Replacing a lead singer is no easy task and can often make or break a band. Typically, the change will go one of three ways: death sentence, warm acceptance or full-on fan war. But let’s face it, when a new guy steps into the shoes of an already deified frontman, we never really know what’s going to happen. Here we pay tribute to the replacement singers who not only have done it, but also have done a pretty damn decent job—some with less drama than others.
1. TYLER “TELLE” SMITH (THE WORD ALIVE)
Naturally, fans were a little pissed when Craig Mabbitt’s side project kicked out Craig Mabbitt. But the Word Alive had become something much more than just a side project to fans. With an exploding fanbase and their singer wrapped up in his full-time band, Escape The Fate, TWA had to act quickly. Enter Tyler “Telle” Smith, at the time, playing bass for Greeley Estates. Fans were apprehensive at first, but after being picked up by Fearless Records, TWA’s first release, Empire, silenced the naysayers and ushered in a new era of the Word Alive. The group have since released two full-lengths, and it’s almost as if the replacement never even happened.
2. SPENCER CHAMBERLAIN (UNDEROATH)
It almost feels disrespectful to think of Mr. Chamberlain as a “replacement,” but pre-Chamberlain Underoath is practically its own entity. From 1997 to 2003, Dallas Taylor fronted Underoath but was asked to leave on the 2003 Vans Warped Tour. Taylor left a final mark on the band—co-creating what would become the song “Reinventing Your Exit”—and would eventually go on to form Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster. After Chamberlain took the reins, Underoath would go on to create four more albums, including their two most acclaimed releases: They’re Only Chasing Safety and Define The Great Line. The band have since called it quits, but Chamberlain is still rocking in his new project, Sleepwave.
3. COVE REBER (SAOSIN)
“Anthony Green vs. Cove Reber” was a thread title on every message board in 2005. Few member changes have riled up the masses like this one. After releasing their fan-favorite EP, Translating The Name, with vocalist Anthony Green, Saosin parted ways with the singer and held a series of auditions. Upon receiving a demo from Cove Reber, the band thought it was a practical joke being played by Green due to the similarity of their voices. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine a more ideal situation. Now, the only Saosin release that is perhaps more coveted by fans than Translating The Name is the band’s self-titled, debut LP featuring Reber. Green went on to form Circa Survive, and Saosin eventually kicked Cove out—citing smoking as one of the reasons. The band have since moved into a state of hibernation. >>>
4. CRAIG MABBITT (ESCAPE THE FATE)
In a feud that would give Van Hagar a run for their money, Escape The Fate kicked out their then-incarcerated singer Ronnie Radke, and brought in ex-Blessthefall vocalist Craig Mabbitt—and the internet was never the same again. (See the comment section of any Escape The Fate YouTube video.) While the fan reception was mixed—including fans wearing “Team Ronnie” T-shirts to ETF shows—prior to Mabbitt’s arrival, the band were quite literally on the brink of breaking up. Since then, they have released three post-Radke albums. Ronnie went on to have success with his band Falling In Reverse, Escape The Fate are still going strong, and everyone’s happy.
5. MICHAEL “JAG” JAGMIN (A SKYLIT DRIVE)
To be fair, the band had only released one EP with former vocalist Jordan Blake, but this was still a pretty huge deal for ASD fans at the time. After briefly touring with Jonny Craig as a replacement and signing with Fearless Records, the band selected Michael “Jag” Jagmin as their vocalist. A Skylit Drive have released four full-length albums with Jag.
6. BEAU BOKAN (BLESSTHEFALL)
Following the departure of Craig Mabbitt, Blessthefall were in dire need of a dynamic frontman, and Bokan just came in like a wrecking Beau. Shortly after, Fearless Records continued their consolidation of power by signing Blessthefall, and the band have been growing stronger ever since.
7. TILIAN PEARSON (SAOSIN/EMAROSA/DANCE GAVIN DANCE)
Although not an official member of all these bands, for a time, Tilian Pearson was the ultimate gun-for-hire. After becoming the frontrunner for Saosin’s next frontman, the singer had a falling out with his then-band Tides Of Man. After the recoding of two demos featuring Pearson and his inclusion in the plans for a third Saosin LP, fans were juiced. But nothing more ever came out of the collaboration, and Pearson went on to tour with Emarosa following the departure of troubled ex-singer Jonny Craig. After his brief stint with Emarosa, Pearson followed the Jonny Craig trail of destruction to Dance Gavin Dance which he now calls home. The group recently released their first LP with Pearson, Acceptance Speech. ALT