Q&A: Jonny Craig opens up about the future of Dance Gavin Dance (and Emarosa)

August 21, 2010 by Tim Karan

Q&A: Jonny Craig opens up about the future of Dance Gavin Dance (and Emarosa)

Earlier this week, Altpress learned that progressive post-hardcore outfit DANCE GAVIN DANCE had taken a page out of the Taking Back Sunday playbook and parted ways with singer Kurt Travis in order to reassemble their original lineup. That meant that vocalists Jonathan Mess (who left the band before DGD released their self-titled 2008 album) and JONNY CRAIG (who was kicked out in 2007) were back in. While Mess had left music to return to school, in the meantime, Craig went on to front EMAROSA, release a solo album in 2009 and play in super-group ISLES & GLACIERS. Though he’s leaving little to no downtime for himself, he’s quick to say that it’ll all be worth it when DGD unveil the follow-up to their 2007 debut, Downtown Battle Mountain, next year.


Obviously, you guys had smoothed things over before the Squash The Beef Tour last year. When I interview you then, you said you kind of always thought you guys would be a band again. Did you always feel that way?
Well, I mean, I didn't necessarily think we would be an actual, “actual” band again. I knew we would be friends, and I knew we'd probably do some songs and stuff, but I never actually thought that we would be a whole again—at least not so soon.

When did the possibility of the reunion first come up?
I’m not really positive when the actual date was when it came up, but the idea was kind of floating around. [Dance Gavin Dance] wanted me to mess around with some songs that they were working on. I just said I would and then we were kind of like, “Why don't we just try and do this again?” That’s how it kind of went about. We just jumped right into it.

So, were you already writing with them?
Not really. They told me they were writing some songs and they wanted me to mess around with them and I was just like, “I’m down to do whatever.” The plan was to also have Kurt on the songs as well and then I think they decided that they wanted to do a Downtown Battle Mountain Part 2 with the original lineup. That’s what it was all about. Then we just decided to be a band again.

About how long ago do you think that was?
I'd say about a month ago. Maybe a month-and-a-half.

What made it seem like something you'd want to be a part of again?
I guess I've always loved the music that those dudes make and every song we've ever written together. I feel like I've been able to really be myself on a lot of the songs, and I just want to really hear what the next album is going to sound like. I’m excited.

When did you decide to also bring Jonathan back on board?
He had actually already joined the band again. I knew he was going to rejoin. He was going to school and stuff, and I could kind of tell that he didn't really want to be doing that anymore—just not at that point. He wanted to be back in music. I knew that once they asked me to come back, it would be me and him working together again.

All the issues from the past are worked out?
Oh yeah, we worked all that shit out. Obviously, it’s no disguise that I had a drug problem in the past. I've said it before, when Dance Gavin Dance kicked me out, it ended up saving my life more than doing me harm. That’s why I've never ever held a grudge against those dudes. Coming back into this band, I still have the same respect I had for them when I left.

So they’ve seen enough change in you to bring you back?
Oh yeah. If they had seen the same problems, they definitely wouldn’t have asked me back.

Why do you think now is the right time?
I feel like [Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa] are both at a good level. I mean, I’m content with all my projects right now. They're not overflowing. Nothing is getting in my way, and I just feel like I want to be a part of [DGD] again. I want to add it to my roster. [Laughs.]

When we posted the news, a lot of kids wrote comments saying that they worried about how it was going to affect Emarosa and your solo work.
To be honest, I really don't think it’s going to affect my solo stuff that much. I don't really work on that full time. I mean, I tour on it and stuff and I plan on doing another record, but I don't have a set date of when I want to record. The only thing it would ever get in the way of is Emarosa touring and stuff like that. But I sat down and talked with Emarosa, and I told them that we can make this work. It’s going to be real easy. When I’m not doing one, I’m doing the other. They said, “That’s fine with us.”

So they were just cool with it?
Yeah, I sat them down on the bus on the last day of Warped Tour and I was like, “This is what’s going to happen. I’m going to be a part of [DGD] again. I started the band, and I kind of want to be around for the end of it. I want to see what we have left to give. They were like, “That's fine.” They just want to make sure they're going to get their chance, as well. They want to still play music just as badly as I want to play music in Dance Gavin Dance. If everything works out fair, then they said they have no problem with it.

Obviously, you were there first, but clearly Kurt had his fans. How was he approached with all of this?
I actually have no idea. I have no idea if they asked him to leave or if he left on his own. I knew that they had planned to ask him to step down I think—not, like, kick him out. They just wanted to work with me on the next album. I think they planned on finishing out their last tour and being real respectful about it. I don't know exactly how it went down.

But, do you feel strangely at all? Like you might have to fill his shoes now?
I don't think so. I mean, I feel like he did a good job of filling mine. I feel like he and I have a similar style. Our ranges are a little bit different, but I don't think I'll have trouble.

Will you be singing any of the songs he wrote for the band?
I think a lot of his songs are really good and I'm excited to sing a few of them. We haven't discussed it yet, but if it came down to it, I would never be opposed to it.

So what's the plan?
The album is being recorded in December. Obviously, Emarosa have the AP Tour in the Fall and then in December, I have another tour with Emarosa in the U.K. As soon as Imp done there, I fly out to Oregon to meet up with the dudes [in DGD], who will already have started recording. That’s when Downtown Battle Mountain 2 will be recorded.

So that’s what it’s going to be: Downtown Battle Mountain 2?
I’m pretty sure that’s what we'd talked about. Its been floating around.

So you think that the sound will be similar to that era, or something entirely new?
I think it'll be a mix. I love all the songs on that album. I feel like that’s one of the best records I’ve ever made, and I had the most fun recording it. I hope it'll be a mix of the old stuff and the new stuff.

Any more surprises in the works?
I don't think so. I think we got a little bit of a shocker out of the way. We gotta give it some time before we reveal anything else. [Laughs.] alt

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