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Dance Gavin Dance: Life on the Road (Interview)

Pompton, New Jersey, United States - August 9, 2007

by Kristin Biskup

Dance Gavin DanceMany may think the name Dance Gavin Dance would be the name of a pop band. However, Dance Gavin Dance is actually a screamo band from the sunny state of California. They recently released their album 'Downtown Battle Mountain' on Rise Records. I got the chance to catch up with them on the 'This Is Why Wur Hott Tour' sponsored by Hot Topic. Band members Jonny Craig (Vocals), Will Swan (Guitar), Zachary Garren (Guitar), and Matt Mingus (Drums) took time after the show to dish some insight on their new record and life on the road.

Kristin: How did the band form and how were you signed?

Swan: The band formed by a lot of random coincidences like bands breaking up. I drove to Seattle from Sacramento to pick up Jonny [Craig]. He joined our old band a month before it broke up. Our other guitarist quit and Zac [Garren] joined four days ago. It is a crazy story how we formed. I can write a book about it. It will become a best seller.
      -And how were you signed?Swan: We were myspaced and than we were like "Sure."
Mingus : Well...yeah that works. It was a little more complicated than that. (Laughs)

Kristin: How was the experience recording your new album?

Mingus: It was interesting because for like two weeks we were stuck in the shittiest hotel room you can imagine. It went really well as for the producer, Kris Crummett. [He is an] awesome guy. He made it easy for us. Everything was on time. We didn't run late. We were pushed as far as vocals. We had to hurry up the last couple of days but other than that the experience went very well.

Kristin: How did you develop your unique sound like the two singer style?

Swan: It wasn't really developed or anything. We just wanted our friend Jon [Mess, vocals] to be in the band and we had him be a screamer. We just wrote whatever we wrote. We don't think of what we want to be.

Dance Gavin DanceKristin: What was your first show, who did you play with, where was it, and how does it compare to shows today?

Craig: My first show was in Sacramento. We didn't really have any songs written and our singer, at the day of the show, lost his voice. We had a stand in screamer from Kentucky From The Grave if anyone knows who that is. Good friend of ours. It was just the most ridiculous thing we ever did in our entire lives. Straight up! (Laughs)
Swan: We got it video taped!
Mingus: It is on youtube. You can find it on youtube.
Craig: It is the first video of us ever on youtube. If you find it, it is with a random guy with long hair doing pig squeals.

Kristin: How important is your live show to promoting your music?

Mingus: Honestly, how we work. If you come see us play, we really don't talk in between songs because we are honestly just here to play our music. Yeah we rock out and go crazy. We can care less about entertaining the crowd, no offence.
Swan: If you hear our music and like it than you like it you know.
Mingus: Sometimes I will just sit still and play the drums without moving my upper body but for the most part we go crazy.
Craig: We like to jam out. I like to think of our set as one big jam session really. We are kind of more entertaining ourselves than we are trying to entertain the crowd. We accept that as a band and we try to make sure that we are having fun.
Swan: Yeah sometimes I walk off stage, get a cup of coffee, and come back onstage. (Laughs)

Kristin: What is your biggest fear of stardom?

Garren: Probably the sun. That shit is fucking hot! (Laughs)
Craig: For me it has to do with a lot of business stuff like having to deal with tour managers and shit. Just stuff that we aren't really dealing with yet. Right now we are having a good time. We are doing everything ourselves. All financial stuff is dealt by us. I think stardom and shit will bring fear in that kind of way like having someone else take care of that stuff and just worrying if they are trustworthy.
Mingus: Probably just partying too much and forgetting all the necessities to life.

Kristin: If there was a Dance Gavin Dance survivor, who would get voted off first and who would win?

All: (Laughs)
Swan: Dance Gavin Dance survivor is tour. Sean [O'Sullivan] kind of already voted himself off because he quit four days ago.
Mingus: Sean, he was a lot different than any of us. As far as the music he wanted to play, it was slightly different. All his very close friend including his best friend he considered a brother had a band back home that he felt more comfortable with so he decided to go off. Our merch guy, Zac Garren, stepped up to the plate and learned all the songs.
Swan: I'm probably going to quit.
Mingus: Now Will is quitting and Jonny [Craig], our singer, is stepping up and playing guitar and singing. (Laughs)
      -But who is going to win?
Mingus: From what we have now, probably all of us would win. I don't see us breaking up anytime soon.

Dance Gavin DanceKristin: What is your most awkward or craziest fan moment?

Craig: We played in a really random skate park and some random kid walked up and knew all our names. He just freaked out. We were still pretty much a new band and didn't know we had fans like that yet. He knew everyone's name and last name and everything about us. It was a little awkward at first.
Swan: It's weird when they come up to you. Its like, "shit dude I didn't even know this about myself and you're coming up to me telling me this."
Mingus: Up that same ally. We played in Georgia and there was not only one of those kids but like twenty kids who knew all our names, what we do for fun, and that kind of shit. We are still kind of new so it is super awkward for us. You don't really know what to say. You're like "Ahhh...thank you." It is a good feeling and an awkward feeling at the same time.
Swan: Just having fans is weird for us.

Kristin: What is your best tour story?

Swan: I was driving and Sean, our old guitarist, was in the backseat and Matt [Mingus] was lying at his feet kind of on a little crevice in the van passed out a little big drunk or whatever. I see that Matt gets up a little bit and then sits down and Sean's like, "There is pee on me. Someone peed on me!" He was like, "Matt, you peed on me!" Matt is like, "No dude" while being have asleep. Sean was freaking out for a little bit but than he started chilling out and was like, "Oh my god, I was just peed on." Matt was in some black out mode and was like, "Fuck dude! I didn't pee on you! I did not pee on you!" He continues to yell at [Sean] for ten minutes. I was like, "Holy shit!" Than Sean is eventually like, "All right, I am going to punch you in the face if you don't stop talking shit to me."
Mingus: Sean is about six foot four. [He has a] black belt in marshal arts, huge motherfucker.
Swan: Matt kept talking shit and Sean was like "BAM" and broke Matt's noise and he had two black eyes. His jaw was fucked up. It was insane!
Mingus: When you are in a band it is like... we have six members in our band so like one dude is married to five other dudes. It is a six way marriage. You can't hold grudges if you get into big fights so the next morning, like six hours later, we talked and everything was cool. To this day if you feel my septum shit it is all dismantled and fucked up.
Swan: I was just laughing the whole time. Even when he got punched I thought it was so funny.
Mingus: I have to say that I fully deserved to get punched in the face. Probably all the crazy tour stories have to do with me. (Laughs) But they are a little dirty and not clean to tell on a video recorder. Someday when we don't give a fuck we will tell you.
Swan: Matt will write a tell all book.
      -A sequel to how you guys formed?
All: (Laughs)
Mingus: For sure.