A lot can change in 18 months — especially if you’re Dance Gavin Dance. Since my last interview with the band in September 2009, the group has seen a number of lineup adjustments (most notably the return of original vocalist Jonny Craig and screamer Jon Mess), released a new album Downtown Battle Mountain II, and more recently, has been under heavy criticism for Craig’s now-infamous MacBook scam (in which the singer convinced fans to wire transfer hundreds of dollars in exchange for a laptop that was never delivered).
Given the current state of the music industry, it’s often hard to know if a band creates art, or if they’re a manufactured product designed to sell. Half of the time at shows, it’s hard to tell if a band is playing for real, or if they’re playing to pre-recorded tracks. The Chariot vocalist Josh Scogin agrees.
“We know so many bands that aren’t playing for real, it’s all tracks. I get it if you’re Britney Spears or Garth Brooks, then who cares. But our world, the punk rock/rock & roll world, trickling into that world– that sucks.”
I often wonder about the tipping point of bands. At what moment in any given successful band’s career — in conjunction with marketing, public relations, and relentless touring efforts — did they enter the forefront of public consciousness, and what caused it to happen? In other words, when does a band suddenly make it, and what straw broke the camel’s back in causing them to blow up? Underoath vocalist Spencer Chamberlain gives some insight.
What is the definition of a successful band? A band that graces the covers of mainstream magazines, or is success defined as consistent touring, playing in front of 20 kids per night? Trap Them vocalist Ryan McKenney has little concern for mainstream notoriety or association. His primary focus: hardcore bands that don’t give a fuck. “That’s what I identify with!” he exclaims. “That’s what I get excited about.”
A year ago this December, As Blood Runs Black posted a demo version of a song with a new vocalist, who ironically quit the band merely a few weeks after joining. Their next vocalist, who was introduced in February, left the band in August in the midst of a tour with Oceano. Despite being on their third vocalist this year, the members of As Blood Runs Black are pretty optimistic.
“I’ve been in it through the long run, and there has been shit, after shit, after shit,” comments bassist Nick Stewart. “But when shit hits the fan, you gotta wash the walls. Good things come to those who persevere.”