DFW Music News

After Getting Dropped From Coheed and Cambria Tour, Dance Gavin Dance Stop in Dallas

Dance Gavin Dance is moving on, despite getting dropped from their tour with Coheed and Cambria.
Dance Gavin Dance is moving on, despite getting dropped from their tour with Coheed and Cambria. Chelsey Norris
Post-hardcore outfit Dance Gavin Dance slowly gained a following after forming in 2005 and signing to Rise Records just one year later. The California-based group earned a reputation for experimenting with just about every musical style out there — hardcore, metal, pop, funk and everything in between — with an unmatched finesse. These days, the band's reputation has little do with its music.

The group's ascent was even more of a feat considering the many lineup changes over the years. All signs pointed to their star continuing to rise with the release of their 10th studio album, Jackpost Juicer, dropping on July 29, and a coveted spot on a nationwide stadium tour supporting prog-rock icons Coheed and Cambria. And then, things went downhill faster than frontman Jon Mess could scream the lyric “cocaine cringe fest.” But before we get into all that, let’s take a look back at some key moments in DGD’s history.

The original iteration of Dance Gavin Dance included vocalist Jonny Craig, Jon Mess on unclean (distorted) vocals, guitarists Will Swan and Sean O’Sullivan, bassist Eric Lodge and drummer Matthew Mingus. It wasn’t long before the first hint of discord surfaced. Following their acclaimed 2007 debut studio album, Downtown Battle Mountain, O’Sullivan and Craig both jumped ship. Craig's heavy drug and alcohol use were reportedly getting in the way of the band’s success, and after a round of auditions, he was replaced by Kurt Travis. At that time, DGD didn’t publicly cite a specific reason or incident that led to their parting ways with Craig, but Mess has been quoted as saying that they “just couldn’t get along with him at all. No one in the band liked being around him.”

DGD had a revolving door of members over the next couple of years, which included the brief departure of Mess, their founding vocalist. But by 2011, Mess was welcomed back, as was Jonny Craig. Fans were elated to see the duo reunited, but Craig’s battle with substance abuse was far from over. In February 2011, he used his personal Twitter account to advertise a Macbook computer for sale and allegedly took payments from several fans, to the tune of thousands of dollars. No Macbooks were ever received in exchange for these payments. Craig initially denied allegations of fraud, claiming that his account had been hacked. He eventually issued a public apology (in a now-deleted post on Myspace) and sought help by way of a seven-day detox program before jumping right back into action, touring and performing with Dance Gavin Dance.

In a hilarious turn of events, Craig posted another Macbook for sale via Instagram in 2020, urging fans to contact him “after all the jokes die down.” Did anyone fall for this?

Craig’s reunion with Dance Gavin Dance did not last long, and he was ousted for good in 2012. In the years since, he has racked up quite the record, including domestic violence charges and sexual assault allegations from multiple women, which he has denied. In 2015, Billboard reported that Craig's band Slaves was dropped from the Warped Tour after a merch salesperson accused Craig of sexual harassment.

This brings us to the most recent iteration of Dance Gavin Dance, with Tilian Pearson on clean vocals, Jon Mess on unclean vocals, guitarists Will Swan and Andrew Wells, bassist Tim Feerick and drummer Matthew Mingus. Pearson joined in 2013, and has helped the band achieve their highest level of fame yet. Their 2015 album Instant Gratification was their most popular release to date, and this upward trajectory continued with Mothership in 2016, Artificial Selection in 2018 and Afterburner in 2020, plus several hit singles and successful nationwide tours that allowed the band to amass an even larger and staunchly loyal fanbase. It seemed like DGD had finally hit their stride.

Sadly, 2022 has already proven to be one of the most devastating years in the band’s history. On April 14, Dance Gavin Dance broke the news that bassist Tim Feerick had died the previous day, at just 34 years old. While initial reports didn’t cite a cause, Sacramento’s ABC10 news recently reported that Feerick’s sudden death is suspected to be the result of a fentanyl overdose.

DGD was scheduled to perform at SwanFest, a music festival the band hosts in its hometown of Sacramento, just 10 days later before heading out on tour. The members decided to go on with the performance and tour as scheduled, dedicating it to their friend and longtime bandmate.

“The main factor of this decision came from knowing who Tim was as a person and what he would have wanted,” Dance Gavin Dance shared in a statement on social media. “We are confident that he would be very disappointed if we were to postpone or cancel these dates.”

“I take the subject of sexual assault seriously, and I want to firmly reiterate that there was no moment of anything happening that was not consensual." – Tilian Pearson

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Then, on June  a woman posted a detailed account of a sexual encounter with Pearson to the band’s subreddit channel and to Twitter. According to her post, she and the singer met up on a few occasions around SwanFest. She alleges that, in addition to coercing her into sex, Pearson slapped her at one point “in an attempt to be 'sexy,'" and that when she told him to ask her before he slapped her, he “heard me, hesitated for a second, and then did it again … Hard enough to throw my hearing out of whack and have me black out for a few seconds.”

Pearson addressed these allegations in a Reddit post of his own, in which he says, “I take the subject of sexual assault seriously, and I want to firmly reiterate that there was no moment of anything happening that was not consensual … My general state of mind surrounding the weekend was filled with grief, and I was leaning on alcohol as a crutch to get me through it.”

He later edited the post to include screenshots of texts of an alleged exchange between him and the fan, which he claims “paint a picture of the nature of our brief relationship.” The texts show the woman is a fan of Dance Gavin Dance and of Pearson, which she mentioned in her original post revealing how excited she was that he'd responded to her “thirsty” Instagram DM. However, the texts don't provide any insight into their interactions.

Shortly after Pearson’s statement, another female fan took to Reddit to allege that, after matching with Pearson on Hinge and meeting for a date, he coerced her into having sex and made her uncomfortable with his behavior throughout their interaction. She posted screenshots of texts she allegedly sent to Pearson following the encounter in which she let Pearson know how uncomfortable she had been around him. She says she received no response.

To date, Pearson has not publicly addressed this claim, but Dance Gavin Dance promptly release a statement saying they took these allegations seriously and “effective immediately, Tilian will be stepping away from the band to seek professional help.” In a later statement, the band announced that, despite these events, they would be proceeding with the release and promo of Jackpot Juicer as planned, including the tour with Coheed and Cambria.

“We worked very hard on this album and are incredibly proud of it,” their statement read. “Dance Gavin Dance is a strong, resilient group.”

It seemed Coheed and Cambria had other plans, though. They released a statement of their own announcing that Dance Gavin Dance would not be joining them on tour and that they “wish them healing and strength.”

Dance Gavin Dance quickly got to work scraping together a new headlining tour that they dubbed “An Evening With Friends,” which stopped through Dallas' House of Blues on Aug. 1. Pearson will not be joining the band for the tour, so guitarist Andrew Wells will be filling in on clean vocals, Veil of Maya’s Eric Okubo will cover Wells’ guitar duties and Sergio Medina will be on bass. They’ll also bring along former frontman Kurt Travis’ band Royal Coda, and promise that Travis will join them on stage “for a few select songs.”

Dance Gavin Dance declined our request for an interview. We also reached out to Tilian Pearson for comment, but he stopped responding to the Observer.

The band put out a statement to fans on social media that says, “You have a choice in what you support, purchase and listen to. We hope you still choose to listen to us.” 
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