavin Dance played the Soundwave festival as scheduled as a four-piece with Swan handling all guitar duties and Kurt Travis playing keyboards.
Downtown Battle Mountain II (2010–2011)
Jon Mess and Eric Lodge officially rejoined the band in mid-2010. Josh Benton, former guitarist and band mate of Kurt Travis in No Not Constant, took up guitar duties. In August Alternative Press said singer Kurt Travis and Dance Gavin Dance had officially parted ways in order for Jonny Craig to rejoin the band. Mess stated in an interview with noisey.vice.com that if Jonny wasn't willing to rejoin, the band would've broken up. Former guitarist Sean O'Sullivan rejoined the band for several home shows towards the end of 2010, returning the band to their Downtown Battle Mountain line-up. In March 2011, the band released Downtown Battle Mountain II.
In March 2011 the band began their US tour with Iwrestledabearonce, In Fear And Faith, and Just Like Vinyl, followed by a small European tour, culminating in 2 shows in London playing the original Downtown Battle Mountain in full on the first night and Downtown Battle Mountain II in full on the second night. The band also played at the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. In an April, 2011 interview with Mind Equals Blown, Drummer Matt Mingus stated the band plans to release another album with the current, reunited lineup.
Second departure of Jonny Craig and Acceptance Speech (2012–2014)
On August 20, 2012, Jonny Craig announced his departure from the band.
On August 21, 2012, Dance Gavin Dance announced Craig's departure via Facebook saying "When Jonny rejoined DGD, we were about to call it quits. Tired of touring and being away from home for 8 months of the year, we wanted to shake things up. We thought it'd be fun to do a dbm sequel with Jonny and go out on that. We recorded dbm2 and felt it would be a disservice to our fans not to let them hear the new record live. We did a tour and felt rejuvenated but Jonny wasn't in a good place. After trying to convince him into getting help over warped tour, we canceled a headliner in November/December 2011 and told him we wouldn't tour until he sought out real help for his addiction. We got our good friend Matt Geise to fill in for a short run we did earlier this year while Jonny was in rehab. He was released and wanted to be out on the road immediately. We weren't sure how things would go so we only booked a small portion of the all stars tour to see if Jonny could still function as our lead singer. After a week and a half things were not going well. Everything came to a head when Jonny was publicly scolded by the owner of Sumerian Records for multiple offenses. It was then that we realized that our time with Jonny had reached its end. We wish Jonny the best In his future endeavors but he will no longer be a part of DGD. We however will continue playing and writing music because it's what we love doing."
Tilian Pearson, formerly of Tides of Man, was asked to become the new vocalist during the making of his solo album, Material Me. Pearson, along with guitarist Josh Benton and bassist Tim Feerick, were confirmed as official members by Jon Mess. The band's fifth album, Acceptance Speech, was released in October 2013 with Rise Records. The album was produced by Matt Malpass. Shortly after the shooting of their music video for their single "Strawberry Swisher Pt. 3", Josh Benton parted ways with the band in order to focus on his career as an audio engineer and producer. Aric Garcia from Hail the Sun filled in for The Acceptance Speech Tour and The Rise Records tour. On September 17, Dance Gavin Dance released a b-side from Acceptance Speech entitled "Pussy Vultures".
Instant Gratification and 10 Year Anniversary (2014–2015)
On October 29, 2014, producer Kris Crummett announced that the recording for the band's sixth studio album was completed. In place of former member Josh Benton, Strawberry Girls and former Dance Gavin Dance guitarist Zachary Garren, Secret Band guitarist Martin Bianchini, and Hail the Sun guitarist and touring member Aric Garcia contributed their respective guitar parts on the album. On February 6, 2015, Rise Records released a teaser for the new album Instant Gratification, which was later released on April 14, 2015. On February 12, 2015, the band released the lead single, "On the Run." The second single, "We Own the Night", was released on March 12, 2015. The music video for "We Own the Night" was uploaded to the official Rise Records YouTube channel on May 7, 2015. On April 2, the band premiered the music video for the song "Stroke God, Millionaire."
On February 19, 2015, the band's guitarist Will Swan published a post on Facebook revealing that his guitar pedalboard he uses to perform live with Secret Band, Dance Gavin Dance, and Sianvar was stolen at a February 14 show on The Blue Swan Tour. He launched a Go Fund Me account and asked fans to donate $2,500 to help purchase a replacement pedalboard. The fund reached its goal within three hours of its launch.
Dance Gavin Dance toured as a supporting act on the Take Action! Tour with Memphis May Fire, Crown The Empire, and Palisades from March 10 to April 4, 2015. In support of Instant Gratification, the band announced the Instant Gratification Tour, which took place from April 14 to May 8, 2015 across North America with supporting acts Polyphia, Hail The Sun, and Stolas. The band embarked on their headlining Australia tour from May 14 to May 23, 2015 with opening acts Arcasia. In celebration of the band's 10 year anniversary, Dance Gavin Dance embarked on the 10 Year Anniversary tour with supporting acts A Lot Like Birds, Slaves, Dayshell, and Strawberry Girls from November 14 to December 19, 2015 in North America.
Tree City Sessions and Mothership (2016–present)
On December 23, 2015, Rise Records revealed that Dance Gavin Dance were to release their upcoming seventh studio album the fall of 2016.
The band performed at So What Music Festival in Grand Prairie, Texas on March 20, 2016. They also performed at the Extreme Thing Sports & Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 2, 2016 with other bands such as Saosin, The Story So Far, The Maine, Mayday Parade, among several others
On March 2, 2016, the band announced their live studio album, Tree City Sessions, which was released on May 13, 2016. The album contains 12 live recorded songs performed in Sacramento, California at the Pus Cavern Studios. On May 10, 2016, the band announced the U.K. leg of their 10-year anniversary tour that will include vocalists Tilian Pearson, Kurt Travis, and Jonny Craig. On July 11, the group announced their U.S. fall tour which will take place from September 22 to October 27, 2016.
On July 27, 2016, the band announced their seventh studio album, Mothership, set to be released on October 7, 2016. The lead single, "Chucky Vs. the Giant Tortoise", was released on August 18, 2016. In support of the album, the band is set to embark on The Mothership Tour with supporting acts The Contortionist, Hail the Sun, Good Tiger, and The White Noise, which will take place from September 22 to October 17, 2016.
Musical style, influences, and side-projects
Dance Gavin Dance's music has been described as a blend between emo, post-hardcore, jazz fusion, progressive rock and screamo and critics have since the band's inception drawn comparisons to fellow post-hardcore peers the Fall of Troy, Alexisonfire and Circa Survive. Their 2011 release Downtown Battle Mountain II is said to feature "the same structuring as The Mars Volta album The Bedlam In Goliath in that it never lets up".
The band has personally cited bands Glassjaw, Earth Wind & Fire, Deftones, Temptations, At the Drive-In, Cursive, Explosions in the Sky, MF Doom, and Radiohead as influences.
Former vocalist Jonny Craig is currently the frontman of Slaves, whereas former guitarist Zachary Garren has started his band Strawberry Girls, and lead guitarist Will Swan currently operates his own record label, Blue Swan Records, and plays guitar in the supergroup Sianvar and Dance Gavin Dance side project Secret Band, which also features Jon Mess and Matt Mingus. Departed member Josh Benton also works as a record producer and has produced a majority of the releases on Blue Swan Records.