The average band in the hardcore scene goes through at least one lineup change; no matter what their publicist or label might preach, interpersonal obstacles can slowly decapitate a group. Looking at DANCE GAVIN DANCE’s history, it’s obvious the Sacramento act have soldiered on through issues and as guitarist Will Swan explained to us, it gathers perspectives and creates a sound that’s truly original.
Change is inevitable, but from your experience, can it affect the cohesion of a group involved with music?
Definitely. I think every time we’ve made a lineup change, its made us better. Going back to the original lineup had given us another fresh outlook on things and I think it’s definitely the best decision we could have made as far as where to go next.
You’re one of the original members, so you’ve seen a lot of people come and go. Do you find these changes inspiring or unsettling?
I’ve done a lot when it comes to kicking members out and orchestrating the flow of people who come back and I’m usually all for it. I like working with different people and getting perspectives, influences and flavors from various records as it makes things unique. I think it’s good for our overall sound.
Does having the original line up back feel just like old times, or has the time apart affected your chemistry?
It’s definitely feeling a lot like old times. I’m pretty excited to get out on the road with the original lineup for the first time in like, you know, five years. To be partying with the same group of dudes, who came from nothing is great, and now we have this whole Dance Gavin Dance empire we have created. To be able to share it with the people who started it is definitely going to be a cool experience.
Does it bother you your new album leaked five days early?
I think all of our albums have leaked. This has actually been the one that’s leaked the closest to the release date and I’m really glad it held out for so long. But at the same time, when an album leaks, it gives fans a chance to get familiar with the record before we go out on tour and play the material. Leaks seem like a bad idea, but I think it’s a good thing.
“We thrive on having a new energy in the room when we practice. Our ability to integrate new people into the group has become a strength for each of us.”
Is that why the record was pushed to be released in March, not April?
I’m not really sure; that was kind of a label decision. We wanted it out as quickly as possible and originally they said it would be April and then it became March, so we were all for that.
In what ways does Downtown Battle Mountain II pick up where the first one left off?
I don’t know. I don’t really think it does. We wanted to call it Downtown Battle Mountain II because it was a gathering of the same members and also because of the online buzz. Kids wanted Jonny Craig back and they wanted us to do a Battle Mountain II. I thought it would be really cool to make that a reality, so we kind of did.
So the original lineup is the reason you chose to re-use the title?
That’s it. Musically we wrote it as a new Dance Gavin Dance record; there was no mindset that it had to be a sequel or that it had to have certain elements. I personally just wrote new music in whatever direction I wanted to. Having Jonny and Jon together kind of brought that old Downtown Battle Mountain sound we hadn’t had since then so it still feels like we kind of wrote it to be a sequel, even though we didn’t do it intentionally.
Do you view this a progression, or are you regressing back to something comfortable and familiar?
It’s definitely a progression. I think all the instrumentation and styles on this record are places we haven’t really gone before and its definitely an advancement.
Since you’ve rebuilt this chemistry and plan to play both Downtown Battle Mountain records in the United Kingdom, will you play any other material?
No, it’s all Downtown Battle Mountain and Downtown Battle Mountain II.
Is there a specific reason for that?
Because those are the songs we wrote with this lineup.
Are you not worried your fans might think you’re ignoring your other material that’s helped define the group’s name?
I don’t know, I don’t really care. I can’t really presume if we will ever play that material. For the immediate future, we’re just performing songs we’ve written with this lineup. Maybe even throw some EP stuff in there, but I don’t anticipate playing any Death Star or Happiness for a while.
Drama is always a part of life; how do you not let it affect you personally?
I’ve always been laid back about all the changes we face and I don’t really try to get too emotionally invested into the consequences of certain situations. I like to live in the moment and our band definitely exhibits that kind of behavior.
Have you found a way to turn the many obstacles you’ve faced as a collective group into strengths?
New members coming in could be seen as an obstacle, but we thrive on having a new energy in the room when we practice. Our ability to integrate new people into the group has become a strength for each of us.
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