Squashin’ The Beef: Dance Gavin Dance vs. Emarosa

September 2, 2009 by Tim Karan

Squashin’ The Beef: Dance Gavin Dance vs. Emarosa

It’s been almost two years since vocalist JONNY CRAIG was unceremoniously removed from his position in DANCE GAVIN DANCE. In the time since, Craig went onto front Kentucky post-hardcore outfit EMAROSA; join up with members of Chiodos, Pierce The Veil and more in ISLES & GLACIERS; and release a solo album, A Dream Is A Question You Don’t Know How To Answer. Dance Gavin Dance have seen a fair share of lineup turnover, replacing Craig with ex-Five Minute Ride singer Kurt Travis and losing most of the band’s original members. Guitarist WILL SWAN, however, has been there from the start. Although tensions used to run high between the two camps, Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa recently shocked the scene when they announced the bands would embark on a co-headlining tour together. We caught up with both Craig and Swan as they prepare for the start of the aptly named Squash The Beef Tour, which kicks off later this month.

INTERVIEW: Tim Karan

You guys went your separate ways back in 2007. We all know Wikipedia is always right, and there’s an entry that says this exit was “due to extreme tensions and personal conflicts.” Is this true?
JONNY CRAIG: We definitely hit a rough point, but I honestly don’t give a shit about any of that anymore.
WILL SWAN: Well, there were extreme tensions and personal conflicts. It was a pretty dark time in Dance Gavin Dance’s history and we kind of like to lay it to rest.
CRAIG: It didn’t really have to do with everyone individually--it was just me as a person. I wasn’t treating a lot of people with respect. I wasn’t doing the sorts of things you should do when you’re in a band with six other people. And they just pretty much had it out with me. They were over it. I won’t go into great detail, but they definitely made the right move on their part.

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Dance Gavin Dance

Is there any way back then that you could’ve envisioned touring together again?
SWAN: No. [Laughs.] At that moment, I didn’t know if I’d ever talk to Jonny again, let alone go on a tour with him. But it was a long healing process for our relationship, and we’re actually really good friends again. We’ve hung out a lot in different cities over the past year, and we’re both looking forward to touring together. Things definitely took a huge 360 since then. Well, 180. [Laughs.]
CRAIG: I always sort of figured that we’d become a band again or something like that. I mean, I lived with them for four or five years of my life, so they’re always gonna be family to me. So I always figured there’d be some sort of interaction down the road. I wasn’t gonna give up on them, and they weren’t giving up either.

Did you guys keep in touch at all?
CRAIG: I spoke to a few of them here and there. We were by no means talking daily, but we were always at a point where we were on good terms. It was a rough situation I went through, though. I had acted like a piece of shit for a long time. Luckily they could all eventually see passed it.

Will, how did it make the remaining members of Dance Gavin Dance feel when Jonny almost immediately jumped into Emarosa?
SWAN: We actually didn’t care. He could do whatever he wanted. We were just kind of focusing on our own musical careers at that time. I mean, we got Kurt [Travis, vocals] pretty fast as well, so for as fast as Jonny was moving, we were moving just as fast.

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Emarosa

Did you follow each other’s careers or listen to each other’s albums?
CRAIG: To an extent. I definitely wasn’t stalking their MySpace page or anything like that. I heard when Eric [Lodge, bass] and Jonathan [Mess, screams] left a little before it actually happened because we have mutual friends. It’s all good. I knew they were just gonna come back on top.
SWAN: I’m actually pretty detached from our scene. I don’t listen to a lot of other bands in our genre or anything like that. I ended up hearing [Emarosa’s 2008 full-length] Relativity a couple months after it came out and I thought Jonny did a pretty good job vocally. I was pretty impressed with what he did on it.

At what point did you guys begin to reconcile?
SWAN: We started to talk online a few times earlier this year and then our bands met up while we were at South By Southwest [Music Festival] in Austin, Texas, last spring. We hung out and things were a lot better.
CRAIG: We just let it all go. My new band and my old band were all together just hanging out and having a good time. We just started talking about going out on a tour together and next thing you know, it’s being booked like a week later. [Laughs.]

So it was the bands’ idea as opposed to being some sort of accidental pairing on the part of a booking agent?
SWAN: [Laughs.] Yeah, it came from me and Jonny at South By Southwest because our management and our booking agent were both there. Everyone was just like, “Hell yeah, let’s do it.”

What do you think it’ll be like getting back out there together?
SWAN: I think it’ll be fun. I’m looking forward to partying every day. We’re kind of party people, so every day should be a new adventure.

Do you see any chance of those old tensions rising to the surface again?
SWAN: I don’t think so. I think we put that all behind us.
CRAIG: I don’t see it happening either. I went out and hung out with them for a week in Sacramento and everything was fine. We still connected the way we did. It’s just that sometimes you’re with people for so long that you just kind of get fed up. Everyone makes mistakes and shit.

Can we expect any crossover between the bands onstage?
SWAN: It’s possible. I just keep telling people to check YouTube to see what ends up going down. [Laughs.] We’re plannin’ a few things.
CRAIG: Just keep your eyes open. I’m not gonna give it all away, but there’s gonna be some fun stuff. We’re co-headlining so one night we’ll be headlining, another they’ll be headlining, so we’re just gonna switch it up a bunch. There’s gonna be some really cool stuff goin’ on. It’s also gonna be cool to see Kurt sing some of the stuff I wrote. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time, back when he was in other bands. I never had a problem with him and I always loved his style. So it’d be cool to see him sing some of my songs--if they play them. [Laughs.] alt

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